When it comes to pianos, a purist often swears by the touch and tone of an acoustic instrument.
With a talented artist at the ivories, it can fill a room with glorious reverberations.
Parents and spouses of a beginner, on the other hand, more likely will lobby for a digital model with headphones.
This amazing technology pairing delivers the sometimes awkward clank of a music lesson only to the student and, when present, his teacher.
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UNC Charlotte’s piano sale will cater to both groups, as well as to piano enthusiasts with tastes in between.
Grands, baby grands, uprights and digital models will be for sale Aug. 10-12 at Robinson Hall.
The annual sale is a worthwhile event for several reasons, said Royce Lumpkin, chairman of the music department at UNCC.
The money raised at the annual event has allowed instrument retailer Miller Piano to bring new instruments into the Music Department each year at no cost to the university.
Students get the latest equipment for their lessons, and the public gets nearly new acoustic and digital pianos at special prices.
“If you want a good buy on a piano, this is a good way to get it,” Lumpkin said.
This year, the sale will include 20 or more acoustic pianos in a range of sizes and styles.
Prices can start around $1,200 and climb to $6,000 or more for a professional upright model to $7,000 or more for a grand piano.
About 17 Yamaha CLP-430 digital 88-key pianos also will be for sale, priced around $1,800. That compares to a suggested retail price of about $2,999 for a new unit.
“They are here to stay,” Lumpkin said of the digital instruments. “You can record on them. It never needs tuning.”
And there is an undeniable benefit for those who share a home with a piano student.
“You can use headphones (and quietly play the piano) in the same room where people are watching TV,” Lumpkin added.
The university’s digital piano studio was out of pace with technology when Lumpkin arrived in 1998, he said. The instruments were probably 25 years old.
“It was impossible to keep them in tune,” he said. “You could tune it, and five minutes later, it would be out of tune.”
Lumpkin contacted Miller Piano. Through the nonprofit Rockley Family Foundation, Miller and the university worked out an agreement that is common for music programs.
Miller brings in new instruments every year. The Rockley foundation buys the used ones and sells them to the public. The money raised helps offset costs for Miller.
“It’s a nonprofit effort,” said Tobin Rockley, the Lakewood, Colo.-based foundation’s director. “It barely covers costs.”
Students would not likely have access to state-of-the art instruments in the digital lab if not for the agreement with Miller Piano, which is expected to benefit from the exposure.
“In economic times like these, this program is invaluable,” Lumpkin said. “Otherwise, we would have to work out a way to make a significant purchase of instruments and live with them 20 to 30 years.”