Pianos ‘Round Town, a project developed by Korin Hancherlian-Amos, is in its fourth year this fall. Going from Sept. 20 until Oct. 8, seven pianos placed around Ypsilanti will be available for passersby to sit down and play anything they desire, from a few notes to a full concerto. Five of these pianos can be found on East Cross Street in Depot Town outside local businesses. A sixth piano resides outside of Mix on Michigan Avenue, and the seventh can be found at Tower Inn on Cross Street.
Hancherlian-Amos, co-proprietor of Depot Town’s framing and art gallery Nelson Amos Studio, was originally inspired to organize Pianos ‘Round Town by a similar program, the internationally touring arts project Play Me, I’m Yours. Hancherlian-Amos encountered it in London, where the words “Play Me, I’m Yours” were painted on pianos in markets, parks and bus stations. Anyone passing by could stop and play a tune.
In order to bring that idea to Ypsilanti, Hancherlian-Amos organized the event with local businesses and Tim Hoy at the Steinway Piano Gallery. Steinway delivered the pianos, two of which are painted by local artist Debra Jean-Smith Golden, to business owners willing to cover them if it rains, and set them out where the public can engage with them seven days a week during business hours. Besides Steinway and Nelson Amos Studios, Pianos ‘Round Town is also sponsored by the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Depot Town Association.
At the piano outside of Nelson Amos Studios, Hancherlian-Amos is offering free piano lessons for all ages. Last year she taught a man in his seventies to play a boogie along with showing a young child how pianos create sounds.
“Pianos have a way of attracting you if you’re a player,” she said.
The project is meant to encourage interaction, whether the player can only play a simple duet of “Heart and Soul,” or a major solo work by Beethoven. The goal of Pianos ‘Round Town, Hancherlian-Amos said, is “to get people out and about, to play and have fun.”
Counting on the irresistible nature of a piano with its keyboard open and available to the public, she is hopeful that people will do just that.
With this musical project, Hancherlian-Amos also hopes to promote a positive view of Ypsilanti. Nelson Amos Studio has been open in Depot Town for nine years, but Korin Hancherlian-Amos and husband Nelson Amos have been tied to Ypsilanti for longer than that. Hancherlian-Amos graduated with a piano performance degree from Eastern Michigan University, and Amos has been a member of EMU’s music faculty as the classical guitar professor since 1975. The store located in Depot Town, meant as post-retirement plan, and has become a repository for Amos’ oil paintings and pencil drawings, many of them depicting scenes familiar to Ypsilanti residents and EMU students alike.
As of last Friday, it has also become a temporary home for one of the pianos for Pianos ‘Round Town, this one painted with bright colors in a musical theme by Golden.
If you’re itching to tickle the ivory around the city, below is the list of locations where you can find a piano and make beautiful music:
Nelson Amos Studio, 23 E. Cross Street
Café Racer, 10 E. Cross Street
Ypsilanti Food Co-op, 312 N. River Street
MIX, 130 W. Michigan Avenue
Sidetracks, 56 E. Cross Street
Depot Town Dispensary, 35 E. Cross Street
Tower Inn Café, 701 W. Cross Street
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