What’s the first thing you picture when you hear someone mention player pianos? For many of us the term evokes memories of that old player upright in your basement or the local soda shop (or shoppe if the proprietor went for a certain ambiance). Or perhaps it resided at a friend’s or relative’s house.
Regardless, you probably took your turn at one time or another seated before the keyboard, pumping your legs as hard as you could (because the innards leaked terribly) watching the roll turn just inches from your face. And as much work as it was, and as out of tune as the instrument was, you likely experienced a joy not quite like any other. And when one of your friends took their turn, the fun continued, everyone sharing not only in the music itself but in the sense of participation.
The world has changed drastically in the decades since the heyday of the original player piano but as with most things, it hasn’t gone way, it has simply changed forms. Of course many old players can still be found (I’m talking about the piano not the people, although that is just as true) but sadly few are in very good condition today (okay, that may apply to both).
A new breed of player piano systems have come on the scene in the past several decades offering features that could only be made possible due to advances in technology. And we have certainly seen how the pace of that technology, even in ten or twenty years, has continued to improve the player piano.
We have gone from using cassette tapes to floppy discs to CDs to iPods, iPads and internet streaming. It’s a brave new world. Some may lament the passing of the old while others fully embrace the new. The great thing is both are still available. If you love player pianos, of any flavor, you can still sit around your piano today enjoying your favorite music and the fellowship of friends.