We are Witnessing The Second Great Piano Die-off

A hundred years ago, almost everyone had a piano; it was the home entertainment center, the way you listened to music and the thing the family did together. Then the record player and the radio delivered better music with less work, and the first great piano extinction took place. But they remained an interior design fixture; many people put them in their living rooms even if they couldn't play a note.

Now we are in the middle of the second extinction. According to Daniel Wakin in the New York Times,

With thousands of moving parts, pianos are expensive to repair, requiring long hours of labor by skilled technicians whose numbers are diminishing. Excellent digital pianos and portable keyboards can cost as little as several hundred dollars. Low-end imported pianos have improved remarkably in quality and can be had for under $3,000.

Wakin also notes that fewer kids take music in school thanks to cutbacks, Electronics and other competing diversions are eating up time needed for practicing, and they are heavy and expensive to move. So off they go to the dump.

The value of used pianos, especially uprights, has plummeted in recent years. So instead of selling them to a neighbor, donating them to a church or just passing them along to a relative, owners are far more likely to discard them, technicians, movers and dealers say. Piano movers are making regular runs to the dump, becoming adept at dismantling instruments, selling parts to artists, even burning them for firewood.

LifeHacker points to an interesting alternative to the dump: Mrs. Amber Apple's Piano Desk. She writes:

If you want to make a piano desk, search for free broken pianos on craigslist.com or yard sales. Take out all of the strings and piano keys (keep the piano keys for a future DIY I'll be posting!). Then decide what color you want to paint it! I first painted the piano grey, which looked really nice when I was using it, but I knew my husband would enjoy it better if it was black. After your paint is dry make sure you spray it with a clear coat of acrylic.

It has it all: colour shifting LED lighting and an ergonomically incorrect monitor built into the top. More at Mrs. Amber Apple.

We are Witnessing The Second Great Piano Die-off
The radio and record player caused the first; The recession and the keyboard are causing the second.

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