By CHARITY B. SMITH
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — Ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said “Music is moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
Hence Wyandotte Public Schools has incorporated an active music program into the school system for more than 100 years. Parents of students in any of the numerous music programs, actively and proudly support their students musical endeavors and are known as “Wyandotte Music Boosters.”
The Boosters started their fundraising efforts this year even before school began. More than 50 parents of music students poured various wines at more than 25 stations during the Wyandotte 3rd Friday Wine Crawl Aug. 21 in an effort to raise $35,000 for the repair to begin on the Steinway grand piano, which is housed at Roosevelt High School. The city gave the Boosters a monetary donation for each chip they collected for wine sales at the event.
While the Wine Crawl was heavily publicized; the piano fundraiser was not. Few people who approached the tables knew their chips were helping raise money for the Boosters.
“I would have drank so much more if you had told me this in advance,” said Allen Stock, 33, of Grosse Ile Township. “I try and support the arts because I believe that people need the diversity in their education. There is so much more you can do as an individual if you can use both sides of your brain. Apple Corporation would never have made it if it could just think logically.”
The piano was purchased by the district in 1917 and countless students have used the piano over the years.
“Every student that has ever gone through the music program has used this piano in some way,” said Denise Green, fundraising chairwoman of the Wyandotte Music Boosters.
The piano, however, currently sets dormant in the choir room at Roosevelt High School and has not been used in about five years, because it can no longer carry a tune, has two cracked legs, and the action of the piano is dead.
“It is just like if you were to look at a person that is 100 years old,” said Kathy Kane, head of the districts music department. ‘It is withered. The keys don’t respond well. It won’t carry a tune. A couple of legs are cracked.”
Kane then came up with the idea to have the piano repaired for its 100th anniversary in 2017. A representative from Steinway looked at the piano informally three years ago and deemed it to be worth repairing and gave a estimate of the total cost at $50,000 to $60,000.
In order to have the piano repaired, the school must have half of the cost of the repair as a down payment for Steinway to begin the year-long process of refurbishing the piano.
“The representative from Steinway was excited to see that we were interested in repairing the piano,” Kane said. “Most people just junk them when they get old, and therefore antique pianos are rare, and this will increase the value of the piano by threefold.”
Kane said the value of the piano will go from the $35,000 to $50,000 being charged for the repair to a value in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The repair will make the piano considered “new” by Steinway. Workers will disassemble the piano, repair and or replace parts, and restring and tune it at Steinway headquarters in New York City.
The Boosters would like to have all the money raised by the end of the 2015-16 school year so the piano can be restored in time for its 100th anniversary in the fall of 2017.
The Boosters have yet to find out how much money they raised through the Wine Crawl. They are looking into the possibility of continuing their fundraising efforts at the 3rd Friday Beer Crawl Sept. 18 and through several other events which have yet to be determined.
“This was just the first thing that we have done for the piano,” Kane said.
The music department will solicit money for this project by sending letters to alumni requesting donations, and is looking into the possibility of obtaining grants.
The department and the boosters are very grateful for the continuing support of the Wyandotte Business Association and the city of Wyandotte for their continuing support.
“What I’m really excited about is how many more generations of children are going to be affected by it,” Kane said. “How many generations have already been affected by it? It’s pretty awesome!”
(Charity B. Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)