“Rochester Kaleidoscope Keys Street Piano”
Music Shapes Nonprofit
Our initiative was to obtain a piano and transform it into an outdoors piano for the community to visit it and play music, listen to music, use it as a gathering place. We wanted to have a piano available for everyone allowing kids and adults to experience it and become inspired to maybe bring more music into their life. We got exactly that! The piano stayed outdoors for 123 days and was still going strong into October 2022. We had over 50 visitors, 100s of LIKES on Facebook! The piano is now still making music in a local Rochester nonprofit!
Our Objectives were as follows:
- Provide an outdoors piano for the community to visit and play.
- Inspire at least one new person ,young and old, to bring music into their lives.
- Provide a beautiful place to gather outdoors.
- Showcase the merger of art with music through the piano casework art done by our partner organization prompting visitors to sign up for art classes.
- Have at least 50 visitors share their time with the piano on social media.
- Increase awareness of the benefits of music and art education.
Our Street Piano was targeted for everyone in the community! We wanted all people of all ages to come and visit the piano.
Music Shapes, a 501c3 nonprofit, is an advocate for music engagement at any age! Many of those who visited were adults who had piano study as a child and when they sit down at the keys, they want to start learning to play again! Children love the piano, and if visiting the Street Piano inspires them to want to do more by engaging with music or taking art classes, then we have met our goal!
We began the planning of street piano in early 2022. We wanted the piano to be in place for the Summer months of 2022 and as far into the Fall of 2022 as possible. Having the piano in the late Summer also kept it fresh in the minds of young people returning to school in the Fall and hopefully inspired to engage in more music endeavors at the start of the 2022/2023 school year. We intended to keep the piano outside as long as it was operational! The piano lived outdoors day and night so it had to withstand heat, humidity, rain, and tornado threats!
January : Secure community collaborators to donate piano, donate workspace, provide artist, provide outdoors location, move piano
February: Request grant from a local fund organization for up to 50% of the the project cost
March: Begin Preparing Piano to endure outdoor elements
March – June: Advertise/Market the project
June: Place piano outside/ Schedule Reveal Party
September/October: Complete the Project – Remove piano
October to Present: Added bonus is that the piano endured the weather beautifully and is now located indoors at a local nonprofit which offers community recreation for all ages. Our Street Piano is continuing to provide music, joy, and inspiration to the community just a few blocks of where it was located outside! The piano is open and available to all! Within the first few hours of it being indoors, 3 people sat down to play!
All timeline milestones were met. Many of the collaborators donated their time for the project. The piano was also donated. We did receive a grant for 50% of our project budget.
Overview of Planning and Execution
Music Shapes was the Project Leader. We wanted to collaborate within the community and invited the following local organizations to partner with us: Paint Creek Center for the Arts, The Piano Place, Barrett Piano Service, Steinhoff Piano Service.
Music Shapes – Secure collaborators, secure funding, prepare piano for outdoors, manage project.
The Piano Place – Donated piano for project, donated workspace to prepare piano for outdoors, supported marketing.
Paint Creek – Provide artist for case decor, house piano on their property, act as Guardian for piano, Plan/Market Reveal Party, assist with any city agreements and with obtaining exposure in the local paper since they have an established relationships with the city, and with the local paper.
Barrett Piano Service – Prepare piano for outdoors , maintain piano while it is outside.
Steinhoff Piano Service – Prepare piano for outdoors.
We spent about 50 hours weatherproofing the piano, and about 24 hours painting the exterior casework!
Tools and Resources
Our greatest resources was the willingness of community members and organizations to want to be a part of the project.
Without them, there would be no street piano! We were awarded a grant to help with funding the project which was very helpful. Each partner we invited to join us had a specific skill set which added to the success of the project. Having a piano store, artists, piano technicians and piano movers involved made the project move on time and effortlessly.
Marketing and Promotion
We had a 4 prong approach to promoting our piano!
