Livingstone College striving to become a Steinway Institution

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 19, 2018

Livingstone College

SALISBURY — What’s in a name? When it comes to Steinway, most people know.

The name Steinway has become synonymous with high quality and prominence in the piano business. The Livingstone College music department is striving to be one and the same.

The department has replaced two of its 11 pianos with Steinways and is seeking to become a Steinway Institution, which means all its pianos will eventually be in the Steinway and Sons family.

Livingstone’s first Steinways were delivered last winter, thanks to a $17,500 donation from the Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

“It’s a forward-thinking idea to become a Steinway Institution. It is noble for us to be pursuing this considering our size,” said DaVaughn L. Miller, chairman of the music and theater arts department at Livingstone for 11 years.

Miller is also director of college choirs.

The Steinway project is a step toward quality in the music department, said Lawrence Quinnett, assistant professor of music since 2016.

“Steinway pianos last longer than other brands, and students get to practice on quality instruments,” he said.

All music majors are expected to be proficient in piano. In addition to practice, the pianos are used for performances, concerts and private lessons.

Steinway pianos mature over time, Miller said. Their value will be greater 10 years from now.

Livingstone must purchase a minimum of 10 Steinway pianos to be considered a Steinway Institution. The goal is to complete the project by 2020, which will cost $329,000 total, Miller said.

“Steinway is definitely top of the line,” said Livingstone sophomore Tyvaun James, who is majoring in music education.

“It’s actually amazing to think we could replace all of the old pianos in this school with brand new Steinways. That will change the paradigm in the music department,” James said. “Steinway equates to quality. One of my favorite pianists plays on a Steinway. Almost every city I go to, I look to see if it has a Steinway piano gallery.”

Quinnett is no stranger at playing in Steinway galleries, which is by invitation only. In fact, it was his experience at such a gallery that breathed life into the piano project. He was practicing at a Steinway gallery in Charlotte when he and the owner started discussing Livingstone College’s need for new pianos.

Vicki Breaux, general secretary of Youth Missionary’s for the Missionary Society, heard about the project, and the group decided to support it in observance of the Youth Missionary’s 105th anniversary, which celebrated Victoria Richardson, who composed the alma mater “My Livingstone.”

Miller, Quinnett and music students are hoping as word spreads, others will come forward with support of the new pianos. Major donors will be honored.

“This will open up a lot of doors to what we can accomplish and will help in recruiting more students to the music program,” said Britney Thackurdin, a freshman music education major.

For more information on the project and how you can contribute, call music department Chairman DaVaughn Miller at 704-216-6322 or email