When You Are Done Tickling The Ivories, What Then?

Who doesn’t love seeing a grand piano in a home or apartment? They often set the tone for the whole room, sitting there so majestically, saying, come, play Chopsticks or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Most of us cram a piano is what space we have and try and put the other furniture around it, like this living room. Good luck trying to get at the books in the right hand side bookcase. I also think when the fireplace is roaring, the piano frame might get a little toasty.

But when you have a huge space, a piano definitely gives one corner of the room an anchor. This was Derek Jeter’s apartment at one point. Do you think he plays the piano?

This piano is said to be owned by a British footballer, Thierry Henry. I ask again – do you think he plays piano, or do you suppose his decorator said he needed something in that corner. Hey, how about a grand piano? The sucker said sure.

At a Trump Towers apartment – this is hysterical, built-in no less! Klassy! I feel there should be a tip jar somewhere and a woman hanging off the edge, smoking. The work of art on the back wall is a little alarming too. This whole scene is bizarre.

Joan Rivers….her piano was obviously a place for family photos, typical of what so many of us do with our pianos, pretty until the dreaded dusting the piano top takes place and every photo frame needs to be moved then put back like it was before. Been there done that.

This is the only photo I found where I thought the owner really did play the piano and further, was accompanied by musical family member, on flute or violin perhaps.

For decades, we had a baby grand piano on which the children “learned” to play, the piano lessons that they actually liked but really never took too. None of is very at all musical. We bought the piano used at a shop in White Plains so it was no Steinway, more like a Noway, but it suited us, was pretty wood, sat handsomely in the living room of our big 1920s house, we dabbled at it, it suited the room….. all of the above.

Problem though, when we downsized, we made the BIG mistake of moving the piano with us to here. It never suited any room, it never found a corner that was right. It was always always always in the way. The kids were long gone. I can’t even play Chopsticks, it kept needing a tuning, and at one point the tuner said it wasn’t keeping a tune because the works were warping. Fun.

So we decided to give it away. Ha, there’s where the story really begins. What to do with a piano when you no longer want it!

I called every organization with ties to music I could find in the yellow pages. I called our former piano teacher. I called churches. I called elementary schools. I called the prison.

NO ONE WANTED THE PIANO, even though we were giving it away, and in some instances, offered to pay for it to be moved (no chump change!)

This way of moving the piano ain’t cheap, that’s for sure, but it’s how so many New Yorkers have to do it.

Sadly, many gorgeous grand pianos are just left behind in houses or NYC apartments because the sellers hope the new owner will want it.

These people must be young because here they are actually trying to move a piano INTO an apartment. Trying being the operative word. If you watched Friends, you’ll likely remember the sofa episode and the words PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT  – ringing true with this video! Ha.

We eventually found a home for our piano, a family in town, and even though we told them that we felt the inner works were failing, they really wanted the piano so the nice lady I am, I paid for it to be taken down and moved. Not quite as lovingly as this …. 🙂

My sister has a gorgeous baby grand in their NYC apartment, a piano that belonged to my parents and was in our house growing up. Since my sister IS musical, very very musical, and plays the piano well, it was logical the good piano went to the good daughter. It was in the house in Princeton when their girls were little and on which her girls learned to play – both are very musical, as are my sister’s granddaughters, so the piano served them well for 40+ years.

But they too came to the conclusion to give the piano away, to free up space in their city living room. Like me before her, she called every organization and charity they could think of. No one, no one, no one wanted the piano.

They might as well have done this….from a NY Times article, showing what happens to old pianos no one wants. Oh my.


How did my sister get rid of her piano you ask? Well, this says it all. Her email yesterday….

Well… after 6 weeks of trying to find a “home” for our dear piano, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? came to carry it out yesterday…

All quite efficient and easy…. and a lesson in how irrelevant pianos have become in the age of electronic keyboards that don’t have to be tuned and tweaked… oiled and re-finished…

Our LR is VERY empty now… but once we get the new rug in we can think a bit about how to fill in that window side of the room…

Somehow, I think it appropriate to end this post with the Chopin Funeral March because pianos are dying all around the world. Who has one? Anyone?


17 thoughts on “When You Are Done Tickling The Ivories, What Then?

  1. Ack! I am looking for a good upgrade to our piano (we have new, good Yamaha digital)! My eldest is really taking to it and although it sounds great and has weighted keys that feel like a regular piano, it doesn’t have the percussion aspect. Both my boys are very musical, especially singing, and I’m trying to encourage them however I can without giving them every “thing” they want. They would have to sacrifice their playroom on the main floor, but it’s a big, octagonal space that I think would nicely accommodate a baby, if not a grand. Someone should start a business matching up people like me with people like you, or your sister….just not sure how much $$ is in it, though.

    1. Your boys are the exact right age for enjoying a piano and getting the most out of it being in the house. I didn’t mean to say people shouldn’t buy a piano – they indeed bring a lot of pleasure, just don’t expect to find a home for it when it’s time for you to move or the boys have moved on to starring roles on Broadway!

      Coindidently, the store Jane made reference to has a Piano Locator tab. It looks like you can enter the parameters of what you want and the store will match you up? It might be worth going to the store. They sell new and used pianos.

      1. Thanks, I’ll look there…with trepidation, as I really would prefer to get out of Connecticut–I just don’t know where to.

