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Lawrence Welk…

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A guy came into our shop this morning.  He was wondering if we had any interest in buying his mother’s Starr console piano.  Mahlon talked to him a little while, and then was interrupted by a phone call.

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I asked him some more about the piano.  What color is it?  When was it last tuned?  The answers weren’t so great.  Starr consoles aren’t exactly in high demand, and he had no idea the last time the piano had been tuned.

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I took his information anyways, and let him know that pianos like that really aren’t worth a whole lot – especially to a piano dealer.  Even in the best condition, the most he could expect one of us to pay for it was under $300.  He might be better off putting it on Craigslist.

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He looked a little disappointed.  I’m sure he was, most people think mom’s piano is worth at least $1000.  He said, “Well, you’re a salesperson anyway, that’s probably part of it.”

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I could have let it go, but I didn’t.  He seemed like a nice guy, so I corrected him, “I’m actually a piano technician and the director of education here.”

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His eyes lit up, “Oh!  Do you play the piano?”  he said.  Since I was three, I told him.

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“Do you ever watch Lawrence Welk?  He comes on Friday, or is it Saturday nights on channel 34.  They have this lady on there, I don’t know if you remember or not, she could just play and play – she’d look out at the audience and everything.  She was just wonderful.”

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Turns out, he was raised in the time of big band players, and the first rockers on piano.  Jerry Lee Lewis is his favorite.  What a blast!

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It got me to thinking about how awesome people still think piano players are, even though we don’t revere them any longer.  I bet you dollars to doughnuts you can’t tell me the name of Adele’s piano player.  Double or nothing that you’ve never heard of Lang Lang or Valentina Lisitsa.  Let alone (my hero) Vladamir Horowitz.

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Miles Robinson – Adele’s Pianist

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It seems like things have changed, and not really for the better.  Where are our piano rock stars?  What’s happened to the Jerry Lee’s and the Billy Joel’s and all the rest?  Where is our Liberace?

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For an instrument that so many people love to hear, love to see someone play, and enjoy so much, it’s seriously falling by the wayside.  Kids now are far more into making loops out of samples on their macs, it’s way easier.

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Well, I for one will continue to fight the good fight.  Teach the kids, fix up the instruments, and keep trying to inspire the next generation.

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Maybe, just maybe – we’ll get our next Lawrence Welk piano lady (Joann Castle) yet.

“Mind… BLOWN!”

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A gentleman came into our piano store a while back.  As it happens, I was pretty busy getting ready for our big holiday concert.  I almost forgot that he had been here!  He happened to stop in to sell me some advertising, but got into a conversation about pianos (one of my favorite topics) with me instead.  Today, he stopped back by to offer me a different deal with the ads, but he reminded me of what we had talked about before.

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Turns out, this guy was a former music student.  He played guitar and clarinet, hated both, and then quit.  He never really gave music much more thought.

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Being in the store, however, makes a person more interested, I think.

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He asked me, “Pianos make their sound from the strings, right?”

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“Yes, well, sort of” I answered.  “The sound is actually produced by the hammers hitting the strings, but the sound board is what magnifies it.”

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“Huh?”

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Fortunately, we were standing right next to a studio piano, I showed him which part the sound board was, explained that they were made of spruce and that because of them, the piano makes sound.

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I then pulled out my trusty music box guts.

This thing makes almost no sound when it’s on it’s own, just a tiny – tinny little tinkling.

As soon as you place it against a sound board, the whole room fills with sound.

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“Wow!  That’s awesome, my mind is blown.”

Cool.

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When he came back in today, he told me about all the fun he had over the holidays showing off his new knowledge of piano sound production.  I was glad to hear that even though I had nearly forgotten about our conversation, it definitely left a mark somewhere.

You just never know what’s going to happen at the piano store.

Thanks for reading!

Alle