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The Payne Family Piano!

Brigham Larson Pianos

It seems fitting to spend a few minutes on Mother’s Day to write about the importance of family and music—and the central role of the family piano in bringing music and a love of music into a home. Since our first child was born, our family has always been about music, with family members singing and playing instruments ranging from the drums, bass, guitar, and of course, the piano. I can blame that on my father, Al. Thanks to him, my siblings and I grew up in a home that was constantly filled with music. I don’t remember a single day of my childhood when there wasn’t piano music in our home. Dad taught piano lessons most evenings. The other evenings and Sundays he would be practicing with local singing groups, preparing for Sunday services, making music with friends, or simply playing for the sheer joy of sitting at the piano. My father’s affinity for the piano began early in his life. Decades before becoming an LDS General Authority, Spencer W. Kimball would occasionally stay at my grandparents’ house. One morning while visiting, he was awakened by the sound of my young father practicing the piano in the front room. My father recalls that Spencer sat down on the bench beside him and said, “I think it goes like this” before demonstrating the passage my father had been practicing. My grandmother always liked to tell us how the two of them were soon improvising duets together and having a great time. After marriage, Dad wanted to settle in a small town where his piano and other musical talents could make a difference to the community. Payson provided just the right setting. He initially taught band and chorus in the junior high (our family jokes that his sense of perfect pitch drove him from that job to a career change to become a high school counselor). He used his piano playing skills to serve the community, serve his church, and to help any vocal group or soloist who found themselves in need of an accompanist. He was accompanist for many musicals put on by Payson High and in the first decade of the of the Payson Community Theatre. My best memories of growing up seem to all revolve around the piano. At any party, family get-together, or even if we simply had guests over for dinner, the evening seemed to invariably end up with everyone in the front room, singing and laughing together as my father played piano. I always seemed that no matter what song someone called out, Dad could launch into it without a moment’s hesitation. Dad took that gift with him everywhere. We have a photo of him playing a field organ on Okinawa near the end of World War II, with other Sea Bees singing along. People were always drawn to his playing, and even in his final months, when our family visited him in a care center, we would often find him seated at the piano, surrounded by other residents who were singing and enjoying themselves. And singing around the piano is still a big part of my own family get-togethers and get-togethers with my extended family—where we also make time for nieces and nephews to perform solo piano pieces, and for an annual four-handed duet of “Sleighride” by my daughter, Carly, and her Aunt Marie.
This Steinway upright was built in the early 1880s, which makes it contemporaneous with the earliest evidence I’ve seen of the Payne family’s love for music: a photo of my great-grandfather Payne leading the Glenwood City Band. It has taken well over a century for this piano to find its way to our family. When my father passed away in the early 2000s, my siblings and I were faced with the question of who would inherit his beloved Baldwin Acrosonic that had graced the front room of our family home for over 50 years—and through literally thousands of hours of playing. My own children were quite young at the time, and so my father’s piano passed to a married niece who was starting a family. I’ve always felt that older instruments seem to have picked up some of the personality and music from the people who have made music on them over the years; a great older piano (or guitar, or other instrument) often seems to come with some music and songs already in it. Maybe we don’t own instruments as much as we act as caretakers who will leave a little of ourselves with them as we pass them on to future generations. For this reason, I’ve searched for the right piano for my recently married daughter, Carly (who has inherited and developed her grandfather's gift and love for playing the piano). I’ve wanted her to have a piano that has seen some history, and which would bring its own special character to the center of the home she is creating—and which would be an instrument she would want to pass down to her own children. This piano meets those requirements. It was already making music when Utah became a state, through the development of auto and air travel, through two world wars, and the turning of two centuries. Under the fingers of previous generations, its music has brought laughter and celebration in times of joy—and comfort and peace in times of tears and hardship. It has had a rich life and deserves to enrich the lives of families who gather around it for another hundred years.

  • YEAR 1800-1900
  • MAKE From Early Lessons With Spencer W. Kimball, This Historic Steinway Has Seen Over a Century of Music and Joy & is Ready for Daughter to Inherit Its Legacy!
  • FINISH Rosewood
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