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#241732 - 10/20/08 03:02 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7266
Loc: torrance, CA
 Quote:
However, making effective use of these amazing tools requires training in music theory combined with the ability to play the piano. I suspect there is precious little of either in today's pop music world and the results speak for themselves IMHO.
Starting Over,

I'll agree wholeheartedly with that. It drives me nuts when people infer that digitals are toys that require little more than pushing a few buttons. They present different challenges than acoustics, but there are challenges.

Probably the technology is running ahead of the ability to utilize it effectively. We can only hope that greater sophistication among listeners will demand higher standards. In the meantime, you could always change your membership to a different gym. \:\)
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#241733 - 10/20/08 05:58 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
Frank - my thousands of hours reference was specifically for classical piano. It does indeed take that long to get to the point where desirable Concert Pianist repertoire begins to become accessible.

I also think you are to a degree deluding yourself with some of your statements about forum statistics. You make a point, for example, of members rarely leaving, stating that they have "chosen" to remain. This is obviously nonsense. Many of them, having dipped in, have simply chosen to ignore the forum and their membership rather than take the trouble of leaving. This applies to all active forums. Forum owners like to make reference to the iceberg of inactive members below the tiny peak of active ones - but the reality is that iceberg is frozen and most of those members are gone forever.

I also think that daily hits statistics have to be treated with great care as they can be hugely misleading. Those of us who are often approached to place internet advertising are well aware of some of these facts.

And there is a difference between having an optimistic view and a realistic one. Realism is not necessarily negative (as you have chosen to portray it) but simply recognizes practical reality.

The acoustic piano industry faces numerous hurdles in its struggle to survive. As well as musical fashion, economics, competition from cheap imports and digitals and so on, the reality is a dwindling customer base and minimal repeat business from people (such as most of those on here) who already own pianos.

Lots of folks on here like to chat about pianos - but only a minute percentage buy more than one or two in a lifetime.
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#241734 - 10/20/08 06:59 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
kenny Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano World:
Luckily those of us with a more "glass is half full" positive view can still help spread the joy of playing.

Piano Parties are one way, shows like Scott's are another. If you play piano, share it with your friends, invite them over, and let them know they could do it too if they really wanted to.

Every time I play for a group of (non members) people, I hear "I wish I could play like that", or "I've always wanted to play the piano".

You know what? You can. [/b]
Indeed! [/b]

And I'll add that it's never[/b] too late.
A common misconception is you must start as a child.
I started at age 40.
Sure, Carnegie Hall isn't begging me to appear but a music career of fame and fortune is not the point.
Making music is the point, for yourself and for others around you.

Sure learning to play pianos is hard work, but it's immensely satisfying.

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#241735 - 10/20/08 08:43 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1255
Loc:
 Quote:
Originally posted by theJourney:
Unfortunately, the piano store has all but disappeared from the high street in Amsterdam during the last 3 years. Cristofori, majestic on the Prinsengracht, with its funky emphasis on (unsellable for 99% of customers) electic German/European manufacture and active concert and master class scene is gone. Ypma and the Steinway Centre have moved from their prominent, plush, parquet-floored place on the Spui to a cold, low-rent concrete mall in a North Holland cheese town's cow pasture. The myriad of smaller tuner/technicus/one brand stores that were once scattered all across the city have mostly closed their doors.

What is left in Amsterdam proper? One very commercial and uninspired Yamaha dealer next to the ugliest concrete parking garage monstrosity ever built on the edge of the historic centre and one older, wildly unpredictable, on-the-edge-of-Alzheimer's dealer just south-east of the Albert Cuyp market. There are, however, signs of life: Bosendorfer has opened a renewed one-brand store across from the last-named store, there are several smaller businessmen who have started mini-showrooms off the visible path (e.g. behind the Spiegelgracht antique stores street) for Chinese grands with limited opening times of 2-3 days/week max. with the rest of the time being rented to piano teachers and for weekend concert series. Finally, there are several talented and dedicated piano restorers with their own workshops on the canals or in the new harbour development on the IJ.

As far as education is concerned, Amsterdam and Holland have found themselves in the last decade hurtling uncontrollably down the dead-end road of perdition of Anglo-Saxon-inspired utility theory and free market worship: privatising, pragmatising and reducing to soulless monetary terms all that comes in their path.

