Nelson music aficionados Joe Gibbons, Joe Rifici, and Neville Claughton are currently in the process of setting up a “public piano” in central Nelson in New Zealand. Joe Gibbons, the head of Great Plains Stainless, a Nelson-based worldwide specialty stainless steel distribution firm, was inspired after noticing a similar idea on his recent trip to Chile’s Santiago.

“The two I saw were always in use. I’ve been playing piano for 10 years and I would have been embarrassed to play next to those guys. It was spectacular, and I’ll be darned, I ended up spending 45 minutes watching them. Santiago was not exactly the garden of Eden with eight million people, and it was amazing to see the pianos were not vandalised. It was a really interesting social phenomenon that the pianos were not being abused,” he stated. He mentioned that the trio are currently looking at a number of preferred sites in the central city, and pending council approval the idea was a “done deal”. At the moment, both Starbucks as well as TSB Bank have already agreed to have pianos placed outside of their premises. In fact, Starbucks had even offered to wheel a piano in and outside, if they required.

Joe Gibbons added that people may feel a little concerned initially to have a go on the piano. However, he does believe that eventually they would. The truth is that there are many individuals out there who always had that secret desire to become a dancer, singer, or musician. “Voila, now they can have that little chance. Having pianos dotted around the city would also add to Nelson’s tourism value. There was nothing like music to create a great ambience. It was all about getting people involved. It was the community aspect that attracted each of the individuals to take up the project. No one is going to be pocketing a fist full of change with this. Instead, they wanted to get the ball rolling as soon as possible,” explained Joe.

Neville Claughton, who is an instrument repair and sales and service businessman in Nelson, has already stepped forward to supply a few pianos. Therefore, sourcing for pianos would not be a problem. “There were three types of pianos, those that looked amazing and sounded so, those that looked terrible but sounded amazing, and those that looked and sounded terrible. It was easy to find pianos that looked scruffy but sounded fantastic,” he elaborated. For more of the story, you can read it here.

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