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#201372 - 05/29/08 11:16 AM A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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PianoPro Offline
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Iowa
When I was a toddler, my father (a poor country preacher) bought an old 1906 Whitney upright made by Kimball in Chicago at an auction for $6. It traveled with my family to Kansas, back to California, Arkansas, and Missouri before we gave it away to an upstart church. The church auctioned it off for charity where it brought $50 in about 1988.

That old piano was a former player (had the little door in the bottom board where pedals used to be) and was incredibly heavy even though we took most of the led tubing out of it. However, it was the piano I learned on. It was a beautiful mahogany piano with the woodwork indicative of it's era. It was never an extraordinary piano, but it was ours. While I wouldn't suggest anyone give their kids lessons on one like it today, it was all we had, and we were grateful.

Now I'm 40 years old and have been "in the business" half my life. I've had the privelage of owning and playing the finest pianos in the world. Today, I find myself a little nostalgic and wonder if I could ask a question I hope will become an entertaining thread:

What was your first piano?

Feel free to post pics if you have them!


Dennis C.
Piano Store Operator,
Former District Manager,
20 Year Industry Experience

"Tell the truth, honor God, and make money!"
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#201373 - 05/29/08 12:50 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Monica K. Offline

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Lexington, Kentucky
Well, my first piano wasn't all that long ago (2004), so it will be a short walk. It was a Kohler & Campbell 42" console that I paid full asking price for, not knowing anything at all about pianos. This was after shopping around for used pianos in my city and getting discouraged on multiple occasions when a piano that was described as "excellent condition" and "like new" would be discovered to have missing pedals, keys that wouldn't hit, etc.

I upgraded after a year and haven't looked back. wink


Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica
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#201374 - 05/29/08 12:58 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Steve Chandler Offline
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Urbandale, Iowa
My family's first piano was a Knabe spinet, it's long gone. My family's second piano was a Hardman Peck grand that my maternal grandfather bought, my brother has it now and a few years ago had it totally rebuilt (I know, not worth it, but he thought differently). My then wife and I purchased a Samick console a few decades ago and a few years ago I purchased an Estonia 190 from Ori.

#201375 - 05/29/08 01:05 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Georgia, USA
The first piano I actually purchased/owned was an old upright that had a name on the cast iron plate “Cadillac”. Of course it was not made in Detroit laugh .

Best regards,

Rickster


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
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#201376 - 05/29/08 01:13 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Williamsburg, VA
I learned on a beaten up old Gulbransen that had been purchased for my mother. She hated piano lessons and never progressed. So naturally, she pushed ME into lessons and made me practice on the same beaten up old piano that she had used. laugh

I can't say I have any fond memories of it. When I was 15 we got a Kawai 550 grand masquerading as a Howard, which was heaven by comparison.

#201377 - 05/29/08 02:14 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Iowa
Quote
Originally posted by Rickster:
The first piano I actually purchased/owned was an old upright that had a name on the cast iron plate “Cadillac”. Of course it was not made in Detroit laugh .

Best regards,

Rickster
Actually Rick, it might have been. The only info I found in pierce piano atlas was 1910-1922 Detroit, London!


Dennis C.
Piano Store Operator,
Former District Manager,
20 Year Industry Experience

"Tell the truth, honor God, and make money!"
#201378 - 05/29/08 02:44 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
Joined: Jul 2003
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WynnBear Offline
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Dallas, TX
My first piano was a 1930 Wurlitzer studio upright purchased by my mom in 1965. It was bought from a used piano shop that had a lot of those old "mirror" pianos. This was the only piano in the shop that hadn't had its case cut down and replaced with mirrors.

It had very clean lines and beautiful mahogany finish. The action was good, but it never really sounded right in the bass section. Many years later I pulled it out from the wall and discovered that the ribs were separating from the soundboard. The shop's "fix" was to jam old scrap wood between the back post and the rib to keep it from buzzing. The scrap wood stayed in place for forty years.

