Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores

Posted by: NFexec

Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/27/13 11:42 AM

Today's Cleveland Plain Dealer had an interesting (if not sad) article about the dwindling piano stores in our area, along with the plight of the piano industry in general. It's a decent article:

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2013/01/piano_sales_hitting_new_notes.html
Posted by: SteveM732

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/27/13 01:02 PM

I'm not sure I buy the claim that homes are shrinking in the USA considering my 1961 home is 1200 square feet and you can't hardly find a home that is newer and smaller. Not to mention people in other countries with much smaller spaces still manage to fit a piano. It seems more likely that people have too much "stuff" and choose to make room for it rather than a piano.

In my area we're shrinking down from 3 to 2 piano dealers. The two remaining dealers are well known and respected so I hardly shed a tear at the idea of them both increasing in sales volume.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/27/13 01:20 PM

IMHO it's not about the number of dealers but the proliferation of a great number of constantly improving makes at a time when the beginner market is not increasing.

What "is" growing however, is a new and more demanding class of consumers seeking top quality at realistic, i.e. affordable prices.

Among those are many adults getting back into piano playing especially after professional success in life. Many of them are treating themselves choosing or upgrading to a fine grand.

Those who specialize servicing this market segment offering best possible quality at best possible price, are doing well.

All others better deal with Craigslist.

Norbert
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/27/13 05:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
IMHO it's not about the number of dealers but the proliferation of a great number of constantly improving makes at a time when the beginner market is not increasing.


I am not sure what this means Norbert. Are you denying that there has been a sharp decrease in the number of piano dealers over the five years or so? Or are you saying that this statistic is unimportant?

There certainly has been a large decrease in the number of dealers in North America, perhaps not so much in your particular market, but this has occured. It is a known stat.

Please let me know if I misunderstand your statement.
Posted by: piano_deb

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/27/13 08:34 PM

I won't say this is the case everywhere, but it appears that, in Cleveland at least, a narrowly focused, single-brand dealership has lost out to a market that demands a much wider range of brands and options.

Look who's sticking around:

• The one-year-old multi-brand dealer that is not only surviving but growing offers new Bosendorfer, Schimmel, Petrof, Kohler, and Knabe pianos, restores Steinways and M&Hs, and shows a wide range of specific used pianos on its website. (That's all in addition to top-of-the-line Yamaha digitals.)

• The now-oldest dealer in the area, in business for 53 years, sells new Kawai, Palatino, Pramberger, Ritmuller, Remington, Sohmer, and Weber pianos, plus a wide range of used instruments, and a variety of technical services. (Admittedly, the business is limping along, but it hasn't gone under yet.)

• A fourth dealer, in business for 18 years, is focused on selling band/orchestra instruments to parents and only sells lower-end digital pianos. (But there's a market for low-end digital pianos. Especially when selling to parents. Especially in this economy.)

By comparison, the Steinway & Sons dealer that is closing was apparently a multi-brand store from 1909 until it went S&S in 1996. Since then, it's only sold S&S, Boston and Essex, and apparently only restores Steinways. According to the website, they offer other brands preowned, "If the timing just isn’t right for you to invest in your new Steinway" — a charming bit of misdirection, since they sell S&S not Steinways — but they don't deign to identify any other brand of piano by name. Gotta love that Steinway marketing. And they can't bring in enough business? "Inconceivable!" (Sometimes, only a movie quote will do.)

---

edited for typos
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/27/13 08:46 PM

Interesting thread...

However, it seems to me that lots of businesses, not just piano stores, have closed in the last few years. It's a tough economy out there for everyone.

I'm sure there is a certain trend regarding the change/decline in the piano business. Of course, I'm no expert on piano economics. smile

Hopefully, things will pick up in the coming months...

Rick
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/27/13 08:53 PM

The decrease in piano sales(number of new pianos sold) in the period from 2005-2010 is much higher than I think most non industry professionals realize.
Posted by: boyonahill

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/27/13 10:27 PM

I think one could paint a much broader picture.

How many pianos do you think was sold in Shanghai 2012? 2002? 1992?

