The piano was once the heart of the home. In 1909, people bought more than 350,000 of the instruments.
“Back in the early 1900s, there were very little forms of entertainment,” says Stephen Scharbrough, a second-generation piano tuner and technician. “It was a time that was pre-radio, so if you wanted entertainment, music, or something to interact with at your house, place of business, or a restaurant or bar, you had to hire a musician or pianist.”
The piano eventually caught on, and individuals learned how to play the piano on their own to entertain themselves. But today, “things have obviously changed a bit since then,” Scarborough says.
The television has adopted the piano’s former role in the modern era, and children are easily entertained with tablets instead of having to practice musical scales. Annual piano sales have dropped to between 30,000 and 40,000.
Instead of serving as the family entertainment center, Scharbrough says pianos are now owned by specific sets of people. “It’s the family that places priority on self-discipline and has a respect for arts and music,” he says.