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#56520 - 10/11/08 11:14 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
Jolly Offline
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Registered: 06/20/01
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Loc: Louisiana
Sadly, I think acoustic piano is a shrinking, niche market and in the not-too-distant future, will transform into a boutique segment of the music industry.

Unless you have talent out the whazoo, it takes discipline, committment and repetition to play.

Digital is the future. We can only hope to supplant the guitar as the lead instrument in live music, which can happen, as tastes change.

But I am pessimistic about music, in general...
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#56521 - 10/11/08 11:15 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
ftp Offline
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Registered: 09/10/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Philadelphia
The major problem with pianos is that learning to play is difficult. It is a lonely endeavor and requires lots of patience and discipline. It is tedious work and is boring compared to all the siren songs around us. Parents don't know how to mentor with the piano and many don't want to listen to the output.

Newer technologies have developed a sophisticated reward system that provide the illusion of mastery with much less effort- this is what the piano is up against.

The truth is that to achieve mastery at anything, long term time and effort is required. We have all witnessed the 80/20 rule at play were one can get to 80% competancy at 20% effort. (and here is where our society has done the best job at make us feel like heroes at the 80% mark). It's that final 20% that takes 80% of the effort. This is where most of the people get off the bus.

Long way of saying that piano makes clear early on that the only way to mastery is lots of discipline and hard work and who wants to sign up for that. Why not just go from idea to idea, get to 80% have a moment of internal greatness, hit the wall and then move to the next stimulus/reward system.

Others are setting the priorities for our kids for their own benefit. They are not invested in teaching the values of discipline, apprenticeship, aesthetic pleasure, long term rewards. Piano is a great way to teach life skills-it doesn't have to be an end in itself. Generally it's about 10,000 hours of effort to be really good at something, is anyone paying attention to where the investment of time is going in themselves and their children?

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#56522 - 10/11/08 12:56 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1686
lol, turandot, I was painting in pesky black and loveable white colors to get the message out in a few words.

However, the message on obfuscation of piano pricing is indeed intended to be black and white, because that's what it is, IMHO.

Gosh, there will hopefully no comments on the colors themselves. I won't respond to that.
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#56523 - 10/13/08 07:25 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
I am very much inclined to agree with Fathertopianist and elements of what Turandot says.

I think the discipline argument is often misguided. Is it right for a parent to decide that a child shall commit hundreds or thousands of hours to learning to play a piano: and use discipline as a reason(among others) to support this decision? I regard that as at best a weak argument.

Children need to be motivated and encouraged to love music in order to derive real benefit from learning any instrument. Forcing them to learn something when they do not possess this interest, ultimately leads to disappointment, resentment and a waste of part of your child's life.

There is nothing special about the piano. It is just a tool to make music. It is no better or worse than any other tool to make music and your child will benefit most by learning an instrument that he is motivated to learn which may well not be piano.

Some instruments, though not necessarily any easier to learn to professional level, can be much more accessible to children in terms of delivering some some of recognizable musical performance quickly. Acoustic pianos suffer from having a steep learning curve, a high price, a costly maintenance requirement, no portability and they occupy a lot of space. Practice can be a trial for the whole family if a silent mechanism is not present. So Jolly is spot on - digital is without doubt the future for most people.

Computer games can also build intellectual and other skills. I suspect that most people who disparage them do so from a position of ignorance.
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#56524 - 10/13/08 09:53 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
LJC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 1503
Loc: New York
The piano has allot of competition for your child's time. Video games, computers, movie rentals, 150 TV channels all compete for time. Then theres the higher number of home work hours and the trend to team sports for so many students. There is actually little time left for children to learn a musical instrument unless they are highly motivated musically. I do believe that both guitar and piano should be taught in the schools on a voluntary basis.

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#56525 - 10/13/08 10:31 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
nm
_________________________

"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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#56526 - 10/13/08 11:24 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11183
Loc: Canada
Steven, coming over from that same Mozart thread, I'm starting to get where you're coming from too. The problem with the idea that the youngest age is a window of opportunity comes through what is done with that. A child who is left sitting in front of a t.v. or without much to occupy him will not develop in the same way as one who is given plenty of stimulus and opportunity. He should have a "rich environment" and the nature of that environment makes a difference.