What is the focus of the younger generations in western countries? Train and learn or relax and enjoy? In China?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment#2009

Massive social and economic trends are going on right now and I think piano sales are a nice indicator of what's going on in different locations.

Who has the need to show newfound wealth with the purchase of a high end piano? Where does parents buy the very best for their children?

Remember, the Chinese have been buying almost 50 % of expensive swiss watches lately.

circa 30% "at home"
http://swisswatchwire.com/2012/11/swiss-watch-sales-plummet-in-china.html

and perhaps 20% on vacation abroad. My local Rolex dealer have Chinese speaking staff... 2 of 3 of the ladies when I went there lately.

But as the article above indicates, the boom might be over for China, and the global balances will again rebalance...
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/27/13 10:43 PM

Quote:
I am not sure what this means Norbert. Are you denying that there has been a sharp decrease in the number of piano dealers over the five years or so? Or are you saying that this statistic is unimportant?


Rich:

Although there may be differences in different areas, I wasn't denying that there has been perhaps a sharp decrease in the number of piano dealers.

To me,it doesn't however sufficiently explain what's going on out there nor is this necessarily a 'bad thing'.

From our own experience [here on the West Coast] it's become more a question of quality versus quantity.

Those who are buying now simply seem more careful with their money but at same time insist on buying still good quality.

Which,as you and me know,not necessarily has to do with "cost"

What appears "less" to some, may be in fact "more" to others.

Changing times, that's all...

Norbert smile
Posted by: piano_deb

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/27/13 10:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Rickster
Interesting thread...

However, it seems to me that lots of businesses, not just piano stores, have closed in the last few years. It's a tough economy out there for everyone.

You make a good point, Rick. One of the saddest things I've witnessed is the failure of many long-standing business that were once central to their communities. It seems that mom-and-pop stores, smaller grocery store chains, etc. are getting squeezed out by competition from the big-box stores, warehouse chains and discount outlets. All businesses that can surpass them on variety, undercut them on price, or both.

One type of retail business that is doing well in this economy is the second-hand thrift store. That's not surprising with so many people scrambling to get by on unemployment, slashed salaries, part-time jobs that have replaced former careers.
Posted by: boyonahill

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 02:50 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_deb
Originally Posted By: Rickster
Interesting thread...

However, it seems to me that lots of businesses, not just piano stores, have closed in the last few years. It's a tough economy out there for everyone.

You make a good point, Rick. One of the saddest things I've witnessed is the failure of many long-standing business that were once central to their communities. It seems that mom-and-pop stores, smaller grocery store chains, etc. are getting squeezed out by competition from the big-box stores, warehouse chains and discount outlets. All businesses that can surpass them on variety, undercut them on price, or both.

One type of retail business that is doing well in this economy is the second-hand thrift store. That's not surprising with so many people scrambling to get by on unemployment, slashed salaries, part-time jobs that have replaced former careers.


And to no surprise a song celebrating the Thrift Shop is topping the billboard list!
MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS - THRIFT SHOP FEAT. WANZ (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJJvaes
Posted by: Dave B

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 02:15 PM

This has been the trend for 30 yrs. The economy is just helping to push the trend a little faster. But, it looks like piano playing is slowly becoming "Cool" for both kids and adults. Hope I'm not seeing what I want to see.

I'm being asked about teachers and learning to play by someone every week. I think this is because the schools and the churches in the region are much less involved with music.
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 02:43 PM

I don't understand the concern. There will be enough dealers and pianos to support sales. Not more or less. Only draw back is convenience in distance to stores. Best part is that businesses that are run poorly generally close first.

We don't cry over car dealers closing, why cry over piano stores. They don't care about consumers, just their money. They like to make you think they care about the artsy stuff, but it's just a front.

Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 04:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark...
I don't understand the concern. There will be enough dealers and pianos to support sales. Not more or less. Only draw back is convenience in distance to stores. Best part is that businesses that are run poorly generally close first.

We don't cry over car dealers closing, why cry over piano stores. They don't care about consumers, just their money. They like to make you think they care about the artsy stuff, but it's just a front.
Probably true of some dealers but certainly not true of all.

