Kids' Commute: Weird Instruments - Celesta

May 6, 2015

Learn about "Weird Instruments" this week on Kids' Commute!

This week on Kids’ Commute, get ready for some weirdness! From the Sackbut, to the Hurdy-Gurdy, to the Theremin, to the Celesta, we’re going to have fun exploring some of the craziest and weirdest instruments on the planet! 

Are you ready to get “weirded out?!”

The celesta was invented in Paris in the late 1800’s, by a man named Auguste Mustel.
It comes from the French word “celeste,” which means “heavenly.” 


The instrument is kind of a cross between a piano and a music box. As you can see from the picture, it looks a lot like a piano. But inside the celesta, instead of a soft hammer hitting strings like a piano, it’s a hard hammer hitting metal.

Your parents might recognize the celesta, because it was used to play the theme song for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Another very famous use of the celesta is in Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker. If you’ve ever wondered what instrument gives the Sugar Plum Fairy, her magical, dancing sound...take a guess. That’s right! It’s a celesta. 

Here’s a video clip of Kelly Zuercher of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic playing the celesta:

Music piece for today:
The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Listen to the Kids’ Commute live on Classical IPR every weekday morning at 7:40am or listen to the archived episode at the top of the post.