Battleland

Semper Fieramente: Do The Marines Need a $79,000 Piano?

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Steinway

The Steinway Model B grand piano

Which of these, technically speaking, is not a musical term: scherzo, staccato, sequestrationo?

It’s a fair question, given the news Wednesday that the U.S. Marine Band is buying a Steinway grand piano (Thursday afternoon, the Marines said it’s used, and that they’re getting it for the “reduced price” of $78,710 instead of the $90,600 cost of a new model).

When you think of military music, it’s a safe bet brass bands – with lots of drums – first come to ear. But the Pentagon’s musical units play a lot of venues where John Philip Sousa’s stirring marches would be out of place.

That’s why Sousa’s old outfit – he directed the Marine Band for 12 years – is buying a Steinway Model B grand piano. The Marine Band includes assorted ensembles featuring strings, woodwinds, pianos and other unMarine-like instruments, that play at official functions and public concerts.

“Only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements to procure Steinway Model B 6’11” Ebony Satin piano in support of United States Marine Band, Washington, D.C.,” the Marines note. “The Government intends to award a sole source contract for the above listed supply to the firm of Piano Gallery, Inc., 1961 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, Va.”

Added the corps, when asked: `The President’s Own’ United States Marine Band has identified a requirement to purchase a new grand piano…The Steinway Model B that has been identified for purchase is a used instrument from a local vendor that was play-tested during the market research phase of the contracting process.”

“This magnificent 7-foot grand piano is often referred to as `the perfect piano,’” Steinway says of its Model B. “When it comes to balance, beauty, and power, this incredible piano has no equal.”

Given the financial sour notes facing the nation — and its military — you’d think the corps might generate some sweet music for taxpayers by opening up the bidding to all quality piano makers.

32 comments
sgtmaj05
sgtmaj05

Leave me Marine Corps alone.  We are the most fiscally savvy, good stewards of the nations money than any other federal entity.  I know first hand how cheap we are serving over 25 years.  Since our band is considered the Presidents Own, we deserve a good dang piano......... Play on Marines! Semper Fidelis

Tacomeat
Tacomeat

Radio Shack Keyboard  is really cool..   Lighted keys, teaches you how to play too!  8 batteries or plug in.

Bearcat
Bearcat

"opening up the bidding to all quality piano makers" -- um, like who??  Besides Steinway, Mason & Hamlin of Massachusetts is it for this country.  There are no other American pianos, except Charles R Walter of Indiana, which doesn't make a grand of this size.  I can hardly see the Marine Band buying a Yamaha or a Kawai, much less a Young Chang, a Hailun, or a Pearl River, even though they would have been cheaper.  And most great European brands are far higher, like Bösendorfer, Bechstein, Steingraeber, Fazioli, Blüthner, August Förster, or Grotrian. 

I'm glad practically everybody is taking the side of the Marine Band in these comments, and not the dumb writer's.  Am also glad nobody is referring to it as a "baby" grand -- as if any species can exist of all babies.  Anything longer than 5 feet or so, front to back, is simply called a grand piano. 

dwol001
dwol001

Considering where the band plays - the White House and several high profile venues every year - so what.  The band is making a good investment.  The author of the piece should note that these band members are classically trained they are versed in all types of music besides marching songs.  Some of them have been to Juillard and competition is extremely keen for a position in this band as well as all service bands.  Any classical symphony in the world would hire them as well as some of the prestigious music schools in the states as well as the rest of the world.

John
John

Are you kidding me?   A Steinway grand piano will in the range of $45,000 to $100,000.  This is not an item you trade in after 2 or 3 years.  The timing might be a little inappropriate right at this time, but the price is reasonable.

crzyboy66
crzyboy66

The bad thing this is happening all over the military. Fort Riley is building a new $$$ Chapel and they to are looking at getting a $$$ Billy Joel piano.  This on the day that the civilian work force is being furloughed.  We cant pay our work force but we are buying high dollar items and spending year end money on un needed items while our work force will be eating rice and beans. 

LonKaiser
LonKaiser

And BTW, the U.S Marine Band doesn't just sit there and bang out Sousa Marches. Who writes this crap?

RosemaryWilliamsBarker
RosemaryWilliamsBarker

The Marine Band is one of the top musical ensembles in the country. $78,710 is a *very* reasonable price to pay for a professional quality piano. This piano will be played for many, many years! A quality instrument can easily see a lifetime of hard, daily playing of 15 years. So, you're really looking at a cost of $5247 per year for 15 years. Break that down further and you get a payment of $437 per month. 

Now, contrast that with a pair of standard Navy SEAL night-vision goggles. The price of a pair of night vision goggles is $65,000 according to this article from Popular Mechanics:  http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/weapons/what-no-easy-day-reveals-about-navy-seal-gear-12583172. How long does a pair of goggles like that last? Three years? Four? It's easy to see which purchase is going to cost less in the long run. 

Just like the SEALs absolutely need the right equipment for their jobs, the Marine Band needs the right equipment for theirs. 

