No more noodling in the parlour: the real market is now in the East, apparently. Michael White bids farewell in the Telegraph:
Most pianos now come from Japan and China; and in China there’s a keyboard boom much like our own a century ago. There, depending on which of various trigger-happy estimates you believe, there are said to be 30 million children learning the piano, driven by ambitious parents for whom they are the new Everest of cultural sophistication. At weekends they throng establishments such as Jiangjie Piano City, a Beijing battery-farm for budding players with 12,000 students – each one packed into a small sound-proofed cubicle containing a keyboard, a coat-hook, and a lot of tension. And what these armies of children have in common, apart from sore fingers, is that they all want to be Lang Lang. A remarkable if ill-advised ambition.
So the piano isn’t finished, it’s just relocated eastwards; but its going is regrettable. It played a huge role in our cultural and social history; and its influence extended way beyond the realms of music. Not least into sex. For centuries the keyboard served as a facilitator for seduction: you get very close to people on that shared stool, and duets were a standard means of overcoming coy resistance.