Youths try new tunes on old piano

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:06 24/11/2012

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An old upright piano languishing at the end of its useful life at Palmerston North's Youth Space in Coleman Mall has been dismantled, its frame painted, its strings replaced, and it is now hanging outside on the wall.

The piece of wall art has been designed and worked on by young people at the centre during the last few weeks.

Manager Shelley Davenport said the team had wanted to use the "very ordinary" old piano as the basis for a place-making project, and believed they had come up with a world first.

Under the guidance of piano tuner Allen Birchler, who earlier declared the instrument dead, the young team spent hours taking the piano apart so the frame and some of the strings could be salvaged.

A group on an alternative art course did the painting.

Mr Birchler's challenge was to ensure the strings could be correctly tuned even though the moving parts would live outside in all weathers.

He tested the resilience of the tuning pin plank by submerging it in a swimming pool for a week, and then baking it at 200 degrees celsius.

The piece of wall art has already attracted a lot of positive comments that have compared it to the quality of public sculptures around the city.

Mr Birchler's next challenge is to complete tuning it, given the constraints of having no sound board, which reduced its resonance, and meant some of the lower strings would simply be in tune, but not playing at bass levels.

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- Manawatu Standard

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