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Presentation to SGA

SEPTEMBER 27, 2012


PROJECT HISTORY The origins of Project rePLAY—restoring piano locations and availability in the dorms— began in 2010 when, in a conversation with a Major Gifts Officer from the Office of Advancement, I mentioned the need for an overhaul of the pianos that reside in the dorms. These pianos, I told the MGO, could surely attract the attention of a donor who fondly recalls their musical experiences at the College. At this time, the Centennial was just beginning, and a focus on the College’s history of music was becoming everpresent: an article in CC:Magazine highlighted the tradition of song, and the first major kickoff of the Centennial year involved the creation of a Centennial Song. Music was, and remains, on the minds of many at the College.

Little is known about the history of the pianos that live in the dorms. As early as the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, alums have recalled pianos in their living areas. The history of today’s pianos are unknown, and no department has overseen their maintenance. Presently, pianos seven live around campus: • Harris Atrium • Earth House (upright) • Larrabee • Burdick (upright) • Blackstone (upright) • Windham • Knowlton

All pianos, after years of neglect without tuning or maintenance, have been deemed “irreparable” by the College’s tuning consultant. They are in need of replacement, yet are used frequently by students and music-related clubs, though they do not require the professional level of maintenance that performance pianos like those in Cummings and Harkness Chapel.


CONNECTION WITH THE ALLSTEINWAY SCHOOL INITIATIVE In the spring of 2012, it was announced that Nancy Marshall Athey ’72 and her husband had made a generous gift to the College, enabling the replacement and purchase of many new pianos. This $855,000 gift has allowed the College to become an “All-Steinway School,” and involved the delivery of several new pianos (and the repair of several) each year. To be an “All-Steinway School,” an institution must adhere to specific criteria. Examples include: • 90% or more of the acoustic pianos owned by an institution must be Steinway & Sons, Boston, or Essex pianos • Steinway pianos are to be placed in the performance spaces and piano teaching studios… • An approved number of technicians… are required to participate in Steinway & Sons

Technical Training Programs

In short, all of the pianos used by the Music Department (which includes Harkness Chapel) must now be Steinways.

MAKING PROJECT REPLAY A REALITY As the College becomes an “All-Steinway School,” the Music Department must abide by standards set forth by Steinway & Sons. New Steinway pianos are being purchased for the College, and existing Steinway pianos are being sent for restoration. NonSteinway pianos owned by the Music Department, however, are in need of new homes.

These used, well-maintained pianos leaving Cummings Arts Center as a byproduct of the All-Steinway initiative will become the new pianos for the dorms on campus. As the


College adds and replaces pianos over the 5 years of the Athey gift, we plan to introduce the non-Steinway pianos to the dorms in a phased progression.

WHY DO PIANOS IN THE DORMS MATTER? 1. These pianos provide casual practice space for all students, not just music students, no matter their major 2. Pianos enhance the quality of residential life on campus, and well-tuned pianos open more programming opportunities 3. The presence of pianos sets Connecticut College apart from our peers 4. The placement of pianos exemplifies the trust that the College places in the Student Body to respect and care for these major investments 5. The first step of Project rePLAY exemplifies how, on a daily basis, SGA can make a difference in a student’s experience 6. The future of Project rePLAy exemplifies how donations to the College enhance the student experience when it’s least expected, in the most intimate ways.

OUR PLAN OF ACTION As of today, in September 2012, the All-Steinway School initiative is well underway. New pianos arrived this summer to Evans Hall and Harkness Chapel, and pianos are currently off campus for restoration. By the end of October 2012, a Steinway being restored will return to campus, freeing two non-Steinway pianos. Just as the Steinway program is a multi-year, phased transition, we plan Project rePLAY to be the same— each year, approximately 1 piano (2 in the first year) will become available from the Music Department for movement to a dorm on campus. Pianos after the initial two are wholly dependent on a) Music Department piano availability, b) monetary restrictions still related to the Athey gift, and c) the College finding a donor of additional pianos


and/or funding, and is, therefore, not guaranteed. This is simply a roadmap we hope to follow. Additionally, it must be noted that all pianos leaving Cummings are baby grand pianos (not uprights) and not all pianos currently in the dorms will be replaced in the same location (space restriction in common rooms) or at all.

As the first move is imminent, and we need to ensure maintenance funding is available for every piano placed in a dorm, we are requesting SGA funding support for the first approximately two years. Concurrently, the College’s Major Gifts Officers are aware of the project, and are seeking a donor to endow the dorm pianos and their maintenance, though finding a donor will not happen immediately. For this reason, SGA is needed to kick off the project, and once a donor is found, all financial responsibilities will be lifted from SGA.


Piano 2

Piano 3

Piano 4

Year 1



Year 2




Year 3





Year 4





Piano 5

Total $ $1600 $2000* $2600*



... *dependent on availability of future pianos Dark cells signify the need for SGA funding, light cells represent desired donor support. To cover 2 to 3 tunings each year, and provide monetary buildup for needed overhauls every few years, $600 is requested for each piano per year. An additional $200 is needed on the initial year to help offset the cost of transporting each piano, which varies year-to-year. For the first year, pianos will be moved in conjunction with other shifts occurring on campus, which will reduce the cost, but future years remain unknown.


LOOKING AHEAD As previously mentioned, it is our hope and desire at the college will identify a potential donor to establish an endowment which will provide maintenance funding for these pianos for years to come. We want to, as quickly as possible, end SGA's involvement as to not be a financial burden for years to come. The Music Department has graciously offered to oversee the fund that we establish, and schedule a piano tuner as necessary, provided funds are not required from their own department budget. For a potential donor to the College, it is a huge draw is to see that students care about the pianos in the dorms, and to see that concerned students and the Student Government are already establishing solutions. SGA's support of this project actually better supports the project's longevity, helping to boost its importance to the Office of Advancement, the Major Gift Officers, and to alumni who fondly remember their dorm pianos.

QUESTIONS Will every dorm piano be replaced? In short, no. While the majority of pianos in the dorms are baby grands, there are some upright pianos. No upright pianos, at this time, are leaving Cummings. Which pianos will be replaced first? The first piano to be replaced will be the Harris Atrium. The next piano will likely be placed in Knowlton, to spread our reach across campus. We will then work towards Central. With these pianos be safe? Placing pianos in the dorms is a risk. Most of the pianos are located in common rooms, which are relatively safe and do not get visited on most Saturday nights. The great exception to this, is the Harris Atrium. To keep the pianos freely available at all hours, we do not plan to move the piano from Harris Atrium. We plan to build a culture of respect and awareness for the pianos, and we have plans to work with the Office of Student Life to create programming that welcomes the new additions to the dorms and fosters an awareness of their presence.


What if a piano gets damaged? Despite the faith that we are placing in the student body, we have been in discussions with the Office of Residential Education and Living to establish guidelines of how best to deal with piano damages. Likely, piano damages will be shared by clusters of dorms near where the piano resides. If damage were to occur at the Harris piano, for instance, all of the Plex dorms would likely share the charges for repairs.

STUDENT SUPPORT Last Thursday and Friday, well over 500 students signed two boards expressing their support of renewing and restoring the pianos in the dorms. Most were not music majors, but told stories of how they have enjoyed hearing music on the way to and from meals, have used a dorm piano for a club, or have even learned the instrument from a roommate or friend using one of the pianos in their common room.



Project rePLAY presentation to SGA  

9/27/12 presentation to SGA

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