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#1921028 - 06/30/12 10:02 AM Here's an Eye-Opener
Steve Cohen Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
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Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
According to the just release July issue of Music Merchandise Review (MMR), a leading music industry trade journal, in 2009 there were 432 keyboard specialty stores...stores that specialized in pianos, organs and keyboards. In 2012 there were only 315!
_________________________
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Since 1937.

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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1921043 - 06/30/12 10:47 AM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8583
Loc: Georgia, USA
I'm sorry to hear that piano/keyboard stores are on the decline. Congratulations to you that Jasons Music Center is one of the survivors.

Rick
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#1921172 - 06/30/12 04:56 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
pianoloverus Online   content
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I'm reading a 550 page bio of Steinway and there were big depressions and a large number of piano maker closings in the 1870's and 1890's. Apparently there was one year in the 1890's where Steinway sold no or very close to no pianos.

I don't have the historical perspective or knowledge to know how the big depressions that occurred in the 1870s, 1890s, the Great Depression, the depression in the 1970s, and the most recent depression compare for the general population and for the piano industry.

I wonder how the latest depression compares to the others? Did the piano industry suffer big blow during the 1970s?


Edited by pianoloverus (06/30/12 05:42 PM)

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#1921182 - 06/30/12 05:19 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: pianoloverus]
beethoven986 Online   content
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Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3360
I don't think the downturn in dealers is necessarily related to the economy:

1. The piano is not the mainstay of American culture that it once was. Music and the arts have to compete with iPods, computers, TV, and sports, etc., more than ever.

2. After 120 or so years of piano building and importing in the US, the market is over saturated. And piano makers have been very bad at giving people a reason to buy new instruments.

3. Piano owners and buyers are increasingly looking to sites on the Internet to complete transactions, and many dealers just suck at advertising, and some charge outrageous prices for their pianos.

Successful dealers will be the ones who: prep and maintain their stock well, diversify the services and products they offer, are honest and treat their customers with respect, and maintain an aggressive presence on the web and in their communities.
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#1921191 - 06/30/12 05:47 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: beethoven986]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I don't think the downturn in dealers is necessarily related to the economy:

1. The piano is not the mainstay of American culture that it once was. Music and the arts have to compete with iPods, computers, TV, and sports, etc., more than ever.

2. After 120 or so years of piano building and importing in the US, the market is over saturated. And piano makers have been very bad at giving people a reason to buy new instruments.

3. Piano owners and buyers are increasingly looking to sites on the Internet to complete transactions...
Yes, but the first two on your list have been true for a lot more than three or four years and even your number three has probably been the case for some time.

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#1921224 - 06/30/12 07:55 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
j&j Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/09
Posts: 445
Loc: Southwest
It would be really interesting to find out the latest sales figures for acoustic pianos in North America and globally and the numbers of uprights and grands sold. Are sales starting to come back or are they continuing to decline?

It seems that the prices posted in Larry Fine's Piano Book have increased in the last few years for most piano makers and I'm wondering how that has impacted sales and especially how dealers have handled it.
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#1921249 - 06/30/12 09:46 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: pianoloverus]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I don't think the downturn in dealers is necessarily related to the economy:

1. The piano is not the mainstay of American culture that it once was. Music and the arts have to compete with iPods, computers, TV, and sports, etc., more than ever.

2. After 120 or so years of piano building and importing in the US, the market is over saturated. And piano makers have been very bad at giving people a reason to buy new instruments.

3. Piano owners and buyers are increasingly looking to sites on the Internet to complete transactions...
Yes, but the first two on your list have been true for a lot more than three or four years and even your number three has probably been the case for some time.


Yes, but piano dealers can probably last a few years before they really have to close the store.

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#1921265 - 06/30/12 11:00 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: gnuboi]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1540
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: gnuboi
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I don't think the downturn in dealers is necessarily related to the economy:

1. The piano is not the mainstay of American culture that it once was. Music and the arts have to compete with iPods, computers, TV, and sports, etc., more than ever.

2. After 120 or so years of piano building and importing in the US, the market is over saturated. And piano makers have been very bad at giving people a reason to buy new instruments.

3. Piano owners and buyers are increasingly looking to sites on the Internet to complete transactions...
Yes, but the first two on your list have been true for a lot more than three or four years and even your number three has probably been the case for some time.


Yes, but piano dealers can probably last a few years before they really have to close the store.


I'll be sure to mention that to my friends who went out of business. I guess they forgot.