Perhaps if you thought of it as a business you or a friend owned you would be a little more compassionate about someone's business closing. Your comment seems only to take your own interest into account.
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 04:10 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mark...
I don't understand the concern. There will be enough dealers and pianos to support sales. Not more or less. Only draw back is convenience in distance to stores. Best part is that businesses that are run poorly generally close first.

We don't cry over car dealers closing, why cry over piano stores. They don't care about consumers, just their money. They like to make you think they care about the artsy stuff, but it's just a front.
Probably true of some dealers but certainly not true of all.

Perhaps if you thought of it as a business you or a friend owned you would be a little more compassionate about someone's business closing. Your comment seems only to take your own interest into account.


The article is about piano stores, not friends piano stores. You are making it personal, but its about business, nothing more nothing less.

I bet competitor dealers love when the competition goes under, friend or no friend... smile
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 04:19 PM

It has been sometimes stated here that the instrument "on top of the heap" at the moment is the guitar. But in the past six months or so there have been several articles and news broadcasts about declining guitar sales and business missteps by big guitar companies.

So we can experience schadenfreude, at least.

Guitar music dying?
Posted by: KurtZ

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 04:36 PM

I'll miss piano stores for the same reason I miss bookstores. I'll be sad when the only place you can buy anything is through the big box experience or online.


As to the second paragraph, no, I don't think the dealer I bought my piano from was my friend. I do believe he cares about me as a client by how he has handled my two warranty claims; one of which he handled as warranty even though my son broke it through rough usage. That's enough for me. One thing I know about him is he loves pianos and piano music. I suspect a lot of our dealer amigos here are the same. If nothing else, for that reason alone, I consider them comrades and not just commodities merchants.

Kurt
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 06:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark...
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mark...
I don't understand the concern. There will be enough dealers and pianos to support sales. Not more or less. Only draw back is convenience in distance to stores. Best part is that businesses that are run poorly generally close first.

We don't cry over car dealers closing, why cry over piano stores. They don't care about consumers, just their money. They like to make you think they care about the artsy stuff, but it's just a front.
Probably true of some dealers but certainly not true of all.

Perhaps if you thought of it as a business you or a friend owned you would be a little more compassionate about someone's business closing. Your comment seems only to take your own interest into account.


The article is about piano stores, not friends piano stores. You are making it personal, but its about business, nothing more nothing less.
That's your interpretation or feeling about the article. You may have no sympathy for dealers that close or people who lose your jobs but that's you(and I hope and think not the majority). One does not have to know the specific people to be empathetic to their situation.

In addition, I think that anyone who genuinely cares about pianos would not adopt the "I couldn't care less" view of dealer closings.
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 06:45 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mark...
I don't understand the concern. There will be enough dealers and pianos to support sales. Not more or less. Only draw back is convenience in distance to stores. Best part is that businesses that are run poorly generally close first.

We don't cry over car dealers closing, why cry over piano stores. They don't care about consumers, just their money. They like to make you think they care about the artsy stuff, but it's just a front.
Probably true of some dealers but certainly not true of all.

Perhaps if you thought of it as a business you or a friend owned you would be a little more compassionate about someone's business closing. Your comment seems only to take your own interest into account.


The article is about piano stores, not friends piano stores. You are making it personal, but its about business, nothing more nothing less.
That's your interpretation or feeling about the article. You may have no sympathy for dealers that close or people who lose your jobs but that's you(and I hope and think not the majority). One does not have to know the specific people to be empathetic to their situation.

In addition, I think that anyone who genuinely cares about pianos would not adopt the "I couldn't care less" view of dealer closings.


Pianos are inanimate objects, I enjoy them but don't get emotional about them. Dealers and salespeople would rip off an uniformed customer in a heart beat. It's like evolution, the strongest survive and the weak die off...the mystery pricing structure is a prime example.
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 07:35 PM

There too much terrible music in the world today - 'Gangsta Rap' and 'Dubstep' - Wayyy to many so called DJ's rather then classically trained pianists. Not to belittle someones skills but people don't want to take the time to learn the piano anymore and would rather just press a button on a computer to play for trending crowds.
Posted by: boyonahill

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/28/13 09:25 PM

Originally Posted By: ju5t1n-h
There too much terrible music in the world today - 'Gangsta Rap' and 'Dubstep' - Wayyy to many so called DJ's rather then classically trained pianists. Not to belittle someones skills but people don't want to take the time to learn the piano anymore and would rather just press a button on a computer to play for trending crowds.


