Music department purchases Steinway pianos with anonymous donation

KEYS TO FUTURE- Michah Hughett practices on one of the new Steinway pianos in a Bryan Fine Arts practice room Thursday. The purchase of the pianos is part of the department’s goal of being an all Steinway campus.

Recently, Tennessee Tech’s music department was able to purchase 25 Upright Boston Steinway pianos with money donated anonymously.

The $200,000 donation allowed the department to replace all pianos located in the Bryan Fine Arts Building. Jennifer Shank, interim dean of the College of Education and chairwoman of the music department, said the department was shocked at the magnitude of the donation, and excited about the effect it will have on the students as well as instructors.

“I was incredibly happy for our students to do something so wonderful,” said Shank. “A Steinway piano can last upward of 50 years, and to have the wonderful pianos for all the instructors to use just meant so much for all of them to have when they are practicing.”

Each piano cost $8,000 individually plus shipping, said Shank. Five of the 25 pianos were purchased with technology that will allow students to compose music pieces with the aid of a computer, said Shank.

Instructors have also reaped the benefits from the donation. Eight instructor pianos were replaced with the money from the donation. Adjunct faculty instructor Paul Thurmond said some instructors who have received the new pianos in their studios have been very well received. Thurmond had a chance to play one of the recently purchased Steinway pianos.

“The action is terrific,” said Thurmond, “as is the sound.”

With the new pianos added to the program, students are embracing the new technology. Music major Courtney Anderson is already enjoying the new pianos in the practice rooms of BFA.

“They (Steinway pianos) sound better in my opinion,” said Anderson. “One of the reasons I like them is because you have a good piano in every practice room. You aren’t fighting someone to get a good piano anymore.”

Shank said pianos are required for all music majors. Most major-specific classes require music students to know how to play piano. Students also study and practice using the piano, said Shank.

The department chose the Steinway brand purposefully. Tech’s music department is trying to be specifically a Steinway school. Meaning, Tech would be one of around one hundred schools in the country to be completely Steinway based.

The old pianos will be given to the University surplus, if the pianos are needed. If the pianos are not needed on campus, they will go to an auction through the state of Tennessee, if the state chooses to get rid of surplus materials, said Shank. Currently, the University does not need the pianos due to the purchase of the new Steinway pianos.

“It’s important to have equipment that will last and maintain its value,” said Shank. “Steinways, by far, are the best pianos in the world. It allows our students to not only have the best equipment to play on but will last the longest.”