The Jim Brickman Experience of a Lifetime!

Have you ever dreamed of performing LIVE with a legendary pianist?

Well, thanks to a special partnership between Gist Piano Center and Roland, you can win a chance to do JUST THAT!
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Five-time Platinum-selling pianist and songwriter, Jim Brickman, is coming to Louisville this Holiday Season and we’re offering members of our Partners In Education program the experience of a lifetime!

Jim is bringing his LIVE concert event “Comfort and Joy” to The Brown Theater on Tuesday, December 20.  All PIE students (and their family members) who purchase tickets to this show may register with James at Gist Piano Center to attend a special PRIVATE sound check with Jim!

Better yet – If you are a current member of PIE  – between the ages of 10 and 18, AND you can perform a Holiday song or a Jim Brickman tune – then you may audition for an opportunity to perform LIVE – ON STAGE with Jim Brickman!

To audition for this experience of a lifetime, have your teacher contact James at Gist Piano Center.  Auditions will occur on Saturday, November 5 at Gist Piano Center in Louisville.  A MAXIMUM of 50 students will be allowed to audition and Jim will select one or two students to perform with him LIVE at his December 20th show!lx-17-1

Students will audition on the all-new Roland LX-17 digital piano and judges will evaluate performances based on technique, interpretation and the creative use of the Roland LX-17.  Each student will schedule at least two practice sessions on the Roland piano prior to the audition.  All students must complete a registration form, provide proof of print music purchase (no photocopies allowed) and have a signed media release form to audition.  Winners will be announced on Gist Piano Center Louisville’s Facebook page.

Don’t miss this incredible chance to meet one of the World’s favorite pianists!  The Jim Brickman Experience of a Lifetime is sponsored by Roland and Gist Piano Center.

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Roland Digital Piano

Save on Roland Pianos this Summer in Lexington!

Summer Time.  It’s a great time to relax, take vacations, and try new some new things.  Not a sun-1.jpg~originalweek goes by where we don’t hear about someone who wishes they had taken piano lessons or had never stopped taking piano lessons.  It’s never too late to learn, and that’s the truth!

While starting piano lessons and purchasing a piano *gulp* may seem daunting and too expensive, partnering with Roland US, we have made it even easier to get started learning the piano, or upgrading to a better instrument!

In conjunction with our Red Tag Summer Clearance Sale, Roland has made available some incredible financing options.

But first, let me tell you about the pianos!

Just the facts –

Roland LX-7 Digital Piano*All Roland digital pianos have 88-keys (the same amount of keys found on your standard acoustic piano)

*All Roland digital pianos have progressive hammer action weighted keys (what?!  – this means that the action of the keys feels like an acoustic piano – you play harder, sounds louder – you play lightly, sounds softer – the keys progressively feel heavier to lighter (like on an acoustic piano)

* All Roland digital pianos have (at least) a sustain pedal.  You will need this – trust me.

* All Roland digital pianos do not need to be tuned (see, already saving you money!)

* All Roland digital pianos have SuperNATURAL piano sound (again, what?!  Are there ghosts in the piano?  No.  “While traditional digital designs focus on creating a simple snapshot of an acoustic piano’s sound, SuperNATURAL Piano gives pianists a complete playing experience, with the touch, feel, and tonal behavior of a real acoustic grand.”  Look here for more info.

*Roland has FREE piano apps available to help with learning and some other great learning tools.  Check out our Pinterest page for a list of some that are available.

*Some Roland digital pianos even have Bluetooth capabilities! This makes it even easier to connect your piano to your tablet and access some pretty awesome piano apps (we even give you some free music that you can download with select pianos).

*All Roland digital pianos come with great warranties – from 5-10 years, depending on the model.  Don’t worry, this instrument will last!

We have several Roland digital pianos on sale, right now, including a Roland FP-20 ($599), HP-504, HPi-50e, LX-7, LX-17, and V-Grand!

But that’s not all!  Roland has made special LOW INTEREST financing available on their current model pianos until August 31, 2017. (Limited to two pianos per buyer.  Credit approval required)

  • 12-Month Same as Cash with $0 down
  • 36-month or 60-month financing at 7.99% APR with $0 down

Lexington Store PicTake a trip to Gist Piano Center – Lexington to check out these pianos or call Heather at 859-254-8492 x400 with questions!  See you soon!

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New App Makes Roland Digital Pianos Even Better

Roland Piano Partner 2 App

Roland’s FREE “Piano Partner” app is available now for iOS and Android devices.  Click photo for details.

