SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — The grand piano in the auditorium at Abington Heights High School shows its age.
Chips in the black paint mar its finish and some cracked white keys display naked wood underneath. Music staff at the high school believe the piano, produced by William Knabe & Co., has been there since the school opened to students in 1966, serving generations of students in the music and drama departments.
These days, it sees use during choral and orchestral concerts. Guest artists have also sat at its keyboard, said Allison Covell, chair of the music department.
The wear on the piano went deeper than cosmetic issues, as the years also affect the sound and way the piano plays. The keys require a heavier touch to elicit sound and the pedals no longer work properly.
But soon enough, the old instrument will get a full overhaul, thanks to a donation from The Rotary Club of the Abingtons.
“It will be like a brand new piano,” said choir director Dana Cerminaro.
The $3,000 donation the Rotarians made will cover the costs to refit the instrument inside and out. The retrofit process will begin when the school year ends and the piano is expected to return in time for use next school year.
The funds came from the Rotary’s charitable trust fund, club member John Hambrose said. The club tries to give from the fund to community projects each year. He described the donation as part of a cycle of giving in the community. The school district lets the club hold the annual Fourth of July fireworks display at the middle school grounds in Newton Township and some of the funds raised from that event goes into the trust fund, he said.
“We were able to make a nice donation,” Hambrose said. “It’s a beneficial cycle.”
Refurbishing the grand piano means cost savings for the district without sacrificing the quality sound and playability of a real piano. The music department looked into replacing it with a newer one or an electronic alternative. However, a brand new Yamaha piano was priced at $25,000, Cerminaro said. A piano with hammers and strings offers more control, as a musician can control volume through the heaviness of touch on the keys, band director Rebecca Hetzel said.
Plus, there’s just something about playing a grand piano. The new look will be great for students.
“It’s more of a privilege when something is really nice and brand new,” Cerminaro said. “It’s exciting to play. They want to play it.”
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