With three kids currently taking piano lessons for the last two years (before dd15 left, it was four), you’d think that I would have acquired a piano for them to practice on by now!
However, even though I’ve periodically seen pianos being given away, I’ve never responded because: a) the kids are able to practice daily on their teacher’s baby grand piano (she lets them come and go when she’s at work), which is much higher quality than anything I would get; b) a piano would take up a lot of space in our not so big living room; and c) even a free piano isn’t free since it means hiring a mover and usually having it tuned, with the costs starting at $300 and up.
But last week I saw a piano being offered for free, and I finally decided to look into it. All of the kids are conscientious about practicing regularly (about 30 minutes 4 – 5 times a week), but dDd14 practices a lot – 60 – 90 minutes daily – and having something here in the house really would make it easier for her to practice as frequently and as long as she liked. However, I really don’t know anything about pianos so I asked my dh and dd14 to go take a look at it to see if it was suitable. Dd was enthusiastic about it, saying it was a good piano that played well even though it didn’t look great, so we decided to get it.
Dh, ds17, and the husband and their 17 year old hauled the piano from their house to the curb. At that point, they realized the piano was too heavy and unwieldy to maneuver from the sidewalk into our van (we had removed the seats), so it remained outside for five days until we were able to hire a mover to bring it over on Sunday afternoon. (Dh covered it well with tarps to protect it since a few hours after they got it outside, it began to pour!) Fortunately, a piano isn’t exactly the kind of thing a thief wants to walk off with.
When it got here there was such excitement! I don’t know if my house will ever be quiet again. The littles are very excited and would be happy to spend hours banging away. As much as I love the idea of encouraging their artistic creativity, I’m not so relaxed about a continually heightened noise level, so there are going to be some new guidelines that will be introduced and then repeatedly reinforced. Did I ever mention that I don’t like lots of noise? (You might not have guessed that, since I have nine children.:))
Once it arrived, I looked up the company name (Wurlitzer) and was pleased to learn that it’s considered a very good piano. The most visible improvement that we’ll make is to refinish the outside, which dd14 volunteered to do. Someone started repainting it so half is black and half is wood toned. If it were in the basement, it wouldn’t matter but since it’s in the living room, I’d like it to look as nice as it sounds.
Some of the keys were stuck, but my kids are quite industrious, so they (mostly dd14, ds11 with a little assistance by dd10 and ds8) unscrewed the piano and got busy figuring how to fix them. Once they opened it up, they not only fixed almost all of the keys, but cleaned out years of papers that had slipped through the cracks – a very significant pile! There were also some toys, a mouse’s nest (empty, happily), game pieces – but once they cleared it all out, they realized that all of the white keys weren’t striking heavily enough because the papers were blocking them inside. So now that’s taken care of and the keys strike perfectly.
Tbey also fixed a pedal at the bottom that wasn’t working (they found a small piece that had broken off and glued it back together – the reason they started this cleaning out was in the hopes of finding this piece), and have informed me that if I buy a tuning lever, they’ll tune it for me so we don’t have to pay someone to do it. (They looked up how to do that online.) But it plays fine and it’s not like this is the piano they’ll use at their recitals, so tuning doesn’t seem that critical to me at this point.
There’s only one key that isn’t yet working, but ds11 explained to me what the problem is and told me that he’s planning to take the piano apart again tomorrow (whatever that means) to see if he can find a way to fix it.
The kids enjoyed all of this and felt quite accomplished to have done all of this on their own. There’s nothing like finding and solving a problem, particularly one that requires extensive effort, to enhance a child’s (adult’s!) sense of accomplishment and confidence in their abilities.
Oh – our total cost for the piano? $140.