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#1921268 - 06/30/12 11:10 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Furtwangler]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
What I meant is, sales probably declined gradually over time. It's not like one day all of the sudden people just stopped buying.

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#1921279 - 06/30/12 11:43 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: gnuboi]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1540
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: gnuboi
What I meant is, sales probably declined gradually over time. It's not like one day all of the sudden people just stopped buying.


Sales declined about 80% in an 18-24 month period during the financial collapse/recession during 2008-2009. I would say that was pretty sudden.

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#1921286 - 06/30/12 11:58 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Online   content
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I don't know what the 'statistics' are but we are very happy having sold 2 grands today.

There may be far less buyers than before but it's nice to know one carries stuff still worth people's consideration.

Chances are, this will be an ever ever more important consideration in future...

Norbert
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#1921292 - 07/01/12 12:27 AM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
MrHazelton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/24/09
Posts: 243
Loc: CT
I wish there were more piano stores. If I want to go to a piano store I'm in for a long drive. frown

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#1921318 - 07/01/12 03:15 AM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: pianoloverus]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3360
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I don't think the downturn in dealers is necessarily related to the economy:

1. The piano is not the mainstay of American culture that it once was. Music and the arts have to compete with iPods, computers, TV, and sports, etc., more than ever.

2. After 120 or so years of piano building and importing in the US, the market is over saturated. And piano makers have been very bad at giving people a reason to buy new instruments.

3. Piano owners and buyers are increasingly looking to sites on the Internet to complete transactions...
Yes, but the first two on your list have been true for a lot more than three or four years and even your number three has probably been the case for some time.


A lot can change in 3 or 4 years (barely anyone had a smart phone three years ago!), and the economic downturn definitely isn't helping.
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
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#1921331 - 07/01/12 05:23 AM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
Rusty Fortysome Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/11
Posts: 194
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
... in 2009 there were 432 keyboard specialty stores... In 2012 there were only 315!


And I expect there will be less in 2013 and less in 2014 unless the economy turns.

The piano thrived as a status symbol. Period. There was and is always a need for pianos as musical instruments, but a far majority of pianos sold in the past were used as living room status symbols (or space fillers) rather than serious musical instruments. I believe most still are, though many of those are purchased with further hope children learning to unlock music via piano and transform into academic superstars.

There has been a plethora of interesting propaganda surrounding the piano which aided sales in the past. During the 40s-50s-60s-70s-80s, pianos were almost mandatory for upwardly mobile folks in the middle classes. There was a piano in half the front rooms of suburban houses which I visited in the 70s and 80s... today I know of almost no one with a working piano in their house. I do know several people with broken organs/pianos in their living rooms. People of my generation have discarded the idea of the piano as a cultural icon, status symbol, and hobby. If people have keyboards, they tend to be back room electronic things hidden in some nook far from visiting eyes.

While the piano is still a prime musical instrument, it isn't a universal bijou anymore. I doubt it will return to such status unless we have economic explosion again, fueling wealth and luxury purchasing. Expect piano dealers with grands and uprights to wrinkle further.
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#1921358 - 07/01/12 08:02 AM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Rusty Fortysome]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19579
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Rusty Fortysome
The piano thrived as a status symbol. Period. There was and is always a need for pianos as musical instruments, but a far majority of pianos sold in the past were used as living room status symbols (or space fillers) rather than serious musical instruments.
What do you base this statement on?

While no doubt some buy a piano just for its furniture aspect or status, I don't think this applies to a majority. Just for starters, many pianos purchased are verticals, which don't qualify as living room status symbols IMO.

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#1921360 - 07/01/12 08:09 AM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Norbert]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19579
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Norbert
I don't know what the 'statistics' are but we are very happy having sold 2 grands today.

There may be far less buyers than before but it's nice to know one carries stuff still worth people's consideration.

Chances are, this will be an ever ever more important consideration in future...

Norbert
Endlessly fishing for self promotional and self congratulatory opportunities.

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#1921407 - 07/01/12 11:27 AM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: pianoloverus]
Rusty Fortysome Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/11
Posts: 194
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Rusty Fortysome
The piano thrived as a status symbol. Period. There was and is always a need for pianos as musical instruments, but a far majority of pianos sold in the past were used as living room status symbols (or space fillers) rather than serious musical instruments.
What do you base this statement on?

While no doubt some buy a piano just for its furniture aspect or status, I don't think this applies to a majority. Just for starters, many pianos purchased are verticals, which don't qualify as living room status symbols IMO.

Pure anecdotal based on the thousands of households I have visited in the last decade and the thousands I visited before.

