It’s been a fantastic month of Pianos in the Parks, thanks largely to Classic Pianos of Bellevue, which did the “heavy lifting.” By that we mean: finding 22 donated pianos in good shape, moving them to be painted by artists, moving them to 22 different parks all over the Seattle area, keeping them tuned, and finally getting the pianos to their final destination – the homes or businesses that acquired them at auction. Wow! Leading this major effort was Ben Klinger (the guy sitting in the middle, with some of the PITP partners).
Q&A with Ben Klinger, Sales Manager at Classic Pianos
Ben, since Day 1 (spring of 2014), Classic Pianos has been one of LNWM’s partners in Pianos in the Parks. How was it different this year?
Ben: In 2014, we surprised people with Pianos in the Parks. This year, people were waiting for the pianos to come back. And they did! So there was lots of excitement right from the start. The crowd that showed up for the unveiling of the 22 pianos at Lake Union gave us a great welcome, and the excitement just kept building on that.
This year, the piano styles varied a lot and we had a lot more grands. Was that intentional? People tell us they just loved the variety.
Ben: Well, it wasn’t intentional. Call it fortuitous. We’re really glad to have had all these different types of pianos available this year. We had a piano teacher come to us with a wonderful 7-foot grand that we determined didn’t have great retail potential. That’s the piano that was at Mercerdale Park on Mercer Island, with the wonderful flying birds motif [by artist Candice Covey].
How many times did the pianos move this summer?
Ben: I think we’ve done 88 different piano moves so far, and this doesn’t include getting the pianos to their new owners early next week. We collected the 22 pianos, took them to Gage Academy of Art for the artists to paint, moved them them to Lake Union Park for the launch, then out to their parks.
88 moves of pianos with 88 keys!
Ben: That’s right!
Who actually did the moving, repair and tuning?
Ben: We were very lucky to be working with Martinson Piano Moving, as well as Alex Himes of Himes Piano Moving Co. The tuning was done primarily by Josh Mayfield of Artisan Piano Services and Jeff Hack. And the repairs were done by Devin Zimmer of Precision Piano Services.
What was it like to have more pianos in Bellevue, not far from the Classic Pianos showroom?
Ben: Really nice. I got rave reviews about them. It also helped that the City of Bellevue was really excited by this program and actively promoted it. The Ashwood Plaza piano [by artist Larine Chung] has been played non-stop. The Botanical Garden has been a wonderful backdrop for the etched piano [by Eve Alyson], and the far out “Eye-Guy” piano [by Vikram Madan] in Downtown Bellevue Park has been a huge hit, too.
What trends are you seeing in piano buying?
Ben: At Classic Pianos, we offer incredible variety in terms of piano brands, designs, and piano ages. What we’re seeing is that buyers these days prefer newer pianos (built after 1990). This makes sense for a number of reasons.
Pianos don’t get better with age, because unlike violins or cellos, they have mechanical parts that wear down over time. Also, the Seattle area being a high tech hub, there’s more demand for the newest and the latest, even in pianos. There’s definitely a move away from inexpensive older pianos. This is actually good news for programs like Pianos in the Parks, since a lot of people want to donate their older pianos.