Would you adopt a piano?

This is my 100th blog post and to celebrate I am ‘discovering’ where pianos end their lives. 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. You can read the New York Times article here.

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 19th century before radio and recordings, a piano was considered a primary source of  entertainment and music making in the home.

It’s so 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. The film below makes me feel slightly queasy but it does highlight this upsetting problem beautifully.

You can purchase my book, So You Want To Play The Piano?, which is packed with practice tips and useful information, here.

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8 thoughts on “Would you adopt a piano?

  1. As many — e.g., on Piano World — have pointed out, though, a lot of these old pianos are way past any useful life, and the large number of barely playable pianos out there may actually be discouraging people from playing and/or listening. Some of them never sounded that great even when they were new. I’ve had several pianos like these. When I looked into fixing them up, I found the cost would have been between $4,000 and $5,000, with no guarantee of what they would sound like, and it didn’t seem fair to unload them as is on someone who didn’t know any better who would then be stuck with the same problem. I agree, it does seem sad and wasteful to dump them, but what are the alternatives? Maybe the real message should be: If you have a good piano, take care of it.

    • Hi Harriet,
      Thank you for your comments. You are right of course, but I have friends who would never have been able to afford a piano at all and were grateful of any instrument just so they could start learning. One of them is now a professional pianist. So in fact it is better to have something to learn on rather than go without and not be able to play at all.

      It would be great if everyone fortunate enough to have a lovely instrument does take good care of it 🙂

  2. It is tragic to think of such a beautiful instrument being dumped. We inherited our piano with our house,It stood suffering through one years building work, but after moving in & several tunings it is now at concert pitch & has a lovely rich tone. It was the answer to my prayers. It meant my 80 year old Mother finally returned to playing & bought her self one. She then went on to teach one of my sons, who can now play beautifully & my other son taught himself in one year to play loads of well known classics to my amazement. Now I am loving having the house filled with real music every day, it’s heaven, & I give a prayer of thanks to 90 year old Edith, the old lady who lived here & left the piano here when she passed away, I hope this makes her as happy as it does our family. : ))

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