When he was playing football and studying music at Western University more than a decade ago, Darryl Fabiani got a lot of media attention. Long before Zac Efron starred as an athlete who also loved music in Disney’s High School Musical franchise, Fabiani was that guy on the Western campus.
“They took pictures of me in my football uniform sitting at the piano,” Fabiani recalls fondly today. “It was a lot of fun.”
Fabiani played five years as linebacker with the Mustangs and earned both his Bachelor of Music degree and Piano Technician certificate. Just as importantly, however, he met Steve Grega, who was the tuner/technician for all the music school’s pianos.
“We became friends and then began working together after I graduated. We moved and serviced pianos to begin with,” Fabiani says.
In 2007, they bought the rights to sell Yamaha acoustic pianos in London and opened their own shop, D&S Pianos. They rented about 2,000 square feet in a Hyde Park Road strip mall and started selling, servicing and restoring acoustic pianos.
Two years ago, they began selling digital pianos, an increasingly popular option as improved technology is able to replicate the feel and sound of more expensive acoustic instruments.
“We only started with digital two years ago, and we now sell more digital than acoustic,” Fabiani reports.
Around the same time, D&S started offering lessons, converting some space at the back of the store to lesson rooms. And that’s when things started to get cramped. The 2,000 square feet that seemed cavernous when they started seven years ago just didn’t cut it anymore.
“We close off part of the front showroom at night and do lessons there,” Fabiani says, standing among dozens of pianos and keyboards.
So the partners have a new dream. On a one-acre piece of land across Hyde Park Road (just north of Gainsborough), they will break ground this spring on a new location. They bought the land more than two years ago and have spent the time since thinking about what their new location will include.
In short, they are expanding everything. They will sell more pianos but also stock other instruments, including guitars. They will continue offering lessons but have more than a dozen lesson rooms. And they will hold concerts in a 60-seat recital hall at the centre of the 15,000-square-foot structure.
“We will hold our own student recitals there and also offer the space to schools and community groups,” Fabiani says.
There will also be a recording studio where students will be able to learn about the latest technology and try their hand of writing and recording their own tunes.
“We want to merge new technology with traditional music lessons and values,” Fabiani says. “We think it will be unique in the city, and we are very excited to get started.”