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Apr 04

Give a Piano Some Love

“One of the lessons that we were learned in this process is that instruments like that have to be played,” Terry said.

“Our approach to the piano prior to that was not to play it and to protect it and preserve it. The truth is… it’s built to be played.”

Robin Terry from the Motown Historical Museum

 

Robin Terry was referring to the 1877 Steinway piano that has been recently restored back to a standard that will allow it to be played and even recorded again.  The piano was used by Stevie Wonder and many other Motown greats during the boom years at Motown Records and is worthy of its face-lift for that reason alone. The fact that it’s over one hundred and thirty years old is another reason to applaud the efforts to have it restored.

Steinway

The “Buisness End” of a Concert Steinway

But isn’t it the case that literally thousands of pianos lay untouched by musicians.  They stand, hibernating under crocheted lace coasters.  Their only use now is for supporting ornaments or maybe an urn of ashes sat idle and silent in living rooms (or “parlours”, as we used to call them) all over the world.  This would be the best case scenario for many of them, others will be pushed out into draughty hallways and worse, into barns, sheds or garages exposed to the elements and fauna.

These instruments need playing.  Somebody put 12,000 moving parts together, not in the hope that Dear Old Bob could rest in peace atop it, but that generations of people would take up the lid and poke out a tune.

It is a sad indictment on our society that the piano is considered so low on the musical ladder that so many are abandoned, orphaned and ultimately scrapped.  Yes, they’re bulky items, and yes, they also need care, and not only as a piece of furniture.  But they posses a soul and have a story, each one of them. I wouldn’t have minded being a fly on the wall during some of the sessions recorded on the Motown Steinway, that’s for sure.

 

*You can read the full article that inspired this post at the BBC website Here

More on old pianos

And an earlier piece about piano info

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