What has happened, however, is that we have oversimplified this, not understood how rich learning is, and we put this to relatively narrow purposes through adult eyes. We give our kids Speak 'Spells, toys with numbers and letters, everything is for specific learning. I wrote in the other thread about the kindergarten teacher over 20 years ago who even back then had to start teaching kids to crawl over, under, and through things because they were intellectually developed but had not concept of space which begins physically.

I noticed even at a kindergarten level that many children didn't know how to play anymore unless they were reenacting things they had seen, or using toys that told them what to do. It seems that the earliest kind of playing explores on all levels, and is internally directed. The interplay of everything is very rich and varied. You taste, rattle, shake, listen, try and you build a million impressions of the world. You imagine something and you create what you have imagined. The seeds of physics and abstract ideas lie in this. What happens if we overly direct the attention of the young child? What might we lose?

I also remember the documentary about some famous musician who brought people into some kind of barn. He had hung up things that made noises when you struck them and he was running about, an elderly man, banging away at these objects and listening, like a little kid who explores. It seemed important to see this.

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#56527 - 10/13/08 11:54 AM Re: Inspired by "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
_________________________

"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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#56528 - 10/13/08 12:36 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11183
Loc: Canada
The story is far too vast and it's my fault for having opened the door to it. The pencil in hand is quite ok. Not being able to use your body to explore and being drilled, and plunked in front of Sesame Street as a 3 year old, that was the problem. We form our abstract concepts and our ability to perceive such things as shape and direction, through the free physical explorations we do when very small. You were probably given that opportunity. These kids weren't. And maybe you were also precocious. ;D

At this point in time I have raised two sons, following my ideas partly out of necessity, homeschooled for 8 - 11 years, and now have the feedback from the adults. I have tutored children on and off, very often at a moment of crisis at school. But I also taught a young man whose "crisis" it was that he had an independent active mind who was so far ahead of the material that it was ridiculous and he was a pleasure to teach, except that the school curriculum kept getting in the way. I have explored various teaching systems and philosophies for the sake of my children. And finally there is my own learning process which is a puzzlement of its own accord.

I have a feeling that there is something out there that has not yet been explored, or maybe not in the mainstream. This is not a good place to put that idea.

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#56529 - 10/14/08 11:28 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
Rich Galassini Online   content
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Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 8977
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
keystring,

I would enjoy speaking with you more about your experiences. Have you had any musical experiences with any of these young people? Have you taught music or an instrument at all? I am just curious.

Thank you for your input so far.
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#56530 - 10/14/08 12:08 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11183
Loc: Canada
Rich, musically I'm still a student. I would enjoy teaching music some day when I know enough and can do enough, so these topics interest me vividly. Then also, I am on my own musical journey and we "teach ourselves" even when we study with someone because an effort must be made. I've helped musically once or twice, in one single session with someone who asked help with basic things. It doesn't amount to anything yet.

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#56531 - 10/14/08 02:14 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
You can't take for granted anything that you would have expected children to be grounded in.

The world is such a mixture of cultures, educational opportunities and deprivations, parenting skills are in a wide range of failure to success as are most relationships, add to that nutrition, and a few other "people makers".

Life experiences in children to the date that we meet them are varied and a mixed experience.

Even though I am familiar with the expectations in our local school districts (not one, but MANY school districts with lots of elementary classes, middle schoolers, and high schoolers, and alternative programs) the students attending these schools are diverse and multifaced, just not in the same way. We've become international, bigtime. This was something I experienced in my early schooling because of the mix of the community from the arrival of people of many other countries.

Some kids have had limitations because of no exposure, other kids have had acceleration because of exposure.

Things missing, hopefully, will roundout before the age of 12, and it is wise for a piano teacher to be familiar with
1) What these missing things might be, and,
2) What the excelling areas are to each child.