One must bear in mind that the Dutch have always considered school a place for academics, period. Sports, music, drama, etc. are seen as more appropriately taking place in charities, associations, clubs and private institutions. The public school associated but separate music schools have provided for decades quality, heavily subsidised music edcuation to school-age children of all socio-economic classes. However, government subsidies and support have been greatly reduced as part of the fashionable American philosophy and therefore access to music education has been greatly reduced. Making music on the piano or in a string trio, like reading the classics, or playing field hockey is more and more seen to be an elite activity where the rest of us just need to put our nose to the grindstone and focus on a pragmatic, job-oriented, narrow technical training so we can...MAKE LOTS OF MONEY!!! so that our grandchildren might be able to become rounded, renaissance individuals who can have the luxury of learning a musical instrument. [/b]
I agree with you 100%. What you said applies to Spain as well. Musical education is seen as some "useless" knowledge that is not necessary in the "real world".
I for one, if/when i have children, will definitely encourage them to study music from a very young age. The benefits of this are so many , i think it is a actually a gift for the kids to have music loving and encouraging parents. Education standards , in Europe, are going downhill. I recently rejoined university to finish my second degree and you would not believe the spelling some of these soon to be graduates have. Absolutely outrageous. The elimination of the Music subject from high school programs is a sign of this educational system deterioration. We will end up having doctors who kow about Medicine but cannot spell right, culture is seen as some kind of unnecessary "plus" . I think that is absolutely terrible.

Having said all thsi , i still think the piano will outlast pretty much any other instrument, These days, dp s are affordable, and let s face it, if people learn piano on a dp, they will go for an acoustic (providing they can afford it) sooner or later.

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#241736 - 10/20/08 08:45 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9363
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Scott wrote:
 Quote:
categorically reject the notion that there is a lack of interested warm bodies able to sustain a healthy piano market. (and BTW, who cares if it is an acoustic or a digital, as long as we're creating lifelong happy music makers?)

The issue is that the huge desire a majority of these potential piano buyers have is to be taught how to play music of the modern era on the piano as opposed to classical techniques and repertoire.

Good or bad, right or wrong, (and we can debate the reasons ad nauseam,) the fact is that only a minority of these potential piano buyers have a desire to learn to play classical piano.
[/b]

Yes, Scott! Yes!

You have gotten to the crux of the issue at hand, I think.

By the way, many of these beginners who go into piano to learn pop stop right there. But many develop a desire for more. As an analogy, nobody I know started drinking single malt whiskeys at 18 and enjoyed them. For many, classical music is a delicacy that needs to be accessible to them. Without somewhere to start from, a desire to hear or play classical music will not be there.

BUT - start playing the piano, begin to experience how cool it is, and some of those people will develop a taste for more. Some of those people (your students included Scott) have bought grand pianos from me and have gone on to "live" teachers. My wish (and I am a fan of yours Scott) is that you could expose people to just a little more carefully chosen, easily mastered classical music.

IMHO, it is not that classical is boring or hard to listen to (although some of it is) it is that so many people today have no frame of reference for it.

As an example, I took my daughter to a concert last night - all Haydn - which included a concerto for piano and a concerto for violin and piano. There were lots of kids there. This was a great show for kids because the music is easy for them to listen to. My daughter (and other kids there that I chatted with) loved the concert!

I would not have recommended an all Wagner evening to so many parents.

What these kids are doing is developing an experiencial base that can be built upon. They are developing a taste for music that they may otherwise never be exposed to. This is a challenge that every music teacher has to deal with on a consistent basis.

This is something that many adults (who may have grown up on Billy Joel and Bruce Hornsby) do for themselves or with a little prodding from a good teacher or mentor.

Unfortunately, I do not have the time to put into this post that it deserves, but I will check in later.

Thank you again, Scott for contributing.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#241737 - 10/20/08 09:51 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:
Frank - my thousands of hours reference was specifically for classical piano. It does indeed take that long to get to the point where desirable Concert Pianist repertoire begins to become accessible.