LonKaiser
LonKaiser

You are kidding me right? This is the cost of a great piano. A CONCERT PIANO. let's not even talk about the cost of a professional grade Viola, or Double bass which reaches into the $100,000+ range sometimes. On a musicians salary? I don't even balk at the price of that piano. At least it will get used unlike the majority of pianos i've seen purchased that sit there and deteriorate as furniture in some richie's country home. ARG!

MickeyCashen
MickeyCashen

"... you’d think the corps might generate some sweet music for taxpayers by opening up the bidding to all quality piano makers."?

Clearly written by a musical ignoramus who knows little about pianos. As you might be able to see, I'm playing the same model of Steinway piano in my logo.

The band will probably have occasion to play with visiting great pianists and ONLY a Steinway has such a perfect touch that you need little time to get used to it.  Without a Steinway, they would have great difficulty getting such artists to contribute their time.



lambohistory
lambohistory

The US government spends ten times this amount in an hours for tickets to football games for contractors.  Sports do nothing for the brain but damage it.  Arts have been proven to increase learning.  

sarawickline
sarawickline

I played on a Steinway M once. I cried for days because the sound was so resonant. This piano will last for 100 years, its a Steinway, not a rusted out car. And it is used. This sounds like an absolutely necessary purchase.

TimboAnderson
TimboAnderson

I think they could have found a better deal.  With that said, who better deserves lavish gifts?  The tip of the sword.  Semper Fi.

amartin.me.us
amartin.me.us

funny how the military automatically gets treated like spoiled children by some people.  just because they are the military.  they dont need $80000 pianos.  but ask this.  do you really think they spend $80 for a hammer?  $1000 for a toilet seat?

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

The writer of this article must be joking...

He's going after the MARINES - who will defend us night and day in any situation -  for a $90K piano, yet will not address any of the real spending priorities of the President or Congress????

Who at TIME Magazine gave the green light to publish this drivel - no - this crap???!

Seriously, GET REAL!!! 

jhoughton1
jhoughton1

In the Los Angeles Craigslist, with very little effort I find two Model B 7-footers for under $35K.


Our tax dollars at waste, as usual. 

SamKotlin
SamKotlin

Is this for the marching band? If not, where they gonna park it? 

MichaelCantor
MichaelCantor

There is no better piano than the Steinway B, except possibly the Steinway D (for concert halls).   That's one reason why the used ones are so expensive.  Furthermore, it's made in the USA.

bdpmedia
bdpmedia

Even though you are only off by $290, when you are criticizing costs it is pretty sketchy journalism to round up. If you're going to exaggerate, why not make it an even $80,000? Easier for taxpayers to remember that way.

Besides, they are probably going to use it for a cheap bomb casing anyways. I'm sure it makes economical sense, or the brass wouldn't endorse it, right? Right? Riiiiight.

So yeah, two major American problems in one article: poor journalistic standards and freewheeling military expenditures. Kudos.

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

what a thoroughly enlightening article. i mean, my day just wasn't complete without learning the Marine Corps band bought an expensive piano. and don't we still have troops in afghanistan? are we not getting ready to potentially send the Marines into Syria? are there not massive sexual assault, PTSD, VA red tape, injured troops coming home and veterans employment issues facing our military right now that might serve as better topics than the purchasing of a piano? leave it to TIME to deliver the hard-hitting stories that no one cares about

Bearcat
Bearcat

@MickeyCashen  Hogwash... many European pianos are considered higher quality and easier to play than Steinways, with their notoriously stiff touch.  The only thing you "need time to get used to" on my Bösendorfer Imperial is the extra 9 keys on the bass end. 

RosemaryWilliamsBarker
RosemaryWilliamsBarker

@TimboAnderson They do deserve our respect and support.  However, this is not a gift. It's a necessary piece of equipment for the job they have to do. Some pieces of equipment simply cost more than others.

LonKaiser
LonKaiser

@jhoughton1  Red Tape my friend. Fact of life. The military undoubtedly cannot purchase things off of craigslist.

jhoughton1
jhoughton1

@cjh2nd Your very good points would make a great deal more of an impression if you could be bothered to do a little punctuation.

jhoughton1
jhoughton1

@callen34I didn't look. People tend to take pretty good care of Steinways.  

jhoughton1
jhoughton1

@LonKaiserHorse pucky, my friend. The price you pay for something is the price, and craigslist is just a price-setting mechanism.  That piano is worth 35K and the military is spending 90k on it because they're a bunch of money-wasting incompetents.

SeanM
SeanM

@GregoryRush @MichaelCantor Different style of music and even more expensive. I'm a huge fan of Bosendorfer for classical, myself. Steinway truly makes great pianos and is a great fit for an American military band.

I gained a lot of respect for Steinway after watching the documentary about them on Netflix called "Note By Note."

LonKaiser
LonKaiser

@jhoughton1 @LonKaiser Used to play a Rosewood Steinway C. Best damn instrument i've ever played. Just had moved to NYC, practiced Charles Ives in the music store. Played it, guy walked in and bought it. Salesman promised me a cut. Nvr happened. It sold for 70K


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