Street piano a tuneful stress buster

03:42, Mar 21 2014
Doug Hill
SMILES ALL AROUND: Doug Hill plays Richmond's new community piano to the delight of project organiser Stephanie Buck.

The words "play me" are painted on the top of the beautiful Beale piano and that's just what people did when Richmond's community piano made its debut in Sundial Square.

At lunchtime yesterday, the brightly painted piano was wheeled out for the first time and Doug Hill, the former head of music at Waimea College, sat down to caress the ivories.

He launched into Memories, from the musical Cats, and the music didn't stop all afternoon.

The woman behind the community piano project, Stephanie Buck, said people were lining up to play the piano and when she left at 3pm, it was still being played.

She was thrilled by the good sized crowd who came out for the debut and that the music even inspired some people to dance.

"It's what people need for their spirits. People are so stressed out and worried - this lightens your spirits," she said.


The piano, which Mrs Buck spotted in storage at Eyebright and bought, was painted by artists from the Tasman Visual Arts Group, and is being stored by Sundial Square business Cash ‘N' Trade. Staff members wheel it out every morning, and if there is demand for it after business hours, as there will be today for the Summer Fare, staff at The Stables have offered to wheel it in and out.

Mrs Buck said people told her what an asset it was for the square and how much fun it was.

The piano is available for anybody to play, and has a small koha box attached for donations to go towards keeping the piano tuned and in good order.

A similar concept planned for Nelson city was announced several months ago, but a final decision remains with the council.

Nelson music devotees Joe Gibbons, Joe Rifici, and Neville Claughton are the trio behind the plan. Mr Claughton, the Nelson instrument repair and sales and service businessman known as Mr Music, is to supply a couple of pianos.

Starbucks, the Sprig & Fern and TSB Bank had agreed earlier to have the pianos outside their premises. They would be wheeled out daily and stored inside at night.

Mr Gibbons said none of the trio had lost interest in pursuing the idea, but it had taken longer than they thought it would.

"We're definitely still keen, and good for Richmond getting theirs. I suspect this will go ahead in Nelson," Mr Gibbons said.

The council said today a report was going to the community services committee meeting next Thursday, which recommended that council support a pilot project to have one public piano on Trafalgar St for a trial period of 12 months.

The report included a suggestion that the council consider allocating a small budget for tuning the piano.

The Nelson Mail