It was still in my mom's home when it was inundated by Hurricane Katrina. After the water went down, I found that the old piano had pretty much exploded. The plate was on one side of the room, and parts of the action, case and strings all over the rest of the room.

My piano now is a Charles Walter console which is light-years beyond the old Wurlitzer.


Wynne
#201379 - 05/29/08 02:49 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Rickster Offline
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Georgia, USA
Dennis C.:
Quote
Actually Rick, it might have been. The only info I found in pierce piano atlas was 1910-1922 Detroit, London!
Actually, that was several years ago. However, I learned some valuable lessons when I bought that old piano. I learned that you should always inspect the bridges for cracks and splits before you buy a used piano frown . The local piano tech told me that it would cost more to fix than it would be worth; so, to overcome my embarrassment, I took on the project myself. I fabricated a new bass bridge, replaced the old yellowed key-tops, replaced the key punchings and under felts, regulated the action and tuned it; I refinished the cabinet and played the heck out of it for about a year. I finally sold it for almost what I had in it.

Then, about 3 years ago, my mom reinvigorated my interest in pianos when she gave me an old Conover Cable console. Of course, it was in a lot better shape that the old “Cadillac” laugh .

Best regards,

Rickster


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
#201380 - 05/29/08 02:57 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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My first piano was a Chickering upright. Ribboned grained mahogany, it was built in a style to look like a square piano--it wasn't but the lid fit over the entire top half of the piano.

The interesting thing is that on the harp of the piano (of all Chickerings, I think) is a Legion of Honour award from Napoleon III. When I moved to NYC to live on 57th Street my condo looked down over the building on the north side of the street and one of them was (or must have been) the Chickering building--next door to Steinway Hall.

The store in the building is long gone--but at the top of the building is a huge copy of the Legion of Honour star that was in my Chickering.

I have pictures at home--I'll post them when i get back.

Here's what the star looks like:

[Linked Image]

#201381 - 05/29/08 08:27 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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My first piano was an old pre-WWI German upright which had been the piano my father also learnt to play on in the 1920s. It is (I say "is" because I still have it, and still use it!) a Mignon, distributed by the (now defunct) Sydney firm Nicholson and Co. (they distributed other German pianos like Feurich, I believe). Very nice veneer on the fallboard! I don't know when the candle-sconces were ditched, but long before I was around!

I keep it tuned, and use it as a second piano when teaching. For its age and the amount of use it's had, it isn't too bad! All the notes play, the action is loose but relatively even, and the sound, whilst not strong, is quite mellow and sweet, though a bit fuzzy now in places.

My father taught me to play initially, and between the two of us it got a lot of use! He played Bing Crosby, Fats Waller, Irving Berlin, Tiger Rag on it, and I played Chopin and Beethoven. To say it has immense sentimental value is somewhat of an understatement! When I play it now I can hear him play once more, though he died more than 30 years ago …


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#201382 - 05/29/08 08:32 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Currawong, why do the keys feel delicious to the eye as though fingers would love to touch them? Is there anything unusual about these keys?

It's a beautiful piano with such lovely memories.

KS

#201383 - 05/29/08 08:40 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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currawong Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by keystring:
Currawong, why do the keys feel delicious to the eye as though fingers would love to touch them? Is there anything unusual about these keys?
I think they're the standard ivory keys of the time (and they do feel nice). What is perhaps unusual is that they haven't yellowed at all. This may have something to do with my father's philosophy on pianos: you never close them up because you are sure to be walking past a few times every hour and will want to sit down and play. I think I've absorbed this philosophy too smile .


Du holde Kunst...
#201384 - 05/29/08 10:58 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Texas
The first piano I had was the Stark studio piano that my mother bought when she first went to work in the 1940's. We traded it in on the Acrosonic Console in the early 1960's. I still have that piano as well as my Mason-Hamlin "A".


