The high school had the piano tuned and wrapped by ASI out of Buffalo, and now it sits in the atrium near the office, waiting for its ivories to be tickled.
And tickled they are. High School principal, Bob Driver, calls this new experience Students Welcoming Students Through Music, and he said it has had a positive impact on the students and on the school atmosphere.
“We’ve had quite a following of students who try to hop on there every morning, it’s great,” Driver said. “We have some composer-type students to kids who just kind of plunk, and everything in between. It’s been fun and interesting to see the reaction of people as they come in.”
A core group of around four students, in addition to some other more casual players, show off their musical talents for students and staff. These four students are Eugene Kotau, Johnny Thunder, Ethan Cornell and Dominic Clemons. They are all seniors besides Kotau, who is a freshman, and they have a combined 28 years of piano lessons and playing experience among them.
“It’s a fun way of sharing talents with your peers,” Clemons said. “People love it.”
Students can sign up to play for an hour in the morning before school, and that will count toward their required community service hours. The players said that some of the biggest hits among students have included Coldplay’s Viva la Vida, the Game of Thrones theme song and Billy Joel’s Piano Man, which Cornell and Clemons played at least year’s talent show.
The four piano players said that people at STMA High School are really open and non-judgmental, so it’s a good atmosphere for those who might be nervous about performing to show off their piano skills.
The piano has attracted the attention of KARE 11 news, and reporter Kim Insley came out to do a feature on it recently. The story should be running in the near future during the morning and early afternoon news shows.
“You can hear the piano downstairs, you can hear it down the senior hallway where my locker is, so just walking in and being able to hear that is just really cool,” Cornell said. “I don’t think any other high school has a live piano player playing in the morning.”