Here's How to Donate or Recycle an Old Piano

Your working piano may find a second life in a school, where countless children will appreciate it.

Jamie Bichelman - Author
By

Jun. 25 2024, Published 4:43 p.m. ET

A music teacher smiles at a student in school while she plays on a donated piano.
Source: iStock

Giving the gift of music, directly or in turn through a donation, can be the very act that changes a child's life. The donation of a piano, then, is a noble way to sustain the life of a high-value item and sustainably avoid the production of waste.

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Below, we explore the ways you can donate a piano that is still in acceptable, working condition, as well as how you can recycle an old piano that is no longer playable.

A smiling volunteer wearing a yellow vest and holding a clipboard in one hand shakes the hand of a woman who just donated a piano.
Source: iStock
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How to donate a piano:

There are many ways you can ensure the safe transport and donation of your high-value piano so that it may be used for generations to come, regardless of where you live in the U.S.

The Beethoven Foundation, an aptly-named nationwide organization that accepts piano donations, is a notable option that provides the pianos it receives free of charge to young, talented musicians who do not have the financial means to purchase their own pianos.

PianosForEducation is another organization with reach across all 50 states that nonprofits like Goodwill, veteran organizations, and schools work with for piano resources. After you contact the charity and confirm that your piano meets its standards for donation, PianosForEducation will coordinate a piano pickup from your home.

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According to the technology company Simply, some of the items to consider before donating your piano include: if the piano is in working condition, if all the keys play, and if the piano is from a high-end brand.

Aside from a nationwide company that may coordinate pickup of your piano, you can also contact various schools, community centers for older adults, and veteran groups to determine if they will accept your piano and coordinate the donation.

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How to recycle a broken piano:

Per Simply, some charities may reject your piano donation, depending on the condition of the instrument. Thankfully, a piano can be disassembled and recycled, thus avoiding the production of even more waste.

Piano parts such as keys and pedals may be salvageable from your old, non-working piano and can be used to rebuild or fix other pianos.

In a less desirable scenario, your piano is beyond the point of repair and many of its parts cannot be saved and utilized elsewhere. Companies like EZ Brooklyn Junk Removal recognize how difficult it is to dispose of a piano, and depending on community or regional laws, doing so may be illegal. When I moved cross-country, my apartment complex forbade the disposal of items exceeding a set measurement and weight, thus making the recycling and waste disposal process more challenging.

The New England-based piano brand M. Steinert & Sons, in operation since 1860, mentioned some options include working with an artist to repurpose the piano into a bookshelf.

Other nifty ways to repurpose piano parts, according to wonderfuldiy.com, include utilizing the wooden frame of the piano to create a tool bench, a mini bar, and a writing desk. Other parts may be converted into a headboard, a piano key coffee table, a planter for your garden, and incorporated into your home staircase.

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