Complexity of a sorts, but I don't think we can across the board here in the US, think of all children as prepared for life in the same way.

It is especially important to entertain these questions as to piano study because of the communication and educational content being so important.

The learner's profile is more important than ever.

Betty

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#56532 - 10/15/08 08:08 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
In response to Turandot's statement about the piano being "unplugged from the world of today," I'd like to offer a list of things that also do not require electricity:

Football
Jogging
Tennis
Golf
Baseball
Skateboarding
Bicycling
Drinking Beer
Sex

I imagine the piano will die out about the same time those things do. I think we're safe.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#56533 - 10/15/08 04:09 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
Rich Galassini Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 8977
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Kreisler!

Good to see you. Where you been? What have you been up to?

We need more members like you, so hang around a little more - its been too long!
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Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
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#56534 - 10/16/08 11:11 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
JoeDaBassPlayer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/07
Posts: 95
I stopped by to ask a question about our piano and happened to see this thread.

We got an incredible deal on a very nice, used Kawai US60 for $3K. The kids love it and are learning to play. Yes, this may be a fairly affordable price for many families but you have to consider the cost compared to other instruments. I bought a brand new, imported Telecaster that I consider to be of comparable quality to the piano and it only cost me $150 brand new with gig bag. Well, I did buy a used, Vox tube amp for $200 and a $40 cord. For $500 I have a truly professional playing and sounding guitar rig that weighs in at less than 50 pounds.

Given the price and portability, the guitar is a very compelling choice.

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#56535 - 10/17/08 08:20 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
Rich Galassini Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 8977
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
 Quote:
It is especially important to entertain these questions as to piano study because of the communication and educational content being so important.

The learner's profile is more important than ever.
[/b]

Betty,

I agree completely. These are wise words.
_________________________
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Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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#56536 - 10/17/08 08:21 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
Rich Galassini Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 8977
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
 Quote:
Given the price and portability, the guitar is a very compelling choice.
[/b]

Music in general is a great thing, Joe. I have to tell you that two of my most recent grand piano customers are guitarists as well.

Hmmm... maybe there is a correlation. ;\)
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Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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#56537 - 10/17/08 09:59 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
athomik Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 299
Loc: England
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rich Galassini:
 Quote:
Given the price and portability, the guitar is a very compelling choice.
[/b]

Music in general is a great thing, Joe. I have to tell you that two of my most recent grand piano customers are guitarists as well.

Hmmm... maybe there is a correlation. ;\) [/b]
There must be. A certain Mr Pete T. (Who?) got himself a new concert grand earlier this year.
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#56538 - 10/17/08 11:31 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past"
JoeDaBassPlayer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/07
Posts: 95
Well, I bought a guitar although I play bass because it is a blast to play. I bought a piano as well. No matter what instrument one buys, get a decent one.

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#1183405 - 04/19/09 11:14 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past" [Re: JoeDaBassPlayer]
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 1233
Loc: Ohio, US
I think one of the reasons so many children gravitate to video games and TV instead of piano or musical instruments in general is simple availability and exposure. Most kids can get their hands on an XBOX controller much easier than a piano. We have both at our house and although the games get more use the piano is definately getting its share of completely voluntary attention.
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#1183600 - 04/19/09 04:19 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past" [Re: Little_Blue_Engine]
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1116
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
In an interview, the great American soprano, Renee Fleming, stated that for her children, learning the piano was "non negotiable".
We certainly need more parents with the educational wisdom of Ms Fleming.

The future of the acoustic piano in the next 50 years will be determined by state of acoustic piano pedagogy today. In China where the vestiges of Confucian thought remain, the value of learning the piano is embraced and China is now the world's leader in the number of pianos produced.

In developed countries, the electronic age has affected attitudes towards the piano and its music. Compared to most other instruments the piano is relatively expensive, piano lessons are costly and electronic media are competing fiercely for what is left from the family budget for music and entertainment.

In the West, where sales of acoustic pianos are in decline, a child's piano education is becoming financially out-of-reach for most families on average incomes. There are also other priorities in a society of changing musical values.

