Sunday, January 9, 2011

My First Grand Piano

It's been a while since my last long update. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I haven't had time to sort out my New Year's resolution, but I have another news I want to share so we will leave that for a later date.

I have been looking for a grand piano since October, about a month before Mike and I moved into our new house. I was so excited about finally having a big enough piano room to fit a grand piano in it that I just couldn't wait until the moving day to check out some grand pianos at the local music store.

Now, you may be interested to learn a little background about my piano obsession..

I grew up in Taiwan, where most people in the cities live in small, one level condos, and only professional musicians would own grand pianos. Since I had been an amateur pianist until I was 21 years old, there was no point in purchasing one. Also, since there was simply no room in our condo, I never even thought about asking my parents to buy a grand piano for me.

The first time I realized how much I wanted a grand piano was when I had a chance to perform on a Bosendorfer concert grand. That was the first time I played a concert grand piano, and  it was love at first "sound". There was simply no other way to describe it. I was literally in shock that I almost forgot how to play!

A year later, against all odds, I was accepted to the BM program (Bacholor of Music in piano performance) at Birmingham Concervatoroire and started my music advanture.During the whole time I was working on my degree, I felt like Cinderella being invited to the King's palace, totally out of place. My piano professor John Humphreys not only shared with me many old recordings by great pianists, and as a piano collector himself, he also loved telling me stories about pianos (which I always loved to hear).That was when I started to develop a taste for Steinway pianos -- especially the old ones built during the "Golden Age"(early 20th century). 

I did my Master's degree in Music at Indiana University, where almost every practice room has a Steinway grand piano in it. There were also other brands, but other than Steinway, I only seemed to like Baldwin. All of these piano I loved had a distinct rich and warm sound. 

After being in a music school for seven years, I had this dream of having my own Steinway grand piano one day, but I never had enough money nor room for it, so I bought a Yamaha upright to practice on. I suppose psychologically that was never enough for me, so the first thing after I realized I would have a good size piano room at the new house was to search for a grand piano. 

In October, I first went to the local music store, saw a few old Steinway pianos, and only liked one --  and of course the one I liked just had to be slightly out of my price range, so I started searching for pianos from individual owners. I drove all around Charleston, and also checked out a few stores in Columbia. I saw a few pianos that were either newer, cheaper, or larger, but there was always something "missing" that made me feel uncertain about buying them.

I don't know why I always do this, but I do it anyway -- I would think a lot and try out many things, but eventually always come back to the first thing I liked. So, after three months, I went back to the same music store, negotiated with the sales person for a price I could afford, and then bought my first grand piano. It is a 1925 Steinway model L in walnut color. The original owner put a lot of money in it, so not only does it still sounds gorgeous, it is also in great cosmetic condition. It is a dream come true. It's funny, but for the first time I feel like a "real" musician - whatever that means. :)

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