I also think you are to a degree deluding yourself with some of your statements about forum statistics. You make a point, for example, of members rarely leaving, stating that they have "chosen" to remain. This is obviously nonsense. Many of them, having dipped in, have simply chosen to ignore the forum and their membership rather than take the trouble of leaving. This applies to all active forums. Forum owners like to make reference to the iceberg of inactive members below the tiny peak of active ones - but the reality is that iceberg is frozen and most of those members are gone forever.

I also think that daily hits statistics have to be treated with great care as they can be hugely misleading. Those of us who are often approached to place internet advertising are well aware of some of these facts.

And there is a difference between having an optimistic view and a realistic one. Realism is not necessarily negative (as you have chosen to portray it) but simply recognizes practical reality.

The acoustic piano industry faces numerous hurdles in its struggle to survive. As well as musical fashion, economics, competition from cheap imports and digitals and so on, the reality is a dwindling customer base and minimal repeat business from people (such as most of those on here) who already own pianos.

Lots of folks on here like to chat about pianos - but only a minute percentage buy more than one or two in a lifetime. [/b]
Were you hit in the head by a grand piano lid when you were a child AJB?
I have to wonder why you insist on refuting anything positive anyone has to say about pianos.

You also insist upon shooting down anything positive I say about our forums, yet you have chosen to make over 2000 posts yourself.

Perhaps we should have you recruiting for us, as you seem quite found of hanging out here.

I appreciate your warnings about the numbers I throw around. Having spent the last 10+ years building these forums, and working as an Internet Marketing consultant, I'm pretty familiar with how it all works, and what statistics are relevant.

Click the Statistics link at the top of the forums and you'll find that for the past 10 months the forums have been averaging over 2 million page views a month (except for a dip in Aug. when we switched over servers and lost some counts).
That's just for the forums, not the other 1000+ pages of Piano World.
And yes, they are true Page Views, not "hits".
(Our hits run in the 28-30 million a month range).
We generally transfer about 240GB of data a month.

As for how many people remain "active" in the forums, hard to tell. You see, the majority of people choose to watch rather than participate.

As an example, earlier this morning there were only 89 logged in users, but 460 "guests".
Often times those "guests" are a combination of members who didn't bother to log in and people checking us out.

So, how do I really know how active our forums and our site overall are?
I check my server logs every day, I read the AwStats reports on activities (unique visitors, pages viewed, paths taken, time spent on site, average number of pages per visitor, etc.), and I read the reports generated by our Google analytics.

I also monitor our position in natural search results on the major search engines.
We enjoy top 10 rankings for tons of search terms related to the piano.

In fact, here is a little exercise I did in Jan of 2007 to show where some of our numbers come from ... http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/16715.html


You see, for years PW was just a hobby for me, my livelyhood was from developing and marketing web sites with a special emphasis on Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Statistical Analysis, and Ecommerce.

I developed and managed multi-million dollar projects for McGraw-Hill (the publishing giant), and consulted for companies like EDGAR online.

I know what Piano World is doing, because it's my business to know.

And by the way, you are correct that advertisers want to know what kind of traffic they can anticipate.
And yes, there are sites that will try to inflate their numbers. That's a losers game because your advertisers will quickly learn you can't deliver, and leave.

And yes, I do sell advertising on PW. And you know what? Our advertisers are very happy with the results, to the point where I often hear "whatever you do, don't let our ad run out".

And the bottom line is, watching our traffic continually grow tells me we are seeing more and more people interested in the piano all the time.
_________________________
- 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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#241738 - 10/20/08 10:19 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
That is quite a defensive reply Frank! It is because I knew that you make a living as an internet consultant that I was surprised that you make statements (for example) about people staying as members. It is true but it does not present a fair picture.

I am indeed a piano enthusiast: that much is pretty obvious from my large post count. However, I am also a businessman and a realist. Anyone can post statements about how everything in the garden is rosy - or at least pinkish - but we are deluding ourselves if we believe this stuff.

The acoustic piano industry in Europe and America is shrinking because demand has dramatically diminished. Very few dealers do anything positive to stimulate demand other than being reactive.

Let me tell you a personal story. A couple of years ago I tried to donate a good quality and immaculate eight year old grand piano to a local state school. I would have paid for delivery and I offered to do a deal with a tuner to maintain it properly for 5 years. The purpose of the piano was to enable pupils to take lessons and to provide support for school plays etc.

The school was concerned about finding piano teachers as their sole qualified music teacher was not a skilled pianist.