The acoustic piano will have a rosier future if educators can reassess and reaffirm the value of learning the piano. The acoustic piano has the most extensive literature of all the musical instruments and it is the instrument par excellence for learning notation and aquiring insights into the language of music. Every child should have the opportunity to learn the piano.

Good, less expensive pianos are now available and an enlightened attitude shift, which will reaffirm the value of learning the piano, will certainly assure its future.

Best wishes,

Robert.

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#1183728 - 04/19/09 07:23 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past" [Re: Robert 45]
willisbeatwilt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/09
Posts: 107
I'm going to have to add my 2 cents. Sorry, but can't resist.

I don't think kids spend lots of time in front of the TV or video games because such things are more interesting than piano. Kids spend time doing these things because their parents don't want to interact with them. I have spoken to many, many parents who are so grateful for the "modern" toys that entertain their children for hours on end. This allows these parents to do their stuff instead of paying attention to the kids.

When a child takes piano, or any other type of lesson (music or otherwise), it takes not just a commitment of the child's time, but also of the parents' time. When I explain this to parents who are thinking about starting their kids on piano lessons, their reaction is: I don't have time to practice with them. Well, that's ok if the kid is 13 or 14, but not if the kid is 4 or 5.

You can really tell the difference between the kids whose parents are part of their music experience and those kids whose parents are not.

Why I am writing this on this thread? Because an electronic keyboard is perfectly fine for a young child just starting out. Eventually, should their interest grow, they'll want a "real" piano.

I agree that future sales of acoustic pianos will decline. But I feel the biggest reason isn't that other things are so much more attractive, but because so many parents don't want to invest their time in their child's life. "Go play on your Xbox," is much easier than saying "Let's do piano practice together."

And as the number of piano-playing children declines, so too will the number of folks interested in buying pianos.

Personally, I can't understand this way of thinking. What could possibly be more important than spending time with, and developing, our kids?

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#1183740 - 04/19/09 08:12 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past" [Re: turandot]
RachOn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/11/07
Posts: 87
Loc: W. Pa.
Originally Posted By: turandot

Pesky Turandot (and maybe pesky Doremi laugh ) would prefer that the piano industry do some housekeeping and clean up its act by initiating a professional organization that lays out specific truth-in-advertising, selling, and pricing practices, and enforces compliance


Though it's discussed a lot here, I can't see how lack of "pricing transparency" could make the piano a thing of the past. In all my years I've never heard a parent say "We were going to get Johnny piano lessons, but then we couldn't understand the industry pricing structure, so we bought him an Xbox instead." Most people first decide to play, then make a budget, look for an instrument in that budget and buy one. (or not) In the end, pianos are like anything else for sale - they sell for what the market bears.

The issue of demand is driven more by culture than the industry, in my opinion.
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#1183747 - 04/19/09 08:17 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past" [Re: willisbeatwilt]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
Acoustic piano sales have declined versus digital over the past 8 years. Two local stores have told me they sell 1/2 digital and 1/2 acoustic.
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#1183768 - 04/19/09 09:02 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past" [Re: Bob]
kennychaffin Offline
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Registered: 03/19/09
Posts: 889
Loc: Aurora, CO
and that is because digital pianos continue to get better and better for less and less money .... like all electronics.
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#1183850 - 04/19/09 11:55 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past" [Re: RachOn]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7089
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: RachOn
Originally Posted By: turandot

Pesky Turandot (and maybe pesky Doremi laugh ) would prefer that the piano industry do some housekeeping and clean up its act by initiating a professional organization that lays out specific truth-in-advertising, selling, and pricing practices, and enforces compliance


Though it's discussed a lot here, I can't see how lack of "pricing transparency" could make the piano a thing of the past. In all my years I've never heard a parent say "We were going to get Johnny piano lessons, but then we couldn't understand the industry pricing structure, so we bought him an Xbox instead." Most people first decide to play, then make a budget, look for an instrument in that budget and buy one. (or not) In the end, pianos are like anything else for sale - they sell for what the market bears.

The issue of demand is driven more by culture than the industry, in my opinion.


