Translation:My grandmother plays piano perfectly.
It seems the list of indeclinable nouns is a lot longer than I'd previously thought - I thought there were only a handful (кофе/кафе, пальто, пианино, такси and шоссе came to mind). So I was going to look up the list for you, and lo and behold, I found this quite exhaustive list instead - perhaps a bit too exhaustive!
They aren't even all nouns; it includes a number of Italian musical terms, for example, and food-related words. Suffice it to say, they are all loan words borrowed into Russian. The six listed above are probably some of the most common ones you will come across.
Yeah, most commonly words imported from other languages (meaning you've got a fair chance to recognise them + might find "no natural-sounding way" to conjugate them), and I think for nouns they are also mostly neuter gender...although I don't have empirical data to claim that ...
Shouldn't you be able to say 'plays on the piano' in English? It insists that you write 'plays the piano'.
No, the English language structure used for this is "plays the [instrument]". As far as I'm aware this is only the case for musical instruments. If you said "he plays on the piano" to a native speaker, they'd probably think of a kid, playing with a toy or something, physically on top of a piano.
musicians performing on instruments is a very common phrase:
on instruments ‧ ‧ Pat Metheny on guitar, Lyle Mays on keyboards, Michael Brecker on sax, Don Alias on drums, and of course, Jaco on bass.
music major ‧ performing on your primary instrument may also be required
on piano ‧ if you know how to bend notes on piano to create a blue note,
However, none of these phrases actually use "play on." 1) it is totally fine colloquially to say someone is "on" an instrument, meaning he or she is the person playing it 2) performing on [an instrument] is totally acceptable, and "performing and instrument" sounds like you are the actor who plays Tubby the Tuba in the film named for that musical character. 3) executing a skill on an instrument is fine.
I think the issue here is that "on an instrument" usually implies "while playing." You certainly can say "to play on an instrument," but usually the sentence needs a direct object: "He is playing Shostakovich on (the) piano." Here, "the" is both optional and more common. With no context and no direct object of "playing," the sentence "My grandmother plays on the piano very well" does sound strange. It is totally understandable, but it would sound strange, although I can't really explain why. I do spend my life around these sorts of sentences because I am a musician.
Yeah, it sounded strange to me. "Perfect(ly)" to me is совершенн(о). Отличн(о) is excellent.
For your sentence, I don't see anything wrong with what you're saying, though. Свободно literally means freely, but it used to mean fluently. Отлично I have already mentioned, and perfect Russian or perfectly speaking would use a form of совершенн-.
Спасибо большое! I didn't realize свободно sounded old-fashioned. Granted, I first started studying Russian 30 years ago, and maybe my teachers were a little old-fashioned ... the family I lived with and learned from spent most of their lives in Soviet Russia. It's amazing to see how the language has noticeably changed even since I started learning it - some grammar rules that used to be absolutely unbreakable are now more flexible, and certain words can be omitted. They're small things, to be sure, but I notice them!
I can’t remember even seeing клавир before, so I had to consult a dictionary, which says that it 1) used to be a generic word for keyboard instruments prior to the 19th century and 2) today is used as a shortening of the German Klavierauszug and means a piano arrangement of a piece of orchestral or symphonic music, operas, ballets, and operettas.
кла-ви́р ‧ keyboard instrument (piano, harpsichord, clavichord, etc.) ‧ ‧ the piano arrangement of an opera, ballet, symphony or ensemble score ‧
И. С. Баха ‧ Иога́нн Себастья́н Бах ‧ Johann Sebastian Bach
ро-я́ль ‧ ‧ фор-те-пи-а́-но ‧ ‧ фор-те-пья́-но ‧ ‧ Пи·а-ни́-но ‧ ‧ Кла-ве-си́н ‧ ‧ Кла-ви-ко́рд ‧ ‧ какая разница между пианино фортепиано и роялем ] ‧ ‧ [ все о пианино - в чем отличия пианино от рояля и форепиано ] ‧ ‧ [ клавишные-инструменты история пианино ]
Vertical: Spinet ‧ Console ‧ Studio ‧ Upright
Horizontal: Petite Grand ‧ Baby Grand ‧ Medium Grand ‧ Parlor Grand ‧ Semiconcert or Ballroom ‧ Concert Grand ‧ the piano