Extinction beckons for piano shops in US as children lose interest

The continued decline in piano sales in the United States means shops selling the instrument are becoming a rare site.

Piano stores closing

In 1909 in the US, over 364,500 were sold. Today, the number is only between 30,000 and 40,000 each year.

In an article by Associated Press, Boston-based piano technician Larry Fine suggested the decline was partly down to new technology.

He said: “Computer technology has just changed everything about what kids are interested in. People are interested in things that don’t take much effort, so the idea of sitting and playing an hour a day to learn piano is not what kids want to do.”

Dennis Saphir recently closed his piano shop in Chicago bringing a business that had been run by his family for six generations to an end. 

“We actually found ourselves competing with our own pianos that came back on the market and, frankly, nothing was wrong with those pianos," said Saphir. "We had serviced them and made sure customers took care of those pianos. There were lots of really excellent pianos on the market for a fraction of what the new piano would cost.”

The decline in popularity in the US is in stark contrast with the ever-increasing popularity of the piano in China, where more than 40 million children have been inspired to take up the instrument – in a trend labelled 'the Lang Lang effect'.

But a note of optimism was struck by Joe Lamond, president and CEO of the National Association of Music Merchants, who said: "Having all the notes laid out in front of you spatially is really an important way to learn music. It's why [the piano] is one of the most important instruments for people to begin on. That's not going to change."

Photo: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

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