COLLIERVILLE, TENN – David Pickler’s love of music began early in life.
Growing up in Jonesboro, Arkansas, his living room was anchored by a beautiful baby grand piano. His mother, Marilynn Robinson Pickler, a highly accomplished vocalist and theatrical performer, reached the pinnacle of her career by landing the leading role in a local production of Mame. They sang together in their church choir and he pursued his own aspirations by performing in local shows.
“While I did not learn to play as a child, the powerful impact of the music from that piano created an indelible impact on my consciousness,” he said. That same passion was rekindled about seven years ago, when he was asked by a cousin to assist their alma mater, Arkansas State University, in becoming a Steinway Select School.
“I left that day with a new entry on my bucket list – to own a Steinway.”
The project connected him to a longtime friend, Rick Jeffries, the head of the piano division at Amro Music in Memphis. Pickler joined a contingent of university personnel for an unforgettable trip to the Steinway factory in Queens.
“I was captivated by the incredible attention to detail and the absolute dedication to quality,” he recalled “The pursuit of musical perfection seemed to be the guiding force behind every step of the process. I was particularly intrigued by the melding of superb craftsmanship of traditional piano construction with the evolution of advanced materials, engineering enhancements and technological developments that creates the timeless magic of a Steinway piano. I left that day with a new entry on my bucket list – to own a Steinway.”
Pickler would go on to fund the acquisition of several new Steinways for the university. “While I was pleased to assist in this noble endeavor, my personal goal had not been achieved,” he said. That changed four years ago when he asked Jeffries about placing a new Steinway in the conference room of his Pickler Wealth Advisors office in Collierville.
Space considerations made a Steinway S grand piano, with an added player feature, the perfect choice. “Once this gorgeous work of musical art was delivered, I added another goal. Eventually, I want to learn to play it,” he mused. A concert series he developed for the business provides wonderful opportunities for local artists and amazing musical experiences for his clients.
“A Steinway is the perfect reflection of a joint commitment to excellence and the power of the dream to give every student the ability to fulfill their potential.”
Active in public education for 30 years, he served as president of the National School Boards Association and established the American Public Education Foundation as a powerful advocate for K-12 students. On September 11, 2016, the Foundation organized a unique celebration when more than five million students across the country rose from their desks to sing the “Star Spangled Banner,” accompanied by a Steinway piano from an elementary school in Queens.
Most recently, he cast his eyes toward making the $94 million Collierville High School a Steinway Select School. “Our new community school was designed to be a place where dreams could be realized, and where all students could build a pathway to success whether in academics, athletics, vocational certification or the arts,” he said. “While developing plans for a state-of-the-art auditorium, I became aware of the need for pianos for classrooms and performances, so I reached out to my good friends at Amro Music. Rick had retired but his role was most ably filled by Gabe Statum. Gabe began the work that made our dream a reality.”
The 1,000 seat Pickler Auditorium demanded nothing less than a New York Steinway Model D concert grand piano. “Today, Collierville is a shining example of excellence in education. A Steinway Model D concert grand is the perfect reflection of a joint commitment to excellence and the power of the dream to give every student the ability to fulfill their potential,” he said.