And the Piano Played On
Project Info

A Cherished Antique Gets Second Chance

In the 1920s and ‘30s, most homes were filled with the sound of music. When the family gathered together, it wasn’t around a TV or a new video game. It was around an instrument that was once considered a staple in nearly every great room across the U.S.

Alan McConnell, now in his early 80s, remembers this era well. At the center of his childhood home was a Chickering Baby Grand piano his father had purchased in 1923, 10 years before Alan was born. It wasn’t merely a piece for show; every member of the family played its keys and set foot on its pedals.

“You have to understand that when it was bought, a piano was an indispensable part of every home’s furniture,” says Alan. “Sheet music sold like hot cakes and were often stored in the piano bench.”

The piano has been in his family ever since. After his father passed, Alan’s mother kept the piano until she moved to California in 1990. That’s when she passed the heirloom onto Alan. By then, the piano needed a substantial amount of work done to it. Over the next 10 years, Alan had its action refurbished and replaced its strings to give it new life. While its inner workings may no longer be “original,” the exterior is unmistakably antique.

When Alan made the decision to move out of his home and into a one-bedroom apartment at Erickson Living’s Riderwood Community, he knew he couldn’t bring everything he owned. With the help of Suzanne Cash, a Move Management Project Manager with Let’s Move LLC, Alan packed up his longtime home and settled into his new one. Over the course of three days, they sorted through every closet, going through hundreds of books one by one, leafing through countless sheets of music deciding what to bring to his new home and what to pay forward. Parting with cherished items and memories isn’t easy. But when it came to the Chickering, he knew. It was time to pass the piano on to its next owner — someone who would appreciate it and let it continue making music. His first choice was a well-respected music school in Washington D.C., but unfortunately, that didn’t work out. Finding someone who could transport the baby grand proved more difficult than expected.

“It was my fear that this Chickering would get tossed out onto the junk heap,” he says. “Suzanne Cash, because she has imagination and sensitivity, saw that that would have been a terrible thing, and so she leapt into the breach.”

Suzanne was determined. “There is no way we are going to junk this beautiful baby grand,” she said. She immediately turned to Let’s Move’s list of donation resources and found a company called Adopt a Piano.

“I got a huge response,” Suzanne says. It didn’t take long for the Chickering to find its new owner: a music teacher from Prince George’s County. Alan and Suzanne couldn’t have hoped for a more perfect home.

“It will function very well in a piano teacher’s studio,” says Alan. “I am astonished and grateful that Suzanne went to all that trouble.”


A Cherished Antique Gets Second Chance.

March 4, 2016
Silver Spring, MD
Downsizing, Rightsizing