WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Ambitious Goal for WIU School of Music

Mar 7, 2017

Only around 200 institutions in the world can boast of being an All Steinway School. The School of Music at Western Illinois University intends to join that select group.

"It's a stamp of excellence. It's a symbol to prospective students, faculty members, and community members of commitment to musical excellence," said Tammie Walker, Director of WIU's School of Music.

"Steinway pianos are the best pianos in the world. Approximately 98% of all pianists who perform with orchestras worldwide use Steinway pianos exclusively."

She said the craftsmanship that goes into a Steinway sets them apart from other pianos.  She said each Steinway is made individually and takes around a year to complete. 

"Steinway pianos are actually the least expensive pianos to own over time because no other piano appreciates like a Steinway piano does," she said, adding they're built to last. Walker said the Steinway in her office was made in 1916.

And she said Steinway pianos "absolutely" sound better than other pianos. "They are uniformly extremely high quality and uniformly just have an unparalleled, unrivaled, beautiful sound. And that's why they're the piano of choice across the world."

The WIU School of Music recently began its fundraising campaign with a concert featuring the School's six pianists, including Walker. She said it's the first time they've all appeared in the same concert.

Walker said the School won't achieve its goal overnight, and it won't be cheap. But she believes it will be worth the time, effort, and expense. More concerts will be held, a social media campaign is getting underway, and other means are being tried to raise the money.

Walker said the All Steinway School designation is given to schools where 90% or more of the pianos are Steinways. The WIU School of Music has 54 pianos, 14 of which are Steinways and four of which are Boston pianos (Boston and Essex are part of the Steinway family). Walker said the School's Steinway family pianos are "going strong," but the other pianos are wearing out. She said the average age of pianos in the School of Music is more than 50 years.