Well, it takes talent to rise to the top in any genre, but perhaps not the same type of talent that makes you a top pianist.

Avicii making a song...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dIcuU58Oy8
This guy practically lives on a private jet...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK6bFbA0Q3Y
Posted by: Nash. Piano Rescue

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/29/13 12:00 AM

Something else to consider is while the economy was tanking individual states all scrambled around to do whatever it takes to generate revenue. I inherited my piano business in 1992 and really did nothing with it until I decided to move to TN from Florida in 2008 but we got away from new sales way back in the late 70s sometime.

My business license in Florida was like 60 dollars but when I moved to TN I was hit with a Bi annual business license based on revenue which was like 8500.00 !! Getting the trucks re-registered and forget about employees when there is a trust for workmans comp which is like 4500 per man and people wonder why there are no jobs, It's pretty normal for 47+ % of gross income to go totally to workmans comp payments.

All that stuff adds up so if you are paying big rent in some mall somewhere and then have floor plan fees and investments in stock. You have to sell at least 4 times what your bills total each month to stay afloat.

I learned that lesson a long time ago so no heart attacks for me. I am basically a one man show anymore and what I can't do I just pass to the next person. When I see big fancy dealerships even if it's not a piano dealership I just cringe at the massive expenses they must have. I want to have fun doing what I do until I can't do it anymore.
Posted by: piano_deb

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/29/13 02:11 AM

Originally Posted By: boyonahill
And to no surprise a song celebrating the Thrift Shop is topping the billboard list!
MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS - THRIFT SHOP FEAT. WANZ (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJJvaes

That song is great! I was singing along by the end. (I really am a thrift store shopper. Always have been, not just since the economy tanked.)
Posted by: boyonahill

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/29/13 03:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Nash. Piano Rescue
... When I see big fancy dealerships even if it's not a piano dealership I just cringe at the massive expenses they must have. I want to have fun doing what I do until I can't do it anymore.


Yes, people often make the mistake of thinking that selling luxury items make dealers rich. Often it's quite the opposite.

Selling to the 'small people' on the other hand is very profitable ;-)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th3LtLx0IEM
(So are you perfect in your 2nd language? :-)


Ikea posted some record yearly numbers lately
http://www.di.se/artiklar/2013/1/23/ikea-om-vinstrekordet-vi-ar-aldrig-nojda/

(lazy cur. conv.)
Sales 24 000 000 000 GBP, +9%
Profit 3 400 000 000 GPB, +4%
Cash 15 500 000 000 GBP

Wal Mart are doing fine too
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324556304578120643989361884.html
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/29/13 11:32 AM

Originally Posted By: boyonahill


Well, it takes talent to rise to the top in any genre, but perhaps not the same type of talent that makes you a top pianist.


I totally agree with you, to be the best at anything you need to have real skill and dedication. I should have been more clear - I think in general a lot more people are not learning piano as much as they used to. More musicians are using technology such as computers rather than the lengthy incredibly hard process of learning the piano.
Posted by: Hank Drake

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/29/13 12:26 PM

I left the piano business in 2004, so I can’t speak to the situation in other areas. But as a born & raised Clevelander, who lives only about two miles from the Mattlin-Hyde dealership, I’d like to add my two cents.

First, the local piano market has indeed collapsed over the last decade. The last strong year in sales I saw was in 2000. Even before 9/11, sales in 2001 were on a downward trend. Consider that Graves Piano (disclosure: I worked there), which was a HUGE dealership, closed in 2002. Sumwalt, which was the Kawai and M&H dealer, closed around the same time. Great Lakes Piano (where I worked after Graves closed) opened in 2003 and closed in 2005. Falls Music in nearby Cuyahoga Falls closed around the same time. Lentine’s (which was not a piano specialist but carried a few budget brands) closed all their stores in the early 2000s. (Motter’s Music House – which literally is an expanded house – is similar to Lentine’s and not really a piano dealership.)

