Beware of Buying a Steinway Piano on the Internet

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Dr. Smith (name changed) was a pretty typical prospective client. He is a successful physician practicing in the Midwest. He was shopping for a vintage Steinway Grand for his Marco Island, FL home.

Over the next few months, he shopped and shopped and shopped and finally, purchased a 1922 Model A (6’1″) on eBay. He was thrilled to have found a completely rebuilt and refinished piano for less than $20,000. This is very suspicious because the cost of properly rebuilding and refinishing a Steinway grand is more than $20,000.

The good doctor had heard about Pianomation II, the latest player piano system from QRS, so he contacted a Florida Steinway Dealer to receive and inspect his piano and install the player system. The seller reluctantly agreed to ship the piano to the Steinway Dealer, and about a month later it arrived. It only took 15 seconds for the Steinway Dealer to figure out that something was fishy. The legs on the piano were not from 1922! Things got worse, fast.
The finish was very cloudy with many deep surface scratches. Oversized pins were a hint that the pin plank had not been replaced and some of the cheap plastic key-tops were coming unglued. All the action parts were original and worn. Only 90 seconds into the evaluation, they decided to turn the piano over to their technicians for a full assessment.

“Maybe they just got the date wrong,” suggested the techs. Serial numbers are how pianos are dated, and they are stamped in ink on the piano’s plate. The new serial number on this particular plate disagreed with the shadow of the old serial number you could partially see through the new finish. There are other places on a Steinway to find the serial number, but on this piano, the serial numbers had been sanded off.

Now there are many reasons why someone would remove the serial number from a piano, car, or gun. But, none of them are good reasons.

An e-mail was sent to Steinway & Sons in New York City. They promptly wrote back that the serial number in question had been assigned to a Mahogany Model M (5’7″) sold in New York in 1934. This piano was an impostor.

The Steinway Dealer called Dr. Smith. After discussing the possibility of starting the restoration from scratch he said, “But I will still have a piano with a phony serial number.” By now he was feeling that he had been deceived; and, of course, he had been. A few minutes later the Steinway Dealer got a call from the seller who wanted to argue with them about their assessment and protest that he had not broken any eBay rules. The Steinway Dealer suggested that he review the e-mail received from Steinway & Sons. Eventually, after numerous phone calls and more broken promises, the piano was picked up by a guy moving pianos in a horse trailer.

Dr. Smith got most of his money back. But he has since been put off buying a piano.

Had the piano been delivered directly to his home, and the problems discovered over time, it is unlikely he would have been able to return the piano.

Why has the piano market failed to present reasonable offerings online, and thereby opened up a vacuum filled by these carpetbaggers, when industry segments like electronics and guitars have successfully offered products online? There are several reasons.

First, none of the major piano manufacturers will allow their new pianos to be sold online. Best guess is, if they thought it was a viable way to market pianos, they would do it themselves. Why would they need dealers, if they could sell their pianos from a webpage? Obviously, the absence of high quality, name brand merchandise opens up an opportunity for bottom feeders.

Next, pianos are heavy, bulky instruments that must be wrangled into place, wrestled into tune, and constantly serviced. It is almost impossible to move a piano any significant distance for less than $1,000 and it is impractical to service pianos more than an hour away from the seller. Since most used pianos are decades old, there are often problems. The dealer needs to be close by.

The drawback with used pianos is that there aren’t many good ones. Dealers are able to sell all the good pianos they get on trade to local customers without much difficulty. Why would we want to market them to the lowest-price buyer online?

Then there is the economics. With locals selling old consoles and spinets on Craigslist for $200, transporting one even across state makes almost no sense. Properly regulating and voicing a 20-year-old upright is so expensive that it’s not profitable. Most used grands are more than 25 years old, and need extensive action work to be appropriate for normal use. That can be a week’s work, plus parts, which costs at least $5,000.

And finally, the Internet can be a liars’ club. Posters are anonymous and unaccountable. We have serviced a half-dozen or so pianos people have bought online. None of them were great pianos and none of the customers got a particularly good deal. Some of them were nightmares.

