Playing most of the pianos on this campus is like trying to paint a picture with two colors on your palette and a paintbrush that your dog has been chewing.

You don’t have to be serious about music to be cognizant of the fact that the pianos on River Campus are few in number and extremely poor in quality. When I started out last year as a piano performance and English double degree student living in Susan B. Anthony, I realized after a few weeks that I wouldn’t be able to practice every day on the River Campus pianos and stay sane.

I didn’t complain at the time because I found myself juggling hours at Eastman with hours in Spurrier on the one Kawaii upright that stayed in tune, sounded good and had good key action. However, when I unlocked the room this semester and discovered that the piano had mysteriously vanished, along with several others in that hallway, I felt that it was time to address the problem.

The pianos of choice for many River Campus musicians are the three Boston grands in the lower level of Strong Auditorium. These pianos really aren’t very good, but they do allow the confident pianist to give a sparkling rendition of any piece to his or her fellow students in the building as well as on the academic, fraternity and freshman quads. Pipes that sometimes creak eerily add to this cacophony.

There’s a halfway decent piano on stage, but the entrances are usually locked when the stage is not being used by a rehearsing student or campus group.

The six or seven Yamahas locked in Spurrier’s soundproof rooms have improved in quality since last semester, but they’re often out of tune and sporting broken keys The pianos left in the hall at Spurrier next to the drummers’ rooms would be useful as firewood ? especially when loud bands are rehearsing.

There are several pianos in the Interfaith Chapel that can be used by students, on the condition that no services or meetings are in session and no privacy is needed. Keys to Todd Union are given out as infrequently as keys to cities and a piano in Friel Lounge needs tuning and an 88-key transplant.

If the university professes to have a decent music program, which I’m under the impression that it does, it needs to do something about the gross lack of concern for pianists. The pianos at the disposal of River Campus primary and secondary piano students and piano enthusiasts are pretty sad.

Unless the situation improves, I wouldn’t be surprised if students lose patience trying to diversify their interests and fall back into the monotony of the biology labs, psychology lectures and writing workshops they attend on a regular basis.

Weiss can be reached at

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