Music to My Ears: The Importance of Music Rooms at the Turn of the 20th Century

A Victorian music room

Music to My Ears: The Importance of Music Rooms at the Turn of the 20th Century

A Victorian piano
The centerpiece of most Victorian music rooms was the piano

Today, we live in a society where schools are cutting arts and music education programs. A century ago, however, music education was considered important, and every family that could afford a piano owned one. Some homes even had dedicated music rooms.

Before the advent of radio and television, playing music and singing was one way families could entertain themselves. Retailers sold inexpensive sheet music that allowed all but the poorest families to build a music library.

During the late 19th century, glee clubs were popular as were music halls.

The Music Room

A Victorian music room
A Victorian music room

So what did a turn-of-the-20th-century music room look like?

Placement of the piano was the most important aspect of the room. Pianos were placed in a way that would produce the best sound while also hiding the instrument’s inner components. Great care was taken to protect the piano’s finish.

A music cabinet was used for storing sheet music. It looked similar to a modern day jewelry armoire, except instead of drawers for jewelry it contained pull-out trays for music. The purpose of the cabinet was to keep the sheets dust free.

Lighting was important. When natural lighting wasn’t available or plentiful enough, artificial lighting was used to illuminate the piano so the player could read the notes.

But the piano wasn’t the only important instrument. Harps and organs also were common.

Comfortable seating was provided for listening to music.

Like most Victorian and Edwardian rooms, music rooms were decorated in rich colors and contained numerous knickknacks.

Music rooms were used whenever there was a party. Guests with musical talent would be persuaded to perform.

Victorian women and their instruments
Victorian women and their instruments


Updated: 22 October 2020
Melina Druga
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Melina Druga is a multi-genre author with a lifelong love of history, books and the English language. She pens historical fiction, chick lit and nonfiction.
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