Music in the air: Playable art installed in Trenton this summer

Listen closely, there’s music in the air this summer in Trenton thanks to a community piano project initiated by a local music teacher.

Emily Smith, owner of Keys to Your Dream, on State Street, and a pianist since the age of 9, traveled to Cleveland last summer for an international piano competition and admired a public piano project in that city.

Smith, 24, who is a member of Trenton’s parks and recreation board, proposed the idea in her hometown and the playable art effort was born.

“We had some awesome donors of pianos, there was no issue there,” Smith said. Then she paired pianos with sponsors who were responsible for painting and decorating. Next came businesses and organization where they could be placed.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Three unique, colorful pianos are already in place at Barn-N-Bunk, State Street Coffee Inc. and REVive Nutrition. Three more are scheduled to be placed this week at, Casey’s General Store/Gas Station, the Trenton Museum and a location that is yet to be determined.

All pianos are placed under shelter and overhangs will remain in place through September and maybe into October depending on the weather. Then they will be assessed for wear and tear and stored.

“This is a first for me, I am wanting to see how it goes,” Smith said,

It is also a first for the city, she said.

“It is just something to brighten and enrich the community. I believe this is Trenton’s first ever art installment,” Smith said, noting Hamilton and Butler County communities enrich the quality of life with art installments annually.

Playing of the pianos is encouraged by all and Smith is asking folks to digitally post photos and videos with #trentonpianos2022 in the post.

“One of my favorite things about community pianos is typically if someone goes up and plays the community piano people will stop and listen, so I am excited about it from both angles, art and music,” Smith said. “The hope is people are blessed by the project in the community.”

Diane Herbel, owner of State Street Coffee, said the students from Smith’s school often play in her restaurant and she was sold that the community piano would be a great addition.

“I have been shocked since it has been here, because so many different people, people that you wouldn’t expect, sit down and start playing,” she said. “People will walk up and and say ‘I know how to play’ and sit down and start playing. It just blows your mind.”

Herbel said she and the staff would not only sponsored a piano, but decorated it. After she did a fresh coat of black paint, a barista showed her hidden talents and painted the greenery and music notes.

A neighboring business owner from Turkey uses Facetime to talk to his family abroad, and they watch him play the piano, she said.

“It has just really been a blessing,” Herbel said.

Sponsors of pianos are: local artist Alanna Theobald, State Street Coffee, Edgewood Ministerial Association, Keys to Your Dream, American Heritage Girls, Milk Parlor Pottery and the Trenton Public Works Department, who has also provided the “muscle” for placement of the pianos.

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