I tried to interest two reasonably local piano shops in sponsoring the deal by subsidizing some lessons and providing some music work books. The quid pro quo for them was that they could develop an opportunity to sell pianos (acoustic or digital) to parents of pupils taking lessons. I was trying to create a virtuous circle.

I also sold the idea to the parents committee, who were willing to allocate a few hundred pounds to a lessons fund.

Both dealers declined the opportunity as there was no clear link to sales.

The school declined the opportunity unless I would undertake to find teachers and underwrite funding if demand was low or parents defaulted on lesson fees. They also wanted me to insure the piano (which I was gifting to them). There is no legal requirement to insure the piano so to my mind they had nothing to lose.

I gave up at this point as it was clear that i was pushing water uphill.

I have tried pretty hard to do something positive to encourage piano education locally. I don't think I have ever posted about it here. This experience is one reason why I feel that chatter on forums such is this is simply the converted gossiping with the converted. We can all bask in a rosy glow but it is not doing much to deal with the decline.

That said I do think, Frank, that your forum is a positive thing (and I do not agree with an ex poster here who runs his own forum and who reckons PW damages the business).

Until dealers start to adopt a more lateral thinking approach to the business, I think the business will continue to shrink. It needs building up from the childhood level. Selling a few pianos to middle aged adults coming back to music, is not really a long term solution.

Kind regards

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#241739 - 10/20/08 10:37 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Piano*Dad Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10410
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
 Quote:
Both dealers declined the opportunity as there was no clear link to sales.

The school declined the opportunity unless I would undertake to find teachers and underwrite funding if demand was low or parents defaulted on lesson fees. They also wanted me to insure the piano (which I was gifting to them). There is no legal requirement to insure the piano so to my mind they had nothing to lose.
This is the kind of conservative thinking that holds many organizations back. It is quite common in schools, especially if administrators have little independence from central control. In my area, at least, most school principals are a little more entrepreneurial. I think your proposal might have flown.


Frank,

I too thought your post a touch defensive. You have made some good points about how to understand traffic on a website, but I don't think a good case is strengthened by adding weaker arguments or hyperbole. Over the years you have repeatedly used the member count as a signal of PW's strength. Yes, we really don't know exactly how many of those people are still here, but I think any reasonable person would regard that member count as a wild exaggeration of the real membership here. Continuing to report it as though the number itself has meaning (though many of those members joined eons ago and have left eons ago) just weakens the rest of your quite good case.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#241740 - 10/20/08 11:14 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
i've bought 7 pianos in my life and helped more than several others buy pianos as well.

just thought I'd throw that in.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#241741 - 10/20/08 11:16 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
stanw909 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/04/08
Posts: 195
Loc: SoCal
Frank B.I wish to thank you for this wonderful website.I hope you make lots of money here because you truly deserve it.Some people seem to think that providing a great service and resource should be just an altruist endeavor and nonprofit.I feel that I have been given great advice and knowledge here from many experienced posters and have not been pressured to spend a penny.I have found a couple of great books for my son through your posters and advertisers but I searched these out myself.Please keep up the good work.

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#241742 - 10/20/08 11:34 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 Piano*Dad:
 Quote:
Both dealers declined the opportunity as there was no clear link to sales.

The school declined the opportunity unless I would undertake to find teachers and underwrite funding if demand was low or parents defaulted on lesson fees. They also wanted me to insure the piano (which I was gifting to them). There is no legal requirement to insure the piano so to my mind they had nothing to lose.
This is the kind of conservative thinking that holds many organizations back. It is quite common in schools, especially if administrators have little independence from central control. In my area, at least, most school principals are a little more entrepreneurial. I think your proposal might have flown.


Frank,

I too thought your post a touch defensive. You have made some good points about how to understand traffic on a website, but I don't think a good case is strengthened by adding weaker arguments or hyperbole. Over the years you have repeatedly used the member count as a signal of PW's strength. Yes, we really don't know exactly how many of those people are still here, but I think any reasonable person would regard that member count as a wild exaggeration of the real membership here. Continuing to report it as though the number itself has meaning (though many of those members joined eons ago and have left eons ago) just weakens the rest of your quite good case. [/b]
Yes, I probably was a bit defensive.
Although I called PW my "hobby" for a number of years, I've worked hard for over 10 years to make it an overnight success.

