The All-Steinway School Program vs. the Diverse-Inventory Approach to Buying Pianos for an Institution
hen an institution is ready to purchase a large number of new pianos, one of the major decisions to be made is whether to buy all from a single manufacturer, or to maintain a diverse inventory of instruments of many brands. The decision has artistic, technical, financial, institutional, and, often, political dimensions. On the single-brand side, probably best known is the All-Steinway School program, with more than 150 institutions participating. The College of Music at Florida State University is one of the largest music schools in the country to maintain a diverse inventory of many brands. Below, proponents of the two schools of thought put their best feet forward to explain the reasons behind their respective choices. — Editor
The All-Steinway School Program
by Sally Phillips
Recently, I asked pianists, technicians, and administrators from All-Steinway Schools to talk about Steinways in general, and the impact the All-Steinway School program has had on their schools, performances, and teaching. To my surprise, instead of dry e-mails containing boilerplate comments, I received voluminous e-mails and lengthy, enthusiastic phone calls from pianists and technicians. This article explains the All-Steinway School program, and explores the reasons why these professionals are so passionate about Steinway pianos, particularly in the institutional setting.
The All-Steinway School
The All-Steinway School designation is given by Steinway & Sons when an institution meets certain criteria concerning ownership and maintenance of Steinway and Steinway-designed pianos. Steinway & Sons manufactures Steinway pianos in New York and Hamburg, Germany, and also sells the Steinway-designed brands Boston and Essex, made in Asia. Below are highlights of the All-Steinway School program:
- Each All-Steinway School in North America must have an inventory of at least 10 pianos, although some schools have over 200. Ninety percent of the pianos must be Steinway, Boston, or Essex. The 10% leeway allows for such things as gifts of pianos to the school by alumni, historical instruments, and instruments that for other reasons are considered desirable to retain.(continued on page 91)
Strength in Numbers: Success with a Diverse Piano Inventory
by Anne Garee
"I've never heard of a Fazioli!"
When they take the stage at Florida State University's popular summer piano camp, students often are surprised at what they find. They might just as well say, "I've never heard of a Bösendorfer!"
Or a Blüthner. Or a Wendl & Lung. Or a Sauter or a Seiler. The names go on.
Each June, FSU's two-week Honors Piano Camp and Institute draws junior high and high school pianists from all over the U.S. and abroad. They not only get to study with a diverse group of instructors, they also get to play a stunning range of instruments representing piano makers the world over.
Now in my 29th year at FSU's College of Music, first as piano technician and now as a faculty member, I have profoundly enjoyed working with these young pianists in a setting that has few peers in American academe. By the time they leave campus, these summer-camp students will have been immersed in both piano technology — in workshops in my own campus-based piano shop — and piano performance on five different stages. They will have explored new composers and repertoire, and played instruments that are seldom available to pianists anywhere. Access to such rare resources remains one of the top reasons many of these talented young visitors wind up choosing FSU as the platform from which to launch a musical career. This article explores the reasons for the success of our multi-brand piano inventory, and offers a sense of its ideal fit for the third-largest music school in the nation, and one of the most comprehensive. (continued on page 95)