When it’s ‘grand’ or ‘upright’, you’d better sit up and take note. The spurt in acoustic piano purchases in India, viewed through the prism of wealth creation, reaffirms how taste and recreation are changing in a big way. It’s the Japanese brands—such as Yamaha, priced between Rs 1.5-6 lakh—which are more affordable and practical for Indian buyers, rather than the globally popular ones such as the American Steinway and Sons, which range from Rs 20-42 lakh. Rajendra Chaturvedi, chairman of Theme Music Company that imports Kawai pianos from China, says that 80% of buyers fall into the “educational” category—teachers and students. This points towards India’s new leisure economy. However, while playing Chopsticks with China there’s a lag. Yamaha sold 4,000 pianos in China and 50 in India in 2002; the numbers rose to 35,000-40,000 and 250 respectively by 2009. This may have something to do with the Communist Party’s promotion of Western classical music coinciding with the opening of the Chinese economy in the ’80s. In India, a few flat notes like the non-availability of instalment plans and brand awareness will require finetuning as well. The first few movements, though, sound promising.

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