Culture changes hurting piano sales

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Pianos and other instrument stores thrived only years ago, but today they are failing businesses. With children lacking musical drive, instrument store owners are forced to shut down their dreams and close their stores.

Kids are more interested in sports, video games and other various activities that move them away from the idea of becoming musically invested in an instrument. Even though children do not seem interested, they are not the only reason behind their lack of musical education. Parents have focused on putting their children through music lessons in the past, but lately it seems they lack the vision their own parents had concerning music and are pushing their children in a non-music related direction.

Donald Peterson, an associate director for the School of Music Education at BYU, has seen fewer people participating in music education.

Ari Davis
Sales at music stores decline as kids turn toward technology. (Ari Davis)

“People used to be excited to go home and practice the piano or singing. The center of everything used to be the piano; times have changed a lot,” Petersen said. “Less people are taking music, but they don’t see it as something valuable. The arts tend to be put on the back burner.”

Immediate access to anything and everything has become available to anyone and everyone. Music interest has fallen due to advancement in technology, shorter attention spans and the recession over the past 10 years. But is it such a surprise?

“There’s a problem in (music) education. There is so much we can do, but with the computer so many people are watching without doing,” Petersen. “We’ve become observers rather than participants. That’s the problem.”

Music Industry sales, although declining within the last 10 years, was severely affected in 2008/2009. According to the Mainstream Management sector report, people pulled their money from what they considered were leisurely things. Instruments were one of the major things. Instruments were one of the major things in the category of leisure activities during this time, making it difficult for parents to put money toward lessons.

Ari Davis
Summerhays Music has seen a decline in piano sales during this past Christmas season. (Ari Davis)

Summerhays Music of Orem piano salesman, Kurt Reeder, agreed technology is steering kids away from instrument interest but he does not blame kids.

“Kids will do what parents put in front of them,” Reeder said.

He mentioned that parents who introduce their kids to touch screens at an early age teach kids technology is “OK and fun” and that kids are now more focused on technology rather than musical education.

“In Utah especially, this was the only piano market that grew during the recession,” Reeder added.

Although his store’s sales increased within the past two years, he saw a decrease for fall rentals and a decline in piano sales during the Christmas season. Reeder noted that because of the LDS emphasis on music, Utah instrument stores are more stable than stores in other states.

Music stores are fighting to capture and keep the attention of the modern-day child without touch screens, apps and swiping mechanisms.

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