The piano problem

Too many people own pianos. The piano sits there, a worse than useless piece of furniture. I say "worse than useless" because it is an unusually heavy item so it is difficult to move, and also because it implies that there may be some skill in playing it, even when there is not.

This state of affairs is great for piano manufacturers, and not so great for those wealthy enough to purchase a piano. So why do people buy pianos even when they can't play them? Two reasons: vanity and hope. Vanity because the piano is a status symbol, a traditional sign of success and an ostentatious display of wealth. Hope because people might believe that one day they might learn to play.

The piano problem isn't limited to pianos - it is just the poster child for "consumption as a substitute for self-improvement". The health industry is filled with exercise equipment manufacturers and gym memberships and diet plans and athletic shoes that all feed off of a similar psychology. I suppose that cars are also a good example (e.g. the SUV that has never seen a dirt road, let alone a true off-roading experience).

Alas, I feel the piano problem all too acutely because I wish I had a piano, and I actually play. I have a particular fondness for the Yamaha GC-1 baby grand - I like it even more than some much more expensive pianos. It's feel, it's wonderful. It's truly a work of art. And the thought of all the pianos in the world sitting there unplayed just breaks my heart.

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