The big piano move

New pianos enrich student learning experience in Department of Music

The Walla Walla University Department of Music saw a lot of changes in the summer of 2017, primarily in their piano department. A new grand piano was obtained, several more were refurbished, and 11 were sold or donated.

A Kawai grand piano was donated to the Department of Music in July by the Walla Walla General Hospital, and is currently being used by piano majors. “Being the recipient of a generous gift such as a grand piano is rare, and we are especially pleased to receive such a wonderful instrument,” says Jinhyang Park, WWU instructor of music. “The donation of this piano has enhanced the daily musical interactions of everyone in our vibrant music community. It has quickly become a favorite piano in our practice rooms.”

Matthew Moran, senior music and bioengineering major, is one of the musicians benefiting from the new piano. For Moran, the Kawai grand piano has been transformative. “The rich tones and sensitive touch to the new piano enriched my learning experience and enhanced my music. I became more involved with my music and enjoyed the harmonies and melodies that I could produce with a quality instrument,” Moran says. The department has also recently learned that another piano—a Yamaha grand—has been bequeathed to them and will be coming to campus soon.

Both of the Steinway pianos in the Melvin K. West Fine Arts Center auditorium were refurbished over the summer by Ken Eschete, a registered piano technician at Bentside Arts in Spokane. Both pianos remain in the auditorium to be used for recitals, concerts, and other events.

Eleven old pianos were moved out of the Fine Arts Center between June and September. This move constituted an enormous undertaking, as movers and department officials considered their options for moving so many pianos down the twisting stairs of the building. Pam Cress, associate vice president for graduate studies and the interim music department chair, explains: “One idea [for moving the pianos] was to use a forklift and take the pianos out through the window that looks down on the lobby. This ended up not working because they couldn’t get a small enough forklift in the front door.” Finally, the vertical pianos were simply carried down the stairs by four to six movers a piece. The two grand pianos proved a greater challenge and had to be partially disassembled before being similarly carried down the stairs.

Of the old pianos that were donated by the Department of Music, two went to WWU’s Rosario Beach campus where they will be used in the chapel and cafeteria. A grand piano was also donated to the Christian Aid Center, a local Walla Walla shelter dedicated to alleviating chronic poverty, hunger, and homelessness in the local community. The organization plans to use the piano in their new center for women and children, which is still under construction and expected to be completed in May 2018. The piano will reside in the lobby where experienced guests can play it and where volunteer instructors can teach music classes to the children in residence. Corina Car, the organization’s marketing and relations representative, explained the importance of the piano in their vision for the center: “We want the new center to be beautiful—a different place from anywhere they’ve lived before, and it couldn’t be complete without live music.”

Posted Feb. 14, 2018

Movers with Bekins Northwest bring a newly acquired grand piano into the Fine Arts Center.
Six to eight movers push and pull a grand piano up the stairs of the Fine Arts Center.
All of the pianos moved had to be carried up or down the twisting stairs of the Fine Arts Center.
After turning the piano on the landing, the movers haul the piano up the top section of stairs to the second floor of the Fine Arts Center.
The big piano move required a lot of coordination and brawn on the part of the movers.
A photo of the tight and twisting stairs of the Fine Arts Center.
The twisting stairs of the Fine Arts Center added another level of challenge to the piano move.