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A noteworthy gift of music

ASU School of Music alum keeps piano practice rooms full, raises money for the school with annual piano sale


School of Music alum Jason Sipe plays a grand piano.
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May 11, 2016

Jason Sipe’s largesse is as big as a grand piano — each year, the ASU alumnus raises money with an annual piano sale and keeps the School of Music’s practice rooms full of the sounds of tinkling ivory.

It’s his way of saying thank you for the music and to show his gratitude towards his alma mater.

Sipe, who graduated from the School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts in 1993 with two degrees, said music professor Walter Cosand changed his life nearly a quarter-century ago by giving him a scholarship and, later, offering sage advice.

“I was contemplating a career as a music instructor or owning my own piano store,” said Sipe (pictured above), who recently celebrated his 25th anniversary as the owner of AZ Piano, the largest retailer of pianos in the Southwest United States.

“Walter is a straight shooter and is very direct. He looked at me and said, ‘How many people own a piano store? You should give it a try.’ He saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself.”

Sipe never forgot that kindness and began giving back to ASU in several ways. Each year since 2006, he provides, free of charge, more than $200,000 worth of pianos to the School of Music to ensure student practice rooms and a handful of teaching studios are equipped with quality pianos.

He also hosts an annual piano sale at the end of each school year at deep discounts — first to the ASU community and then to the general public. A share of the proceeds from the sale goes toward purchasing new pianos for the school. That sort of generosity is worthy of recognition, said Rick Florence, manager of keyboard technology and event services for the School of Music.

“Jason has always been supportive in the best way he can,” Florence said. “Not only does he help us through the loan program, and the accompanying fundraising sale, he’s also been heavily involved in establishing music competitions, funded prize money, and provides pianos for many of our off-campus events at no charge.

“He just wants to help. Jason may have graduated in 1993, but he never really left the School of Music.”

This year’s sale will feature more than 300 pianos ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. Brand names include Kawai, Schimmel, Mason & Hamlin and Pearl River, plus a few used Steinways.

“The beauty of this sale is that everybody wins,” Sipe said. “The buyers win because they get a great price. ASU wins because the music program gets a boost, and I win because I get to help my school.”

There is no cost to attend the piano sale, which is being held at the AZ Piano showroom at 4134 E. Wood St., Suite 200, Phoenix.

All new and loaned pianos come with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty. Local delivery is included, as well as a bench and first tuning in the home.

Beginning May 14, interested buyers can call 480-727-6770 to book an appointment to view the sale items from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 19-20. The sale is then open to walk-ins May 21-22.

Top photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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