Every piano has a story.
I know this is true for other instruments, too, but pianos, by virtue of the fact that they are not moved easily, become monuments of sorts in a family’s home. They are valued enough that many pianos get passed down from older generations to younger family members, sometimes even if the new owners don’t really play the piano much. If you work in home care, this is good to know – you can always ask about a family’s piano story.
Our family’s beloved piano tuner/technician has shared some of the stories he has heard over the several decades he has been caring for these persnickety instruments. Some are sad, like the pianos that must be sold to pay for medical bills, or that can’t find a new home when the owner moves into assisted living. Other stories are happy, though, like when a neglected piano finds a new life with a young musician.
Our family’s piano story is a happy one for sure. After my husband went through the ordeal of moving my great-grandmother’s spinet piano from my apartment across town to my parents’ house, we decided it probably was not worth the hassle (and cost) of moving the piano to our second-floor apartment across the state in Kansas City. I did tell him, though, that I would really feel that I had made it when I had a baby grand piano of my own, one that I could play everyday, use for teaching piano lessons and learning music for my music therapy work. I thought of this as a pipe dream, really, but my sweet husband wanted to make this dream come true as soon as possible. He is a champion at finding great deals on Craigslist, and soon enough, he found a family that wanted to sell their baby grand piano, simply because no one in the house was playing it, and they needed the extra space. Through a series of phone calls, we found our piano technician, Gary, who inspected the piano for us before we decided to buy. We had the piano moved to Gary’s shop, where he took the instrument down to its component parts, replacing the strings, hammers, felts, key tops, and probably many other important piano parts before the cabinet was refinished and he put the whole thing back together. We had the piano moved back up to our second-floor (yes, second-floor!) apartment, then later to our new house, where the piano now stays in a room much better suited to its size. Our piano is played everyday, and my husband and I both look forward to the day when our little girl learns how to make music on this beautiful instrument, too.
I love sharing the story of our piano. My family has similar stories for my parents’ piano, my in-laws’ piano, and my great-grandmother’s piano that now lives with one of my brothers and his wife. These enormous, heavy, instruments/furniture are conversation pieces for sure.
So, what does this mean for you? It means you should ask to hear the stories of pianos.
Where and when was the piano purchased?
Who bought it?
Who played it?
Who else has owned it?
Is anyone playing it now?
You might be surprised at the stories you get to hear. After that, maybe someone will sit down to tickle the ivories a bit (although they aren’t ivories these days!). Don’t know what to play? This video might give you a start. Then, all of a sudden, you’re having a great moment for music and memory.
Do you have a piano? What is your piano story? Have you heard any other great piano stories? (Or great violin, guitar, or trumpet stories, for that matter?) Please leave your stories below.