03 Aug

Piano Shelters: Idea of an organisation


Can we start Piano Shelters in big cities? Places where people can donate pianos they don’t use anymore so that people who wants to play the piano but can’t have one can come and play the piano? Places where music students and volunteers can tune, repair and teach? Where ANYONE who want to play the piano, get a drop-in lesson, watch the piano tuners work or just listen to some piano music at all levels can hang out? (I’ve set up a facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Piano-Shelters/1517338975224400?fref=nf )

Before you say that this is stupid/impossible/useless, let’s consider the following (please endure the read):

Nowadays, people often give away their acoustic piano for free. No one in the family plays it anymore, it’s expensive to tune, they could use the space for something else, they’re dreading to move it, etc. So, we have a surplus of used pianos that no one really wants.

Nowadays, we are worried that classical music is of no interest to people. Presumably, this assumption is tied to of the sinking audience numbers in snobbish concert halls! Nothing wrong with concert halls, but we have to admit that ticket prices and the somewhat posh context exclude many people. It looks like we have a surplus of music interest that no one cares about: Those who love piano music, but don’t go to classical concerts.

Nowadays, as perhaps always, we have a surplus of people who wants to play the piano, the guitar or whatever, that no one really teaches. Be they youth addicted to computer games, adults who don’t have time for regular, weekly lessons, or have no income to pay for them, or elderly people with a desire to renew their skills. Then there are the unemployed, the disabled, the homeless, looking for occupation and socialization. Are we willing to care for them? And willing to give them an opportunity to care about something and someone?

We may agree that something should be done. It’s another thing whether it’s a good idea to care for them with music, with pianos!! OK, maybe my idea not for everyone. But maybe it’s for many more than we think. All the attention over the last few days has made me thinking: When a nerdy piano video like mine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INh84SP6DiA) have gotten 140.000 views in 10 days, even with the help of New York Times, must not this mean that people care about piano music?! Someone must care about either pianos, piano history, the mechanics of an instrument, the skill of playing an instrument and/or the music itself. So, maybe piano shelters are worth trying? By sheltering pianos, we’ll create a place to shelter and provide for people!

Consider for a moment the potential side effects, even for someone not really interested in pianos or piano music. The potential side-effects of bringing people together across boundaries of age, occupation and social class, the side-effects of allowing us to appreciate people we otherwise would never meet. The side-effects of seeing joy on people’s faces as they master their first piano tune or feel that their contribution in spending some free hours bringing music to less fortunate, is really appreciated!

Potentially, this would bring understanding. Potentially, this would bring out the best in people. Potentially, this would make use of resources otherwise wasted. Potentially, it would create good music. But even if it doesn’t in a while, it would create appreciation. For music and for people. The latter is what’s important, the former is merely a tool, after all, no matter how beautiful!

So, what do we need?
A tentative list:
– Facilities. A place to be where there’s space for several pianos and where people are allowed to play them. Groundfloor preferred…! Ideally spoken, there’s also space for a small piano workshop and some kind of a concert room (maybe even in the workshop?).
– Pianos! That’s easy. People give them away for free. Deal: You order someone to deliver your piano and the Piano Shelter receives it. (It has to approved prior to delivery).
– Piano knowers: We need piano educated people to choose which pianos to receive to the shelter.
– Piano tuners: We need piano tuners/students of piano maintenance and tuning who can volunteer from time to time. Superb if they are willing to teach others, too.
– Piano teachers: Whether you know just a little bit or are a professor of piano, we need you to drop by and teach a lesson or three to someone struggling to learn at whatever level they are.
– Guitars: If you have a guitar you never use, we’ll gladly receive it if it’s in working order.
– Guitar teachers to drop by and give lessons. If you know a lot or just a little, there’s always someone who can benefit from your skills!
– People who look after the people and the premises.
– Cleaners.
– Administrators.

So, if you want to contribute, there is certainly something you can do! To help us model out this idea in our mind, please write below how you’d be able to either help or benefit (or both!) from a PIANO SHELTER, once we get one in your city!

Are you in a position to make this happen? Or do you know someone who might be? GET TO WORK! I’m more than willing to be on a board or to volunteer in teaching, etc., but I’m throwing the idea out there for someone to pick it up and run with it – to journalists, politicians, community authorities – to a church or organization able to investing more time and resources than one single person (me) represents. Besides, I can only ne in one place at a time, while we need many Piano Shelters!

Join in! It can be done!