WE DID IT!!! Dirk got a piano!!!!!!

Dirk's piano!

THANK YOU!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

We found a used Yamaha digital hybrid piano in Chicago! Thanks to everyone who supported us via the GoFundMe campaign, we made enough money to buy it and ship it home!! The movers came to pick it up yesterday, and it’s on its way to Boston!!!

Here’s the whole amazing story. A couple of months ago, Dirk and I started shopping for pianos. As most of you already know, he’s a classical musician and composer who’s been living without a piano for over 5 years. (You can listen to some of his compositions on his SoundCloud page.) To a composer, a piano is his or her livelihood and an essential tool of the trade; without one, Dirk’s creative output has suffered mightily. He really needed one. But when we went to the local dealer, we were hit with major sticker shock. Over twenty grand for a digital hybrid? Yikes! But it was exactly what Dirk needed. It sounded gorgeous, had MIDI capability, felt exactly like a full-size acoustic grand when you played it (it even had a subwoofer inside the case to simulate the piano’s vibration when you struck the keys)… and also, because of the way our house is shaped, we needed something more portable, and with its small frame (it’s about 5′ by 4′ with the legs removed) the digital hybrid fit the bill. It would have been impossible to get an acoustic piano inside without hiring a crane.

Here’s Dirk in the showroom that day, playing their display model:

We knew he needed it, but how to pay for it? We thought about saving up, asking our parents for help, and maybe taking out a loan, but we still didn’t think it would be realistically possible to get a hybrid. Dirk might be able to afford a different model of piano, but it would have to be a cheaper one, and (in my opinion, anyway) not worthy of his talents… plus we still would have faced the “how to get it into the house” problem.

Then I had a crazy idea. We’d ask our fans for help. It wouldn’t be just a money grab, though… we’d offer pledge-drive-style premiums in exchange for contributions of certain levels — for $25 you’d get a CD of Dirk’s music, for $50 you’d get a signed score, etc. Every little bit would help, but Dirk honestly only hoped/expected to make a few hundred bucks. I was a bit more optimistic, and figured we might make somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000; after all, a bunch of people had already expressed interest in his music previously, and I was hopeful that they’d come through. Dirk and I agreed to set the goal for the campaign at $5,000. We figured we’d never reach anywhere near that much, but GoFundMe allows you to keep all the donations you make (as opposed to Kickstarter, where if you don’t make your goal you lose everything)… so why not at least try to shoot the moon? We posted the campaign at about 2 pm on Friday, May 15, and hoped for the best.

We raised $5,000 in 24 hours.

We were shocked. Amazed. And felt so, so honored. We couldn’t believe what was happening… and the donations kept pouring in. Within a week we hit $10,000. People from all over the world were contributing to Dirk’s piano fund, from as far away as Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands… even South Africa and Australia! And along with the donations came all these amazing messages of support, like “Seeing the happiness on Dirk’s face as he’s playing is worth every penny” and “You have inspired me to start practicing my Beethoven again!” and “Look forward to hearing what this inspires and only wish I could do more.” Perhaps my favorite message for Dirk came from a gentleman in Walnut Creek, California:

openquoteMaybe within your body, the spirit of a composer who was around at the time of Mozart and Salieri resides, and this is his way of telling the world that he’s still here, and that he can still express himself. If you really want to thank everyone for contributing to your campaign, just keep doing what you do. Keep writing… keep performing… and NEVER stop loving it!”

We feel so blessed to have found so much love and support — not just financial support, but moral and emotional support as well — in this amazing little online community we’ve built. We were well on our way to getting the piano… much further and faster than we ever could have anticipated. But we still needed a way to find several thousand dollars more.

Then we caught a break.

Digital hybrids are a really new technology, only having been around a couple of years. They’re amazing instruments. I touched on a few of their features earlier in this post, but let me tell you a little more about how they work. They have the full mechanism of a regular piano, but without the strings, which are replaced by optical sensors. The sensors detect the force with which each string — if it had strings — would have been struck by the hammer, and reproduces the sound from a library of tens of thousands of digital samples. Hybrid pianos sound, and feel, exactly like full acoustic pianos, but because there are no strings, they’re much more compact… and they never go out of tune! Plus you can play them while using headphones, which is important for us because we have downstairs neighbors and Dirk likes to play late at night.

Because the technology is so new — and because digital hybrids are just so generally awesome — the used market for them is virtually nonexistent; people tend to buy them and hang onto them. Dirk and I had been monitoring eBay and Craigslist anyway, but to no avail. Then, after weeks of searching, I finally found one on Craigslist that had been listed not even 2 hours earlier. I emailed the guy right away. He was a music instructor from north of Chicago who’d purchased the piano for his studio a couple of years earlier. He was downsizing and no longer had room for it. Score!

