Last week my Dad sent me a link to this article regarding US piano stores being forced to close as recession, new technology and cultural change take their toll.
Why did he send me this? Well, as I outlined almost four years ago in my post "Back at home in front of 88 keys", I grew up in a house which had a generations-old (circa 1920s) Beale upgright grand piano. It's the piano I learned on, and I still see it every time I visit the old family home.
At the end of my article, I wrote:
"That old Beale piano still lives in my childhood home. I've known it since I was too small to reach up to the keys. Some of the hammers don't strike the way they used to and the tuning has found its own way here and there. But with my parents currently overseas and a trip to the old house planned, I can't wait to make that back room sing with its sound again. "
Many years on, the piano still sees less and less use. I'm no longer there frequently to play it. The piano stool is more often dragged over to the side of the piano as a second chair when something is being shared and shown on the computer, which sits next to the piano.
And in the last few days my Mum has asked whether they should continue getting the piano tuned each year. That's a difficult question, which my parents also appreciate. Once the piano is "let go", it's difficult to get it back into a playable condition. The strings will be challenged to reach their former, well-pitched glory if left out of tune for a length of time. And in 2015, piano strings are not as readily replaceable as most of the consumables we surround ourselves with, should one break in the tuning process.
As I flagged in response to my parents, I’m sure I’ll have an acoustic piano again one day. At the moment due to limited space, timing of when I can play (which is often late in the evening and through headphones), and the variety of work and play I do on keyboards, virtually all my performing currently is on electronic rather than acoustic keyboards. This was also a result of really engrossing myself in music and live performance years ago playing in bands, where a "piano sound" from a synth was just one of the tools in the armoury to a good performance, alongside the likes of strings, electric pianos, organs, and pads.
I see that a lot of houses now are built with “media rooms” or “home theatre” rooms. My idea is to eventually have a room dedicated to music, with a beautiful stereo system, very high quality speakers, comfortable seating right between those speakers, a good view, and no TV. An acoustic piano would go so brilliantly in there.
Just need to keep that old Beale tuned up until then...