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#241642 - 10/06/08 05:56 PM "The piano is a thing of the past"
horatiodreamt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/08
Posts: 59
Loc: Arizona, USA
Sad news story recently published by California newspaper website:

http://www.pe.com/localnews/rivcounty/stories/PE_News_Local_S_piano06.233261c.html

****


Piano sales are melancholy for Inland dealerships[/b]

08:36 AM PDT on Saturday, September 6, 2008

By SEAN NEALON
The Press-Enterprise

Sales of the piano -- once a status symbol and gathering spot for middle-class American families -- have plummeted, driven by a weakened economy and the rising popularity of electric guitars and electric pianos.

Inland piano store owners said deflating home values and evaporating home equity have resulted in more calls from people selling pianos than people buying them.

Music experts said guitars are sexier than traditional acoustic pianos and electric pianos are portable and less expensive. They also said status symbols change with time.

"The piano is a thing of the past," said Greg Shultz, owner of Oak Valley Piano in Yucaipa. "I think it's pretty much done in our society. There's no appreciation for it."

In the past decade, acoustic piano sales, which include uprights and grands, dropped by almost half in the United States, according to NAMM, an international music-products group in Carlsbad. In 2007, 54,000 acoustic pianos were sold, the lowest number since 1940.

Inland piano store operators report drops of 50 percent or greater in the past two years. Shop owners in Riverside and San Bernardino say business is the worst they've seen in 30 years. A Colton piano store is closing. Shultz's rent has been reduced, but he's still struggling to stay open.

Store owners are using a variety of tactics to stay open. Shultz started selling other musical instruments and more sheet music. Piano Music Center in Riverside cut its staff from nine to five employees. Cannon Pianos in San Bernardino is relying more on fees from servicing pianos.

Status Symbol No More

The decline in piano sales doesn't surprise William Roy, sociology of music professor at UCLA. In fact, he's surprised the decline didn't start earlier.

He said the piano used to be a status symbol, a sign of middle-class respectability. Today, televisions, not pianos, are the focal point of many living rooms.

Walter A. Clark, a music historian at UC Riverside, called the piano "a bit of a dinosaur." It has been replaced by the electric guitar as today's most popular instrument, just as earlier the harpsichord replaced the lute and the piano then replaced the harpsichord, he said.

He cited several reasons for the piano's drop in popularity:

Electronic pianos -- which are cheaper, portable and can hook into a computer -- were introduced.

Many accomplished pianists are working jobs that don't use their talents, which leads Clark to conclude it's often "a dead-end career."

The electric guitar has taken over, with sales nearly tripling in the past decade.

Clark said 19th century European composers such as Wagner and Verdi had political clout. Now, rock musicians raise money for famine relief.

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#241643 - 10/06/08 06:08 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
DanLaura Larson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/01/08
Posts: 695
Loc: Pocatello, Idaho
How sad for our culture.

On the bright side, we own a 10 year old TV and have no plans to replace it. Today we just bought a new grand.
_________________________
Dan and Laura Larson
Fazioli and Ibach grands
Larson Piano Studio
http://www.stoneformsart.com/

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#241644 - 10/06/08 06:27 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
I don't buy the accuracy of an article that mis-spells NAMM as NAAM as the source for its chart numbers, or which refers to DIGITAL pianos as electric ones.

People should always poofread their work lest they leave some out.
_________________________
Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
************
Steinway M
Roland Atelier AT90R
************
All Posts are Snarky Unless Otherwise Noted
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#241645 - 10/06/08 06:34 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Sure sales are down. The economy is as well.

I don't meet many people that don't say they would love a grand piano one day.

There is still a desire, perhaps not always the finances.

I do believe there is enough used instruments on the market that it is hard on those manufactures that build as many units as they possibly can.

Especially when they are entry level units.

Pianos last longer than dish washers, it does not matter how cheaply you make them. Make them too cheap they don't sell, make them too good and they last for a very long time.
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

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#241646 - 10/06/08 06:37 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rod Verhnjak:
I do believe there is enough used instruments on the market that it is hard on those manufactures that build as many units as they possibly can.

