Mason City high school students who are taking part in a leadership program plan to install several upright pianos in the downtown this spring, pianos that can be played by the public. The program is called Youth Investing Energy in Leadership Development or YIELD.
Tristan Bernhard says they’ve put together plans so the pianos will be protected in bad weather. He says they’ve raised money to purchase heavy vinyl piano covers and have surrounding businesses “adopt” the pianos to put the covers on at night and when it rains.
Similar concepts in communities like Iowa City and Cedar Rapids have worked well, where pianos are set up outdoors for people to play. “They’ve also raised money for piano carts so the instruments can easily be moved into storage during the winter. The program is being sponsored by the Mason City Chamber of Commerce and the Mason City Youth Task Force.
The “Tunes for the Town” project is due, in part, to the city’s rich musical heritage. He says everyone’s been enthusiastic about the idea, in the home of “The Music Man.” “We will use some of the money we raised to purchase chains and padlocks,” Bernhard says. “One thing we learned in doing this project is that many people are willing to donate a piano to a project like this as long as we move it for them.” Bernhard says they have plans in place in case a piano is stolen or vandalized.
Bernhard says several pianos have been donated to the program, including three in one afternoon, so if one becomes damaged or destroyed, they do have other pianos to use. Bernhard says the pianos will be installed in the spring once the weather cooperates.
(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)