Recently, my article about the different pianos in different locations on campus appeared in our online student newspaper Ho‘oulu. “All the Right Notes – In All the Right Places” sounds like a song by One Republic. I wrote the article this past April for my journalism newswriting course to inform readers about the six locations that have pianos for students to use.

Six-time Grammy winner Daniel Ho visits Kupa'a 104, November 2015

Six-time Grammy winner Daniel Ho visits Kupa’a 104, November 2015

The first location is the main music classroom Kupa‘a 104 which now contains two acoustic grand pianos and 21 digital pianos. I’m pleased to say that they all work.

When I started teaching piano class in Spring 2012, this classroom was the only place with pianos on campus. You had to own your own piano to be able to practice outside of class. Back then, our classroom contained only one grand piano and about a dozen (or fewer) working digital pianos. It was like sitting in a grave yard among broken pianos. Eventually we got most of them fixed though we had to get rid of a few and replace them with new ones.

Abraham Ramirez likes to practice on the Korg piano in the library

Abraham Ramirez likes to practice on the Korg piano in the library

Fast forward Fall 2015, we have now pianos in the following locations:

  • Kupa‘a 104 classroom: Steinway concert grand (9 ft built in 1968) and Baldwin baby grand (from Lanai)
  • Library: new Korg digital piano (April 2015)
  • The Learning Center (TLC): two digital pianos (Casio; Yamaha)
  • Veterans Resource Center: digital piano (Casio)
  • Laulima 105: two older digital pianos
  • Lahaina Educational Center: Casio digital piano

Kim Watts at the UHMC Veterans Resource Center

The article describes in more depth about the different locations, quoting from former piano students like Kim Watts who said that playing the piano helped her cope with mathematics.

It also explains the rationale behind putting more than one piano per location.

Having pianos in different locations translates to more places to practice and perform. When people see someone with headphones practicing, it signals to them that they can also take a piano class or any music class, for that matter. If you take music theory, you will need an instrument such as the piano to work out the notes and chords.

The ideal scenario is having more than one classroom to accommodate pianos and studios with single acoustic pianos for practice. When someone is practicing on the Steinway grand, you can’t really play on the other grand. When the classroom is being used for a lecture, the acoustic pianos can’t be used by others.

Two digital pianos at the TLC

Two digital pianos at the TLC

By fitting more pianos in the Kupa’a classroom, we were able to increase the ceiling for enrollment. Oddly what this did was to cut down the number of classes from four to three and increase the number of students per class.

Ideally, I’d like to see a redistribution of the empty offices or rooms that are no longer needed because of the decline in enrollment. We need space for performance and practice. But mostly we need space to accept and accommodate donations of acoustic pianos. We also need a budget to pay for piano maintenance, regular tuning, piano relocation, and other expenses. Without the space or the budget, we have to turn down requests for donations.