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“Multiplayer Piano” Debuts at Park City Mall

Multiplayer Piano Debuts at Park City Mall
Something exciting has arrived at the Park City Mall. No, it’s not Santa or the Easter Bunny, but it’s going to make some noise. Literally.

Quaver 5Born out of a partnership between Park City Center (GGP), local non-profit organization Music for Everyone, and technology company MajorMega, the piano will be a unique mix of analog and digital technologies. Not only that,mike-sean-angle-2 but it will facilitate community interaction, allowing mall-goers young and old to experience the bonding powers of music.
Dubbed the multiplayer piano and named “Quaver” after the British musical term for an eighth-note, it will act similar to a videogame. Four people can play at a time, and when each “player” has finished their respective turn, they will be able to download the collective creation to their phone and share it to social media.

The idea for the piano first began in the MajorMega offices. The company, founded in January 2013 by friends Sean Hennessey and Mike Bridgman, specializes in creating apps, games, and other “interactive wizardry”, according to their website.
“We started having this huge passion for arcade machines, and we were obsessing over them, looking for them all over Craigslist. As this was happening, we toyed around with the idea of doing a piano piece, and we merged those two [ideas] together, so we were like, ‘What if we did some arcade-theme multiplayer piano?’” says Hennessey “We thought it would work well with the whole vision for Keys for the City where they’re trying to facilitate community [interaction] and have people rub elbows with those they usually wouldn’t interact with”

DSC_0001After contacting Music for Everyone about their vision, and with a little networking power, the two were able to make their whiteboard idea a reality.

However, all of MajorMega’s success did not happen overnight.
Both self-taught graphic designers and computer programmers, Hennessey and Bridgman are the epitome of what hard work, drive, and risk-taking can lead to.

Hennessey initially found work as a graphic designer at an advertising company in Elizabethtown. Bridgman spent many years in Chicago doing computer work, and eventually returned to Lancaster and applied to work at the same advertising company as Hennessey.
The two hit it off immediately, realized they wanted to start their own company, and MajorMega was born.

Quaver 4After doing some freelance work, the company was able to move to its current office on North Christian Street and begin bringing their own ideas to life.
And it’s not ‘all work and no play’ at MajorMega. The mood in the office is lively, with arcade machines, skateboards, and Nerf guns decorating the office. Along with that, the company opens up 20150815_113251their offices every First Friday to host a videogame night.

This playful attitude is reflected in the colorful piano’s design, which features flying eighth-notes that resemble alien dinosaurs in classic arcade 8-bit style.

The piano is both viewable and interactive art, allowing the user to become the artist rather than the spectator. Not only that, but it allows for complete strangers to make music together in a space where people keep to themselves and do not connect. It may not be Santa Claus coming to Park City, but Quaver is sure to steal hearts and make memories.
Catch the Quaver multiplayer piano in action from August 5th until January 31st.

 

 

For more information about Music for Everyone, visit www.musicforeveryone.net, or follow them on Twitter (@mfelancaster), Instagram (@mfelancaster), or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MFELancaster).
For more information about MajorMega, visit www.majormega.com or follow them on Twitter (@WeAreMajorMega), Instagram (@wearemajormega), or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MajorMega)

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Behind the Keys: The Story Behind the Street Pianos

Patterson/Votilla Dentistry Piano: Interview with George Mummert

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Since 2007, Patterson/Votilla Dentistry has provided thorough, comprehensive, personalized, state-of-the art care in a relaxed, comfortable setting. Dawn Burkholder, practice administrator, comments that the practice strives for high quality, life-changing care with a friendly face: “We love the relationships we have built with our patients, and we love seeing how dentistry can change people’s self-confidence. We have an extremely high standard of care here, and it shows in all aspects of practice.” They have sponsored Keys for the City pianos in the past, but with a different designer each year. This year’s designer of the Patterson/Votilla piano is George Mummert. Here, we sit down and talk to George about the piano and his career as a whole.

Music for Everyone: What inspired the piano’s design?

George Mummert: The design of the piano was the result of a collective design process with the kids. While I had the piano in the studio, I had some ideas of my own, but I started the process was when we first got the group of kids together, which was my idea to have kids working on it, we opened up with a premise that we were going to design and decorate a piano, and that they had free reign. However, we needed to come up with something that worked from both a design standpoint, and something that was also pretty cool [from a visual standpoint]. First, we went to Tellus360 (where the piano is located) to talk about where it would be placed, and the environment of the space. After that, we went back to the studio, and the kids shared ideas of what they as an individual would do, and then we talked about those things in a group. In the end, or rather, in the middle, I told them that I had ideas too, and that I won’t tell them to you until you come up with your own design. Ironically, they picked several things that I thought of, like the lips and the mouth. Really, the people to really thank are the sponsors, Patterson/Votilla Dentistry, because they gave up pictures of past pianos, but other than saying they wanted their logo on the piano, they left it completely open, and I think an important part of the process was that the kids were free to design and create, and basically play, without structure. It was important for them to have that total freedom. I was very thankful that the sponsor was open to that, and frankly I didn’t really tell them that until the end, and I kinda sprung it on them to some extent, but from talking to them via email and on the phone, I got the impression that they were open to a lot of ideas.

MFE: How did you get the idea to have elementary school kids help with the piano?