I will give you that "members" is more ambiguous than something like unique visitors or page views.

Perhaps a better way to look at the continuous increase in registrations is that we are constantly attracting new members.

Most sites report their "membership" based on the number of people who sign up, and don't drop out (Facebook, Flickr, Friendster, etc.).

I also consider the fact our page views on the forums alone continues to increase (without a corresponding increase in the average number of pages viewed per unique visitor), which means there must be more people visiting (as evidenced by a rise in the number of unique visitors).

We are getting off track here now, my fault for trying to support my assertion that the piano is still popular based on our traffic.

I now return you to our regularly scheduled debates.
_________________________
- 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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#241743 - 10/20/08 12:43 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7266
Loc: torrance, CA
Quotes from Scott the Piano Guy
 Quote:
"The piano will "possibly" be in terminal decline if we persist in trying to teach the majority of interested students classical music at the expense of popular music."
Quite true. Most piano teachers have been trained in the classical tradition. (Ask one to comp or sightread a chart cold-turkey at a rehearsal. \:D ) The market for live and recorded classical piano performance is so small that many talented and highly-trained classical musicians earn their daily bread teaching others rather than waiting for the phone call from Carnegie Hall (or even from the Elks Club). How many young pianists who work assiduously for ten to fifteen years mastering the requisite classical literature for competitions and conservatory auditions are dreaming of a career in teaching piano to youngsters?

Talented and highly-trained non-classical pianists are less likely to be teaching and more likely to be out gigging or doing studio work. The work may not be glamorous, but for many it beats teaching. Working non-classical pros will not knock digital instruments since those instruments usually put bread on their table. Good non-classical piano teachers can certainly be found, but not in the numbers that classically-trained teachers can.

 Quote:
I categorically reject the notion that there is a lack of interested warm bodies able to sustain a healthy piano market. (and BTW, who cares if it is an acoustic or a digital, as long as we're creating lifelong happy music makers?)
Who cares?

The makers of acoustic instruments

Retailers who sell acoustic instruments exclusively

All those in the acoustic piano industry who prefer to harp on negative factors beyond their control rather than cleaning up their own image and practices.

The snobbish piano 'ownership' element who keep insisting that only an acoutic is a real[/b] piano, that only a grand is a real[/b] acoustic, and that only classical piano literature has real[/b] depth.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#241744 - 10/20/08 01:10 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Turandot: "The snobbish piano 'ownership' element who keep insisting that only an acoutic is a real piano, that only a grand is a real acoustic, and that only classical piano literature has real depth."

All of those things above are true in my mind accept for the snobbish piano ownership attribution.

I have never owned a grand, I am happy with my Yamaha, it has been an excellant teaching piano bought in 1981.

Classical piano literature has depth and volume and a place in music history, I've enjoyed piano classical music greatly.

At the same time, I play digitals upon occasion, I can see what they offer to people in meeting different needs, recording, ear phones, rhythms, fun machines. So many piano students have them.

In the meantime, I've studied and played all kinds of music on the piano, and not limited to classical.

It's better to not make devisive statements about the piano as an instrument. I think each of us chooses what we need and can afford.

Not wearing wedding rings does not make me any less married than my 47 years of marriage. And even without presently owning a piano, I would still be a pianist and teacher, should that come to be.

Choose your instument for whatever reason, but the snob comments have to go. MHO.

Betty

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#241745 - 10/20/08 01:45 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Starting Over Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 1290
Loc: Toronto
Regarding popular music vs classical, I stick mostly to classical because, for the most part, music written for solo piano is mostly classical and is more interesting to play than most adaptations of popular music for piano. Perhaps there would be more interest in teaching popular music if there was more well arranged material to choose from. I assume this would increase the prices but it would be worth it. I haven't tried to play from fake books which, as I understand it, provide only a melody line and chords, leaving the arrangement up to the player in real time. I don't have that ability.

As for acoustic vs digital, I consider both to be real pianos, each with it's own strengths. A good acoustic piano is nicer to play but digitals are portable, offer expanded functionality and can be played silently. I own both.
_________________________
Buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it.
Will Rogers


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#241746 - 10/20/08 01:48 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7266
Loc: torrance, CA
Betty,

Thanks for your thoughts. The element of which I spoke does exist. It doesn't take much effort to find it here. In fact, you can't read far on the Piano Forum without bumping into it in one way or another. I was certainly not blaming it on piano teachers.

