Forum Q&A: What type of piano did you first learn on?

468px-Steinway_&_Sons_upright_piano,_model_K-52_(mahogany_finish),_manufactured_at_Steinway's_factory_in_New_York_CityAt our last Forum Q&A, I asked about what piano books you studied from as a child.  It was so fun reading all the responses!  Read the comments here on the blog and here on the facebook page.

I must be feeling nostalgic again…  :)  For our new Forum Q&A, I want to know:

What kind of piano was the family piano you remember learning on as a child?  What brand?  Upright or grand?  Was the type of piano you had a factor in your success as a student?  Did your parents upgrade that piano at some point?  Is you childhood piano still around?  

Leave your comments below!

PG
Joy Morin is a piano teacher in Perrysburg, Ohio (United States) who enjoys keeping her teaching fresh with new ideas and resources. ColorInMyPiano.com serves as a journal of her adventures in piano teaching as well as a place to exchange ideas and resources.

Joy has blogged 1116 posts here.

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26 Comments

  1. Posted 12 March 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I learned on a Wurlitzer spinet that was my grandmother’s until she upgraded to something else. My parents later invested in a Baldwin baby grand, which they sold a couple of years ago now that all us kids are out of the house. My parents still have that old Wurlitzer, though. It’s not a great piano or anything (and probably needs some work), but It has a lot of sentimental value!

  2. Posted 12 March 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I learned on my great-aunt’s piano. She was born in 1899 & her father bought it for her when she was very young. I don’t recall the make, but it had lovely keys, though one had a corner snapped off (beware of piano injuries!). Definitely not plastic-topped keys.
    It was so badly maintained by the time I got it that it was never able to keep in tune. It was about a semi-tone to a tone flat. I remember practicing to my “plus 1” cassettes with headphones — way too painful for anyone else to hear, but I was in my glory!
    The piano is still there & all the grandkids who are old enough for lessons love to play it & provide us with entertainment.

  3. Penny Brown
    Posted 12 March 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I learned on a Wurlitzer spinet that was my moms. My parents bought it in 1955
    and I still have it. It is the only piano I have and I teach piano on it. I have 28 students that play on it every week. It still sounds great and looks beautiful, and it has a lot of sentimental value. My dream is to get a baby grand piano, but I will still hold on to my moms piano.

  4. Posted 12 March 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I grew up (and am still playing on) a Yamaha electric piano. I hate it. It was originally supposed to be a starter piano for us, after we got a piano from a family in our town to start us off and the tuner told us it had a broken sound board. Needless to say, that piano was taken to the dump, and we got the Yamaha. It only weighs about 100 lbs, which made it a great “piano” for the many moves we had over the years, but after playing for 13 years on an electric piano, I am practically begging my parents to buy me an upright.

  5. Posted 12 March 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    The piano I learned on (and still play) is an old, antique Crippen Piano Co. upright piano. I am told that it used to be a player piano, until that mechanism was removed. My Grandma purchased the piano in the 40’s or 50’s from someone she knew, and after some time had the “guts” replaced…new strings, new keys, everything. On THE DAY I started piano lessons, my grandparents gave me that piano! It’s not the best at staying in tune, but it has a very rich tone to it, so I still prefer it to A LOT of other pianos. My dream is still to one day have a grand, or baby grand, but I would never willingly part with my upright! :-)

    • Hope
      Posted 11 April 2013 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      I have a crippen piano and was wondering how old it is. Can’t find much online.

  6. Nancie Redekop
    Posted 12 March 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    We had a very old upright in the 1950’s, probably a Mason and Risch.(sp)
    When I started gr. 9 piano, my teacher had a friend selling a 40 yr. old baby grand, same brand, I think. My parents bought it for me, and we found that the sounding board was cracked. The tuner filled it with glue, and clamped it, and it got me through my ARCT and AMUS exams. Then after being on the road for a few years with my husband and our night club band, I had to sell it, as the teacher who was storing it, needed the room. I also bought an old Norheimer for $25 at an auction sale, and had the chipped keys replaced for another $25. It was in my bedroom, which became a small teaching studio for a few years before I got married. Funny….remembering all these pianos.

  7. Posted 12 March 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    I learned on a Story & Clark Console piano that my parents bought me in the first year of my lessons. I still have the piano and play it myself as well as teach my students on it. It’s very sentimental to me!

  8. Karen
    Posted 12 March 2013 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    My family did not have a lot of money when I began lessons, but they knew that a good instrument was a must. They purchased a Yamaha upright in the late 70’s, and it was a major sacrifice. Upon my marriage, it was given to me, and it has traveled near and far as my husband was in the Air Force. Movers would cringe when they would see the brand, lol! It is a terribly heavy piece, but it has been a loyal friend all these years. It is still my main teaching instrument. When parents ask me if they really need to purchase a quality instrument, I tell them the history about my piano, and the fact that you never know what the future will hold.

  9. Posted 13 March 2013 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    My first piano was an Estey console. It is still at my parents house — some 40 years later and is stilled played by both my mom and myself. That piano served me very well but it was a part of the living room and stayed in the family home. Once on my own, I upgraded to a Yamaha grand. But that little console will always have a special place in my heart. So much learning (and fun) took place on it.

  10. Posted 13 March 2013 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    My first piano was a rented Yamaha upright! I had it for about 3-4 years and then upgraded to a rented Russian baby grand. After I got married I bought my first piano – an Irmler grand – and I love it! I’m glad my parents never made me learn on a keyboard … it definitely makes a difference to technique in the beginning.