Expensive acoustic musical instruments need to be seen and played before they are purchased. The bottom line is: A piano is a large, heavy, complicated instrument that requires constant service. It’s a once in a lifetime purchase. Saving a few bucks by buying one online is unlikely to get you a piano you will love forever. Do yourself a favor; let a reliable local dealer help you find a quality piano, and pay him a fair price.

Steve pic for google

Piano for the Body-Mind-and-Soul

Piano for Body, Mind and Soul
There has always been a recognized trinity between the mind, the body, and the therapeutic qualities of music. And the piano, specifically, has been a long-recognized source of remedy for those seeking escape and creative expression. But recent years have also offered a wealth of scientific studies that demonstrate our instincts have always been correct: playing the piano offers proven benefits—from physical and intellectual to social and emotional—to people of all ages.

Let’s Get Physical
Who knew? Those piano lessons we took when we were young offered specific physical benefits to our developing bodies. And piano lessons and practice can also, it turns out, improve the physical health of adults and the elderly. Dr. Arthur Harvey, retired professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, published a study through the American Music Conference that details the vast physiologic benefits generated by regular musical practice. One obvious boon of regular piano playing, Harvey found, is the sharpening of fine motor skills in children. But playing music, according to Harvey’s research, also “activates the cerebellum and therefore may aid stroke victims in regaining language capabilities.” Additional research revealed that group keyboard lessons given to older Americans had a significant effect on increasing levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which is implicated in slowing such aging phenomena as osteoporosis, energy levels, wrinkling, sexual function, muscle mass, and aches and pains.

The physical benefits of piano playing are even more far reaching. Mitchell Gaynor M.D., in his book Sounds of Healing, demonstrates that music has therapeutic physical effects including reduced anxiety, heart and respiratory rates; reduced cardiac complications; lowered blood pressure; and increased immune responses.

Keys to Better Thinking
In addition to the proven body benefits of regular play, piano practice can also boost cognitive and intellectual abilities. Playing piano, in other words, makes us smarter. Research through the years has demonstrated that musical training taps into similar areas of brain function as those used in spatial intelligence and even math. In fact, kids who continue their playing through their teenage years average about 100 points higher on the SAT. In 1994, research revealed, undergraduates who majored in music had the highest acceptance rate into medical school, at 66%.

In a study conducted by E. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto at Mississauga in 2011, researchers split 132 first-graders into four separate groups for after-school activities. One group was given singing lessons, one was given drama lessons, another piano lessons, and the last was offered no after-school instruction. All of the students’ IQ’s were evaluated at the end of the year. Those who participated in the piano lessons saw an IQ increase of 7 points, while the other groups saw an increase of 4.25 at most. The researchers concluded that the fact that piano education requires one to be focused for long periods of times contributes to the greater IQ gains in the piano-playing group.

Striking a Contented Chord
As if the physical and cognitive benefits of regular piano playing were not enough, studies also show that time at the keyboard offers emotional advantages, as well. In fact, research reveals that those who are involved in creating music on a regular basis experience less anxiety, loneliness and depression.

Barry Bittman, MD, of the Body-Mind Wellness Center in Meadville, Pennsylvania, created a study to gauge stress levels among 32 volunteers. The volunteers were put through a stress-inducing activity—attempting to assemble a difficult puzzle while incentivized by a monetary prize—and then were told to “relax” afterward using a variety of different methods, including reading magazines and playing keyboards. The volunteers also gave blood during the study, and the blood was tested for the activity of 45 stress-related genes. In the group that played keyboard to relax, the results showed a significantly higher reversal in the markers for stress-related genes than in the other groups.

“With ongoing research,” Bittman concludes, “recreational music-making could potentially serve as a rational stress-reduction activity, along with other lifestyle strategies that include healthy nutrition and exercise.”

Add to this data the other benefits that come from piano playing—increases in work ethic, diligence, creativity, self-reliance and perseverance—and the result is a veritable symphony of good news for your body and your soul. Ready to tickle the ivories

How to Take Care of Your Piano

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If you are the proud owner of a new piano in Atlanta, you may be searching for ways that will help you keep it functional, beautiful and elegant at all times. However, you must remember that taking proper care of your piano is a task which will require some of your attention and time. So, if you’re ready to really invest time in your piano and its maintenance, give the following aspects your attention.

