The excitement welled up inside as I thought more and more about the opportunity to learn piano tuning and repair…and I get a new (to me) piano as a part of the deal! The difficult part would be to find just the right instrument.
These were the criteria for the piano:
- It must be a full-sized upright piano (many people call these “upright grands”)
- It should NOT be in excellent condition – there had to be something to repair
- Preferably, it should be enjoyable to play, and have the potential to be beautiful
The last point was not based on anything that my piano technician recommended; that part was just for me. I get very sentimental about things, so after pouring so much of my heart into it, I know that I will want to keep it long-term. Therefore, it must be nice enough to have in my home.
My hope was to find a piano that met the aforementioned requirements, for the whopping cost of $0.00.
Sound like a challenge? Maybe. But probably not.
My first thought was to track down the old upright that I learned to play on. I loved that piano so much, but unfortunately when my Mom needed to find a new home for it, I was not in a position to take it. Eventually Mom called the local piano movers, who picked it up and hauled it off somewhere.
So, I went to the piano store to see what I could find out. I felt like a detective, and it was super fun. The store owner is always sitting at his desk, so I walked straight up to greet him and asked:
“Do you have a record of all the pianos you move? Like…would you be able to figure out where my piano was taken after your guys picked it up from my Mom’s house? I am pretty sure it was donated to a church several years ago, and I would love to get it back.”
He replied, “We do keep records, so we might be able to find it. What kind of piano was it?”
“I honestly cannot remember the brand name right now…but it seems like it might have been a Story & Clark? It was an old upright from the early 1900s probably, about 5 feet tall, with a mirror across the top…”
He almost scoffed, and said: “Oh, well a piano like that would go straight to the landfill. I can tell you right now that your piano was not donated to a church.”
My heart sank.
My beloved piano was dead, never to be found…it probably sat in the heat, cold, and rain, all alone, then slowly warped and fell apart in a giant pile of rotting garbage. It’s song would never be heard again.
Goodbye my sweet friend.
That particular piano saw me through so much. My oldest sister used to accompany all of us girls while we practiced our choir music, and sometimes my Mom would sing with us too. That piano comforted me when we moved to a new house that I didn’t like. I learned to accompany my own singing on that bench. When I was deciding what to study in college, I remembered all those wonderful hours playing and singing, and decided that was what I wanted to do.
And now there really was no chance of getting it back.
The next best thing would be to find something similar (and save a piano from the landfill), so I told the store owner that if he picks up any junker pianos, I would like to see them. Then I did a Craigslist search.
There were probably five piano listings that looked like good options, but one in particular caught my eye. It was a Lindeman & Sons, built in 1908, out of Mahogany wood and real ivory keys! It looked to be in decent shape, though it certainly needed repairs. I sent inquiries for all the listings, and eagerly awaited the replies.
Only one person responded, and it was the owner of the Lindeman & Sons piano!
“It has been claimed but can’t get it until after the 15th. If anything changes I will message you again.It is over 100 yrs old (1908) and playable. I inherited it and don’t play. It needs repair and tuning for sure. If she backs out you are up next.”
I was so disappointed, but prayed that the other person would back out, because I really wanted it!
A couple of weeks passed with no luck. But one day, to my delight, I had an email in my inbox from the owner of the Lindeman & Sons piano. It read:
“The piano is available if you are still interested.”
Of course I was interested!!! We worked out a day and time for me to come over, and I took my little brother with me to go check it out.
The piano was everything I hoped.
It was beautiful, even under a quarter-inch of dust and cobwebs, and I knew that if I could really learn how to restore pianos, then it had the potential to be awesome. I was in love with this old upright.
I told the gentleman that I would take it.
Now I just needed to clear out a space for this giant instrument, and figure out how to get it moved to my house. The next steps would be challenging, but I finally had a piano!!!