RickG
#201385 - 05/29/08 11:44 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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NYC
When I started lessons, my parents bought a spinet (these were the 1950s) carrying the name "Bremen," in a blonde finish. Ten years later, I was doing most of my practicing away at schools, and did not own a piano of my own until 1970, and an old ornate upright at that.

My brother adopted that old family Bremen, and even had it refinished in satin black. It's a mind trip to go visit and see my childhood piano!

#201386 - 05/29/08 11:54 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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San Francisco
My parents bought a cheap Kurtzmann upright in 1974 hoping their 8-year-old son would take to it. I did and that was my piano until I moved to an apartment and had to give it up for a Roland digital that would not bother neighbors. The Kurtzmann was never very good, but it was good enough. I do know where it is: my mom and I let a good friend of ours have so that she could perhaps motivate her granddaughter to learn. When I moved to this new place in this past fall, I got myself the piano of my dreams, a Steinway B. So I doubt I'll ever have that Kurtzmann in my home again, but it is somewhat reassuring to know where it is and that it's with good people.

Rafael

#201387 - 05/30/08 01:46 AM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Texas
My parents bought a shiny new Baldwin Acrosonic spinet for my sister and I for the princely sum of $1795 (I have the original receipt)in 1965. I just gave it away last year. It wasn't a great piano, but it was good enough for one semi serious student and one very reluctant one to try to learn on.


Dennis
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#201388 - 05/30/08 06:10 AM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Philadelphia/South Jersey
My very first piano was purchased by my Tante Caroline for my family when I was little morethan a toddler. It was a Winter console.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
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#201389 - 05/30/08 06:17 AM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Hey Rich: top o the mornin. But empty your inbox, man! wink

#201390 - 05/30/08 06:32 AM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Idaho
First piano? No clue.

Painted brown upright my father purchased for $800 and moved himself right into my bedroom. He insisted it was a good piano - and I'm certain it was. He knew quite a bit about technology of musical instruments in general, but I hated it! The albatross of my room. Even stopped playing piano for several years because of it!

Maybe my owning a piano store is some latent pent up feelings about that piano laugh

My parent's piano now? Shigeru Kawai SK-7 that I personally picked out. smile Boy are they lucky. wink

BC cool


Musician, Singer, Teacher, Humorist, Dad...

“I have an inferiority complex, but it’s not a very good one.”
― Steven Wright
#201391 - 05/30/08 01:16 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Quote
Originally posted by currawong:
........ My father taught me to play initially, and between the two of us it got a lot of use! He played Bing Crosby, Fats Waller, Irving Berlin, Tiger Rag on it, and I played Chopin and Beethoven. To say it has immense sentimental value is somewhat of an understatement! When I play it now I can hear him play once more, though he died more than 30 years ago …


[Linked Image]


[Linked Image]
Wow .... would like to think that one day my kids, too, have such fond memories thumb

#201392 - 05/30/08 02:22 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Encino, California
I grew up on a little island off the Norwegian west coast, and when my father moved there in 1917 from Oslo, he brought an old upright piano with him. It was a black Brödrene Hals, made in Christiania at the turn of the century, with bird-cage action and yellow keys. Both he and my mother played, as did several other members of visiting family, and there was always music in the house. My mother was determined that at least one of the children should learn how to play, and I was the one who finally mastered the Moonlight Sonata at the age of 12 and thought I knew everything there was to know about playing. There was no teacher in sight, and I resented every correction from my mother. She therefore let me continue on my own as soon as I knew how to read music (somewhat), and by 13 I left home to go to school. That's when I discovered other pianos and fully realized what a rather dismal piano I had trained on! The piano was later sold for a pittance to a summer-cousin of mine, and I still visit her and play it when in Norway. There is not much life left in the old instrument, but it still looks rather stately in black with candle sconces on each side of the music desk. In my childhood they were actually used since we had no electricity until 1963.


