This is more of a “Chassidishe Rav” question, as opposed to an actual Sha’ala in Halacha.
Question: It is known that in the early years the Rebbe was shollel having a Piano in a Chassidishe home (see attached).
I have two questions about this:
1) Some say that this was something that applied to that era, but now it has become more accepted and is not a problem. (Similar to the story when a Shochet was removed for wearing Galoshes, because at the time it was not accepted among frum Yidden, but later it of course became a very acceptable thing.) Is this “nishtanu ha’itim” [=”times have changed”] policy correct for these words of the Rebbe?
2) If #1 is incorrect and a Piano should still be considered inappropriate, what about a keyboard (as used for music by all the simchas etc.) or an “Electric Piano” (which is a keyboard designed to perform more like real piano and sometimes make to look similar)? Would these be okay for a Chassidishe home?
Answer: Since – as you wrote – it has become accepted to have a piano at home, there is no objection. Obviously care should be taken that it should not be used CH”V on Shabbos, and – depending on local custom – if woman should play on it publicly.
In general to explain the Rebbe’s letter: The concept of not having a piano in a chassidishe home is due to it being a needless expensive piece of furniture. People will sometimes buy a “grand piano” for enormous amounts of money just to sit in the house. There is no objection for someone who plays music to own a piano and have it in their house. Certainly the objection does not apply to a electric keyboard and similar instruments. But as stated above, it seems like nowadays there would be no objection at all, as the original objection was only because it is “not customary” in Chassidic families.