Especially when they are entry level units. [/b]
AMEN!
_________________________
Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
************
Steinway M
Roland Atelier AT90R
************
All Posts are Snarky Unless Otherwise Noted
************

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#241647 - 10/06/08 06:46 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Piano World Offline



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5636
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Gathering spot yes, status symbol, not so much.

When I was growing up (watch the wise cracks, I can pull your membership) it seemed like everyone had a piano, but... they were hardly status symbols.
Most of them were old uprights or spinets.

But yes, someone in just about every house played, and people did gather around them.

Sort of like this...


Oh wait, that was piano party in Maine last month.

Or maybe this...



Oh wait, that was a Mason & Hamlin Piano Factory Tour, followed by a party at Larry Buck's shop in Lowell last May

How about this...



Oh wait, that was the SO CAL Piano Party and Grand Obsession Book Reading/Signing (the one the LA Times covered)...

Well maybe this one...



No wait, that's last years Cape Cod Piano Party


Ah, here we go, a So Cal piano party from 2003...



I guess what I'm trying to say is, our 35,000+ registered members (who have created over 1 million posts), and 300,000+ unique (piano loving) visitors a month, who by the way view 5-6 MILLION page views a month, just might not be quite ready to bury the piano.


Those who think the piano isn't still popular just don't know where to look for piano lovers (we do).
_________________________
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www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
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-------------------------
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And please invite everyone you know to join our piano forums!
Coming to Maine? We're in Parsonsfield (southwest) let's get together!


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#241648 - 10/06/08 07:03 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8582
Loc: Georgia, USA
Great pictures, Frank! You’ll get no wise-cracks from me. \:D

Thanks for sharing! \:\)

Take care,

Rickster
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#241649 - 10/06/08 07:21 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Bear904 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 64
Loc: FL
Nor any wise cracks from me. I'm no spring chicken (I don't play) and my 14 year old daughter has taken the piano up.I do however LOVE hearing one live. I think the naysayers are a little premature. MY parents who are 84 years old still have one in their living room.

I don't think it's going away any time soon...
_________________________
Just because you are paranoid does not mean someone is still not out to get you.
1986 Kawai UST-7

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#241650 - 10/06/08 08:53 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
go pianos!
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#241651 - 10/06/08 09:06 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
vlamb Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/08
Posts: 4
Loc: Toronto
 Quote:
Originally posted by horatiodreamt:

Music experts said guitars are sexier than traditional acoustic pianos
[/b]
Who are these "music experts", we should hang them.

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#241652 - 10/06/08 09:46 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Avantgardenabi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/08
Posts: 496
This is a sad topic... \:\(

When I compare my century-old Knabe (with ornately carved legs and a music desk) to today's newly produced grand pianos, I can see how pianos were a respected symbol of status back then.

I guess many piano industries today do not make pianos like they did in the past...

But I love pianos. I love electric guitars, too, but I cannot imagine a world without a sound of an acoustic piano.

Besides, I even recently bought one! \:\)

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#241653 - 10/06/08 09:46 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9350
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Guitars sexier? Maybe to a 14 year old!

Interestingly, a recent grand piano buyer was also a guitarist. He is a well respected physician in the Philadelphia area and, at 40 years old, had always wanted to get a very nice grand piano andhis time had come. He felt it was a more "mature" instrument and he could get more expression from a piano than from a guitar.

I also play a little guitar and whole heartedly agree.

Rod hit it squarely on the head when he said that the desire, if not the finances, are still there.

Frank,

Great pics! Thank you for spreading the word and gathering us all together here.

Wait a minute..... couldn't we be politically referred to as a "special interest group" here at PW?

Maybe we just need a lobbyist or two to push through a grant that would place one piano with every family in the USA. It might just cost less than war.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#241654 - 10/06/08 09:52 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by DanLaura Larson:
How sad for our culture.[/b]
I lived the first 28 years of my life in Southern California, so I couldn't help noticing where that article was researched and published.

Even if there are broader implications, I would caution against assuming that the "Inland Empire" is necessarily representative of anything outside that region.

Perhaps the kindest thing that can be said is that it's never been known as a stronghold of culture.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#241655 - 10/06/08 10:07 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
DanLaura Larson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/01/08
Posts: 695
Loc: Pocatello, Idaho
Great points Steven!