There has been a major shift in the placement of the piano within the average home. Now, if you are coming at it from a person that works in homes just to work ON pianos, you are seeing those that play and value the piano... so it would seem 100% of homes have pianos purchased for practical use.

I used to know a dozen MDs which were piano crazies. The reason was that they believed Steinways were investments, and they would snatch up Steinways for their houses and storage, hoping to resell. All the MDs and medical people I know these days have no interest in pianos. A definite cultural shift.

If piano stores are closing in the dozens, I can pretty much guarantee what I am saying has validity: the piano's worth and status within the average American home is changing. It doesn't mean it will disappear completely, but it might re-emerge as a status symbol during a boom.
_________________________
Currently working on/memorizing...
"It's You" from Robotech
"He's A Pirate"
"Crazy Bone Rag"
"Claire DeLune (finally)"

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#1921422 - 07/01/12 12:13 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Rusty Fortysome]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19579
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Rusty Fortysome
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Rusty Fortysome
The piano thrived as a status symbol. Period. There was and is always a need for pianos as musical instruments, but a far majority of pianos sold in the past were used as living room status symbols (or space fillers) rather than serious musical instruments.
What do you base this statement on?

While no doubt some buy a piano just for its furniture aspect or status, I don't think this applies to a majority. Just for starters, many pianos purchased are verticals, which don't qualify as living room status symbols IMO.

Pure anecdotal based on the thousands of households I have visited in the last decade and the thousands I visited before.

There has been a major shift in the placement of the piano within the average home. Now, if you are coming at it from a person that works in homes just to work ON pianos, you are seeing those that play and value the piano... so it would seem 100% of homes have pianos purchased for practical use.

I used to know a dozen MDs which were piano crazies. The reason was that they believed Steinways were investments, and they would snatch up Steinways for their houses and storage, hoping to resell. All the MDs and medical people I know these days have no interest in pianos. A definite cultural shift.

If piano stores are closing in the dozens, I can pretty much guarantee what I am saying has validity: the piano's worth and status within the average American home is changing. It doesn't mean it will disappear completely, but it might re-emerge as a status symbol during a boom.
In what capacity are you visiting thousands of homes?

Are you talking about placing of acoustic or digital pianos? Digital pianos would not be in living rooms as much as acoustic pianos because they are not as beautiful from the furniture aspect?

There could be many other reasons for piano stores closing besides less people interested in buying them as status symbols. The severest recent downturn in piano purchases seems to have quite precisely coincided with the most recent general economic downturn. This was also the case during the economic depressions of the 1870s and 1890s according to the Steinway Bio I'm reading. Another reason would be the popularity of digitals.

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#1921423 - 07/01/12 12:14 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
Steve Cohen Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
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Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
The odds are stacked against a comeback. The capital costs are very high as are the risks.

A deadly combination, even in a decent economy.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1921427 - 07/01/12 12:23 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Rusty Fortysome]
Chopinlover49 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 641
As a person shopping for a grand piano myself, I am saddened by the effect the economy has on the piano industry as this makes finding the right piano much harder. And my family has always been involved in the music world, the piano business, and performing so I want to see it succeed and grow. So many large cities don't seem to offer much variety anymore. However, another issue exists, too. Just 6 years ago when my daughter bought her new Steinway L, she paid a little over $40000. Now it lists for over $60000. That is just too big a jump in such a short time. If the economy is bad, stores should be offering great deals just to move some merchandise and stay viable. I don't believe Steinway is doing this yet. Some brands are. I would say that means a lot of potential Steinway buyers are being pushed toward the pianos from other comparable brands where better offers exist. (Not all top-end companies, for sure, but some.) Maybe the performance-level brands are pricing themselves into a niche market. I know the Chinese brands are very affordable, but the difference in quality between these and the top-tier pianos should be apparent to buyers if they play. When all customers are offered are the mass-produced pianos, they may feel the quality of pianos has declined to the point that a digital makes more sense. These are marketed like cars or tvs. There will always be a few customers for the best pianos, but if the demand is small, can they stay afloat? Will they have to put all their efforts into offering their own mass-produced pianos (like Steinway's Boston and Essex pianos, for instance) and basically stop producing the original top-tier pianos except for special orders? Example: Rolls-Royce still makes a car but most people have never even seen one. I hope not.