The closure of Mattlin-Hyde may be a reflection of changing economic conditions and an overall drop in demand for pianos. But in my opinion, that store has been going downhill for two decades. Both in quality of merchandise and general condition of the facility, it in no way resembled the store I used to drop by while a student in high school (which was considerably more than two decades ago) – when Bill Mattlin would say to me “Hank, Ashkenazy’s playing that D next week at Blossom. Try it out & tell me what you think”. Steinway issued a directive about a decade ago that mandated all stores carrying their brand meet a minimum standard in terms of showroom appearance, size, and maintenance of the instruments. I never saw evidence that any effort was made in this area. I was last in the store in 2007, when I helped a friend in his piano search. We were appalled at how poorly the instruments were tuned and maintained, and the showroom looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in eons. Ironically, the salesperson was none other than the former owner of a competing chain. I drive by the dealership every day on my way home from work, and for years I’ve wondered when they would pack it in.

All business comes down to profit – garnering enough sales to exceed expenses. In the case of Bill Kap, low overhead has helped keep him in business (he owns the building, which is in the worst area of northeast Ohio) despite a 70% drop in sales. As for Classic pianos, their lavish showroom is in the most expensive shopping center in the Cleveland area. Their expenses must be astronomical, although this may be alleviated by their status as part of a chain where they can get special pricing. Perhaps they believe with less competition, they can “own” the market. Time will tell.

Paradoxically, there is no evidence that musical culture in Cleveland is on the downswing. The orchestra is reporting record ticket sales and the audiences are younger than one would expect – the last several concerts I’ve been to at Severance Hall have been sold out; every piano recital I’ve been to at the local conservatory has been well attended.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/29/13 01:50 PM

Interesting write-up, Hank... very interesting.

I wish the best for the piano dealers who are still fortunate enough to remain in business. Surely they will not all close.

Rick
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/30/13 11:38 AM

Kids are more interested in Justin Bieber than Chopin. A friend of mine told me that 90% of kids that taking piano lessons are Chinese in Toronto.

China has a lot more media exposure to Classical music than north america even before Langlang and Yundi Li.

For me, without the movie "The Pianist" i wound't get exposure to Chopin and the eager to self learn piano.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/30/13 12:30 PM

Originally Posted By: ju5t1n-h
Originally Posted By: boyonahill


Well, it takes talent to rise to the top in any genre, but perhaps not the same type of talent that makes you a top pianist.


I totally agree with you, to be the best at anything you need to have real skill and dedication. I should have been more clear - I think in general a lot more people are not learning piano as much as they used to. More musicians are using technology such as computers rather than the lengthy incredibly hard process of learning the piano.


There was a series of TV programs in the UK last year which invited members of the public to audition to learn a new skill, something they'd never done before. They are then coached by professionals and then do it for real after a couple of months. The skills include rock-climbing, navigation in the mountains, lie-detecting, singing operatic music etc (maybe rapping also).

What was significant was that learning to play a classical musical instrument like the piano or violin wasn't one of them. Because it takes years?

And it's the reason why learning to play a musical instrument well just isn't fashionable in the West anymore. (East Asians, however, are still instilled with a strong work ethic from childhood). People want instant gratification, not years of hard graft, of practising several hours a day. Which is also why people prefer just to buy some keyboard and sit down and 'improvise', rather than learn to play properly....
Posted by: jawhitti

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/31/13 03:32 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
And it's the reason why learning to play a musical instrument well just isn't fashionable in the West anymore. (East Asians, however, are still instilled with a strong work ethic from childhood). People want instant gratification, not years of hard graft, of practising several hours a day. Which is also why people prefer just to buy some keyboard and sit down and 'improvise', rather than learn to play properly....


Kind of reminds me of the Asimov quote “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”

Posted by: Norbert

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/31/13 05:10 PM

Quote:
Consider that Graves Piano (disclosure: I worked there), which was a HUGE dealership, closed in 2002. Sumwalt, which was the Kawai and M&H dealer, closed around the same time.


One hardly needs to be surprised.

A smaller market obviously doesn't need mega-size music outlets but smaller, dedicated dealers sincere in their efforts to get their customers the very best pianos for their money.

