100-year-old Tennessee Tech alumna gives Steinway piano to School of Music

Billye Spicer donated this Steinway to her Alma Mater, Tennessee Tech, after reading an article about the university’s goal for their School of Music become an All-Steinway school.

COOKEVILLE – A Steinway piano worth about $60,000 arrived on campus recently, courtesy of a Tennessee Tech alumna. Billye Spicer, who just celebrated her 100th birthday on July 20, donated the instrument after reading an article about the university’s goal for their School of Music become an All-Steinway school.

“Of course, Steinway is the very best piano that is made,” said Spicer. “And since I had one, I thought, ‘Well, I can just give it to Tech.’ It was my pleasure to give. I was very fortunate to have that piano. I had many years to enjoy it.” 

The piano is Tech’s 10th Steinway grand piano in addition to dozens of Boston upright pianos, a brand also owned by Steinway & Sons. To be included in the piano manufacturer’s official list of All-Steinway schools, a school must have at least 90% of their pianos be Steinways and be working towards making it to 100%. The list of All-Steinway schools includes select musical institutions from not only the United States but also including England, Korea, Austria, Scotland and more.

“We are part of the Steinway School Initiative Program, so all of our pianos are either Steinway or Boston,” said Colin Hill, director of Tech’s School of Music.

Spicer herself started playing piano when she was just four years old.

“I had a good teacher,” she said. “But the only problem I had is that I can play by ear, and my teacher did not appreciate that.”

Spicer says her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother could all play by ear as well.

“I come from a long line of piano players,” she said.

Spicer’s donated piano has found its new home in the School of Music’s recital hall, located on the second floor of the Bryan Fine Arts Building, where it will be used for academic classes, rehearsals and recitals for students, faculty and guests.

“The School of Music is extremely grateful for the generous donation by Ms. Spicer,” said Hill. “This instrument, a Steinway Model B Grand Piano, is a world-class instrument and has been kept in pristine condition. It will be used for student, faculty and guest artist recitals for years to come. We were thrilled to learn that Ms. Spicer wanted to donate her piano to Tech, and we are glad this instrument will remain in the Tennessee Tech family.”

“I can’t think of a better place for my piano to go than to the school that I attended when I graduated from high school,” said Spicer.

Michelle Price is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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