Piano in tune with students talent


Jasmine Martin, Senior, Math Major

What started as an upright piano in the Volstroff Ballroom for events has become a staple for students to play and enjoy.

According to Jenn Novotny, executive director of The Union, updating the piano wasn’t initially in the overall plans for the first expansion, but staff reported that when the piano in the VBR was available for student use, it was utilized and students were very adamant that a piano would be an excellent addition to The Union’s atmosphere.

 The Union also learned that the Music Department was making an effort to become a Steinway campus.  For these reasons, The Union began to hunt for a piano that would both meet the needs of students in the facility as well as meet the needs of events that would occur in the facility. In 2005, The Union was able to find an exceptional opportunity for purchasing a Steinway for the space, Novotny said. This is the piano that is in the lounge area today.

Students are able to utilize the piano during open Union hours as long as there is not an event in the VBR. The instrument is almost always located in the lounge, and is only moved for events if deemed necessary.

“For those who play, we are so fortunate to hear them brighten the halls of the building,” Novotny said.  

The Union keeps up maintenance of the piano and has the piano tuned several times a year, as well as any time it has to be moved, Novotny said.

Antonio Phumiprapha, a sophomore graphic design major plays the piano at least two to three times per week. He has been playing piano for about two and a half years. Although he said he doesn’t know how to read sheet music, he takes what he knows from guitar and translates it to the piano by ear and memory.

“I like to go to The Union to play because I like the piano a lot,” Phumiprapha said. “Every time I go The Union and play, I usually warm up with a few songs I know then I play my favorite piece which is River Flows in You by Yiruma.

Novotny said the piano sees a tremendous amount of use, but does

amount of use, but does not show wear inside or out, which demonstrates students’ awareness of the instrument and also shows the instrument has been stewarded well by Union staff.

Phumiprapha said he is with friends most time when he plays and they tell him its good, but he also hears that from people’s he’s never met.

“I’d recommend for everyone to sit there at The Union or near a piano and just take a minute and really feel and listen to that music.  Music frees the soul,” Phumiprapha said.

Amanda Batzler, a senior early childhood education major, said that when she is working at Union Coffee she enjoys being able to listen to students that play the piano because it is relaxing.

“The students that play the piano are all really good, and it’s nice to listen to,” Batzler said.