RachOn,

You are of course correct. The issue of demand is driven more by culture than by the industry itself. However, had you chosen to quote the paragraph from my post that preceded the snippet that you excerpted, you would have quoted:

Quote:
Pesky Turandot feels that the piano industry is too small to attack the big-picture problems head-on, and should focus on internal problems that are more within its control....antiquated marketing, an embarrassing pricing structure, and a cannibalistic free-for-all where its 'professional' retailers routinely slam each other's product lines, selling practices, and personal character.


My business is education. I deal with two kinds of teachers. Those who say the odds are stacked against them by the disinterest in learning manifested in the younger generation and a lack of parental support in fostering the value of education. Valid points for sure, but where do you go from there? The other teacher group strives to find ways to break through the apathy and find a means to communicate via a variety of learning modes. Although there is compromise, at least you can go somewhere from there.

In the US for the first time since statistics have been kept, a generation of young people is entering the work force who have reached a lower level of education than their parents. How do you deal with that? In small steps and with small bites, we focus on what we can do as educators to begin to reverse the trend. We don't simply flail about in the enormity of the problem hurling blame at the parents and kids who have brought us there. We focus first on what WE can control, the changes that WE can realistically accomplish.

This thread is six months old. In the meantime we have had another NAMM show in the US. Though you may be told otherwise, attendance by piano sales professionals was way down. Many displayed pianos were forlorn objects of neglect. Dedicated acoustic piano exhibit space shrank considerably once again. Costs to exhibitors had gone up again. In the midst of this a teacher member of PW asked here if there was a way she might attend NAMM so that she could see the pianos and be more helpful to one of her students seeking her advice to buy a piano. She was told No-No-No for a lot of different reasons, principally that NAMM is an industry show and that business could not be transacted with consumers sharing the floor. Suggestions to distribute complimentary tickets to piano teachers through music teacher professional assocations and to piano majors through local universities with music departments were similarly scorned. In fairness there were some dealers posting who supported bringing a breath of fresh air to the NAMM acoustic piano segment. They represented a minority view.

Is the piano establishment ready to change its ways before shrinkage reaches the point of no return where the stale odor of a dying industry sets in? Let's see.

BTW, you may have never heard of a family that didn't buy Johnny a piano because of the antiquated marketing and pricing, and went on to buy him an Xbox instead. Neither have I. But there are plenty of families with children playing band instruments who considered a piano and piano lessons but were turned off by the marketing and pricing of the instrument and the limited piano literature which most teachers insist on teaching. You see, most kids today don't want to Rach On.
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#1183855 - 04/20/09 12:40 AM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past" [Re: turandot]
willisbeatwilt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/09
Posts: 107
Another important point is that music be made. I'd rather have somebody buy their kids an electronic keyboard for piano lessons than not have the kids do piano lessons at all... Imagine if very high quality keyboards cost $100. How many more kids could start lessons? Rather than having to invest thousands of dollars in a decent piano, the entry cost becomes quite low. With so many more kids starting, eventually that could lead to greater demand for acoustic pianos.

And I agree with Turandot: the single biggest problem in our education system is parents! Even the best teachers have difficulty teaching kids whose parents place no importance on education and no consequences for poor performance at school.

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#1189818 - 04/29/09 12:41 PM Re: Inspired by "The piano is a thing of the past" [Re: willisbeatwilt]
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 1233
Loc: Ohio, US
Parents are often the major problem in the education system. It's easier to complain that the teacher is too hard on your kid than it is to take a good, hard, honest look to see if maybe your child is lazy, doesn't care or is a major behavior problem. It's too uncomfortable to look in the mirror and see if they're learning it from you. If teachers in the U.S. didn't get "summers off" the turn over rate in the profession would skyrocket from burnout so quickly. You can't teach someone that doesn't want to learn.

The standardized testing craze is no help either. Too much time has to be spent making sure kids can fill in the proper bubbles with their no. 2 pencils at the exact appropriate grade level while we cut out Art & Music programs because they're "not important" to our childrens' education. mad
_________________________
I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.


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