Keep those ringless fingers lingering on the keys in anticipation of the transfer. ;\) I enjoyed that comment a lot!
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#241747 - 10/20/08 04:20 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Wumpletoad Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/16/08
Posts: 13
Loc: England
As a protagonist in the war - I bought a DP! - I could not help but feel a deep sense of loss at the weekend.

I was walking the dog and passed the local piano shop which, being Sunday, was closed. Looking through the glass door, I could see displays of Korg, Yamaha, Roland et al. Outside, obviously awaiting transport to the big pianomaker in the sky, parked nose to tail were seven old uprights in various degrees of disrepair but most seemed capable of at least partial restoration.

Lids were off, falls were open and it was raining. I can't remember when I last witnessed such a depressing spectacle but it did seem a portent of the acoustical future.

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#241748 - 10/20/08 04:56 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Bob Snyder Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/08
Posts: 164
Loc: West Coast
Hello everyone - and let me start by apologizing for not getting in on this topic sooner. I have a brief comment related to the very gloomy article that started this discussion - which was sent to me multiple times, by multiple business acquaintances.

After reading the "melancholy" article, I actually communicated directly with its author (Sean Nealon). I told him that I had personal, firsthand knowledge of two Southern California piano dealer representatives who had spoken with him, giving him positive views about the piano industry. I asked him why he didn't include those comments in his article. His answer was not at all satisfactory - as is typically the case when these so called "journalists" are the ones being asked the questions, rather than asking them.

In my view, he had a conclusion already determined - and the only "facts" he included were those that supported his pre-defined position - to which he was already committed.

I'm sensitive to the press - because I've seen this sort of thing happen over and over again. In one case in particular, it had a tremendously negative impact on us for quite some time. How many reporters are there who have any interest in "good news" - or in "positive news"? This guy - he's the sort of guy who, if home building was way up - - would report "Shortage of Building Materials Looms"!

The other side of the piano story can be dramatically and powerfully presented - just by visiting any one of the many RMM (Recreational Music Making) groups that have been started all over the country. What we as an industry must continue to do is consistenly and effectively communicate the benefits of music - and specifically the benefits of playing the piano - and offer our clients the convenient and enjoyable opportunity to do so. When the pure joy of music making is combined with the "fellowship" component, you have something that will never die.

And while I'm not at all naive as to the realities of the business climate - and the piano market today, I can tell you that there are dealers out there who's business is UP.

Let's identify people who "always wanted to play the piano" - - and prove to them that they can do it! Once that happens, they'll purchase the piano that makes the most sense for them. Let's be so busy doing this that we literally will not have time to read articles by authors who reject any positive story, simply because it's positive.

Thank you!
_________________________
Bob Snyder
Senior District Manager
Steinway & Sons

rsnyder@steinway.com
www.steinway.com

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#241749 - 10/21/08 07:49 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
While pianos sales are down, so is everything else. To blatantly say that the piano is dead is simply not so. For what it's worth and it probably doesn't mean much in this topic but, you might find it interesting regardless... I believe, it was Yamaha that came up with figures back in 1970 that stated at that time, there were roughly 10 million pianos worldwide. I have no idea how many more have been added since.

I get calls every single week sometimes several times daily from people that have either been given a piano, purchased a piano either new or used; their parents bought them a new one as a gift, or, their grand parents bought them a new one and now they want it tuned as their child is going to take lessons.

I also get many calls asking for references for piano teachers as "I have just bought a new piano" and need a recommendation. (not having it tuned at that time)

In just one piano sale, for one dealer here last spring, they sold in 2 days, 35 pianos. Not a lot perhaps but, not bad either for a 2 day sale in a slumped economy. That's 35 new pianos in one town added in only 2 days. And that is just one dealer. There are two dealers left here that have sales regularly and usually do fairly well in each sale, considering...

Are sales down? Of course they are but, new pianos ARE selling.

I haven't kept an exact count but, I know that at least 30 of my own clients have purchased brand new pianos this year alone upon my recommendation to do so and I, am just one technician among many in this city and throughout the USA.

