Image of the Piano For Sale

The Sykes Family Piano!

Brigham Larson Pianos

I have been aware of this legacy project for months, but haven't felt my story was convincing enough to merit much attention. Today I watched the Robinson family piano video, and that sealed the deal. I can't compete with that story, or that recital piece. But still, I love our old Epworth, and I know our children and grandchildren care about the people behind it. Three of our grandsons bear part of my Grandpa Shepard's name: the oldest bears his first name, the middle has his middle name, and the youngest of the three was given has his last name. All three of these young cousins play the piano, as well as numerous other children and grandchildren. This Legacy project has helped me once again appreciate our collective past.
Our Shepard Piano My Grandpa Shepard pumped the organ bellows for church while his older brother played. Grandpa’s brother figured that workout helped beef up Grandpa for when he played football for Northwestern University, back in the day of leather helmets. But the organ was not Grandpa’s instrument of choice. All of the Shepard boys learned to play the piano. In August of 1916, Grandpa married his sweetheart from grade school. He was teaching at a small college in Baldwin Kansas. For their wedding gift, Warren’s parents ordered an Epworth Concert Grand piano from Williams and Sons in Chicago. We have the receipt, including railroad shipping instructions. The grand total was $341.20. If you believe what you find online, in today’s dollars, that would have been $10,050. Not sure I believe that. That’s a pile of money for a minister. Anyway, the Shepard piano was well travelled, as the young family lived for a time in Chicago and Massachusetts, before settling in upstate New York, where Warren was an English professor at Syracuse University. Of course he saw to it that his three children learned to play too. My dad once sat down at our piano when he was about fifty years old and played several pieces from memory. He said that was the order they were printed in one of his piano books. Obviously he practiced more than I ever did. My aunt, Dad’s younger sister, was a talented vocalist, as well as pianist, and she often dressed up in evening wear to sing for community functions, with her father accompanying her on piano. I remember Grandpa playing the piano and singing for us when I was little. Shortly before Grandpa died, he told me to always have a piano piece memorized, in case someone wanted to know if I played. I have done that. After Grandpa died and the house was sold, the Epworth went to my aunt’s daughter, who was the most accomplished pianist in the family at the time. She lived on Long Island for many years, so the piano was subjected to temperature swings and humidity for decades. For several years the piano resided in a renovated bait shop on the edge of the water on the east end of the island. My cousin had no children to pass the piano to, so 10 years ago, we had it shipped to Utah, where three generations can now play it for family gatherings.

  • YEAR 1910-1920
  • MAKE Resonating Memories: Reviving the Melodic Journey of the Shepard Piano!
  • FINISH Mahogany
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