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"Arthur vs. the Piano"
Season/Series: 2
Number in season: 8A
Original Airdate: United States October 29, 1997[1]
Canada December 3, 1997[2]
Germany February 4, 2002[3]
Written by: Joe Fallon
Storyboard by: Harry Rasmussen
"Night Fright"
"The Big Blow-Up"
Read transcript

"Arthur vs. the Piano" is the first half of the eighth episode in the second season of Arthur.


Paralyzed by stage fright during a rehearsal, Arthur wonders whether he should try to go through with his piano recital or just depart town.


Arthur explains to the viewers that he could do any job when he grows up, such as a teacher, an accountant, or a caterer. One job he can't imagine, however, is being a pianist. Arthur is then disappointed by this.

Arthur vs. the Piano

One day at school, Ms. Krasny announces to Arthur and the other students that they will perform their own solo musical pieces for all the parents at a big recital that is coming up on Friday. She encourages them to have fun, despite advising them to practice at home a lot, and then says to the students that music is similar to ear painting. Binky, thinking she means it in the literal sense, says, “If I get paint in my ears, my mom gets mad. I speak from experience.” Ms. Krasny explains that she meant that music is ear painting without the paint: “Just think of it as music.” Binky simply agrees.

Later that day, Arthur asks Buster out to go skating, but Buster tells Arthur that he needs to practice for the upcoming recital and make sure that the key spit valve in his tuba is cleaned out (wanting to avoid what happened at the last concert, when he emptied his spit valve onto Mr. Haney). Buster advises Arthur to practice, and Arthur brags to Buster that he knows his part perfectly well. Buster gets jealous and wishes that he did the same as well. Arthur asks Francine if she wants to go skating, but she tells him that she has to make sure her drumsticks are in good condition (Last time she performed, one of her drumsticks broke and a piece of it hit Mr. Haney on the head). Binky also can't go with Arthur, as he needs to do his tongue exercises (He fell from the stage and landed on top of Mr. Haney at the last performance because his tongue got tied up). He advises Arthur to practice for the recital. Arthur insists that he knows his piece already.

At home, Arthur "practices" while reading a comic book. D.W. is jump roping in the house and hiccuping. Arthur tells her to do it somewhere else, because she is distracting him from his book. D.W. is afraid of having the hiccups forever, and her head popping off. Arthur wonders how long D.W. had them, but she is not sure, as she is not able to tell time. Arthur assumes that getting scared could cure the hiccups, but D.W. says that she isn't scared of anything. Arthur tells D.W. that Jane accidentally threw out her Crazy Bus CD, and she is so startled by this, her hiccups stop. That night, Arthur's parents advise him to get some sleep so he is prepared for the upcoming recital. Arthur agrees.

Arthur has a dream - He is at the recital and plays Beethoven's Für Elise. At the end of the piece, Arthur hits the wrong note twice (consecutively). The audience boos and throws tomatoes at him and Arthur runs off the stage. Binky teases him while Arthur runs out the door. Arthur is put on a newspaper saying that he had ruined the recital. A year later, Arthur is wandering the street in the cold, wearing an old tattered coat. D.W. arrives in a limousine outside a theater and tells Arthur that she hasn't seen him since he ruined the recital and caught kicked out of school . Arthur tells her that he is seeking a job but is unable to get one due to playing the wrong note at the recital. He notices that D.W. still has the hiccups. Arthur tells D.W. he can help her get rid of the hiccups, but D.W. is surprised, and tells Arthur that they actually made her famous. D.W. shows him the movie premiering at the theater: "The Hiccup Kid Part 3", and says she's a millionaire. She goes into the theater, telling Arthur he can call her some time. A man comes over and is about to give Arthur some money, but recognizes him as the kid who played the wrong note, which was D-flat instead of D-sharp. He takes back his money and walks away. It starts to snow, and Arthur wakes up from his dream. He reassures himself that what happened in the dream won't really long as he doesn't mess up at his rehearsal!

