In January of 2011, I wrote a blog called “Finding the Ultimate Worship Keyboard” hoping that my experience as both a worship leader and a professional piano consultant would help other Music Ministers better navigate the confusing waters of piano (and keyboard) retail. To my surprise, that blog quickly exploded into the most read – and one of the most commented upon – blogs in Gist history. Now, over six years later, new technologies and considerations have given me reason to revisit this topic and (perhaps) expand upon it. As always, it is my sincere hope that my experiences will help you find the worship tool that best fits your needs and those of your ministry. I am sure some folks will disagree with my conclusions, but (God willing) the meat of these discussions will nourish all of us! Thank you for reading and God bless!
The flowers are blooming; the leaves are poking out and everywhere the sounds of unlucky allergy sufferers sniffling and sneezing their way around town fill the air. That’s right, Kentuckiana, Spring is here and it’s time to start getting ready for Derby!
What are you doing for your Derby party this year?
Why not karaoke? Did you know that our QRS PNO3 System is full of fun sing-a-long music designed to make your party the talk of the town? Gather around your tablet and sing along as the words appear on your screen. The piano will provide all the background music – including drums! Make your party SWING with a player piano from Gist! Right now, we have player piano specials starting at $15,000 and we can guarantee pre-Derby delivery… but act NOW! Time is running out!
Already have a piano? Contact us today and we’ll ADD player technology to your existing instrument! We can bring your piano in, clean it, tune it and install the system just in time for the festivities! Contact us today for custom options and our 2017 Derby Discount!
Maybe you plan to have a live piano player at your party? If so, make sure you’re piano’s in tune and ready for the big event. Contact our Service Department and request a Priority Pre-Derby Tuning Appointment now. …but hurry! We’re filling up fast!
Need to move your piano into another room or enclosure for your Derby party? Contact us now and we’ll not only agree to move your piano, we’ll offer you a special Derby Discount (good between now and Oaks). Don’t wait! Get on the schedule today!
The sounds of Thunder will soon fill the air and everybody will be celebrating! Let us help you make YOUR Derby party stand out this year! Lead the pack with sensational musical experience from Gist!
Summer Time. It’s a great time to relax, take vacations, and try new some new things. Not a week 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!
But first, let me tell you about the pianos!
Just the facts –
*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!
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
Take 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!
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.
I 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.
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 on 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.
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.
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.
Thankfully, 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.
There’s an app for that!?! Learning how to play any instrument, especially piano, has changed a lot in recent years. Gone are the days where the only way to learn your notes was to use your rubber-banded flash cards, and learning to count with the monotonous click-click of your metronome was the only way to master new rhythms! Yup, there are apps for that – actually TONS of apps!
Let’s face it, kids these days (and some of us adults) love using our electronics. An iPad or tablet is often a requirement for kids to use in school. Therefore, it is not a huge leap to find that you can do so much musical learning in a fun and innovative way on your own wireless device. And another popular way to get information? You got it, social media! We have started a most excellent board on our Pinterest page for you to easily find some of the greatest apps to use with your piano, especially Roland pianos. You’ll find a few listed below, but keep checking out our Roland Piano Apps board as we add new apps all the time!
Rhythm Cat – Perfect for iOS and Android device, this app helps beginning piano students learn from day one! Students learn to count and develop their listening skills without even realizing they are actually doing the work!
Piano Maestro – A personal favorite, Piano Maestro is a great resource for any piano student. From learning “classical” pieces, to One Direction, students have the opportunity to improve their rhythm skills and piano technique while learning and performing songs with fun musical accompaniments. It’s like playing with a band! Better yet, it’s free and can be used with any digital AND acoustic piano.
Sheet Music Reader – You can be one of the “cool kids” and ditch the pile of books that you carry around with missing covers and torn pages. Now you can carry your music in your trusty iOS device with this great app. Scan your music and save to Sheet Music Reader, or purchase new music. You have a lot of options! You can even mark up the music as much as you want. Need to write in that pesky F# accidental? No problem. But what about turning pages? With your Roland HP-600 series piano (or later), connect your iPad via Bluetooth (yes, you read that correctly….Bluetooth!) to the piano and turn the pages with the push of a pedal. If you’re an Android user, check out the similar MobileSheets Pro app.
But wait, there’s more! Go visit our Pinterest page to find more great apps to use on your piano learning adventure (Yes, there is even a app for the very popular Piano Adventures series that is perfect for using with your Roland piano). Follow the Roland Piano Apps board to make sure you don’t miss out!