"If it's causing you more stress than it's worth... it's not worth it." - Yellow
Question #92830 posted on 02/01/2020 9 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Question #45147 says there are both 750 and 420 pianos on campus. How many pianos are there actually? Approximately how much does BYU spend on tuning them per year? Assuming these pianos were purchased at a standard rate since 1875, how much has BYU spent in total tuning them?

-Inquisitive Musician


Hi friend,

You know that feeling when you know you're forgetting something but you can't think of what it is? Well, I've spent all evening feeling that way. Nothing would ring that bell and remind me what it was -- not the nice piano music in the testing center music room, not seeing you when I walked into our apartment after taking my test, not even seeing your piano music sitting on your desk. I was just starting to think that I wasn't actually forgetting something when I remembered! As you may have surmised, it was this question; that's what I had forgotten. I had promised to have an answer to this long overdue question by tonight. So here goes.

Turns out we don't have the manpower to actually count all the pianos on campus, but we do have some excellent archive sleuthing skills. Many thanks to my brave colleague Inklings for originally taking a stab at this question and for leading me to Board Question #66245 which helped me in my estimates.

And now, a disclaimer before I get to the numbers: I am very out of my wheelhouse right now. I would never trust myself with calculations like this under normal circumstances.

So how many pianos are actually on campus? You mentioned Board Question #45147 which says 750 and 420. After looking at all the answers linked in Board Question #66245, apparently the 750 estimate includes pianos in on-campus housing, the MTC, Aspen Grove, etc. and the 420 estimate doesn't. Since there are two other estimates for around 400 pianos, let's go with that one. And since those estimates span 6 years, meaning the number of pianos was constant for 6 years, let's assume it has stayed constant since then. (This is me apologizing profusely for not actually calling someone to get a more current estimate. If you remind me on Monday, I'll make a call to the Music Department just like the writers of old did. I've called strangers for you before; I will certainly do it again.)

Now, assuming it costs $100 to tune a piano and that BYU tunes their pianos once a year, BYU spends about $40,000 a year on tuning pianos. 

Okay, now let's assume that BYU acquired their 400th piano in 2002 and that they have been acquiring them at a "standard rate" since 1875, which I am interpreting to mean a linear rate (man, this is taking a whole lot of assumptions). Under these assumptions, the total cost of tuning all those pianos every year comes out to $3,239,515 (thanks, Excel). However, keep in mind this doesn't account for inflation or anything....so it's probably super off. But I gave it a good shot, and I even made you a graph to prove it (albeit a very boring graph. It's the closest things to a map that I could think of in this situation).