Piano Street Magazine

Pianos for People

November 26th, 2013 in Piano News by | 9 comments

From the late 18th century, when the piano began to supplant the harpsichord as the world’s chief keyboard instrument, it’s been a fixture in many places. People had a piano in the parlor; churches had one in the basement for choir practice, and every school auditorium had one. Pianos even graced the stages of silent movie theaters during the early 20th century.

In the 21st century, as electronic instruments become more popular as less expensive options than traditional pianos, wood-and-wire keyboards are finding their way into landfills and junk heaps. Non-profit organization Pianos for People doesn’t want these pianos uselessly deteriorating when others could benefit from them. Their mission is to restore and recondition these instruments to working order and then deliver them, free of charge, to needy and deserving families and groups.

There are many people who simply cannot afford a keyboard instrument of any type. While a suburban family might only need a simple spinet for their children’s piano lessons, a school might dream of a 9-foot grand for its stage. One of Pianos for People’s main sponsors, Jackson Pianos LLC, has many instruments in its shop. It has found, rebuilt and saved Steinways, Chickerings, Baldwins, Kimballs and many other brands.

The project’s genesis stemmed from an advertising executive, Tom Townsend, who lost his son in a tragic accident. Father and son had shared a love of music, and both played the piano. As a tribute to his late son, Townsend approached Joe Jackson of Jackson Pianos LLC and presented the idea of providing unused or discarded pianos to the needy. Jackson was instantly interested, and Pianos for People was born. They brought prominent St. Louis piano teacher Patricia Eastman on board, and, together, they bring music into people’s lives.

All three of them smile when remembering the happiness of the recipients, many of whom jump up and down with delight. Others are simply speechless, but they are all extremely grateful for the gift. Townsend remarked that lonely pianos sitting in out-of-the-way places yearned to be played. He shares the joy of music with each person to whom Pianos for People delivers a freshly reconditioned and well-tuned instrument.


  • Valerie Ashworth-Pirillo says:

    Such a very worthy undertaking & environmentally friendly too! Helps to bring music into everyones’ lives:))

  • What a fantastic idea!!!!!! I wish they could send some pianos to Bosnia and Herzegovina…..I wish….

  • Pat Eastman says:

    Thank you Piano Street for telling our story. Evidence that one piano can change many lives, now, and for generations to come.

  • Nancy Dunn says:

    Great idea! Whenever I hear about a piano that needs a home I try to connect it with someone who needs a piano. The sort of program you describe sounds much more effective in doing the job. So glad to hear about it.

  • John Foster says:

    Seeing this made me realize that I was taking my piano for granted, and have indeed started back learning the Piano once more.

    Thanks you for this inspiring story and may I wish you good luck in this wonderful venture for piano players of the future.

  • David Kidd says:

    Ah, the piano…..one of many instruments that speaks every language.

  • David & Darcy Hill says:

    What a wonderful way to spread the joy of music! Pianos are special instruments and should be saved. These pianos will bring music into homes that may help nurture and support a new generation of piano lovers and music appreciators. We have raised our own children surrounded by instruments and music and it has always been and continues to a tremendous source of family joy.

  • Karina says:

    That is awesome! Please, just keep it up! I am so glad that there are people out there who do this.

  • Daniel Dunn says:

    I don’t want to sound negative here , but , wood and steel pianos
    are very expensive to maintain …. poor families are usually left
    with a instrument that requires constant attention , witch they can
    not possibly afford to throw money at ,unless the tuner is also free .
    When I was a child , I could not stand to listen to our Steinway Grand piano unless it was tuned every six months …. most of the
    time ” I just did not want to practice ” …. and enthusiastic after it had
    been tuned .
    Pianos For People may sound like a viable solution , however , it is
    just not very ” cost effective ” if one is poor .

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