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MMD > Archives > July 2004 > 2004.07.04 > 07Prev  Next

Why I left AMICA & Future of Mechanical Music
By Mike Walter

Dear friends,  Ed Chaban has written a very interesting letter about
his past experiences with AMICA and why he left the organization many
years ago [040703 MMDigest].  I'm glad that he hadn't run into "vicious
lunatics" as Damon Atchison had.

For the past 29 years I have been an AMICA member.  I have met a fair
number of members and, by and large, the vast majority of these people
are very down-to-earth and friendly.  There are, though, a few members
who have a quirk or two.  I challenge you to go into any organization
or neighborhood across the country and find an area without a few of
these "special" people.

Concerning "high end" instruments,  there are still a few of them out
there.  When a rare machine comes into the market, though, there will
be some competition for it.  Gone are the days when a person can go
around the corner and find a Hupfeld Phonoliszt at the curb.  You just
have to look a little harder and a little longer to find the right one
that you can afford.  If someone is looking for a reproducing piano,
lesser brand name instruments (such as Aeolian, Stroud, Franklin,
Marshall & Wendell) can be purchased today at a price that is several
thousand dollars less than maybe twenty years ago.  Top of the line
restored pianos still command top of the line prices.

The AMICA bulletin has undergone a number of changes in the past few
years.  The former editor, Robin Pratt, had done an admirable job of
making the bulletin a vibrant, well-polished publication.  There have
been numerous reprints of original piano company brochures and a
variety of articles on various subjects pertaining to player pianos.
Since Robin was not a Danielle Steel with an encyclopedic brain, he had
to rely upon submissions by fellow members to fill some of the pages of
the bulletin.  He couldn't edit items that were not submitted.  Our
current editor, Mike Kukral, seems to be doing as fine a job as Robin
had done in the past.  It is up to the membership to submit articles,
information, reports and works in progress.

The bottom line is that AMICA is about the restoration, preservation
AND appreciation of ALL kinds of automatic musical instruments.  There
are thousands upon thousands of foot pumped player pianos that are
looking for a good home and someone to lovingly care and restore them.
A person shouldn't feel badly if they can't afford a Welte, a Duo-Art
or an Ampico at the present time.  Reproducing pianos, orchestrions and
nickelodeons were in the minority during the 1910s and '20s.

Every hobbyist should find a "good" unrestored 88-note player piano
and work on its restoration, asking for assistance along the way, if
needed.  Once the piano is complete and working properly, that person
should then sit on that piano bench and play some good old-fashioned
tunes, for that is the next stage in their education.

Pumping a player piano is an art form that can be learned but it does
take time to master.  Once a person masters it, they will realize that
there is more to a player piano than putting a roll on a piano and
turning on a switch.  They will learn to listen to and appreciate the
music.  At this time, if a reproducing piano is what a person truly
wants to have, he/she will have the experience of rebuilding a foot
pumper under their proverbial belt and will also realize that a lot
of time and patience is needed to make beautiful music!

Thanks for allowing me the time on the soap box.  I encourage all piano
hobbyists to take the time to learn a bit more about their piano(s),
how to play a roll by foot, and to truly listen to what they hear.

Best wishes,
Mike Walter
Vice President, AMICA International

(Message sent Sun 4 Jul 2004, 17:23:02 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  AMICA, Future, I, left, Mechanical, Music, Why

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