The piano manufacturing industry has long been challenged with producing pianos that will hold up well under institutional usage. Unlike the average home piano owner, K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and houses of worship use their pianos many hours daily.  They also move their pianos often and subject them to temperature and humidity changes that are rare in the home.  In short, they put even the best-made pianos to the test.  The challenge, then, is maintaining excellent tuning stability and sound despite these rigors. The pianos placed in these institutions are used in a variety of ways, including on the concert stages (or orchestra pits) for performances, in rehearsal rooms for solo work and with ensembles (such as choirs, bands and orchestras), in practice rooms, and – of course – in teaching studios.  Unfortunately, due to limited maintenance budgets, aging inventory and the aforementioned rigors of institutional use, most musicians are forced to use inadequate (and often horrible) instruments in these settings – a problem that frequently interferes with a performance, lesson or practice session.  …so what’s the solution?

Yamaha U1 in a practice roomAcoustic pianos (traditional wooden pianos that produce sound when their hammers strike their piano strings) are made up of more than 12,000 parts, and over 7,000 of them are moving parts.  Of course, when we recommend acoustic pianos for a school or church, we always emphasize the importance of buying a high quality instrument that is ruggedly built to better withstand the travails of institutional use.   Higher quality pianos have better woods, glues, designs and materials, and the craftsmanship is at a much higher level. These features help the piano better withstand temperature and humidity changes – which, in turn, keeps the piano in tune longer and provides for a better overall performance.  We also emphasize the historical data that demonstrates which pianos perform the best in institutional environments.  These pianos reduce replacement costs and maintenance expenses over time – and the savings can be significant over a piano’s 20-30 year lifespan. With this in mind, we do our best to direct institutions to instruments that we know will provide them with the best long-term value (even if the instruments in question might be more expensive than other options available).  Over time, the cost to own a lesser-quality instrument will far outweigh the perceived savings of spending less in the short-term.  To us, it’s a matter of making a recommendation that we know will be in the best long-term interest of the institutions we serve.  There are some cases, however, where budget realities preclude the purchase of high-quality acoustic pianos altogether.  Instead of offering lower quality pianos that have proven inadequate in institutional settings, we then turn to the only other instruments that have proven themselves in these situations:  performance-quality digital pianos.

Roland HP-704 in classroomIn recent years, high quality digital pianos have become a logical – and in some cases favored – alternative for institutions. In cases where a school or church lacks the budget for more expensive acoustic pianos (and their corresponding maintenance requirements), replacing older piano inventory with performance quality digital pianos makes perfect financial sense. Not only will the teachers and musicians using these instruments benefit from great piano sound and touch, they will enjoy other features that traditional acoustic pianos don’t offer – such as studio-quality recording, wireless song playback (for solo or ensemble accompaniment), additional instrument sounds, a built-in PA system and Bluetooth (which offers teachers the opportunity to engage their students in unique new ways with musical apps, musical exercises, and computer-assisted learning).  Even more attractive is the fact that these pianos are ruggedly built (with metal reinforcements and sturdy front legs) to last every bit as long as a good acoustic piano, but with zero tuning or maintenance costs!  Plus, with five or even TEN year warranties, these premium digital pianos offer a guaranteed “no cost” operation that no other instrument can offer – allowing administrators to reallocate tuning and maintenance funds to other areas of the budget.

The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the need for piano technology in the classroom or sanctuary as teachers and music ministers struggled to adjust their programs to a remote model.  From Zoom meetings and classroom teaching to Facebook Live worship services, the pandemic has forced all of us to utilize new technologies in our everyday lives. With new advances in the latest digital pianos, we can now practice, perform, share and send recordings, utilize dozens of apps, and lead a choral rehearsal – all from one piece of equipment that costs less than a traditional piano.

Roland HP-704 in band roomFactors like these led the Kyrene School District here in Arizona to replace their district’s aging acoustic piano inventory with new, performance-grade digital pianos. They understood the value of buying instruments that offered district-wide file sharing options, professional recording tools, Bluetooth connectivity, FREE video training, and a 10-Year manufacturer’s warranty. After reviewing their options (and rejecting cheaper, lower quality digital pianos), they selected Roland HP-704s to replace nearly all of the pianos in their district. As their teachers are now returning to in-person learning, they are loving the performance – and additional options – these pianos give them.  They are also loving the included free training (both in-person and via video) that will help them best utilize the instruments’ powerful learning tools.  As they grow into these new pianos, they will build a district-wide library of accompaniments,  exercises, parts recordings, and vocalises.  They will be able to provide in-depth training for new teachers.  They will even be able to make YouTube videos and record performances for school fundraisers.  …and – while they are enjoying their new equipment – their district will enjoy a savings of up to $50,000 per year (in tuning and maintenance expenses that are no longer necessary).  Providing teachers with better, more powerful tools at a substantial savings is a “holy grail” scenario for every administrator.  It’s easy to see why districts like Kyrene are making these changes!

old school pianos being thrown outDo you have old pianos that are falling apart?  Have your teachers found themselves using duct tape and bailing wire to hold their instruments together?  Are you spending too much taking care of pianos that hold their tuning for shorter and shorter periods of time?  Could you benefit from remote learning or digital recording tools?  Do you need help learning about your options and how you can find a “holy grail” solution for your school or church?  If so, you’ve come to the right place!  Here, at Riverton Piano Company, we are excited to offer the two finest brands in performance-grand digital pianos  –  Roland and Yamaha Clavinova. Our experienced team has a long history of developing ideal solutions for classrooms and worship spaces all over Arizona and we would be delighted to help you explore your replacement options. We offer in-person or online presentations, inventory assessments, fundraising support, and custom proposals that can properly explain your needs to administrators, donors, budget committees – anyone who can help you achieve your program goals. Contact us today and let’s work together to develop solutions that will not only address your current needs, but help you unlock your program’s unique and exciting potential.  Who knows?  Maybe your “holy grail” solution will be the subject of our next blog!