Some men are music lovers. Others make love without it.
#201393 - 05/30/08 03:02 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Oregon, USA
I grew up playing on my family's Kohler and Campbell (console?) vertical piano. I think the story is that it was one of the first things they bought after they were married in 1976. I played it quite a bit as I was growing up and in 2000 received a piano as a graduation gift from my grandmother. The piano was my great-grandmother's, and has been in the family since at least the 1920's. It is a 1910-11 Chickering Parlor Grand 6'4" in mahogany. Unfortunately it had to sit at my parents house for several years, but now sits in my own living room. A picture is attached.

Matt
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#201394 - 05/30/08 03:42 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Piano Again Offline
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Interesting thread. Here's my long-winded contribution:

The first piano we had in our house was a huge old upright in a dark wood with a lot of decorative carving. I don't remember the name. It was in the basement, and I think was left by the previous owners of the house because they didn't want to bother to move it. I'm sure it was totally hosed from living in that damp basement against an outside wall for however many years. We finally gave it away when my parents bought a Kimmel baby grand that mother saw in the window of an auction house in downtown Washington, DC. She asked a friend to go to the auction to bid on it, and we got it for $200. This was in the mid-1960s.

The Kimmel, prominently displayed in the dining room (we always ate in the kitchen) was not very good, either, and would never stay in tune, but I have pleasant memories of playing on it. One sister took it for a while after she bought a big house, and then I took it when I moved into an apartment in Baltimore. I bought a tuning hammer and kind of wrestled it somewhat into in tune before I played it (kind of like having a harpsichord). When I moved I sold it to my landlord for $300 -- he liked the way it looked.

For my first house, I bought a new Baldwin studio upright, which I still have. It's an okay piano, but just never inspired me to play it very much. When we moved to our current house, we put the piano in the living room, and then years went by when I didn't touch it.

About five years ago, we created a practice room out of half of our garage. A friend gave us an 1920s-era Howard baby grand (a long-lost distant relative of the old Kimmel, I think), and we put it in the new room. Having my own private space to practice made a world of difference, and I was back into the piano! So I started shopping for pianos, and now have an Estonia 190 in there instead. I tried to give the Howard away, but had no takers, so it left with the piano movers. I don't know what happened to it after that.


Recovering cellist, amateur pianist.
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#201395 - 05/30/08 04:06 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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First piano was a Kimball spinet, purchased (? new) in the early 50's. Still in the family, though no one plays it much anymore. It was adorned with a Seth Thomas wooden metronome and a clock - how I remember the minute hand crawling thru the required hour of practice every day.

#201396 - 05/30/08 08:29 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Rochester, Minnesota
First piano was a Rosler upright. Czech piano, Iron Curtain times. It was pretty, but not really meant for the intense playing that my sister and I put it through. We both got through our Performer's ARCTs on that piano, by which time the hammers were hopelessly worn, the black keytops rather beat up, the tone glass shatteringly bright. I could play mf through ff. My parents got a Yamaha G3 shortly after that, sold off the Rosler, but we were done with most of our piano playing by then. It was always a bit of a shock going from that piano to the grand pianos at recitals and competitions.

When I got my first job, I rented a Kawai upright for 6 months, and ended up buying a Baldwin Hamilton studio 11 yrs ago with financing. It was probably the best I could afford at the time and where the action was light enough it didn't aggravate my tendinitis. Like Piano Again, it didn't inspire me, though it was OK. Sounded horribly loud in my 1902 condo with wood floors and hollow subflooring.

I'm really enjoying my new grand piano (2 weeks old now!). My work life has nothing to do with music at all, and it is lovely to return home to the Schimmel. Now that I have a grand piano, I can appreciate what an advantage it is for aspiring pianists to have one.


Amateur
Schimmel K189T, Baldwin Hamilton studio
#201397 - 05/30/08 09:07 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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The first piano I practiced on was given to my mother by her piano teacher in her will for being her best student. It has a really light touch, and you can't get much thunder out of it, but it was ok. I've seen worse.

