Top 15 Slang For Playing Piano – Meaning & Usage

Playing the piano is not just about hitting the right keys; it’s about immersing yourself in the rhythm and melody of the music. And just like any other passion, piano playing has its own set of slang terms that only the most dedicated musicians are familiar with. In this listicle, we’ve gathered the top slang for playing piano that will not only expand your musical vocabulary but also give you a glimpse into the vibrant world of pianists. So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, get ready to tickle those ivories and discover the language of piano enthusiasts.

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1. Tickling the ivories

This phrase refers to playing the piano, often with a light and delicate touch. It is a playful and whimsical way of describing the act of playing the keys.

  • For example, a pianist might say, “I love spending my evenings tickling the ivories.”
  • In a conversation about music, someone might ask, “Do you enjoy tickling the ivories?”
  • A music teacher might encourage their students by saying, “Keep practicing and soon you’ll be tickling the ivories like a pro!”

2. Jamming on keys

This slang phrase describes the act of playing the piano with a sense of freedom and spontaneity, often involving improvised melodies or chords. It conveys the idea of creating music in the moment.

  • For instance, a musician might say, “I spent hours jamming on the keys last night.”
  • During a jam session, someone might ask, “Who wants to take a turn jamming on the keys?”
  • A pianist showcasing their skills might say, “Watch me jam on these keys and see what magic happens!”

3. Hitting the 88s

This slang phrase specifically refers to playing a piano with 88 keys. It is a casual way of describing the act of playing the instrument.

  • For example, a pianist might say, “I’ve been hitting the 88s since I was a child.”
  • When discussing piano lessons, someone might ask, “Are you hitting the 88s yet?”
  • A music enthusiast might comment, “I love the sound of someone hitting the 88s with passion and skill.”

4. Key smashing

This slang phrase describes playing the piano with a strong and forceful touch, often emphasizing power and intensity. It conveys the idea of striking the keys with energy.

  • For instance, a pianist might say, “I couldn’t resist some key smashing during that dramatic piece.”
  • When discussing different playing styles, someone might mention, “Key smashing can add a lot of emotion to a performance.”
  • A music critic might write, “The pianist’s key smashing technique brought an electrifying energy to the concert.”

5. Piano bashing

This slang phrase refers to playing the piano with a fierce and aggressive style, often involving fast and powerful movements. It conveys the idea of attacking the keys.

  • For example, a musician might say, “I love the thrill of piano bashing during a rock performance.”
  • During a conversation about piano techniques, someone might ask, “Have you ever tried piano bashing?”
  • A pianist known for their energetic performances might be described as “a master of piano bashing.”
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6. Ivory dancing

This phrase refers to the act of playing the piano, specifically emphasizing the movement of the fingers on the white keys, which are often made of ivory. It conveys a sense of elegance and grace in piano playing.

  • For example, a music teacher might say, “Focus on your ivory dancing to achieve a smooth and fluid sound.”
  • A pianist might describe their performance as, “I was really feeling the ivory dancing tonight.”
  • In a concert review, a critic might write, “The pianist’s ivory dancing was mesmerizing, captivating the audience.”

7. Ebony tapping

This phrase refers to the act of playing the piano, specifically emphasizing the movement of the fingers on the black keys, which are often made of ebony. It conveys a sense of rhythm and percussiveness in piano playing.

  • For instance, a jazz musician might say, “I love the feeling of ebony tapping in my improvisations.”
  • A pianist might describe their playing style as, “I incorporate a lot of ebony tapping in my performances.”
  • In a music tutorial, the instructor might demonstrate, “Now let’s practice some ebony tapping exercises to improve your technique.”

8. Dueling on keys

This phrase refers to the act of playing a piano duet, where two pianists perform together on the same instrument. It conveys a sense of competition and collaboration between the two players.

  • For example, a music teacher might say, “Let’s have some fun dueling on keys with this lively duet.”
  • Two pianists might engage in a friendly competition, saying, “Let’s see who can outshine the other while dueling on keys.”
  • In a concert program, the description might read, “The highlight of the evening will be a dueling on keys performance by two virtuoso pianists.”

9. Harmony weaving

This phrase refers to the act of playing chords or harmonies on the piano, specifically emphasizing the interweaving of different musical notes to create a harmonious sound. It conveys a sense of complexity and skill in piano playing.

  • For instance, a music theory teacher might say, “Understanding harmony weaving is crucial for creating rich and interesting piano arrangements.”
  • A pianist might describe their playing technique as, “I love the challenge of harmony weaving in my performances.”
  • In a music composition workshop, the instructor might explain, “In this exercise, we will focus on harmony weaving to create a lush and captivating piano piece.”

10. Chord chasing

This phrase refers to the act of playing chords on the piano, specifically emphasizing the quick and agile movement of the fingers as they “chase” the different chord shapes. It conveys a sense of agility and precision in piano playing.

  • For example, a piano teacher might say, “Practice chord chasing exercises to improve your finger dexterity.”
  • A pianist might describe their playing style as, “I enjoy the challenge of chord chasing in fast-paced pieces.”
  • In a music tutorial, the instructor might demonstrate, “Now let’s work on some chord chasing techniques to add flair to your playing.”

11. Fingering the keys

This phrase refers to the act of playing the piano by pressing the keys with one’s fingers. It is a common term used to describe the physical action of playing the instrument.

  • For example, a piano teacher might instruct their student, “Make sure you’re using the correct fingering when playing this piece.”
  • A pianist might say, “I love the feeling of fingering the keys and creating beautiful music.”
  • In a conversation about piano techniques, someone might mention, “Fingering the keys properly is crucial for playing with speed and accuracy.”

12. Banging out a tune

This phrase is used to describe playing the piano in a forceful and energetic manner, often with a lot of enthusiasm and intensity.

  • For instance, a pianist might say, “I love banging out a tune on the piano when I’m feeling energetic.”
  • In a discussion about piano performance, someone might comment, “She really knows how to bang out a tune and captivate the audience.”
  • A piano student might ask their teacher, “Can you show me how to bang out a tune like that?”

13. Tapping the ivories

This phrase is a playful way of saying “playing the piano.” It refers to the action of tapping the white keys of the piano, which are often made of ivory or a similar material.

  • For example, a musician might say, “I spend hours every day tapping the ivories and honing my skills.”
  • In a conversation about piano practice, someone might ask, “How long do you spend tapping the ivories each day?”
  • A pianist might describe their playing style as “gentle tapping of the ivories.”
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14. Ripping it up

This phrase is used to describe playing the piano with a lot of energy, skill, and enthusiasm. It implies a high level of technical proficiency and an ability to play with speed and precision.

  • For instance, a pianist might say, “I love ripping it up on the piano and showing off my skills.”
  • In a discussion about piano competitions, someone might comment, “He really ripped it up during his performance and impressed the judges.”
  • A music enthusiast might say, “I can’t get enough of pianists who can rip it up and make the keys fly.”

15. Pounding out a melody

This phrase is used to describe playing a melody on the piano with force, intensity, and a strong rhythmic drive. It conveys a sense of power and energy in the performance.

  • For example, a pianist might say, “I love pounding out a melody and creating a strong musical statement.”
  • In a conversation about piano technique, someone might ask, “How do you achieve that powerful sound when pounding out a melody?”
  • A piano teacher might instruct their student, “Don’t be afraid to pound out the melody and really make it stand out.”