Pianos have been weighing heavily on our minds for the last few years. Why? Because Music4Life™ gets two or three calls nearly every week from people who want to donate their pianos. But most public schools already have pianos and what they need the most is to have those pianos tuned, a cost most find prohibitive.

Historically, when we’ve been offered an upright piano, we have to tried to sell it so we can take the cash from the sale and convert it into musical instruments that elementary school-aged kids say they want to play, such as trumpets, violins, flutes, clarinets, etc. And then in turn, we have to get most of those instruments professionally repaired, which requires even more cash.

All the while that this has been going on, we’ve had this feeling that we’re leaving money on the table by not accepting piano donations. No explanation was in sight, until we discussed the issue with Beth Wojick, former CEO of Seattle SeaFair and a member of the Music4Life Advisory Board.

Beth’s suggestion was to turn the whole concept inside-out. She advised that we:

  1. Inventory the pianos in our school districts that need tuning (likely to be hundreds);
  2. Get bids from several geographically-distributed piano tuners to do this work (probably 40-50 pianos for each tuner);
  3. Raise funds separately from our normal repair budget to pay for their work; and then
  4. Get the work done!

Result? The education of MANY STUDENTS will be enhanced! We call this innovative new program “Beth’s Piano Strategy.”

We have developed a list of local piano tuners that we have shared with each of our school district representatives to see if any are considered unqualified. After direct calls to several tuners, it appears they are interested in participating.

Next steps will be to ask for bids from those piano tuners, which will give us a dollar goal for fund raising. As we begin this program, no funds will be used for other mechanical repairs that might be needed. In fact, if a piano needs other mechanical repairs, it will be disqualified for tuning at this time. Also, no funds from our normal repair budget will be used.

“Beth’s Piano Strategy” is an emergent program. If ultimately successful, it can be done for hundreds of school pianos at the beginning of each school year. Stay tuned for more updates, and please spread the word to anyone who would like to contribute to the success of this program that we would gratefully accept donations here .