Temperature Care

temperatureOne of the most important factors that you have to take care of in Steinway Pianos is the amount of heat and humidity you let in the room. The wood is extremely sensitive, so you can’t expose it to sudden changes in temperature. In a perfect world, you would have a good quality humidifier to maintain the humidity levels at 45 – 70%, and keep the temperature constant at about 20˚C.

Keyboard Care

cleaning piano keysIf you’ve had your piano for a long time, it is mandatory that you keep it clean and absolutely dust-free. For this, you only need to moisten a leather cloth slightly and clean the keyboard with it. Remember to apply minimum pressure as a lot will damage the internal strings. Also, to ensure the long life of the piano, make certain that you shut the lid every time you finish playing.

Location Care

Most good quality pianos, and especially high end pianos, such as the Steinway or even Yamaha Pianos, need a lot of care and looking after. Therefore, you also have to consider where you are placing the instrument. Experts suggest that the piano be kept somewhere against the wall of a room and as far away from the window as possible. Bear in mind that no matter what, keeping it away from the window is a must or else the wood of your piano will be damaged in a few years. Ultraviolet rays will over time damage the finish on the piano.

Maintenance and Repair Care

With any piano, you should carry out maintenance at a regular intervals as this is something which will keep the instrument running longer. A well maintained piano is one which will rarely require the need of repair. Even so, it is smart to have the number of a good piano servicer in your contacts list just in case. Having your piano serviced from time to time will ensure your ability to use it for years to come.

Transport Care

First of all, you have to know that transporting a piano is dangerous because it is a highly sensitive musical instrument and it may not arrive in the exact same playing condition than it left in. However, if you are moving it to another location, it is best if you bring in specialized personnel to take care of the job. Also, you may want to make certain that your piano is insured in case accidents take place.

How To Buy A Used Piano

A piano plays a vital role in music. Very often, no melody is complete without a piano to carry its tune. With so many pianos out there to choose from, you must first decide the purpose for which you will be purchasing one. For example, will you be training children or for casual playing at home. Buying a new Steinway Piano in Atlanta can be costly and depending upon your situation it may be better to look into a used Steinway piano.

However, not all used pianos are created equal. Here are a few questions you should ask before buying a used piano. Especially if you’re looking for a top Steinway piano.

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What is the Reason for Sale?

The first thing you should know is the reason a person is selling a used piano. Their answer is usually helpful in determining if the buyer is being truthful or not as many buyers aren’t expecting the question. In a dealership or piano store this is also a good question to ask. Many times at a piano store or dealer it’s possible that new arrivals have replaced the older versions. These older pianos are sometimes offered as “used” even when they are not. These are often very good finds as they offer great value for a piano that is essentially “new”. Finding out if there are any of these is a smart question to ask as well.

How Often Has the Piano Been Tuned?

piano_tuningMany of the higher end pianos – especially those by Steinway, Essex, Yamaha, and the like –  require to be tuned at least twice a year for maximum sound performance. If care is not taken, you’ll end up paying extra money for its maintenance after the purchase. If not tuned, then make sure you have a certified piano tuner take a look at the piano before purchase to make to know the cost of getting back to it’s top playing condition.

You should also know who did the piano’s last tuning and maintenance. Remember, Steinway Pianos should always be tuned by an authorized Steinway piano technician and not by just any tuner. An accurate and detailed tuning record is a sign of a well cared for piano.

Where It Has Been Stored?

The details of where the piano has been stored must also be taken into account. Make sure that it hasn’t been cramped up in a place experiencing seepage, water outflow or extreme temperature variation. If a piano has been stored in a garage, stay away. These factors can seriously affect a piano’s performance and appearance.

