Street pianos musicians\' \"gift\" to Columbia

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COLUMBIA - A local group of piano enthusiasts is bringing more music to the streets of Columbia.

The Columbia Piano Technicians Guild put its second street piano downtown Friday.

The piano will be placed in front of the Heidelberg restaurant on Ninth Street.

The guild's first public street piano is located on the corner of Ninth Street and Broadway in front of Tellers. 

Guild President Steven Fair and the secretary Lucy Urlacher came up with the idea to bring street pianos to Columbia.

"Steve and I were at a convention and one of the topics was piano awareness and people from other cities talked about street pianos," Urlacher said. "And Steve was the one who said it would be a great idea for Columbia, and we ran with it."

The guild received both of the street pianos as donations.

They were donated because they were too expensive for the technicians to fully repair.

"They were both totally rundown to begin with," Urlacher said. "We are giving them one last hurrah."

Urlacher said it's a gift to the public.

"I found that it really brings out an inner musician," Urlacher said. "People gravitate toward the piano and they must play it."

Members of the guild care for the street pianos just like they would a regular piano.

"It just takes a small amount of maintenance," Fair said. "Periodically we see it's not working and we have to do some repairing."

Fair said if the opportunity to take on another street piano arose, they would probably take it, but, with less than five active members, Fair said they could not handle too many more.

The guild chose MU art school student Samantha Edwards to paint both of the street pianos.

"The painting is so important for the street pianos," Urlacher said. "If this was just a brown piano sitting out here it would not have near the appeal as having a paint and visual aspect in addition to the playing aspect."

The street pianos will be out and available for the public to play until the winter months, when they will be put in storage.

"No one wants to play the piano with gloves on," Urlacher said.