By Kate Luce
Steinway & Sons pianos are widely regarded as the best pianos on the market. With the recent addition of two Steinway & Sons pianos due to the generosity of the Arts Foundation Board and administration, the Raclin School of the Arts has been deemed a Steinway School.
Becoming a Steinway School requires meeting rigorous standards. First, the institution must have 90% of Steinway & Sons product in their piano collection. While some of the pianos the Raclin School of the Arts owns are Boston pianos, which are mid-ranged pianos that are designed by Steinway & Sons, they still have the same qualities of a Steinway.
Secondly, according to the Steinway & Sons website, the institution must be “committed to excellence” and host an “unparalleled educational experience.”
“When students see that we are a Steinway School, it says something about the quality of education. We say we have a great piano studio, and we do. We should have great pianos. To have a Steinway School says quality,” Dr. Marvin Curtis, Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts Dean, says.
Artists choose Steinway due to the company’s crafting of these pianos. No corners are cut, and all pianos are handcrafted with the artist in mind. These pianos can last a long time with proper maintenance and handling.
“There are other high-end manufacturers [of pianos], but just because of how Steinway is designed, artists chose Steinway overwhelmingly. 98% of concerts played on concert stages are played with Steinways. Artists, the pianists themselves, chose Steinway because it’s the best way to express their music an artist,” Craig Gigax, owner and president of Meridian Music Company, says.
This level of commitment not only helps recruit students, but faculty as well. Most faculty have experience on a Steinway piano, and know how these instruments function and handle. However, this will also be a great learning opportunity for students, to enhance their skills and gain experience on top of the line pianos.
Thirdly, the school must have a Steinway technician that maintains the pianos regularly. The Raclin School of the Arts has employed a Steinway technician for the past six years.
In total, there are about 170 universities in the world that meet this qualification. Indiana University South Bend is the second school in Indiana that meets the requirements for becoming a Steinway School. The other Steinway school is Ball State University. The Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts is now officially the first school in the South Bend area to receive this prestigious title.
“We beat them out. It’s like winning a football tournament for me. We are an elite group of people,” Curtis says.
Becoming a Steinway School has been a goal for Curtis ever since he first became the dean of the Arts 12 years ago. Because of this goal, Curtis reached out to Meridian Music Company of Carmel, Ind. the supplier of Steinway pianos to universities in Indiana.
Currently, the Raclin School of the Arts own 25 of the Steinway & Sons pianos. Just 12 years later, Curtis has made his goal a reality.
“I am very proud of the fact that we have made it this far. One of the things I wanted to do before I left IU South Bend was to make sure we received the Steinway label. I needed two more pianos, and I received two pianos.”
Becoming the second university in Indiana to be named a Steinway School helps push IU South Bend to the center stage of piano education in the region. A world-class education does not mean students have to travel far.