“Parlor music,” so named because it was performed at home in the parlor by family members or guests, became popular in the early 19th century and remained so for many years. Playing a musical instrument indicated refinement, and the piano was the instrument of choice in most homes. It was considered to be especially appropriate for girls and women to play and was often used as an accompaniment to singing. This piano was built in the 1820s by Alpheus Babcock of Boston, and was purchased second-hand by Edward Hitchcock in 1840. It is said to have been the second piano in Amherst and its purchase was in keeping with Hitchcock's growing status. The Hitchcocks scorned frivolous expenses, but believed purchases of art, books, and instruments of knowledge or the arts were worthwhile investments.