  11. Posted 13 March 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    When my maternal grandmother, who was a concert pianist, bought her Steinway studio grand in 1959, we got her Sohmer console. I started lessons a few years after that, and the piano came with me when I got married. By that time, my parents had the Steinway as well, as my grandmother tragically died less than a year after she purchased it. I still have the Sohmer — I refinished it a few years ago. AND I now that my parents are gone, I have the Steinway as well! I also have the receipt from when Grandma bought it — $2700! It’s now been appraised at $20,000. I use it as an example of how good pianos hold their value, whereas anything electric starts to depreciate the second you take it out of the box!

  12. Posted 13 March 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Great question! My piano story is interesting as the piano I learned on was my great grandmother’s and I still have it today, and use it in my studio every week. It’s just an old upright Conway, but is very special to me and all of my students know that.
    It was given to my great grandmother as a wedding present in 1917 and was built in 1912. My grandmother moved it to Texas on a train, along with her violin, and then my grandmother and great uncle learned on it as children, then my mother, and aunts and uncles all learned on it growing up, and then myself and all of myssisters all learned on it. Now my own children are learning on it. Four generations so far! :-)
    And it sounds awesome still.

    You can see it on my homepage at my weblink above.

  13. Posted 13 March 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I learned on a beautiful Story & Clark console. My grandparents purchased the piano when my mom started taking lessons (probably in the 60’s) and passed it on to my mom for me to learn on. My mom still has it at her house and I still love to play on it, even after practicing on Steinway grands through grad school.

  14. Cheri Verhey
    Posted 13 March 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    with very little money to invest in a piano, we got an old upright. The Muskegon County Jail was giving away their piano and that’s what I learned on.

  15. Posted 13 March 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful topic! So many lovely stories of special musical beginnings. My parents bought my first piano from a second hand instrument shop, a German iron frame ‘Belling’ upright, when I was age seven. Prior to this I had shown much interest at age five playing on a tiny red wooden toy baby grand. At age 55 I still have this upright piano and hope to have it restored eventually. Coincidentally my daughter recently acquired an almost identical upright to my original childhood one to use in some photography sessions – after which she will be giving it to me (it is beyond restoring) to use as an artistic piece for my students to paint and decorate and get creative with :)

  16. Donna Atkinson
    Posted 13 March 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I first learned on a Kohler & Campbell piano. I have it in my home today, and my students play on it. My husband had a sabbatical in Virginia, and this piano traveled with us.
    When I was 5 years old, I burned my left hand quite badly and had a skin graft on my index finger. When the bandages came off, my hand was stuck in a curved position. My doctor recommended to my parents that they buy a piano so I could exercise my hand as much as possible. This was the beginning of my love for piano and my piano teaching career! My hand is completely healed now and the piano was my medicine :)

  17. Carolyn Miller
    Posted 14 March 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    My parents couldn’t afford a piano, but someone gave them one. It was an upright player piano. I started private lessons when I was in the 5th grade and the piano was still used when I was in college for home practice. We had fun playing the rolls while pumping the pedals, too.

  18. Melody
    Posted 15 March 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I learned on a huge, ornate KNABE upright. It had huge columned legs in the front with carved leaves/rope design on the music holder. My father was a professional singer and wanted me to have the official piano used at the Metropolitan opera. The touch was so heavy I felt like I was pounding nails on a fence. But I enjoyed that piano with its real Ivory keys and beautiful mellow sound. I passed it on to my niece who loved it as well. I am now playing/ teaching on older Wurlitzer acoustic and Yamaha digital. I love the variety of both.

  19. Posted 16 March 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    My first piano was an awful, spinet with only one dynamic and never in tune since we kept it in the rec room of the basement. It didn’t matter. Music comes from the heart. A piano is just a tool to share the music inside us with others. A good piano is nice but secondary to a keen musical imagination.

  20. Laura Larson
    Posted 16 March 2013 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    My parents invested in a Kawai upright when I was 10, which they still have. It has been tuned twice in its lifetime, despite my MANY protests! My husband wanted our 1st piano to be great, so he bought me a 5’7″ Schimmel after we had been married a month. It was a wonderful instrument. We upgraded to my dream piano, a 7′ Fazioli a few years ago, added a Clavinova, and a 6’6″ Ibach grand as my main teaching piano. We love having 3 keyboards in our house! We’re thinking of adding an upright Schimmel in a few years for our kids to practice on.

  21. Hannah
    Posted 17 March 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I learned on a Diapason upright from Japan that some friends gave us who got it from some friends. :) We have moved with it 4 times, once internationally. A tuner guessed that its age is probably 100 years old, but we have no idea.

  22. Lynn Huenemann
    Posted 23 March 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Our piano was a big second hand upright like the one pictured. It sat in the kitchen-the biggest room in the house. It was not a good idea to practice while Mom was cooking-she could be a little less patient when she was hungry. But right after supper was coveted practicing time and my sister and I used to “negotiate” who would get that spot.

  23. lucy
    Posted 24 March 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I learned on my mothers console Story & Clark. She is still playing and teaching on the same piano. I bought a Kawai Grand Supreme it is a great piano but was a limited series. I have been teaching on it for twenty-five years. My mother was our piano teacher and we all learned through the John Thompson series.

  24. Beverly gallus
    Posted 14 April 2015 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I have a Crippen piano from way back in time, at least 70 years. It is not a player piano. Could you give me some information on it? I really have no idea how old it really is or if it has any value.

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