- Social Media: The Piano has its own Facebook page! Posts about the piano garnered more views and likes (100+) than any other event for Music Shapes! This was a very good tool for getting the word out. We did try to put some challenges out on FB, but these were less successful.
- Held a Reveal Party: Our partner, Paint Creek, planned and scheduled a party on the lawn to officially reveal the piano! We had about 20 attendees. This was a good start to the Summer!
- Word of Mouth: We seem to do well just by talking about the piano whenever the opportunity arose! Some knew of it, some did not and planned to go. We invited people to come play the piano as a way to draw in passers by.
- Media/Press: We called the local TV station to let them know about our great Street Piano! And they agreed! They came out and did a great video review on the collaborators and the piano. The clip was on the news! The local newspaper also did a great story on the piano, how it came to be, and the great partners involved! Of course, having a TV and newspaper spot was a great boon to having people be aware of the piano!
As a small nonprofit, Music Shapes worked hard to keep costs manageable. With the generosity of many who donated their time and talents, we had a budget of $945 to make the Rochester Kaleidoscope Keys Street Piano a reality. We received a grant of $500 towards this amount from a local fund. Below is the budget we set. We stayed within this budget overall.
Secure Piano Donated
Secure Workspace Donated
Labor to prepare piano Donated
Weather proof plastic/keys/action $100
Maintenance while outside $50
Exterior Case Design
Artist Design $250
Plastic with weights $70
Lock or camera $30
Move Piano In
U Haul $50
Plywood Platform $70
The Post/PATCH $0
Move Piano Out $150
Our biggest challenge was getting visitors to know where the piano was located. A street piano is typically on a main city street or in a park or green space. As we did not have time to work with the city officials to place the piano on Main St of Rochester, Michigan we chose to place the piano on the lawn where our partner, Paint Creek Center for the Arts held their offices. This lawn space is on a side street in town so the piano is not seen by those driving by or walking. One had to know that the piano was there and go see it! It was not often found just by walking by. The advantages of this, however, allowed the piano to be watched throughout the day, make sure the cover was replaced after playing, etc. We had no issues with people damaging the piano while it was outside. We did our best to let visitors know that the piano was there through social media, news articles, word of mouth, etc. Those who did visit it, really loved it, played it, and had a great time with it!
We feel that our Street Piano was highly effective. Through the use of social media, TV spot and local newspaper articles, we had visitors. Our Facebook posts were posted weekly at a minimum. Stories were shared and our ‘Like” counts soared to well above 100 with each one. We also put a slot in the piano bench and asked visitors to drop in a penny or a note to let us know they were there. We had one note and over $6.00 in coins! When a passerby sees a bright colored piano outside, it makes them smile! Some came running over to play it. Favorite story is of Jeff who drove by the piano almost everyday. He wanted to stop by and finally did! He sat down and played beautiful tunes! We had a great conversation ! Turned out he often has the opportunity to play a grand piano in Detroit _ the same piano I worked on years ago to rebuild! The piano can inspire people, one at a time!
We feel that our Street Piano was a great add to the community for the time it was outside. The whole experience was beneficial. Having all the collaborators together from different perspectives of art allowed everyone to learn about a different art form, and come together to create a great opportunity for the community to better appreciate the same! The piano visitors loved the piano! It did not matter what age they were, it brought smiles to their faces! The icing on the top is that since mid October to present (August 2023) the piano continues to bring joy to the community as it is now placed indoors in a local nonprofit which offers kids, adults, and community recreational classes, camps, and more! Just recently, while Music Shapes was speaking at a local club, one of the attendees shared that she knew of that piano and how great it was to have it there!!
Advice for others?
- Join forces with other community organizations which have the experience and skillset needed.
- Involve piano technicians. www.ptg.org
- Consider involving students to do the outside decor of the piano to further reduce costs.
- Carefully decide where to locate the piano for best visitation.