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a Century, They're Still Playing the Same Tune
By Kris Decker
November 1, 2002
Trinca of Schoenhut
1872, German-born immigrant Albert Schoenhut fashioned a toy piano
for his landlord's daughter. At the time, he probably never imagined
one of his creations would be played in a venue like Carnegie Hall.
But last April, Margaret Leng Tan, considered "the world's
premiere string piano virtuoso," did just that. Schoenhut himself
might have been surprised, but toy piano aficionados were not.
Renee Trinca, co-owner/operator of Schoenhut Piano
Company, Inc. (toypiano.com) confirms that toy pianos have a wide
appeal. "Lots of professional musicians use Schoenhut toy pianos
in their recordings because they have such a rich, chime-like tone."
Renee and husband Len Trinca bought the Schoenhut
Piano Company seven years ago, recognizing the value of quality
and craftsmanship that has been a Schoenhut tradition for decades.
But why would two people with "no musical background"
purchase a toy piano company?
"We'd just never seen anything like [the pianos]
before…they were a beautiful, unique product."
so unique is that Schoenhut pianos are not simply replicas of real
pianos, but are authentic musical instruments. Each piano is chromatically
tuned, educating the ear of beginning musicians. Correct spacing between
keys teaches "finger stretch," a required skill for playing
standard size pianos.
Young Player - Max
Additionally, Schoenhut pianos feature the patented
tri-play learning system, a color-coordinated technique that matches
color- and tone-association to every note. And despite its "real
musical instrument" status, each Schoenhut is built to endure
rough play by any level of performer.
"As soon as kids are able to sit up on their
own, they're ready to start playing one of our pianos," laughs
Trinca. "An employee just brought their six-month-old in and
he was infatuated by a little red piano I have."
During their first year of business, the Trincas
really only expected orders to come from toy stores. They were pleased
to discover that the market stretched beyond that to include professional
musicians, schools, museums, catalog companies, gift and department
stores. Business has increased 10-12% every year since then.
Baby Grand Piano
So how can a centuries-old company keep their product
line fresh and exciting? Designing new models every year stimulates
a steady growth in sales, as well as continuing to offer popular
favorites, like the Classic Baby Grand, the Traditional Spinet and
My First Piano.
However, success for this company is not simply
defined in terms of sales. Schoenhuts is a family-type business
where office staff and factory workers are also best friends. Located
in St. Augustine, Florida, the Schoenhut team reports for work early
each day, (so they can hit the beach in the afternoon, reports Trinca).
Hard work and long hours don't faze these employees. They're all
just happy to be a part of the Schoenhut Company's continued success.
In an era of electronic toys and computerized playthings,
some might find it surprising that Schoenhut Piano Company continues
to be successful.
"I don't think classic toys will ever go out
of style," says Renee Trinca.
collectors, professional musicians, and most importantly, thousands
of children around the world would agree.
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