[This article assumes you are already familiar with the basics of piano-shopping (see "Piano Buying Basics" and other appropriate articles in this publication), and treats only those aspects of the subject that are specific to the institutional setting.--Ed.]
Institutions vary so widely in size, makeup, and needs that it is impossible to cover in a single article all the variables that might apply. For example, the studio of a graduate-school piano professor might be 12 feet square, carpeted, and cluttered with bookshelves, desk, and chairs, but still needs a performance-grade instrument. A church sanctuary--often a carpeted, irregularly shaped room with a raised dais and filled with pews, glass windows, and lots of sound-absorbing people--needs a piano that can accompany the choir, be heard throughout a huge room, and also be used as a solo instrument for visiting artists. A school may need dozens of pianos for everything from tiny practice cubicles to a concert hall.
However, regardless of whether you're purchasing a piano for a church, school, performance space, or another institutional location, you need to start with some basic questions that will help identify the piano (or pianos) that are appropriate for your situation.
After answering these questions, this article will help you establish some basic parameters, including:
Once you've narrowed down the parameters of your ideal instrument or group of instruments, you need to consider your budget. In doing so, it's best to remember that quality instruments properly maintained will last a long time. Accordingly, it's best to view the cost of each instrument not as a one-time expense, but as a total expense amortized over the life of the instrument.
When figuring out the true annual cost of an instrument:
Include costs of tuning (typically three to four times a year, but far more often for performance instruments), regulation, and repairs
When you figure the cost of an instrument this way, you may even discover that certain more expensive instruments are more affordable than you thought.
Once you've determined your budget, and the size and other features of the instruments you desire, you can use the online searchable database accessible through the electronic version of this publication to assist you in finding the specific brands and models that will fulfill your needs.
Many situations are adequately served by vertical pianos, including:
A number of features of vertical pianos are commonly sought by institutional buyers:
FALL 2009 -- page 79
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Hybrid & Player Pianos