Dan
_________________________
Dan and Laura Larson
Fazioli and Ibach grands
Larson Piano Studio
http://www.stoneformsart.com/

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#241656 - 10/06/08 10:14 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Terry C. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 316
Loc: Melbourne, (Suntree) Florida
People are still buying pianos! I just bought one as well! Long live the piano!!!
_________________________
Proud owner of a Rebuilt 1912 Feurich concert grand with the new Phoenix system.
5th generation piano makers
Gotta love that German Craftsmanship
http://www.flickr.com/photos/Feurich_Fanatic/

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#241657 - 10/06/08 10:24 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
kenny Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051


Hey, who's that handsome man in the black shirt under the piano between those hot Asian babes???
\:D

Boy that was at JohnC's house a zillion years ago.
Great party, that was!

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#241658 - 10/06/08 10:27 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
DanLaura Larson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/01/08
Posts: 695
Loc: Pocatello, Idaho
But the real question is this: are accordians sexy? 'Cause Laura has two of them. And she can play a mean polka when she practices.

Dan
_________________________
Dan and Laura Larson
Fazioli and Ibach grands
Larson Piano Studio
http://www.stoneformsart.com/

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#241659 - 10/06/08 10:28 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Inland piano store owners said deflating home values and evaporating home equity have resulted in more calls from people selling pianos than people buying them. [/b]

Sales are down everywhere in every field. But, those used home pianos that are being sold are also being re-purchased by someone else somewhere. So, they are just relocated. \:\) I personally feel that pianos will always be around. Tastes change, times change, clothes change but, sooner or later, most of these changes come back into style once again.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#241660 - 10/06/08 10:34 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
kenny Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
Yeah, pianos are dead.
Here are a few of the dead people at my last piano party a couple months ago.
They were moving around okay, so it must have been before the rigor mortis set in.

Oh My! This was in Southern California too [/b] !


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#241661 - 10/06/08 10:39 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas


(it's been a while since this one)
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#241662 - 10/07/08 08:12 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4981
Loc: boston north
"The piano is a thing of the past,"

??????????????????????????????????

They said that when radios became popular!

*
*
*

But here are some more piano soiree's...













_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#241663 - 10/07/08 08:29 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1255
Loc:
I read figures of the electric guitar market over the last 30 years a while a go, and the tendency is the same for guitars. Sales are so much lower now.

Piano is fundamental in so many styles of music ... iyt just cant die

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#241664 - 10/07/08 09:55 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
The trouble is a site like this is preaching to the converted. However, the piano shops going bust left, right and centre don;yt get many sales from the converted, because pianos last so long there is minimal repeat business.

The piano is possibly in terminal decline in popular music. It will inevitably persist in classical music but that is bound to be a minority market.

I do not know any parent in the last few years who regards buying a piano for the family as remotely aspirational. The aficionados (residing here) may value high quality instruments, but I would expect that the sellers of them will not see the piano glory days again in their lifetimes.
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#241665 - 10/07/08 10:42 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
JDelmore Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/07
Posts: 634
"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated..." Mr. P.I. Anner, Esq.
_________________________
PTG Associate Member

"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)

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#241666 - 10/07/08 11:08 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Piano World Offline



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5636
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
 Quote:
Originally posted by AJB:
The trouble is a site like this is preaching to the converted. However, the piano shops going bust left, right and centre don;yt get many sales from the converted, because pianos last so long there is minimal repeat business.

The piano is possibly in terminal decline in popular music. It will inevitably persist in classical music but that is bound to be a minority market.

I do not know any parent in the last few years who regards buying a piano for the family as remotely aspirational. The aficionados (residing here) may value high quality instruments, but I would expect that the sellers of them will not see the piano glory days again in their lifetimes. [/b]
"As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap"

Those who believe the piano business is dying (or dead) will realize a self fulfilling prophecy.

Those who still believe in the business, and behave accordingly, will continue to succeed.

Sure there will be challenges, always have been.
But businesses that remain proactive will survive and prosper.

I've found at every piano forums party I've attended there are always people who don't play but wish they could.
And many times there are children who are either just learning or expressing an interest.

In other words, there are still plenty of potential piano players/owners out there.

