‘Public piano’ in tune with BI experience

Years ago while traveling, Bruce White had a musical experience encountering a “public piano.”

Since then he’s wanted Bainbridge Island to have such a piano to encourage people to play in public and add music to the everyday experience on BI.

His wish came true when a community of artists, students and friends installed a piano in the outdoor dining area at Town & Country Market on Winslow Way June 22.

To get it going, White not only needed a piano but also someone to orchestrate the project was key.

When Stina Tillotson heard a piano was needed for a public music project, she had the perfect one in mind. She donated an old family upright that was not being used at her parent’s home in Poulsbo.

“It was my grandmother’s piano. She gave it to my family when I was in high school. I literally taught myself how to play. It’s time for it to have a new life,” Tillotson said. “She would be so happy.”

White then approached Commodore Options School teacher Siri Miller about the project. She “wanted to get as many kids involved as possible.”

Once they received the piano, the students created a BI seascape design. The K through fourth-grade students designed the sea creatures and ferries, and high school students developed the overall concept and helped with painting; 291 students contributed to the project.

The student design wraps around the piano from left to right with a Bainbridge ferry on the west side, the mountains in the middle on the music rack, the Seattle ferry on the east side, with sea creatures on the front and sides. An orca whale, salmon and kelp are included, along with a slug prominently featured on the bench as a homage to BI.

Miller said many elements could not fit on the piano, so they created a 30-foot mural to be installed at the school this summer.

Town & Country manager Steve Snyder provided the space for the piano this summer, and Del Hatch inspected and transported the piano through the many project stages.

White is not a musician but has a deep appreciation for music. He tried to learn the piano as well as guitar and saxophone. “I can’t play worth a darn,” but he loves all kinds of music, from classical to jazz to pop.

With the piano in place and people making music in the public space, White was all smiles as he remembered what inspired him to bring the moment to fruition. “I guess I already imagined it,” he said. “You reach a certain point in life, and you want to give back. Hopefully, the community will embrace it and have an experience like we had on our travels.”

A slug is prominently featured on the bench.

A slug is prominently featured on the bench.

Detail of the a ferry and scuba diver on the side of the piano.

A slug is prominently featured on the bench.

Del Hatch plays the piano in front of Town & Country.

Del Hatch plays the piano in front of Town & Country.

Detail of two enamored octopi on the right side of the piano.

Del Hatch plays the piano in front of Town & Country.