In retrospect we may have been a bit too trusting, but it all worked out in the end. We had a good feeling about this guy. We vetted him as best we could. His business seemed legitimate, and his Yelp page had tons of good reviews, so we handled a lot of the details in advance: finding a mover, pre-printing a cashier’s check, stuff like that. And then finally, the moment of truth… Dirk flew out to inspect the piano and handle the transaction in person. We weren’t disappointed… the piano is beautiful. Dirk says it sounds perfect, and there’s not a mark on it; in fact, it looks like it just came out of the showroom. The guy even polished it! So… we bought it! We’re thrilled to report that the piano movers arrived yesterday to pack it up and load it onto their truck. (We decided to hire professional piano movers instead of trying to drive it home ourselves, because piano movers have special trucks and equipment to make sure the instrument arrives in one piece. Plus, they’re fully insured.) The particular company we hired is a national moving company that makes circuits around the country picking up and delivering pianos. Their route doesn’t take them to Boston until August 18, but that’s the day that we take delivery of Dirk’s beautiful hybrid piano!!!

Now comes the task of sending out all those premiums. It’s a bit daunting — as of this writing, 150 different people have donated — but we’re not skimping. We’re working on professionally-duplicated CDs with four-color inserts and beautiful artwork. The track list for the CD is set, and it includes several compositions that Dirk has never shared before, plus a few old favorites. (There’s still time to pick up a CD if you like… they’re $25 over on the GoFundMe page.) We’ve got two wonderful people designing the artwork for the CD: Yan Herbe and Betti Gefecht. Those names might sound familiar to you: Dirk and I met each of them through our fan page and we’ve shared their drawings before. Here are a couple of examples of their earlier work (Betti’s on the left, Yan’s on the right):

Dirk and I are hoping to send the CDs and artwork to the duplicator by the end of this week. The scores are being printed right now, and we have an assembly line set up at home so we can start framing Dirk’s handwritten manuscripts. Timing-wise, we have a bit of travel ahead of us — including a trip to Madison where Dirk will be judging the Mr. Wisconsin Leather competition — but we’re hoping to mail everything out by the end of the August. And between the cost of the piano, the movers, and the printing and mailing of all the premiums, we think we have enough money from the GoFundMe campaign to cover pretty much everything. Which is so incredibly amazing… all the moreso when you think that not even three months ago a brand new piano was just a seemingly-unattainable glimmer in Dirk’s needful eye.

So, in conclusion, Dirk and I just want to send out one more huge, immense, enormous, colossal, titanic, gigantic, humongous THANK YOU to everyone for the incredible outpouring of moral and financial support you’ve shown us over the last couple of months. We couldn’t have done this without you. And I also want to express my own personal appreciation as well… because thanks to you, we can all now look forward to hearing much more of my hubby’s sublime music in the weeks, months, and years to come.

With much love always,
Jesse and Dirk

All Done!

11 replies
  1. Lyne Beausejour
    Lyne Beausejour says:

    That is wonderful news. Would you believe I’m in my tears right now. Some will find me silly, but I guess you know why. So HAPPY for Dirk(J).

    Reply
  2. Cyn Duby
    Cyn Duby says:

    (oh, goody, I get to do this twice since the first disappeared) This was the perfect post to wake up to and I can’t thank you enough for making my day start out happily! One of the biggest things that makes a relationship work and feeds into being satisfied and content, is to have one’s partner or spouse fully support your dreams and talents. You both do that for each other, but Jesse, this takes the cake! I cannot WAIT to see pics and videos of Dirk, at home, playing with his new instrument, and both of you enjoying it. (you can make that as dirty as you want, it works for me, you know that, but when I typed it my thoughts were clean 😉 I swear it!) Rainbow confetti, loud cheering, caticorns and awesomesauce! Rock on!

    Reply
  3. kim thorne
    kim thorne says:

    glad to you finally got your piano its lovely. you deserve it. have fun. and enjoy. have a nice summer jesse and dirk.

    Reply
  4. J. Valente
    J. Valente says:

    What incredibly amazing news to kick the day (well the post-lunchtime part of it hereabouts). I felt sure this day, moment would eventually come and I am so delighted in your delight. I think I have left a comment on Dirk’s blog a while back gushing most sincerely about his talent so I can’t help but say I am just as inspired by your mutual happiness and love. This is incredibly maudlin and may not make much sense but I am not yet fully recaffeinated and basically just wanted to shout YAY! Congratsm all kinds of best(est) wishes and I’ll be looking forward to the CD plus I always have my ear on soundcloud so.. What a wonderful day all around, right? 🙂

    Reply
  5. Tony W Lanier
    Tony W Lanier says:

    I am so happy for Dirk! I love to see the happiness on his’ handsome face! Now, “He could play all the beautiful music he wants!” Dirk might even sing to his’ husband. Just great news all the way around

    Reply
  6. Sam Glass Jr.
    Sam Glass Jr. says:

    The “gentleman from Walnut Creek” is honored to get a mention in your announcement of the stunning news, and grateful that you shared it with everyone! With this having been such a tragic week for some friends of mine, it was WONDERFUL to be able to awaken to news like this, (seconding what Cyn Duby already said!) To show how quickly things change with the passage of time, my partner and I aren’t even in California anymore! We have relocated to Vegas (again), and we are happy with our new home, the way I know that this digital piano will be happy in its new home with you and Dirk! Once again, congrats to him, and may he find tons of inspiration in those keys!

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] of music that he’s written for me to learn on our beautiful new piano. (The one that our fans helped us buy… for which we remain eternally grateful!) I’ve gotten to the point where I’m […]

  2. […] recording… which we’re working on getting for all twelve études. Stay tuned! Also, click here to read the whole story of the GoFundMe piano campaign… and to hear more of Dirk’s […]

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