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Giving Piano Initiative to give public a chance to play at Bloomington Transit Center


A grand piano with a broken frame sits in Merrill Hall, waiting to be moved to the Bloomington Transit Center. The piano will be moved for a program called The Giving Piano Initiative, which allows people to play the piano for a week and attend small piano concerts in the transit center.  Ty Vinson Buy Photos

A Bosendorfer grand piano is in decline with a cracked frame and dipping pitch, but it still may be playable.

The Giving Piano Initiative will take place April 23 to 27 at the Bloomington Transit Center. The initiative is part of Project Jumpstart, part of the Jacobs School of Music’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development. The project is in collaboration with the School of Public and Environmental Affairs Arts Administration.

Scheduled performances from 4 to 6 p.m. will take place at the Bloomington Transit Center. 

The initiative centers around an old piano from the school that is irreparable due to a cracked frame. Instead of scrapping the piano, the organizers thought they'd take it downtown and have fun with it, Alain Barker, director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development, said. 

“It’s like a piano that’s dying," Barker said. "So we thought that, in what they call the autumn of its life, that we would take this beautiful instrument and lovingly place it in the community such that everybody could partake of its final moments,” Barker said. 

Project Jumpstart is a student-led initiative in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development. 

“Our mission is more or less to help facilitate and support entrepreneurial and innovative thought and action amongst the students here," said Lovisa Vikenadler, project manager of Project Jumpstart. 

Vikenadler said they try to make students get out of their practice room bubble and more into the real world. 

This year, the team has worked to create a theme for each month of the school year and structure its activities around that theme, said Jackie Skara, community engagement specialist with Project Jumpstart. The Giving Piano Initiative formed out of March’s theme of citizen artistry. 

The purpose of the initiative is to bring the music out and closer to the community, Vikenadler said. She said the team discussed what citizen artistry means and the interaction between your core values and beliefs as a citizen and as a musician and performer. 

Skara said the office hosts workshops and panels, but said it felt weird to talk about citizen artistry and not do something.  

“We had a couple panel events about citizen artistry and then this is us actually implementing a project that we believe embodies citizen artist ideals,” Skara said. 

The event was initially supposed to take place in People’s Park, but got rained out a couple of weeks in a row, Skara said. The Bloomington Transit Center allows them to not worry about inclement weather and likely have a higher volume of traffic, she said. 

Skara said on Facebook, YouTube and in viral videos, you always see people playing the subways of places like New York City. Bloomington doesn’t have a subway, so this is the closest thing they have to a transit mecca, she said. 

“That’s an artistic thing, to play in subway stations, to play at train depots, etc.,” she said. 

Barker said the piano will be available for anyone to play any type of music at any time.

“It’s a whole festival around a piano,” he said. 

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