If this means avoiding or shedding certain brands over some others, so be it.

It's not an easy ride for sure but can be highly rewarding.

The problem is that few having been used to the "easy life" when times were good don't wish to work any harder than they were used to and when making money was easy.

Let alone taking some of the more established brands by the horns....

Although there's lots of opportunity in today's market to do so.

Norbert
Posted by: KataiYubi

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/31/13 11:41 PM

I think there's no cause to worry about declining piano sales: these are highly cyclical.

I found canadian statistics of musical instrument stores; their revenues closely follow the state of the economy: http://www.ic.gc.ca/cis-sic/cis-sic.nsf/IDE/cis-sic45114rdpe.html

Some express concern that people are becoming lazy because of the possibility of instant gratification, but that has always been the case. It is part of human nature. There's only a small percentage of the population that can succeed at mastering an instument - and piano is certainly not the hardest: try learning violin, if you dare!

The argument on cultural grounds is also dubious. Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber are not responsible for common people being musically retarded; common people have always been that way. I remember that while in Paris in the 1770's, Mozart was complaining to his father of the exact same thing: people interested only in popular music, no demand for his compositions, etc.

As for the digital pianos, they have several advantages, and year after year, they emulate even more closely the real thing, at a cost that may be a bit less. Maybe the traditional piano is on its way out, but it does not mean that people will stop playing pianos.

Like it or not, playing piano is an elite thing. Higher rates of learning in Asian countries such as Korea (the highest in the world) and Chine have more to do with an obsession to get ahead socially, but in my experience, very few of Korean kids who are learning piano continue to do so in their adulthood.

Disclosure: I was a piano teacher to several Korean families. Many kids were under duress from their parents to learn piano and were receiving physical punishment if they did not practise enough. I can certify that no great talent emerged from that bunch.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 01/31/13 11:56 PM

Katai:

Interesting post! thumb

However, music including music-making was hardly ever a numbers game.

Time and time again genius and real talent in conjunction with personal dedication, have won out in the long run.

And at no time in history had musicians have had better or more affordable instruments at their avail.

So, how are we to really 'measure' things?

Norbert
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/01/13 12:06 AM

It's traditional Asian method for parents to to force wills to their kids.
I'm sure Lang Lang took more physical punishment than any other kid. The idea behind it is kids lacks perseverance and it's the best time for parents to kick in and get them back on track.

I will still keep my argument about media exposure to classical music. I remember in high school when I lend my Chopin ballade&scherzo cd to friends who normally listen to hard rocks they all think it's amazing. Classical music is for everyone.
Posted by: KataiYubi

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/01/13 12:50 AM

Steven,

Experiences vary. I had to exert duress upon my parents for them to buy me a piano when I was 8. I had read in Robert Schumann biography that he threatened to commit suicide if he did not get a piano, and the same threat worked for me.

Your point about children easily giving up is generally true, though. However, it is not true for **all** children. Once I had my piano, nothing could unglue me from it, not even having to eat. I think I did not eat for two days when I first received it. And it was an old piece of junk, a Gaveau maybe 100 years old with broken keys. But it was heaven to me.

That said, there are other areas of my life that would have been improved if I had Asian parents. I really respect that kind of tough love, even if it is sometimes for base motives, such as climbing the social ladder.

And I could easily find examples contrary to what you say about Chopin's cd to friends: I remember sending a YouTube video to a dear friend of the beginning Matthaeus-Passion with Karl Richter and she said it was "boring".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf4UNJqv_-A

I was so angry at her that I stopped communicating with her. The most sublime music ever composed by any human being, and a truly inspired interpretation, "boring"! To this day I feel angry with that description.

Also, I find the reaction of most people when listening to opera **most annoying**, as if the experience was truly a pain to them. I remember showing the following delightful aria sung by a delightful soprano:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Kvdf-fRNM8

to my cousins and I was horrified by how the music made them feel physically uncomfortable. I guess there is something about human voices in the treble range that some people cannot physically endure, no matter how beautiful they sound to the trained ear.