Like the piano that belongs to my dad, that i never practiced on, that is a clunky old thing. His dad scrimped and saved to buy it for him when he was a kid and I think he can't get rid of it because of the sentimentality attached. The fact that his dad made that sacrifice even though he was really poor and couldn't really afford it makes it worth a lot more to him than anyone else would ever pay.

So in my parents house there are three pianos. The upright my mum got as a gift from her piano teacher, the upright my dad got as a gift from his father, and then a baby grand they bought when I was 14 and they realised I really needed an upgrade.

In my house now, I only have a roland hpi-7 digital piano. It's a soulless thing, but neccessary as I live in a townhouse with a housemate. But I have a plethora of grands to chose from to play at the con :*)


Piano teacher since August 2008.
#201398 - 05/30/08 10:44 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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I started piano lessons (my choice, not my parents) when I was 8 years old back in 1953. So my parents scrambled to find a piano for me. What came into the house was an ancient quasi-square grand Chickering uncannily similar to the beast described by Laughing Cavalier above. I would guess it was from the late 1800s. It wasn't much of a piano. The keyboard was short in compass, ending on lowest C rather than A in the bass and the highest A rather than C. The sound was uninspiring as well.

The old tuner dreaded working on the Chickering's action. It was fragile to say the least. When he'd make one repair, two other parts would break in the process. It almost gave him a nervous breakdown, and he quickly retired. There came a hiatus while trying to find a new tuner. So in that interval I'd tune the piano myself using a roller skate key (which fit the tuning pins perfectly) attached to a screw driver. I had excellent pitch even then. I guess it saved money anyway. Learning on that instrument was pretty unfulfilling. Fortunely, two years later my parents replaced it with a used Ivers & Pond baby grand which served me well for the next eight years of study.

Once I graduated from university and went to work, I bought a used Steinway 5'7" Model M. Now I play a 6'3" Baldwin L bought new.

I have always disliked period instruments, including fortepianos. It's probably because I'm reminded of having practiced on that ancient Chickering!

#201399 - 05/30/08 11:20 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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First piano, hummm....an old Aeolian player which cost Dad $25 and he moved out of the seller's house himself! Wisely getting some help to put it into our home, it was my practice piano from age 7-14. Player mechanism only worked partially and provided lots of laughs for us kids, but our tuner was afraid to tune it up to A440, so I spent the first 7 years playing on a low pitched piano (parents...NB....don't try this with a talanted youngest who is destined to have absolute pitch confused )

My folks then decided I needed something better and while declining Grandma's offer of a new Steinway grand(c.$4000 in 1970) :b: , got me an old Kurtzmann 5'7 grand at an auction. It was OK and at least could be tuned to A440! It's still at their house (anyone want a free Kurtzmann?!)

I guess this is now why I own two Steinway B's. smokin




#201400 - 05/31/08 03:11 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
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Great thread!

My story seems almost too easy compared to many of these: when my older sister reached 6? 8? my parents decided it was time for piano lessons, which meant it was time to buy a piano. So, with Grandma the organist in tow, to Steinway Hall we went, where they selected a light mahogany 1098 which the salesman claimed had been a favorite of Mr. Steinway himself (hmmm...). $3000 seemed like so much money in those days that M and D each paid half, and felt they were really stretching even so.

Years later, Grandma moved in with us and brought her own 1098 from the late 30s, giving us the distinction of being the only house on the block with TWO pianos.

So in a sense I was spoiled, but I've also always had a soft spot for uprights, and never understood why some people seem to think only grands are real pianos.

#201401 - 05/31/08 04:04 PM Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane...  
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 285
faucon Offline
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faucon  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 285
Missouri USA
Our family piano when I was growing up was a Baldwin Acrosonic that dates back to the early 1950s or even before. My mother could play very well and was an accompanist in her university days, but strangely she rarely played later in life, which I always thought was a great pity. My sister still owns the Baldwin and it has travelled all over the world with her.

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