The Spring Awakening event at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness to the many programs and enhancements to the natural, historic, and recreative aspects of the park. Pianos in the Park is one of these new and exciting initiatives, modeled on the wave of Play Me I’m Yours Street Pianos programs sparking creativity around the world. Philip Goetkin, Grounds Supervisor at the park on travel to Fort Collins Colorado was able to see first hand how wonderfully the program works. Phil enthusiastically shared his discovery with Todd Colyer, Production Manager at the Filene Center, and of course the idea has taken off like gangbusters. Nine donated pianos are currently residing in the park.
The pianos will be repaired as needed and painted in themes consistent with the mission of the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Todd is the lead in restoring and tuning the instruments. Currently a small group of volunteers consisting of piano lovers meet on Saturday mornings in the basement of the Filene Center to assist in cleaning and prepping the instruments. Learning about the inner workings of a piano is fascinating to some, but not for everyone. Todd educates the public, sharing interesting snippets of piano history and technical aspects of tuning, as members of the group help with light cleaning and white key veneer replacement.
The small legion of mostly upright pianos, some dating back to the late 1800’s, will be placed in public spaces around the park for visitors to view, play, and enjoy. No piano will go to waste, according to Todd, the pianos will receive the best care available. Wear and tear from players and changing weather conditions will provide a challenge to keeping the instruments in playing shape. When not in use the pianos will be covered or moved into storage during extreme weather. The life expectancy with exposure to the elements is approximately 2 to 3 years. However, a plan is in place to ensure that the instruments are well used, not ending up in a land fill. Parts will be recycled for use in rebuilding newly donated instruments whenever possible, and utilized by visual artists otherwise. Todd’s hope is to build a core of dedicated volunteers including a master tuner to ensure a consistent maintenance schedule.
If being a part of the volunteer piano maintenance team for the Pianos in the Park program sounds like fun to you, please contact Tod Colyer at the office (703) 255-1880 or mobile (703) 255-1832 .