Old Piano Finds New Home in Cedar Courtyard

KSA hopes the piano will help to enrich the often-overlooked courtyard space
Braden Klassen, Photo Editor

KPU Students Naman Verma and Karina Kaur spend an afternoon playing duets on Butterfly, the newly obtained piano in the Cedar Courtyard. (Braden Klassen)

The Kwantlen Student Association has purchased an upright piano to be kept in the courtyard of the Cedar building. Charmingly named “Butterfly”, the piano is meant to promote the use of the Cedar courtyard on the Surrey campus.

“[The Cedar courtyard] obviously doesn’t get the same attention that the other one does, but it’s a beautiful space,” says Matt Hunt, the KSA’s events coordinator. “[The piano] is a central unit that brings people together. Whether you’re a musician or not, it’s kind of a focal point.”

Hunt has played piano since he was a child and was responsible for the procurement of the instrument for the KSA. He spent weeks looking at second-hand pianos and had almost given up before he finally discovered Butterfly.

“I think I probably went and checked out about ten different pianos before I found this one,” he says. “I wanted to buy something cost-efficient, not spending too much money on it, but also high-quality enough that it’s not going to break down or need too much maintenance.”

Hunt says that he has heard a lot of positive feedback concerning the appearance of the piano, and has noticed people gathering in the space to try their hand at playing it. The music from the piano can be heard faintly through the windows of classrooms that look into the courtyard. It can even reach into Grassroots on particularly quiet days.

“Just hearing piano on a daily basis—it’s soothing to a lot of people,” says Hunt. “My office is just around the corner and almost every time I walk by there’s someone playing. I’m sure that, over time, when it catches on that this is here, all of the student musicians will make their way over.”

Jay Reedy, KSA VP Student Life, explains that the student association was inspired to bring a piano to campus by similar campaigns where musical instruments were placed in public spaces, such as the City of Vancouver’s “Keys to the Streets” campaign.

“In the last few years there have been a lot of communities that have set up these public pianos as a way to drive community engagement and to liven up spaces in urban areas, and we thought that it would be a good opportunity to bring an additional bit of colour to campus,” he says.

Reedy predicts that the piano might be repainted with an artistic mural in the future. The instrument can also be moved around to different locations if the need arises, since there is nothing physically preventing it from being the victim of theft or vandalism in its current spot, save for being near enough to the KSA office to be monitored.

“It’s one of those courtesy and honesty systems,” says Hunt. “You hope that enough respect is there. There are people out there that ruin things all the time, but it’s meant to be kind of a trust-system and that people will respect the fact that it’s an old piece of art.”

For now, the piano will remain on the Surrey campus, increasing the foot traffic through the often unused Cedar courtyard.