Mind you, in Montreal's subway, a few years back, they had a problem with bums squatting inside when in Winter. Some genius working for the city had the idea of blasting a viola da gamba music cd by Jordi Savall, and presto, the bums were out in no time - they apparently could not endure the cruel and unusual punishment of listening to Marin Marais' formal ordres. I found that episode clever but pretty depressing (using classical music as a repellent), but I've resigned myself over the years of the fact that not everyone can appreciate the good stuff.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/01/13 08:30 PM

Originally Posted By: KataiYubi


I remember sending a YouTube video to a dear friend of the beginning Matthaeus-Passion with Karl Richter and she said it was "boring".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf4UNJqv_-A

I was so angry at her that I stopped communicating with her. The most sublime music ever composed by any human being, and a truly inspired interpretation, "boring"! To this day I feel angry with that description.



Mind you, in Montreal's subway, a few years back, they had a problem with bums squatting inside when in Winter. Some genius working for the city had the idea of blasting a viola da gamba music cd by Jordi Savall, and presto, the bums were out in no time - they apparently could not endure the cruel and unusual punishment of listening to Marin Marais' formal ordres. I found that episode clever but pretty depressing (using classical music as a repellent), but I've resigned myself over the years of the fact that not everyone can appreciate the good stuff.


I haven't heard that Karl Richter performance for a long time - it was the first recording of the St Matthew Passion I bought (on cassette tape, to use in my Walkman), and despite the fabulous singing, does sound rather slow now - especially since the likes of John Eliot Gardiner and other HIP recordings, who perform it with rhythmic buoyancy at a dance-like pace......(maybe your friend might have enjoyed HIPs better).

And classical music is frequently used in the UK to keep teenagers away from congregating around street corners, bus stops, malls etc. Even Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik is effective.......
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/01/13 08:33 PM

Well, that confirms the Fall of the British Empire!

I await bad Bluegrass at Proms.
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/01/13 09:23 PM

i just find people who accept "rock" generally has a easier time to accept classical music compare to "pop" people.

there are pros and cons with asian method. but physical punishment is not an option for asian parents in north america:)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn5jlrxcpkI
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/01/13 09:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty


I await bad Bluegrass at Proms.


Yo-Yo Ma has already brought his Silk Road Ensemble to the Proms, and on his next visit, will no doubt bring his Bluegrass friends (Edgar Meyer etc) for a Proms gig. But it will be elevated Bluegrass wink
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/02/13 12:02 AM

Originally Posted By: KataiYubi
Mind you, in Montreal's subway, a few years back, they had a problem with bums squatting inside when in Winter. Some genius working for the city had the idea of blasting a viola da gamba music cd by Jordi Savall, and presto, the bums were out in no time - they apparently could not endure the cruel and unusual punishment of listening to Marin Marais' formal ordres.

If I remember correctly, a few decades ago, classical music was piped into New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal specifically to chase away the drug dealers, panhandlers and homeless (I don't think the term "homeless" existed back then).

New York is a different place these days, though the bus terminal is still not on the list of hot places to be seen.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/02/13 09:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Steven Y. A.
i just find people who accept "rock" generally has a easier time to accept classical music compare to "pop" people.

there are pros and cons with asian method. but physical punishment is not an option for asian parents in north america:)
According to my former Asian students physical punishment is still used by some.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/02/13 09:34 AM

"...in Montreal's subway, a few years back, they had a problem with bums squatting inside when in Winter. Some genius working for the city had the idea of blasting a viola da gamba music cd by Jordi Savall, and presto, the bums were out in no time..."

I suppose the bums had never heard of earplugs.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/02/13 09:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
"...in Montreal's subway, a few years back, they had a problem with bums squatting inside when in Winter. Some genius working for the city had the idea of blasting a viola da gamba music cd by Jordi Savall, and presto, the bums were out in no time..."

I suppose the bums had never heard of earplugs.


I do actually believe that it's not so much the noisy, discordant, tuneless and objectionable music of Marais and other 'classical' composers that their finely-tuned and honed ears can't abide, but the very fact that they are in the same vicinity as such music, and perforce, might be mistakenly assumed by those not in the know that they actually like (shock! horror!!), and be associated with, such dastardly uncool stuff.

