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Medford, Ore., Store Introduces Pianola to Music Lovers

Music lovers in Medford were entertained in 1902 by an enterprising businessman, H. S. Coss, whose Piano House store offered a series of musicals featuring local men and women performing vocal selections and piano pieces.

One musical evening caught nearly everyone by surprise.  Its opening number featured a short talk on the virtues of the Pianola by a local druggist, opera lover and community musical activities leader, Ivan Humason.  The Pianola is a brand of mechanical-player piano.  A bellows created air pressure to press down the piano’s keys by passing the air flow through perforations on a rotating paper roll.  The perforations regulate which key is depressed and when.

Humason first selected a roll perforated to play the overture from the “Barber of Seville.”  Many in the audience had never heard a Pianola and expressed surprise that a mechanical device could produce such feeling.  Halfway through the evening, Humason played another selection and ended the evening with a ragtime piece.

The musicals continued each Wednesday to enthusiastic applause and frequent shouts for encores.

Sources: "Medford News-1902 Musicale---Coss Piano House." idmind.net, edited by Tina Truwe, Medford Mail, 25 Apr. 1902, id.mind.net/~truwe/tina/news1902.html. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017;  "Pianola." Collins English Dictionary. , 2008. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/pianol. Accessed 25 Jan. 2017; "Andrews Opera Company When Farmers Sang Opera." idmind.net, edited by Tina Truwe, Medford Mail Tribune, 12 Jan. 1923, id.mind.net/~truwe/tina/andrews.htm. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.