I know as a fact that most piano teachers also run into very similar situations asking for advice on what to buy besides what we see here on the forums.

So, while sales are down and again as I said, everything is, pianos are most certainly NOT dead by any means. What's more, is that people still take very good care of their good quality instruments because I am as busy as a beaver in a state forest full of dams.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#241750 - 10/21/08 09:25 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
DarkGreenChocolate Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 307
Loc: Michigan
turandot makes a good point about non-classical repertoire being almost nonexistent in teachers' offerings. As a decent classical pianist and ardent jazz listener, in fact, I'd like to find just such a teacher.

However, I do take exception to the implication that teaching piano is a kind of fallback position. For better or worse, there are many professions in which the teachers of said skill or knowledge far outnumber the practitioners. Ever met an actual philosopher, as opposed to a professor of philosophy? So it goes with most of the humanities. The question for me is why we've evolved this separation between teaching and practicing: in the old days, there were masters and apprentices, the boundary between study and work effaced. Now we have trade schools, conservatories, and other institutions of "learning" totally isolated from garages, concert halls, and other places of "doing."

Our celebrity-obsessed culture, ease of travel, and of course stereos, only exacerbate the situation: why listen to a good performance by some local unknown when you can follow the herd to Lang Lang et al? Sadly, our obsessive demand for the superstars ensures they won't do more than a token amount of teaching, even if they want to. (And yes, some people actually enjoy teaching!)

The piano is a victim of its own success, in that the number of highly competent players has for a long time far outweighed the number of gigs or venues. This is why savvy parents encourage their kids to study the bassoon, bagpipes, mandolin, etc. If digital pianos do someday outnumber acoustics (a horrid, horrid thought, to me), those who can play acoustics may suddenly find themselves in much higher demand, just as today players of harpsichords, organs, sackbuts, cornetti, and the like are often in undersupply.

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#241751 - 10/22/08 04:11 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
Never encourage a child to play the bagpipes. Do you want to listen to the sound of a cat being strangled, day after day, for year after year? There is a reason why so few people live in Scotland you know.
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#241752 - 10/22/08 09:06 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
DarkGreenChocolate Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 307
Loc: Michigan
Quiet--hear something? That's the ground rumbling beneath the feet of the horde of angry kilt-wearers about to descend on you.

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#241753 - 10/23/08 10:30 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
athomik Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 299
Loc: England
In the long term, the piano industry (and the music industry in general)relies on a continuing supply of new players, many of whom will become repeat musical instrument customers, irrespective of type of instrument or brand, and some of whom will, at some point, become piano customers. The fact that there are still a lot of potential musicians out there has already been confirmed by Scott and can also be seen by the fact that Yamaha music schools, for example, have approx 700000 active students (still mostly keyboard)at the moment. Many of these learners are taught using contemporary, popular music, but even if only a relatively small percentage end up serious enough to drift towards classical music and/or the Piano, that still makes a substantial number of piano customers for the future.
_________________________
Adrian Thomas
Service Engineer - Hybrid Pianos & Strings

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#241754 - 12/09/08 08:53 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
soy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/13/08
Posts: 2
I just wanted to say, and I hope I'm not reiterating what's already been said in this thread (it's a long thread), that I think what really drives people towards a particular instrument is usually inspiration from the music they listen to.

While piano may have traditionally been supported in this regard by classical music, I really do think piano is being incorporated into more and more pop/modern music.

For example, in terms of popular western music, you can hear the piano being used prominently in songs by groups/people like Muse, Alica Keys, Ben Folds, Coldplay, etc. As long as you have this in modern music, I really don't think piano will ever go away. As long as the inspiration is there, so will the interest in piano also be.

In China, I think a large part of the popularity of the piano has actually been from pop music icons. There's one artist you may have heard of called Jay Chou (or Zhou Jie Lun in Chinese pinyin) who's insanely popular over there, and features the piano in some of his most popular songs.

Personally, I picked up piano again within the last year after listening to music (mostly modern, but also lots of classical) and realizing how much I've been wanting to play again.

Granted, much of what I talk about is anecdotal, but I really find it hard to believe the piano is a "dying" instrument. Like someone else on this forum said, this is probably just another casualty of the current economic situation.