Last weekend, Roland introduced the highly-anticipated sequel to their wildly popular “Piano Partner” app:  Piano Partner 2… and we couldn’t love it more.

Unlike the original Piano Partner, Piano Partner 2 is available for BOTH iOS devices (like the iPad) and Android devices.  Also, unlike the previous app, Piano Partner 2 connects to the piano wirelessly via Bluetooth (instead of the quirky and less reliable WIFI technology featured in the previous app).  These two upgrades alone would be praise-worthy, but the biggest news is what the new app does!  Like Piano Partner, Piano Partner 2 allows compatible Roland Digital Piano Owners to change the sounds on their piano or play on-board songs with a simple pp2-rhythmstouch of the tablet screen.  Users can adjust the playback speed, mute one or both hands, and play along with metronome or customized accompaniment.  Also like the previous app, Piano Partner 2 includes a powerful flashcards game that challenges the player with either note recognition or ear training skills at a variety of experience levels.  NEW to Piano Partner 2, however, is the Rhythms feature.  With Rhythms, Piano Partner 2 users can build their piano skills with intelligent accompaniments that follow the chords you play.

…and the best part?  Piano Partner 2 is FREE.

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Ask James – Which Pianos are the Best?

One of the great joys of working in The Piano Business is meeting people around the World who share your love of music.  Invariably, when I travel, I encounter at least a few people who ask me what I do.  When I tell them I work in The Piano Business, they light up – full of personal stories that either make them glad they play or wish they did.  The second inevitable question they ask me is really The Great Question of our Business:  Which Pianos are the Best?  I usually try to deflect the question – citing personal presence, differing student needs and budgetary limitations… but every once in awhile, I encounter someone who really wants to know how I determine which pianos to represent and what criteria drive my interest in new brands.  Obviously, that question requires a more detailed answer… so I thought I would make it the topic of my next blog.

Growing Up Steinway

Every piano store has a “headline” brand (a company they promote heavily due to a number of factors, including quality, value, reputation and performance).   My company is no different.  In fact, Gist Piano Center began their relationship with Steinway & Sons in 1975 – a year before I was even born.  You can read more about how that relationship formed here.  For almost 39 years, Gist Piano Center promoted Steinway as “The World’s Finest Piano” due to its handcrafted quality, vast history and brand name recognition.  The truth is, however, there are many other pianos who could claim to be “The World’s Finest Piano,” including such illustrious brands as Bosendorfer, Fazioli, Grotrian and more.  Gist selected Steinway & Sons because they were made in America and because they were far less expensive than their European competition.  This is what made Steinway & Sons a fantastic “headline brand” during those years.

steinway pianoI worked part-time in the piano business during the mid-90s, but I joined The Piano Business as a career officially in 2001.  I started at a small piano store in Illinois that also used Steinway & Sons as their headline piano brand.  They also carried the Steinway-designed Boston piano, Essex, Kohler & Campbell pianos, Knabe and Roland Digital Pianos.  It was a great mix.  I grew up in The Piano Business fully immersed in Steinway product (as well as a few others).  I even went through five years of Steinway training and to graduate from “William Steinway University” (a marketing initiative designed to help piano retailers learn the Steinway system of brand promotion).    Thus, when I decided to move out of my small town and into a larger community, Gist was a natural fit – considering that they carried all the same brands I did in my small town piano store.

The Changing Face of Retail

When I first came to Gist, I was surprised at how comparable most things were to my experiences in Illinois.  Granted, folks in Kentucky preferred mahogany woods over walnut, but things were otherwise very similar.  The winds of change were blowing, however, and I eventually began to see problems with our piano selection.

First of all, The Great Recession of 2008 made it very difficult to sell high-priced, handmade pianos in Kentucky.  There just wasn’t much market for a piano that retails for over $50,000.  We had no problem selling used ones (a practice we have continued to this day), but selling NEW American pianos became increasingly difficult.piano prices

Secondly, despite a total lack of inflation, these high-priced pianos continued to increase in cost annually.  Having just seen this phenomenon in the housing industry, we realized that carrying new, high-cost pianos with inflated price tags would only push clients to shop for used or rebuilt pianos.  It was a bad decision for our clients and for us.

Around this same time, we began to see how mobile devices were changing the face of piano education.  More and more students were purchasing digital copies of print music and using play-a-long material in their daily practice.  In order to stay relevant in to today’s piano students, we needed to partner with a company who understood the future of the piano industry.

