“Pianos for Peace” is a project started by Marissa Balonon-Rosen, a senior student from the University of Rochester and Eastman School of Music in New York. The whole aim of this project is to promote music and arts to neighbourhoods by employing pianos as a tool for discussion and community building. The idea is to basically gather neighbours, volunteers, artists, performers, and passersby together so that they can interact with one another around randomly placed pianos in public places.

“Many people in Rochester can’t afford instruments or music lessons. It is often neighborhoods with the most violence that don’t have access to music and other arts. This project will make those resources available to them, and by actively involving people in music, we can make for a more peaceful community,” stated Marissa, who is a graduate of the Rochester city schools. With the donated upright and baby grand pianos, it provides an opportunity for anyone interested in either playing or simply listening to someone else play. Through this project, Marissa also hopes that other residents will also participate in contributing ideas to make the world a more peaceful place.

“Often people have ideas about dealing with issues that affect them, but they may not have a platform or may be afraid to speak. Music is a tool that empowers people through creative expression. This project will give a voice to the youth and people in these neighborhoods to come together and talk,” she explained. Currently, the pianos are situated in eight different locations around Rochester. There are still plans on placing more around. These pianos are also painted in peace themes by volunteers as well as community organisations. Marissa also managed to obtain many donations of materials and services including moving and paint.

These pianos will continue to be at their respective locations till the end of August. After which, they would be send over to the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Rochester, a project sponsor. They will help to create a “Piano Park for Peace,” along with extra concerts and programs relating to nonviolence. When everything concludes in September, the pianos will be donated to various youth and peace-promoting organisations. “The ‘Pianos for Peace’ project will connect hundreds of people with a sense of community, hope, play and inspiration in neighborhoods that often experience very little of these qualities, especially because of budget cuts. We are delighted that all of the pianos will meet here in the Gandhi Garden for the month of September for more programming for the surrounding neighborhood, returning university students, and others,” said Kit Miller, director of the Gandhi Institute. You can read the full story here.

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