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#241755 - 12/09/08 09:43 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
I am sorry that I missed this thread the first time around. The business is more certainly not dieing in Orange County, CA. Our single store sells in the neighborhood of 500 instruments per year. That number includes a representative sampling of digitals, acoustic uprights and grands in all price points.

I will say that we are fortunate to be located in an area of a high concentration of ethnicities that value piano lessons in the home. The bulk of our sales are drived by Asian, Persian, and Indian families who are embracing piano music in the home in a big way. A recent survay showed 300 piano teachers within 20 miles of our store.

We are closely connected with Clavinova Connection, Yamaha recreational music making program in a near by community.

The business has gone through ups and downs and evolutions during my 35 years, but is not dieing or dead.
_________________________
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

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#241756 - 12/09/08 10:58 PM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Horwinkle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/08
Posts: 1011
Quoting the original post's quotation from the media ...

 Quote:
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 ...

He cited several reasons ...
- 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.[/b]
These author's reasons seems valid, but I think he underestimated the effect of the recession.

 Quote:
The decline ... doesn't surprise William Roy, sociology of music professor at UCLA. In fact, he's surprised the decline didn't start earlier.[/b]
I think the drop-off didn't start sooner because there **wasn't** a recession.

Let's wait and see. I'm guessing 2009 will be as bad as 2008. But in 2010, things might be very much better.

Well ... better for the dealers, anyway. Maybe not for the customer ... If some dealer close up shop during the recession, there will be less competition and prices will rise.

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#241757 - 12/10/08 01:31 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
hipianogal Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/09/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Honolulu, HI
Is it really just 54,000 pianos sold last year? Surely that's only counting new pianos. Still, that seems awfully low.

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#241758 - 12/10/08 03:33 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Dave Ferris Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1732
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
 Quote:
Originally posted by horatiodreamt:


By SEAN NEALON
The Press-Enterprise

Walter A. Clark, a music historian at UC Riverside, called the piano "a bit of a dinosaur." ....
He cited several reasons for the piano's drop in popularity:
Many accomplished pianists are working jobs that don't use their talents, which leads Clark to conclude it's often "a dead-end career."
I have so many gigs in Dec. that I barely have enough time to post my usual 25 times a day on Piano World.
_________________________
http://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D, Yamaha CP4, CP5 (home use) , RCF TT08A, TT22A speakers

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#241759 - 12/10/08 04:27 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Gregor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 436
Loc: Münster, Germany
 Quote:
Originally posted by horatiodreamt:

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.
[/b]
 Quote:
Originally posted by DanLaura Larson:
But the real question is this: are accordians sexy? [/b]
Yes, accordions are definitely sexy! Look at this video clip and you will see what I mean. Stadium rock played on an accordeon. Now, that´s really cool. These instruments could become the next status symbol \:D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOq13SA6OW4

Gregor
_________________________
piano tech - tuner - dealer
Münster, Germany
www.weldert.de

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#241760 - 12/10/08 05:54 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
Ceoltóir Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/18/07
Posts: 12
Loc: Dublin
The purchasing of a piano is always going to be a luxury to some extent and in these times, sales of luxuries such as that are always going to recede, especially when there are cheaper alternatives like digital pianos. I myself have a digital precisely because of the cost but hope to buy an acoustic as soon as I can afford.
Ultmately, I don't think this decline is terminal, but indicative of the times. The piano's popularity has endured through wars, economic collapses and through centuries.

I work in a music college and we are inundated with applications to study piano. No other instrument, including guitar, touches it in popularity and we have to turn scores of people away. The popularity is truly staggering and we have pianos stuffed into nearly every room to accomodate it. That said, I hope it continues as often music lessons can be the first thing to go if a family are facing difficult financial times.

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#241761 - 12/10/08 09:55 AM Re: "The piano is a thing of the past"
tjbsb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 256
Loc: Houston, TX
I don't think it is accurate to say the piano will die. However, the popularity and importance of the acoustic piano is declining and will continue to do so. At one time, there was a banjo boom. How many people play it now? I do (a little) and I do love the acoustic piano. As my wife said, the acoustic piano feels like a living thing when she plays it while digitals just feel dead. There will always be a place for the acoustic piano. I just think it will continue to get smaller over time.

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