However, it could well be that Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps (especially the Sacrificial Dance) may be more suited to their profoundly profound musical sensibilities - as long as nobody tells them that it's actually a great work by a great 'classical composer'........ wink
Posted by: j&j

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/03/13 11:17 AM

Let's face it, a piano is a big, expensive, complicated, complex, instrument and like any instrument takes many hours of study and practice a day to learn to play it well. Several piano dealers have gone out of business in recent years in my city and other music stores have either gone out of business or moved to different locations. The dealer who sold me my Yamaha seems to be holding his own. If he was only in the piano business for the $$, he and his partners sure "picked a hard row to hoe". I wish the three surviving piano dealers in town the best because people need a choice in brands, sound, action, and price. Although the variety can be confusing and frustrating to new piano shoppers as mentioned in another thread, I'm extremely thankful that there's so many different choices at so many price points. It makes it very difficult for dealers to provide buyers this variety and to prep and maintain all the pianos in the showroom, so I won't begrudge them their profit (too much). grin

Some really good news. The undergrad and graduate music program at our university is growing and all the piano classes are full. The students enrolled have very diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and tastes. Hopefully, in the near future, they'll be shopping for an acoustic for their home or studio.

OT: I'll spend a quiet hour or two playing and practicing to celebrate the one year anniversary of my piano's delivery. Even though many of the PW folks wouldn't even give my piano a second glance, I'm still thrilled playing it and really love it's sustain. I'm trying to improve my ability to finger-peddle and my Yamaha really makes my meager skills sound decent.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/03/13 11:35 AM

Originally Posted By: J&J
Let's face it, a piano is a big, expensive, complicated, complex, instrument and like any instrument takes many hours of study and practice a day to learn to play it well.

Who says you have to learn to play it well… there is a lot of enjoyment in plinking a simple tune here and there or playing a little boogie-woogie. smile

I hope and pray that the piano industry will survive and the stores that have survived thus far will continue to survive. The glory days may well be over, but a lot of baby-boomers, like me, may become interested in learning to play the piano.

I was invited to perform special music at a local church in our community a few weeks ago. After the service, this elderly gentleman came up to me and complemented me very nicely on my piano playing. He said he had always wanted to learn to play the piano… I told him it was never too late. He said he was 90 years old and it was too late for him. I said it is never too late and offered to show him a few cords (Since that is about all I know). smile

Rick
Posted by: j&j

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/03/13 01:20 PM

Rick,

It's that enjoyment that keeps me going. If I had to wait to enjoy playing until I sounded good, Satan would be ice-skating.

I'm really glad you had fun and shared your music with the members of your local church. Hymns and boogie-woogie would be cool.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Newspaper Article About Dwindling Piano Stores - 02/03/13 02:07 PM

Originally Posted By: j&j
Rick,

It's that enjoyment that keeps me going. If I had to wait to enjoy playing until I sounded good.....



One thing about playing piano is that anyone can start playing, and sound reasonable within a very short time once they can play a few chords. Unlike someone learning to play the violin or cello, where it takes years (maybe months if very gifted) before they can play reliably in tune and not squawk.

I was skimming through a few old movies a few weeks ago (mostly British, from 1940-1960) and what caught my eye was how frequently there were scenes where people who met at a pub got together around the honky-tonk, and someone would sit down to bang out a popular tune of the time, and then possibly start singing too. And, especially in American movies from the same era, there was frequently a piano in the home scenes, not as redundant furniture, but being played by a family member.

If there are still such pianos in typical American homes (other than those of musicians and the rich), chances are that nobody plays them anymore (YouTube and iPods/downloads being preferred), and they are ancient cast-offs from previous generations, and just waiting to be disposed of. Just like those in the few pubs left in Britain which still have old honky-tonks, but with no-one able to play them.

Chatting to proprietors of some piano showrooms recently, they told me that more than half their current sales are to foreigners (Russians, East Europeans and Chinese who have moved here permanently, or temporarily on business contracts) rather than to home-grown British. The implication was that they were being kept afloat largely by immigrants.

I occasionally attend free lunchtime concerts hosted by a large London piano showroom where students from British music colleges (RCM, RAM, RNCM etc) play on a concert grand. This season, there are six concerts, but not a single one of the pianists are home-grown....