How Much Movement Has It Experienced?

piano_movingIs this the first owner? Or has the piano changed hands a few times? These are good things to be aware of in determining how well the piano was cared for. Find out how often the piano has been shifted from one place to another. Inspect it for dents, scratches or defects which might affect its performance.

How Often Has The Piano Been Used?

You should be well aware of how often the instrument was been used. This is also often a key indicator of how well the piano was cared for. Don’t be alarmed if the person used the piano every day. A person that uses a piano often is much more likely to be one who has taken great care of it.

Keep these in mind while shopping for a used piano and you will definitely get the best value for your money. Or, you can just let the pros do it for you. You can always swing by Steinway Piano in Atlanta to view the used pianos available anytime.

Always remember that either is it a piano or any other musical instrument, proper tuning and care must be taken for best result.

6 Reasons Why Your Child Should Learn Piano

There are many highly defensible arguments for encouraging children to learn to play piano. Not the least of which is that over the past several years a great deal of research has produced an ever expanding amount of evidence showing that music can have a distinctly measurable and undeniably positive impact on the brain and its processes.

Robert DeFazio writes in the Feb/March edition of Amercian Music Teacher, “… the value proposition of music is not merely that a student will learn to play scales; it goes far beyond that. With musical training, a student could also read better, develop a facility with language that enables him to express himself more accurately and capably, and acquire a foreign language more rapidly and effectively.” Many other studies conclude that early piano training also has a direct effect on the development of the brain’s neural circuitry, actually improving intellectual development and helping to create and maintain certain “connections” in children’s brains that might not otherwise ever form.

Well… All this “Brain Stuff” is very well and good, but what does it actually mean out in the real world? A very interesting article by Liz Ryan, CEO & Founder of Human Workplace, an online community and consulting firm focused on reinventing work and career education for humans, reveals some incredible advantages not commonly associated with piano training.

Ms. Ryan challenges the concept that a college degree in “computer science or accounting” prepares a child for the real world. In a February 4 blog posted to DenverPost.com she writes…

“Here’s what prepares a kid for real life: growing muscles. Musicians grow those muscles from an early age, because every kid in class can get an A in Algebra, but not every kid can be first chair in the concert band. There is competition in music (as in life). It goes with the territory.

Here are other things that go with the musical territory:

  • Coming back from a disappointment (not getting the part, the solo or the chair you wanted), doing the gig or the show anyway and learning from it.
  • Working on something hard, like an upcoming audition, for weeks while your friends are having fun without you.
  • Digging in to surmount an obstacle (a vocal wobble, e.g.) and getting past it.
  • Staying within yourself and in the music when a million distractions loom.

In high school, music kids get labeled nerds and wonks, but music kids are hardier than most.” All that competition, the hard work of self improvement and the repeated bouncing back from disappointment helps a musician grow not only muscles, but a thicker skin and ability to roll with life’s punches that many kids never approach (paraphrasing).

Finally, there are also real societal benefits derived from playing the PIANO. The following is taken straight from literature provided by the Boston Piano Company (a division of Steinway & Sons) giving us the 6 reasons that your child should learn piano.

  1. For the shy child, piano is self expression.
  2. For the awkward child, piano is coordination.
  3. For the impulsive child, piano is a way to channel energy into a rewarding accomplishment.
  4. For the easily distracted child, piano is concentration.
  5. For the uncertain child, piano is poise and confidence.
  6. For the child who gives up easily, piano is perseverance.

How different would our lives or our world be if we could all experience more self expression, be more coordinated, achieve more rewarding accomplishments, and have higher levels of concentration, confidence and perseverance? Any takers?

About the Author

Ike Van Meter is the Director of Institutional Sales for Steinway Piano Galleries of Alpharetta Atlanta, GA a graduate of Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music and member of the Grammy Award winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

Message from Tsuey Wei Seah

“It was such an honor to be invited to perform at Franz Mohr’s Lecture “My Life with the Great Pianists” on November 8, 2012 at Alpharetta showroom.  I played the Liszt-Paganini Etude no. 6 in A minor to open the lecture and it was an unforgettable experience.  I feel so grateful to be part of the teaching team at The Music Academy at Steinway Piano Galleries.”