Piano World receives over 10,000 unique visitors a day (333,000+ in Sept). I can guarantee you they are not all "converted". In fact, I'd venture to say the majority of them are looking for information because they've recently become interested in the piano, are thinking of getting a piano, or want to fix one up.


Do you know what the top visited pages are on Piano World?

In this order:

~ The Piano Forums (talk and learn about pianos)
~ Free Piano Music (listings of sheet music sites)
~ Virtual Java Piano (play the piano online)
~ Piano Exchange (used and new pianos for sale)
~ Piano Dealers
~ Piano Tuners
~ Piano Teachers

This out of over 1,000 pages that make up the rest of the site (other than the forums).

I also believe it is up to us (those who already know we like the piano) to share our joy with others, and try to get people interested in playing.

I belong to an organization called AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association).
They are constantly prodding members to introduce their friends/family/neighbors/co-workers to the joys of flying.
Current membership is 415,000 and growing.

We should be doing the same thing.

So ... take a friend up in your piano today :-)
_________________________
- Frank B.
Founder / Host
www.PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
Facebook.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Twitter.com/PianoWorld
www.youtube.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Skype: PianoWorldDotCom
My Keyboards:
Estonia L-190, Yamaha P-80, Hammond XK-3, Hammond A-100, Estey 1895 Pump Organ, Harpsichord (kit), Clavichord (kit)
-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
And please invite everyone you know to join our piano forums!
Coming to Maine? We're in Parsonsfield (southwest) let's get together!


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#241667 - 10/07/08 11:18 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
plays88skeys Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 3091
Loc: Richmond, VA
Scenes from the Central Virginia party in August, 2008:










http://well-temperedforum.groupee.net/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/2850024535/m/3430081765
_________________________
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. - Beverly Sills

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#241668 - 10/07/08 11:41 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Genaa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/08
Posts: 326
Loc: Winchester, UK
lovely to see so many people gathering for piano parties - such a lovely idea \:\)

I am sure that the piano industry will survive this current downturn, much as it did with previous ones. The piano (for me at least though I am sure many others) occupies an interesting position as a luxury item that I simply would not be without - take the house, the car etc - just leave me a piano and I will be smiling \:\)
_________________________
Sauter Masterclass 130
----------------------
Currently working on:
Bach: French Suite no. 4
Beethoven: Op 10 no 1
Schubert: Op 90 no 3
Debussy: La Cathedrale Engloutie, Golliwog's Cakewalk, 'Clear the Room'
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#241669 - 10/07/08 12:19 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Marty in Minnesota Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 1178
Loc: Minnesota
I am still optomistic and here's why.

I have only been in Minnesota for about 2-1/2 years and moved into a newer development. There are many families around with young children. In the last two years, two different families came a' calling when I had the windows open and they could hear me playing. Both had children who were taking lessons, practicing on digitals, and were considering an acoustic piano for the kids.

Would I help them pick out an instrument? Certainly!

The shopping was fun, I had a chance to develop new friendships, and the owners of two different piano stores are happy. All of this within only one block. Proud parents, enthusiastic young pianists, and real pianos have become one of the centers of our little neighborhood. Two other kids began lessons this year and have started on digitals. I am sure that will change soon. Those kids are envious of their friends who have "real" pianos.

So, in only a one block stretch of 3rd Street, we have added an RX-2 and a 5'-7" Story & Clark. Both are brand spankin' new pianos. The family who bought the S&K were thrilled to discover that they could actually have a decent grand within their budget.

I think there is still hope for the world.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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#241670 - 10/07/08 01:13 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4981
Loc: boston north
Marty,

Is the message here...

for us to open our windows while playing?

;\) ;\) ;\)
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#241671 - 10/07/08 02:07 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Zormpas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/05
Posts: 616
Loc: Monterey, Ca
Guitar is sexier?

I don't know - its kinda hard to have sex on a guitar, but plenty of folks have had sex on a piano!

Seriously, the guitar is mainly a folk instrument. Nothing wrong with that at all - but it doesn't have the versatility of a piano, IMHO.
_________________________
-Zorba
"The Veiled Male"
http://www.doubleveil.net
1918 Hobart M. Cable "H"
"No-one would knowingly provide Franz Liszt with a mediocre piano." -E. M. Good

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