I have never really considered a piano’s demise, infact I always thought (maybe naively) that if you were lucky enough to own one, you would keep hold of it forever possibly passing it on to a family member or at least a good home. Apparently this romantic notion is very far removed from reality according to an article published in the New York Times online a few days ago. Pianos are increasingly being dumped at rubbish tips and landfill sites, indeed this is happening so frequently that they even have their own area in junk yards.
The article alludes to the fact that second hand pianos have very little value especially since the economic downturn, and are increasingly difficult to sell. So instead of selling them to a neighbour, donating them to a church or just passing them along to a relative, owners are now far more likely to discard them. It’s even challenging to give them away because of expensive removal costs. Buyers now tend to opt for bargains on eBay and other sites. Many just go for digital or electronic pianos which are more compact and easier to keep; no tuning and many have all kinds of tempting electronic features.
It’s a sign of the times that less pianos are being sold particularly with the cuts to music education and music services. They were once an important feature in an affluent family home but increasingly they are regarded as obsolete; during the Nineteenth century before radio and recordings, a piano was considered a primary source of entertainment and music making in the home.
It’s very sad that pianos have to end their lives this way. After being discarded piano movers make regular runs to the dump and are becoming adept at dismantling instruments, selling parts to artists, even burning them for firewood. It feels wrong to dispose of an emotional object in this way and that is bourne out by many of the nearly 400 comments on the New York Times article.
There is hope however with a website called www.pianoadoption.com which seeks to find homes for unwanted pianos. The site is primarily American but does have a Canadian and UK section. It’s a wonderful idea, giving those who may not be able to afford a piano, the opportunity to own one. Let’s hope many more pianos find loving homes and kind owners.
Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.
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