September 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 9
|September 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 9|
Schoenhut Plays Beautifully With Kids
Handcrafted Toy Pianos Find Next Generation of Musicians
That level of devotion to Schoenhut’s products is not uncommon. Founded in 1872 by German immigrant Albert Schoenhut, the toy piano company has served generations of children, some of whom have grown up to become the Trincas’ best customers.
THE MUSIC OF NOSTALGIA
“Many of the older generation, during their childhood, had Schoenhut toy pianos of their own,” Renee, who became president in 1996, explained to TDmonthly Magazine. "Most parents and grandparents who buy a toy piano for their child or grandchild have a strong interest in music and want to provide their children with an opportunity to play an instrument.”
Although a large percentage of sales are for children, continued Renee, the quality of the pianos attracts other interest as well.
“Professional musicians and collectors comprise a significant customer base,” she said.
The company still produces traditional handcrafted toy pianos, such as the 30-key Baby Grand, 18-key My First Piano and 25-key upright. These models feature chime-like tones, such as those originally developed by Schoenhut, that are produced by small hammers striking precision-ground German steel rods.
Each piano has one to three octaves, depending on the model, with keys the same width as those on adult versions. A tri-color learning system that corresponds to Schoenhut songbooks is included with each piano.
A REAL PIANO FOR KIDS
The company’s newest product, a 44-Key Baby Grand, was developed after numerous requests from parents, grandparents and music teachers whose children were ready to graduate from a toy piano to a larger version. This new model, half the size of a regular piano, features a true piano sound, using tuned wires instead of the steel rods that are unique to the original toy pianos.
“Music teachers are ecstatic that the kids can reach the pedals,” Renee told TDmonthly.
PUBLICITY ADDS PLAYERS
Expanding the business while ensuring Schoenhut's reputation for quality is a high priority. Schoenhut toy pianos are publicized through interviews that result in coverage via editorials, TV and articles in magazines and newspapers.
According to Renee, "Involvement with TDmonthly and ToyDirectory has also been a huge success for us, leading to orders through the Schoenhut website and added traffic at trade shows and toy fairs.”
THE TRADE-SHOW PAY-OFF
One "key" moment occurred at this year’s NAMM musical instrument trade show, where the 44-Key Baby Grand was unveiled.
“A mother stopped by with her 5-year-old daughter, who had resisted taking music lessons,” Renee told TDmonthly. "We invited the little girl to try out the piano. She was a bit shy at first, but proceeded, haltingly, to play ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’
“All of a sudden, beaming with delight, she exclaimed: ‘Mommy, this piano is just my size!’ At that moment, we felt assured of the new line's success.”
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This dynamic, new line of 44-key baby grand and upright pianos, launched to coincide with Schoenhut’s 135th anniversary, features true piano sound … without the use of electronics. The mid-sized piano is less intimidating for small children who want to learn to play the piano. This line is not intended to replace Schoenhut’s vintage models that feature chime-like tones, such as those originally developed by Albert Schoenhut in 1872. Rather, the introduction is in response to requests from customers for a “new” sound. It’s available in black, white or red. Launch date: January 2007.
— If parents wish to start their kids on the piano before they’re ready for the real baby grand, this stunningly beautiful instrument with authentic piano sound is the way to go. It received a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for innovation in mechanics and design within the category of musical instruments for children, as well as its ability to grace any space while furthering a young child’s music education.
Toy Fair 2007
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11647 (added 2/26/2007)
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This high-quality musical instrument is chromatically tuned and features lovely chime-like notes that are produced by little hammers striking precision-ground, German steel music rods (versus the conventional taut wires used in full-sized pianos). Schoenhut's patented Learning System, with its play-by-color teaching method, makes playing simple and fun. A removable color strip fits behind the keys to guide small fingers from chord to chord, and is also suitable for use on adult-sized keyboards. The accompanying songbook contains a collection of familiar tunes. Launch date: July 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13796 (added 6/28/2007)
My First Piano II by SCHOENHUT PIANO COMPANY
Other products from SCHOENHUT PIANO COMPANY
Schoenhut's bright red, wooden, 25-key tabletop is the perfect choice for a toddler's first piano. Both fun and educational, it is an ideal instrument for developing eye-hand coordination and encouraging musical creativity. Chromatically tuned, the lovely chimelike notes are produced by little hammers striking precision-ground, German steel music rods. The tone never changes nor will the piano ever need tuning. Schoenhut's patented Learning System, with its play-by-color teaching method, makes playing simple and fun. A removable color strip fits behind the keys to guide small fingers from chord to chord. The chart also works on adult keyboards, since keys on Schoenhut toy pianos are of corresponding width. This teaches children proper finger placement from the very beginning. The accompanying Songbook contains a collection of familiar tunes. This Learning System has been specially designed to build a child's confidence and develop basic playing skills. It comes in red and white. Launch date: 2005.
- This model was Schoenhut's best seller for 2010. It was also the model given away by TDmonthly's Charitable Kid, Kimberly (then 14) of South Carolina -- 100 times over! As a reward for her charity and careful selection of institutions to receive the toy pianos, Kimberly was given a number of other high-quality Schoenhut instruments, many of which she shared with her younger sisters.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13823 (added 6/29/2007)
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Writer's Bio: Greg Rock is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles. Read more articles by this author
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