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noteHow many times have you spotted a piano in  the homes that you visited in the recent past? Probably not that many, at least according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

In the article “The piano’s  status in U.S. living rooms is declining” published last week, Mary MacVean writes: “The piano has been the center of many American homes for generations, not only a proclamation of a love of music but also often a statement about striving for success.

“In a very traditional sense, the piano did stand for something. It was a symbol of mobility, moving up,” especially among immigrant families, said Joe Lamond, president of the International Music Products Assn., based in Carlsbad and known as NAMM. Some real estate agents still will move a piano into a house that’s for sale to class it up, he said.”

MacVean cites various reasons for the piano’s decline in status. One reason is that today there are so many other ways to make and listen to music such as with electronic keyboards and digital instruments, and headphones. These are less expensive than playing the piano. Additionally, children have many other activities that compete for their time and effort.

Growing up in Asia, I remember that the piano was also a status symbol. A home with a piano was an unspoken indicator that the family had money. In denser neighborhoods, you could hear the notes of the piano from a home nearby drifting to your window. On some sunny mornings, the clinking of harmonious notes added a nice touch to the enjoyment of the day. But some days, when you heard notes being practiced repeatedly or off-key, it could be annoying.

When I read that article, I thought about another piece of furniture that seems to be in decline in many living rooms. I believe it is not so common nowadays to have a bookshelf in the living room. By and large, it has been replaced by an entertainment center.

As an avid reader, I think it’s kind of sad as I feel that books, like decorative accessories, make a house a home. There is in fact, an art to arranging books, interspersed with decorative objects, that will enhance the appearance and comfort of a room.

But more than that, when you walk into a living room with a bookshelf,  you immediately get a sense of the occupant’s interests from the books displayed. And that acts as a starting point to get to know people better. Let’s hope the bookshelf will not exit its way out of the living room, in the same manner as the piano.

The piano symbolized success. (Photo from Los Angeles Times)

The piano symbolized success. (Photo from Los Angeles Times)

The bookshelf reveals one's interests. (Photo from www.bhg.com)

The bookshelf reveals one's interests . (Photo from http://www.bhg.com)

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