Play the piano vs. play on the piano


I am curious about any difference between:

John play the piano well and John play on the piano well.

I mean, any difference in terms of cognition?



I would use the following:

John plays the piano well. (John is generally a good pianist)

John plays Chopin well on the piano. (The underlined word here may, of course, have other words substituted - either another composer or a particular piece or song, or a type of musical genre)

I wouldn’t use “John plays on the piano well.”

The only time I would possibly use ‘play on the piano’, rather than ‘play the piano’ would be if I were referring to a particular piano…
“Go and play on the piano in the study.”
(but even in that example I would be more likely to leave the ‘on’ out of the sentence than put it in.)

Thank you, BN.

Just to consider a possibility, is it possible in terms of cognition that “John plays on the piano well.” implies “John plays well with his fingers on the keyboard of the piano .”? What I was curious about is the function of “on”.

IMO ‘on’ has no function other than to differentiate that John is striking the piano keys (whether that is with his fingers, his toes,his nose or anything else!), rather than is pretending to be a piano (as in ‘he played the fool’ or ‘he played devil’s advocate’).
However as the second definition as a requirement would be extremely rare, ‘on’ is usually assumed.

Mr. Beeesnees.
‘He played the fool’.
‘He played devil’s advocate’.
Could you please explain the meaning of the above two sentences ?

play the fool - to pretend to be less intelligent or deliberately actin a silly/foolish manner.

play devil’s advocate - to take the opposing point of view.
If you play devil’s advocate in a discussion or debate, you express an opinion which you may not agree with but which is very different to what other people have been saying, in order to make the argument more interesting.

A protein found in muscle that together with myosin functions in muscle contraction.

act in. A missing space, because I’m a mere human. It was a typo - I suspect you realised that.