Robert Estrin - piano expert

Where are Pianos Most Popular?

Learn where pianos are most popular in the world

In this video, Robert talks about his recent visit to China. He discusses the strength of the piano industry in China, as well as how even more so than in the rest of the world, the piano is a very popular instrument among the general public.

Released on November 30, 2016

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, this is Robert Estrin at and I've got a very special presentation for you today. In fact, I just got back last week from Music China, the huge tradeshow in Shanghai. And, wow, what an eye-opener that was. Now, you know, I've known for years that you see Chinese pianos in stores in this country, and you might think that this is representative of what's there. But this is literally a speck of what they're doing in the piano industry.

Consider a few amazing facts just so you can get your head around this. There are more companies making pianos in China than there are piano stores in the United States. That's right. More than that, the largest of them, Pearl River, has three factories, any one of which produces more pianos than new pianos are sold in this country each year, just one company of 350, perhaps more.

It's actually an exploding market, the education market also, pianos with touchscreens and all sorts of fascinating software, because they have taken to the piano in a way that is reminiscent from what happened in this country 100 years ago. In fact, they buy more than 10 times more pianos than we do in this country, which is why the export market is only a very, very small sampling of what they have.

Naturally, like most parts of the world other than the United States, they're mostly upright pianos. But indeed, there are many companies making grands, even concert grands. In fact, there are some fascinating pianos, lots of Plexiglas pianos you can see through. There are butterfly pianos where the lid opens on both sides. And there are even duo pianos, grands that have keys on both ends, one piano, but two players can play together duet style on one instrument.

It's really interesting what's going on there. And it warms my heart to see that the piano had a resurgence in the world today. In fact, walking around the show, which is give some perspective on this, the NAMM Show, which is the big tradeshow in North America, right here in Orange County, California, has just one room for the pianos upstairs. You're gonna walk through in about 20 minutes and pretty much see everything there. I wasn't able to see all the pianos walking one day, looking at everything. I couldn't even possibly even just see everything. At the end of the show, I was walking through several different field houses that I never got to it. There were a whole room of digital pianos I never even got to. It's unbelievable.

Now, here's something fascinating for you. Walking around, you see little tiny kids playing on a very high level again and again. But because the cultural revolution in China didn't occur until the 1970s, there's virtually no one from my generation or even considerably younger than me who plays the piano. So every time they sat down at a piano anywhere, big crowds of people would gather, professional videographers. It was a spectacle to them.

So I will say this. I'm definitely going back to China. I already have things in the work to do performing there and other type of showcases. So if you wanna see where the center of the piano universe is, it is in China. And I'm doing everything in my power to remake a resurgence right here in North America as well as the rest of the world.

Thanks so much for joining me. Robert Estrin here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on November 30, 2016 @5:04 pm PST
I believe that Chinese music uses a very different scale, that includes even 1/4 tones. I wonder if they have even invented a piano that can do that!
I also noticed that the majority of Oriental children end up with either the piano or the violin. I have yet to see one playing a wind instrument. I don't know why!
paul.plak * VSM MEMBER * on November 30, 2016 @1:34 pm PST
wow, that's huge. This would probably mean that China is going to outnumber western and korean players in major competitions within the next 20 years.
Are you implying that the US market sells less than 350 new pianos a year ? that's less than 1 in 1000 inhabitants. Could be true, though.
Robert Estrin - host, on November 30, 2016 @6:26 pm PST
In this country there are about 250 piano stores, and about 30,000 new pianos sold each year. China has about 350 companies making pianos and about 300,000 new pianos sold each year. Of course in the U.S. there are countless used pianos which don't exist in China.

There are already a large number of accomplished Asian musicians. Generally, many Asian cultures value Western music education in a big way. So, you don't have to wait decades or even years to enjoy a wealth of talent from the East.
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