At school, during rehearsal, Arthur is ushered on the stage. He is about to play, but tells Ms. Kransy that he is sick and therefore can not play his piece. His piece is skipped and Sue Ellen takes the stage instead. Later, Binky practices his tongue techniques until he is called up while Francine again advises Arthur to keep practicing.

When Arthur arrives home, D.W. still has the hiccups and tries to hang upside-down from a swing. Arthur advises her to hold her breath while counting backwards from 100. She gets to 99 but loses count. The Tibble twins lose count too as D.W. accidentally falls off the swing. Inside the house, Arthur plays Für Elise and proves to Buster that he doesn't need to practice. Buster wonders why Arthur couldn't play it at school. Arthur explains that he was nervous of hitting the wrong note there. Buster thinks Arthur needs to be confident, and tells him to allow the piano to sound great and "show it who's boss!". He advises Arthur to try to imitate Beethoven, whose picture is on a book cover. Arthur finds that trying to frown like Beethoven "hurts his face". Buster thinks Arthur maybe needs a casual attitude instead, specifically doing a joke. Buster thinks of a musical joke by doing "Shave and a Haircut", where D.W. finishes off with two hiccups in-a-row. Arthur wonders what key Buster hit to produce the hiccuping sound. Grandma Thora tries a relaxing technique to cure D.W.'s hiccups by having her take a spoonful of peanut butter and savoring it. As Arthur finishes practicing, Grandma Thora and D.W. are impressed. Arthur tells Grandma Thora that the song he played was for her, and that she wants to hear him play. Grandma Thora tells Arthur that he was so excited one time while at the circus that he was having a lot of fun there, before anything even happened. Grandma Thora tells Arthur that the audience is actually not against Arthur at all; they're all just excited to be there at the show. Grandma Thora tells Arthur that if he gets nervous at the recital, to just remember that she's there, and that she loves hearing Arthur play.

On the night of the recital, Francine hopes that Arthur has practiced. Arthur tells Ms. Krasny that he is feeling better to date. Buster is exhausted after playing a lot of notes on his tuba. Arthur is then ushered onto the stage to play his piece. Buster tells Arthur to "Show the piano who's boss!". Arthur prepares himself, and then notices the audience is waiting to hear him play. Arthur imagines a lot of Grandma Thora's around in his mind, and then starts playing. He's flawless until the end, when he plays a different note. He improvises by playing his own ending rather than the original version. Arthur bows to the audience, and Buster is impressed with Arthur. Arthur thinks he wrecked the end, but Buster and Francine didn't hear any mistakes. Binky noticed the D-flat Arthur played at the end, and tells Arthur that he is somewhat an expert at jazz music.

While on the way home, Arthur tells Grandma Thora that his big mistake was unnoticeable, except to himself. Grandma Thora tells Arthur that the audience does not hear any mistakes- just music. Arthur teases D.W. about seeing her mess up at her preschool play. As he laughs, Arthur starts to have the hiccups as well, and D.W. gives Arthur solutions on how to cure them.






Cultural references

  • Beethoven makes a cameo appearance on a piano book in this episode. Additionally for the spring recital, Arthur plays Beethoven's Für Elise.
  • Binky compares Arthur's improvisation to Thelonious Monk, a famous jazz musician.

Episode connections

  • Arthur imagines being a caterer and making the world's largest pepperoni pizza. In "The World Record," Arthur and his friends break the record for making the world's largest pizza.
  • D.W. also has a bad case of the hiccups in “Hic or Treat”. That episode also has a fantasy about the hiccups making her famous, and just when she has gotten over it, Arthur starts hiccuping.
  • Arthur scares D.W. by telling her that Jane threw her Crazy Bus CD away. In "Play it Again, D.W.", D.W. believes that Arthur did that.
  • Arthur's prediction, that D.W. will mess up her preschool play, nearly comes true in “All About D.W.”.


  • Arthur's mistake is said to have been a D-flat. When he makes the mistake, his hand plays a D-natural key, and the misplayed notes heard are a G-natural and G-sharp (or A-flat).
  • Jane is drawn with her eyes closed when the crowd applauds Arthur after his performance.

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