Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Juan Or Experimenting With the Piano

Sometime back in April 2009, Papa and Mommy went shopping for a piano. The idea of owning a piano is of course to serve Mommy's purpose and then eventually to serve Juan Or's music education later on. So these were Mommy's criteria during the piano-shopping period:

  • Has to be at least 125 cm tall.

  • Nice, beautiful and preferably rich tone.

  • New, or look as good as new or in good condition.

  • Touch of the piano keys must be at least medium to heavy and not as light as Yamaha pianos.

  • Price range of within RM15 000.

With these criteria, owning a first-hand upright grande piano was not possible. For example, a first-hand Petrof 125 costs around RM4+ +++ (depending on how much discount the seller is willing to give). Even a Wagner piano at 131 cm costs RM16 000, and the tone is not that impressive. On the other hand, first-hand pianos sold in Vienna Music (Subang Jaya), although affordable, but in Mommy's opinion, seem to have muffled tone which is not to Mommy's liking. So the next option to consider were either 2nd hand or reconditioned pianos. So Mommy looked first at Christofori, then later at Hew & Morais and finally at the Piano Station (Summit, USJ). It was at Christofori that Mommy came to know the existence of this high-end Kawai model called US50 (132 cm in height). The tone was beautiful and the lower keys were very rich in sound (like that of a tiger waiting to be unleashed!). Christofori was selling it for RM8800. So Mommy did some research about the Kawai US50 model and indeed a review by a neutral user confirmed Mommy's good impression about the Kawai US50. Later on , Mommy went to Hew & Morais who offered it for RM8700. Then Mommy went to Piano Station and that's where the sales personnel who attended to Mommy offered to beat all others' offers! The sales personnel also mentioned that they are offering a special price to Mommy as a goodwill price for forming long-term relationship and contact with music teachers. Piano Station also hopes that Mommy will recommend future piano students to buy pianos from them. So in the end, Mommy bought the Kawai US50 (2nd hand) from Piano Station. By the way, upon checking the US50's serial number with a Kawai piano serial number website, Mommy found the age of the Kawai US50 to be 25 years old (manufactured in 1984) as what was claimed by the Piano Station sales personnel.

Along the way before Mommy made up the mind to settle for a used piano, Mommy had already pondered about why the original owner would want to let go off their pianos (especially if it is a high-end piano!) and that why many used pianos come from Japan. Here is a list of info that Mommy gathered both through verbal questionings and from the internet:

  • It seems that in the past (not sure about the present), the Japanese government provides subsidy to their citizens to buy Japanese pianos.
  • Therefore, many well-to-do Japanese families could afford to buy pianos for their children's music education.
  • Japanese people have the mindset that if they want to purchase something big, expensive and for long-term purpose, they might as well go for something high-end so that they do not have to upgrade the model later on.
  • Japanese people are fussy caretakers of their assets. In other words, most Japanese families take good care of their pianos.
  • As their children grow up, they no longer continue piano lessons, so pianos are left to idle in their homes. And since space in the house (so does space in Japan!) is precious, so of course the piano is the first to go.

Here are some snapshots of the Kawai US50:

Shown here are two videos of little Juan Or experimenting with the piano. The first video was recorded using Papa's handphone, so the sound quality is slightly not-so-good, but Juan Or appeared enthusiastic and receptive towards 'hammering' it. The second video was recorded on another day using Mommy's handphone (a newer model of Motorola handphone compared to Papa's) to which the sound quality is better, but Juan Or appeared to be not too adventurous about 'hammering' it.

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