It was time for us to make a change.

Finding New Brands

Immediately after cancelling our relationship with the American piano brand, we decided to take on a famous Japanese brand.  …and, at first, we were pleased with the decision.  They we were well-respected, they had a ton of great resources and they had a strong focus on technology.  Unfortunately, we discovered that they had their own set of problems.

First, their technology was pretty expensive.  Most of the technology they offered put their pianos out of reach for beginners with a limited budget.  Instead of buying a piano with factory-installed headphones system, our clients would purchase a “silent” system and have it installed yamaha clavinovaon one of our other piano brands – for a lot less money.

Secondly, the acoustic piano market was flooded with used pianos shipped in from Japan and China (with just a little cabinet polish and hammer filing).  In many cases, these used pianos were better deals than the new ones – and the “Grey Market” argument we were given to disavow them was so shaky even my factory rep had a hard time believing it.  Again, selling used pianos was easy.  Selling new ones… not so much.

Finally, after only two years, we made arrangements to go our separate ways.

A Way Forward

During this low point, I began to look back over our brand history and I noted that Gist has carried over 35 different piano brands throughout its 45-year history.  Famous brands like Petrof (1996-2003), Estonia (2009-2011), Kawai (1998-2005), Kimball (1988-1996), Story & Clark (1979-1981), Wurlitzer (1975-1981) and Pearl River (2004-2005) had all been a part of our past.  We sold a TON of them even though they weren’t our “headline brand.”  …and that made me question whether or not we needed a “headline brand.”

With all this in mind, I went to the big music trade show in Anaheim – a showcase for piano brands from all over the World.  I spent four days playing everything – from starter-level pianos to high-end designer grands.  I even played a $450,000 piano that looked like a peacock!  Phew.
My goal was to find The Best Piano for my store.  It had to have a familiar name, a solid reputation, top-notch construction, great warranty support, a magnificent sound and touch and the ability to interface with modern technology.  It also had to be affordable for more of the people in my community… and I’ll admit that I was not optimistic that I would find a brand that fits this tall order.piano trade show

Luckily, The Piano Business is going through a strange metamorphosis right now.  Over the past several years, economic factors have caused brands like Baldwin, Wurlitzer, Chickering, Ellington, and Story & Clark to go out of business – selling their brand names to larger companies who have consolidated their own offerings down to just a handful of pianos.  The Business has shrunk so much that we’re actually starting to see NEW brand names (like Kingsburg, Brodmann, Geyer and more) emerging from the ashes.  Thankfully, I was able to find the perfect solution for our company.

Introducing Brodmann

Finally, after months of research, teacher trials, performance testing and brand vetting, I am proud to say that we have found THE Best Piano… for now:  Brodmann.  …and that is really how it works.  Because brands in The Piano Business come and go so rapidly, it’s really impossible to shop by brand anymore.  THE Best Pianos are the ones who give the best performance and longevity for the best possible price… and that is an equation that can change overnight. 

Brodmann PianosThankfully, our staff of highly-trained technicians, piano historians and business leaders are constantly evaluating our inventory – making sure that our clients get THE Best Piano for THE Best Price.  …and while I’m sure everyone says that about their pianos, I can offer you something they can’t:  proof.  That’s right.  After 45+ years and over 35 different brands, we at Gist can tell you not only which brands are wonderful today… but we can tell you which ones will hold up well over their 40-year lifespan.  …and we can take pianos apart and show you what makes ours better than anyone else’s in town.

Like Gist Piano Center, I am far less impressed by a fancy logo or a high price tag.  I have seen how brand names can lead folks astray time and time again.  Instead, I am much more interested in the quality of a piano’s construction – much more concerned about the instrument’s design than its marketing… and I’m much more attracted to its performance than to its luxury price tag.  THAT is what makes Gist different.  We are working hard with our community partners to build a new generation of piano players and we are dedicated to making sure we outfit those players with THE best instruments their money can buy.  Which piano is best?  Once you take the time to get to know us, I can say this with confidence.  The best piano is the one we recommend just for you.  Come in today and see what’s new!  Better yet – ask us why we picked it!  You’ll quickly see why an investment at Gist is truly a “sound” one.

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FREE Facebook Cover Images from Roland!

Are you a #Roland #DigitalPiano lover?  Do you OWN a Roland?  Well, show your Roland pride with a FREE Facebook Cover Image!  Download your favorite below!

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