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#1921516 - 07/01/12 05:22 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
PianoZac Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/10
Posts: 1425
Yeah I have spent considerable time in the local Steinway, Yamaha, and Kawai piano stores here in Nashville, and I am always the only person in the store. Kawai had a few people in a separate building offering lessons, and the Steinway Society has events to bring people in but to no offense, the crowd at the Steinway Society recitals is by and large over the age of 55. I'm one of the few in my 20s for sure. I wish my generation had the passion about acoustic pianos as I have. I try and tell friends that there is simpy no replacement for a quality grand or upright.
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#1921539 - 07/01/12 06:14 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
AJF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1650
Loc: Toronto
On a somewhat related note, there has also been a sharp decline in piano enrollment in the post secondary music programs up here in the Toronto area. In my first year on the faculty of York University 7 years ago I had more piano students than I wanted (15 or 16 hours). In the last two or three years I've been lucky to get 3 or 4 hours worth of students because of enrollment. Such is the case with the University of Toronto and Humber College as well. There ISN'T a shortage of guitar students or vocal majors however. Their numbers continue to grow.
Is the piano's popularity in decline? It used to be that the piano was the 'grand daddy' of all instruments in people's eyes -- and for good reason. These days I wonder.
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#1921562 - 07/01/12 07:49 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
PianoZac Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/10
Posts: 1425
The grand piano is and will always be the grandest instrument. It's amazing how much can be accomplished on the grand piano, as demonstrated by Franz Liszt's Beethoven Symphony Transcriptions.
_________________________
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Nord Piano 2


"Be who you are and say how you feel. Because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

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#1921594 - 07/01/12 10:56 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: PianoZac]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Zac Forbes
The grand piano is and will always be the grandest instrument. It's amazing how much can be accomplished on the grand piano, as demonstrated by Franz Liszt's Beethoven Symphony Transcriptions.


Sure, the piano would gain more respect if people actually treat music more like art than background accompaniment to sexy dance moves on YouTube or MTV.

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#1921777 - 07/02/12 12:26 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2384
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
According to the just release July issue of Music Merchandise Review (MMR), a leading music industry trade journal, in 2009 there were 432 keyboard specialty stores...stores that specialized in pianos, organs and keyboards. In 2012 there were only 315!


It's not as bad as I thought then. It seemed like 100 piano shops closed just in Southern California.
_________________________
Gary

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#1921801 - 07/02/12 01:33 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
S. Phillips Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Forte Farm, Lexington, KY
For those that don't mind a good summer read, see author Arthur Loesser's Men, Women and Pianos.
http://www.amazon.com/Men-Women-Pianos-Social-History/dp/0486265439

Men, Women and Pianos is an entertaining and informative history of the piano that does a great job of explaining the popularity of the instrument. Even though it's an older book it doesn't take much to extend the trends that he saw developing into the current market for pianos.
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#1921814 - 07/02/12 02:16 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: S. Phillips]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3360
Originally Posted By: S. Phillips
For those that don't mind a good summer read, see author Arthur Loesser's Men, Women and Pianos.
http://www.amazon.com/Men-Women-Pianos-Social-History/dp/0486265439

Men, Women and Pianos is an entertaining and informative history of the piano that does a great job of explaining the popularity of the instrument. Even though it's an older book it doesn't take much to extend the trends that he saw developing into the current market for pianos.

Yes, this is a great book. I own it, and recommend it. However, it is not without some historical inaccuracy.


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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
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#1921844 - 07/02/12 03:47 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2358
Loc: Lowell MA
If Music is to return at all or stop shrinking at such a rate, we need to support the culture of Music.

Music is more that an instrument one can sell or a service for sale, it is a lifestyle.

As a technician, there is so much one can do to support the lifestyle.

If only a few do it, it may not be enough. If everyone does it, there is more of a chance.

If you are a technician, post local performances on your website. Talk to your clients about events they may not know about etc.

Got Milk ...???

Got Music ?? It should be on every milk carton sold.

The video game industry posted a 40% drop in video game sales April 2012 over April 2011. They have vowed to pull out all the stops to regain that market.

They are looking for your kids.

Burn the video games and buy a piano.
_________________________
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Isaac Newton

E. J. Buck & Sons
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978 458 8688
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http://www.facebook.com/EJBuckPerformances

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#1921855 - 07/02/12 04:11 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Steve Cohen]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1974
Loc: Philadelphia area
Larry, Why isn't there an Art section in the standard state and national tests?

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#1921864 - 07/02/12 04:46 PM Re: Here's an Eye-Opener [Re: Dave B]
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2358
Loc: Lowell MA
Originally Posted By: Dave B
Larry, Why isn't there an Art section in the standard state and national tests?


Great question ... do you have an answer ?

I don't.
_________________________
"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."
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