        I admit this seems a tad crazy, but I used to save real estate listings if I liked their furniture in hopes of a tag sale (when I was furnishing this house–I’ve since moved a bunch of nice stuff from my parents house). Maybe I should reach out to the listing agent if I see a nice piano. I reached out once that way about furnishings, but never had a response back. I happen to like brown furniture and know it will swing around into favor again someday. It’s a real struggle for me to not accumulate anything more– I’m pretty satisfied with my furnishings at the moment, but know how burdensome stuff can become and am sometimes compelled to give it all away! My husband is on the other end of the spectrum, saving stuff “just in case”. And, I never hear the end of it if I have to repurchase a donated/junked item.

  2. Lucky for us, we are all tone deaf so we never owned a piano. I can’t imagine the hassle and expense of moving it from house to house. It is very sad to learn that pianos have gone the way of brown furniture.

    Someone must be buying pianos tho – have you seen the huge new piano showroom on Long Ridge Road, up from Lakeside Diner? It’s enormous so it says people in the area want Suzie and Biff to learn.

  3. My mother’s piano went with my brother. It has been moved eight times in five different states. They don’t play but the piano is a lovely piece of furniture. I’m sure their children won’t want it.
    Thinking every proper home needed a piano through a musician friend I found one on which I thought my kids could learn to play. They had no interest and my talent ended with Fur Elise.
    When we put the Boston house on the market I tried every avenue to unload the thing. Finally settled for the junk people who take pianos away for a fee. They told me they get calls several times a week to remove pianos.
    Sitting in a classic white New England church on my town’s common is a Steinway concert grand piano, a bequest from Mr S’s family. At least that one found a good home.

    1. So interesting how many of us baby boomers thought a piano in a home was a must. And how in one generation – poof, 1-800-JUNK.
      Now, as for that Steinway – wow, how lucky for the church to be the recipient of such a gem. Great story.

  4. Think having a piano is tough? Try a pipe organ:

    Getting rid of a piano could be as easy as organizing a flaming piano flinging contest:

    1. The pipe organ house is incredible – the works downstairs, the bellows etc – I have never seen any home owner go to such great lengths. So if two bedrooms were taken for the organ fittings and the entire basement is too, I wonder what is left for actual living – certainly that kitchen isn’t going to win any buyer over! The video was taken in 2014. Who bets the house is still for sale or that it did sell and the built in pipe organ was sold for scrap.

      One of my aunts played the organ and had one in her Cleveland home. She played the accordion too. She was the hit at every Italian festival and party while relatives were dancing the tarantella! My aunt died a few years ago and I’m not sure what happened to that organ. Or her accordion for that matter.

      Now, as for that trebuchet fling – that’s a MUST. I would love love love to try that. I don’t think my Bedford neighbors would be too keen but there are enough fields in RI that I could do that without getting arrested.

      Two fabulous videos – thanks (and also interesting that two YT clips in one comment made it through the spam filter).

      1. Yes! I was shocked that the reply went through without the “waiting for moderation” thingee showing up (frankly, between you and me, that FWIW blog is nearly unusable).
        Maybe we should have a fund to donate pianos to James May as his mates take great delight in destroying whatever one he has at the time.

        1. Darn, wish we had thought of destroying our piano that way. What fun. We had the old Defender then too. A perfect use for her brawn.
          There’s no “nearly” in the unusable factor at FWIW, although last night his design peeps previewed the new format. Fleetingly.

  5. We just visited a friend who has 3 Steinway pianos in their house. Two baby grands and one up right. He is a composer and a music professor. One in the living room, one in his soundproof music room and the other in the girls bedroom.

  6. Manufactured by an ancestors hand. It just does not fit with the modern décor in the current estate house. 🙂

    Nunns & Clark Square Piano

    Square piano, 1853. Nunns and Clark, New York, New York, United States. Various materials. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of George Lowther, 1906 (06.1312)

    Square piano, 1853. Nunns and Clark, New York, New York, United States. Various materials. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of George Lowther, 1906 (06.1312)

    The rosewood case is more than seven feet wide and elaborately carved. The keyboard uses mother-of-pearl covers on the natural keys and tortoiseshell veneers on the accidentals.

    Fact: This square piano was likely shown at the 1853 Crystal Palace exhibition in New York City.


  7. I ran into the same problem when I was cleaning out my mother’s house. The piano had been with us for at least 60 years; needed to be tuned badly (last one….30 years ago?), and three ivory keys broken, but other than that, a wonderful instrument! Surely some organization could use this! Uh……no. I reached out to many institutions, and they all said it wasn’t worth their time to come get it. I even reached out to local piano companies to find out a) if they could sell it…..NO, or b) how much it would cost me to have it removed…..LOTS of money. So sad! My sisters and I practiced on it in the 1960s, it’s been around for so many years…. So sad to have to literally dump it. And dump it, I did. They rolled it out of the house (on the ramp that I installed when my mother could no longer walk), and took it to the dump. $50 to have them take it away. So sad to see it go. Such a shame!

    1. Sad. Sad. Sad.
      My mother was horrified to learn my sister had the family piano lugged out by junk men but what my mother won’t ever know is that the piano she bought after giving my sister the good one and still owns today, a baby grand, will go out when she dies the way your piano did. It is a shame.

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