It’s time to tickle the ivories…September is National Piano Month! Hammacher Schlemmer has a long association with this ever-popular parlor instrument, harking back to our days as a hardware emporium.
In the early years of the 20th century, we were one of the country’s largest suppliers of piano parts, stocking almost everything that went into a piano except for the case. At one point, 20 boxcar loads a year went to one customer, Kimball Brothers—enough for 12,000 pianos.
In 1991, the National Piano Foundation appointed Schroeder from the comic strip Peanuts as the official spokesperson for National Piano Month. Schroeder’s mission is to encourage people of all ages to study and appreciate piano music. His unique gifts for playing a toy piano can be inspiration for all of us.
It’s never too late to learn, and if mastering piano is on your bucket list, The Learn to Play Piano DVDs are a great way to get started. This 12-DVD collection of piano-playing tips and techniques is led by Scott Houston, the Emmy Award-winning host of the public television series The Piano Guy. Geared toward beginners (but with a wealth of insight for more experienced players), the series offers 22 hours of the “tips, cheap tricks, and professional secrets” Houston is famous for.
Another instructional tool is The Learn To Play Keyboard. This keyboard includes comprehensive instructional software lauded by The Wall Street Journal as “well-planned and effective.” Exclusive to Hammacher Schlemmer, the software contains over 400 lessons and more than 70 video demonstrations. The keyboard plugs into a computer, allowing the software to “listen” as you play, providing instant feedback. There’s a version for children, too.
For simply a toe-tapping good time, the world’s largest dance-on piano features a 28 sq. ft. piano mat. A unique gift for would-be musicians, it allows budding virtuosos to compose their own music as they dance, jump, or run on the keys. Fourteen white and 10 black keys, almost two full octaves, produce individual tones or melodic harmonies. Musicians can record and instantly listen to their compositions through an integrated speaker.
In Peanuts, Schroeder had a unique gift that made him a virtuoso on a toy piano. But with a bit of practice, any of us can turn 88 keys into the key to musical enjoyment.