The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The US is experiencing an epidemic of “piano-cide.” But help is available and there are alternatives to loss. Is piano waste happening here in Madison and Wisconsin? What can be done to save or rescue pianos here and elsewhere? Part 2 of 2. | August 12, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

As I explained yesterday – and as readers of this blog well know — I am a devoted and even devout pianist.

I always used to find myself pained by piano abuse –- even when it is in the cause of making music by, say, rocker Jerry Lee Lewis (below) stomping and banging and doing hard glissandos on the piano. (I am not a guitarist, but I felt the same way when The Who used to destroy its guitars at the end of a show.) OUCH!!!! It hurts just to look at abused instruments that are capable of creating such beauty, no?

So you can imagine my distress when I found out that vast numbers of usable and even beautiful, valuable old pianos are being dumped and discarded, trashed and destroyed, simply because no one takes the time to find them a good home and an appreciative player.

Here is the original story about the widespread destruction of piano from The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/arts/music/for-more-pianos-last-note-is-thud-in-the-dump.html?pagewanted=all

Happily, the reporter Daniel J. Wakin received so much response that he ended up writing a sequel that has many tips – and much good news — about how to save pianos.

Here is a link to Wakin’s welcome follow-up story about rescuing and saving pianos (below).

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/arts/music/used-pianos-can-be-donated-to-charities-and-artists.html

I admit it: The story isn’t earth-shaking during a time of the deadly Syrian struggle and other major geo-political events. So it probably won’t win any major prizes for investigative reporting and public service. But little things can matter big and make a big difference — especially during hard economic times when  those who want to make music or take music lessons can’t afford an instrument but might indeed be looking for a piano. 

What do you have to say about the predicament and the possible solutions? Leave your view in the COMMENT section.

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1 Comment »

  1. If a business person with access to piano-moving equipment and a piano truck were to establish a business for the SOLE purpose of such piano rescues, they would soon run smack into three harsh realities.
    One, the instruments they can get for free, just for the taking away of same, will require about as much time and money invested in rehab and moving as they can fetch on the market as used pianos.
    Two, the digital piano has replaced the wooden acoustic piano in most homes without a serious musician, that is to say, most homes. A large wooden piano requires tuning and moving when the mobile American family moves, and is subject to changes in temperature and indoor climate, even mold.
    Three, the acoustic piano boom of the pre-phonograph era left behind many HUGE wooden behemoths that are true millstones around the neck of any average family. Most of these pianos are average in their aesthetic appeal as wooden objects. The remarkable wooden case is the exception rather than the rule.
    So, keep in mind that the average church, senior center or other non-profit does not have the financial means to move or maintain one of these relics. A digital instrument, which can be had with a casual glance at any week’s craigslist – ings, is really the best solution for such groups. Same goes for the older, large-console electronic organs. My family had one that we tried to give away for a year. Not even a hint of consideration.
    Size matters here, and so does cost and ease of maintenance. When a high-schooler goes away to college, they can take that digital piano with them.
    My regrets to all the piano fans, as they must witness the passing of an era. If anyone finds the piano rescue tips in the NYT article viable, my hat is off to them. MBB

    Comment by Michael BB — August 14, 2012 @ 8:18 am


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