Dear Washington Post...
If you were one of the many who read the Washington Post's most recent gloom and doom piano-centered article and freaked out because *supposedly* no one wants pianos and there's hundreds of pianos being left to rot in the alleys, please, turn here for some comfort. After doing damage control in the field to correct the misinformation published in this article, I thought it may be time to address it here. This article had a lot of under-researched information in it, but there are two assumptions they made that landed it in the ditch.
Assumption #1:Some pianos have become disposable.
The Problem: Actually, all pianos are disposable. Just like all other items on the planet, everything has a life-span, and the piano is no exception. Every piano ever made is disposable, and will need to be disposed of eventually. This article's ho-hum tone of despair that anyone could throw away a piano perpetuates the idea that pianos should last forever, and as we all know (if you read my blog that is...) THEY DON'T. Throwing away a piano does not make you a bad person. Pawning off a dead piano to someone else does.
The Facts: The last glut of low-quality, cheap, American-made pianos were rolled out in the 80s. After that, "globalization" happened, and most manufacture of pianos went overseas. (You should note that since then, the overall quality of pianos has significantly improved.) The pianos made from the 50s-80s were all made with quality levels that were meant to keep an instrument functional for 30-40 years, if we are being generous. It ranges by brand and size of piano. Let's do the math... We are at the turn of the tides with the majority of pianos with brand names like Kimball, Wurlitzer, Cable, etc. These are the types of pianos found on curbs, and they are there because they are no longer functional instruments. Think about it: When is the last time you saw a Yamaha or Kawai on a curb?
Assumption #2: No one wants pianos anymore.
The Problem: This isn't true. Call a piano teacher and ask them if they have any more room for students this semester. Call a technician and ask them how many pianos they tune a year. Call a store (an ethically run store, not a store that has been announcing it's going out of business for years on end...) and ask how sales are. The piano industry is a live and well.
The Facts: No one wants pianos that are not alive and well. If a piano can't be tuned, or is broken and cannot be repaired, it should be put to rest and a capable one should take its place! People are more serious about studying music now than they have been in a long time, and they require pianos that can perform to their standards.
And to top it all off, the author had to state that anyone in need of a piano is in "luck" because of the amount of free ones on Craigslist. I'd like to put the author in touch with any of my clients who have gotten a free piano, paid to move it in and then had to pay to move it out again once they found out I couldn't do anything with it. I don't think luck is what they feel about being stuck in that situation...
Take heart, fellow piano-lovers. Pour some tea, practice some Chopin, and don't believe everything you read. There are beautiful instruments out there being played by beautiful people every day.
And Washington Post... Stop misleading people and do your research!