GM: Well, over the years that I’ve worked on the pianos, I have always worked with youth, and I’ve worked with high school kids, I’ve worked with middle school kids, and now this is the youngest group I’ve worked on a piano with. Over the years, through different art projects, I’ve worked with a lot of young people, and it’s an extremely important part of our community is to engage and educate the youth, but also giving them those fun experiences where they’re learning, but they’re really playing and having fun, and building teamwork. I wanted this project to be one of those projects that really wasn’t my design at all, I was just the facilitator. I brought all the tools to the table, and some knowledge, which I shared with them, and they basically took over the project at that point.

MFE: What materials were used when building the piano? Were they materials you had used before, or was this a new experience for you?

GM: It’s made of reclaimed and recycled parts of the piano, plaster for the lips and the mouth, and metal at the top for the banner-board that shows the name of the dentistry and the portraits made of each of the kids… The materials we used are materials that I use frequently, and that was part of my sharing with them was showing them the basics of working with plaster. They did all the plaster work themselves, all I did was fix the plaster and show them how to apply it, and then they built a little assembly line. Someone would come to the front of the line, put some plaster on, and then go to the back. The aspect of letting young people be completely free like that is so valuable for their education. It was very interesting to see the reactions of the teacher and the parents who came. They were there during the process, but they did not help, they just came to bring their kids or just to observe. It was really all the kids doing the work, but it was interesting to see the reaction of the parents when the kids are literally throwing the paint around, and it’s getting all over the floor, and the plaster is getting all over everything, and I was completely okay with that, because it’s an art project. I wanted them to have the freedom of working with the material in any way that they wanted to. Initially, I could see the teacher cringing, because I think she felt they were stepping out of line by getting the paint on the floor and everything else, including themselves, and she realized that I wasn’t going to stop it, I was going to let them do what they wanted to do, within reason. I wasn’t going to let them dump gallons of paint on each other’s head, but if they were a little bit sloppy, or ‘going outside of the lines’, I was completely fine with that. I wanted them express themselves with whatever materials in whichever way they saw fit. The parents and the teacher were initially very uncomfortable with that, because, as adults, we’re usually not that free-thinking and are unable to let ourselves go. To be honest with you, that’s what changed my work as an artist. Going into Warehouse Wandering, I had a completely different body of work planned for the event, and I changed everything after I worked with [the kids], because… I was just in awe really of how they let themselves play and be so free with the materials, that they were unhindered, unfettered. I thought to myself, “That’s really where I should be”. It was kind of like it was as much for them as it was for me. I think some of the teachers and parents would say the same thing after watching not only the process, but seeing the final result.

MFE: Were the children from a specific school, or were they gathered from the community?

GM: They were from Buchanan Elementary, Wharton Elementary, and the New School of Lancaster.

MFE: How long did it take to create the piano?

GM: We only worked with the kids about five hours. We only had two, 2.5 hour sessions, including the field trip to Tellus360. At the end of the session, I would continue to work and do the things that I needed to do, like putting 4-5 layers of clear coat on the piano, but I wasn’t dictating the design, or any other element in that regards. When we ended our session, I told [the kids] “This is it, our piano needs to be finished and it has to be picked up, so if you want to make any more changes from what you see right now you need to tell me what that is and I’ll do it for you.”

MFE: How many years have you designed a Keys for the City piano

GM: I’m not sure, but I think this was the 4th time

MFE: How did you begin designing pianos for Music for Everyone?

GM: I think John contacted me initially several years ago [to design a piano], and I said “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.”

MFE: You graduated Millersville University with a Geography degree, so what inspired you to become an artist?

GM: I’ve always been a creative person, [I’ve] always wanted to be doing something where I would be working with my hands, whether it be art, or building go-carts or whatever, and I just went back to that. When I graduated college, I was working for the Lancaster County Planning Commission, and during that time I made the decision that I was at a point of time in my life that I could be a bit more spontaneous with the work that I was doing. I took the time to break away from the normal 9-5 routine and start making art full-time, and that’s what I did starting in 1998.

MFE: Have your inspirations of changed over the years, or have they remained the same?

GM: They continue to be influenced by the things around me. Like I said, I had a completely different direction for Warehouse Wandering, and this most recent session working with the kids changed all that. I was inspired to approach my own work and some of the things I do in a different way.

MFE: Do you feel you have “returned to your roots” by taking on more local projects?

GM: That’s an interesting question. I think my roots are more so about the work and how I approach it than about the place where the work is going.

MFE: How has your art changed from when you started to where you are today?

GM: Good question. There has been continuing series of works, and so those continuing series of work have not really changed. The pace at which I’m working on the series ebbs and flows. So I’ll spend some time working very abstractly using more geometric forms, and then I’ll break from that and work on something that’s a lot more light-hearted, more free and not so confined to hard geometry. My most recent work is a lot more like gigantic sketches, not on paper, but on metal. Very large black and white forms that I approached much like the kids approached the piano. I had a concept in mind, but I didn’t feel like I had to necessarily follow the lines. When you look at the new work, I wasn’t careful about having drips, or blobs of paint, or missing spots. The process itself became fully immersed in what the final piece ended up being. It’s just engrained all throughout.

 

For more information at Patterson/ Votilla Dentistry, visit their website at www.dentistryforlife.com or call them at 717-569-3911. For more information about George Mummert, visit his website at www.georgemummert.com or look at his Pennsylvania Arts Experience profile at www.paartsexperience.com . Music for Everyone would like to thank Patterson/Votilla Dentistry and George Mummert for their continued support and contribution to the organization.

 

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Keys Spotlight: The Story Behind the Street Piano

“Touch to See”: The VisionCorps Piano

From a distance, the VisionCorps piano looks like a plain, white piano. However, a closer look reveals something more: a series of raised images that include faces, the Earth, swirls, rays of light, and a message in braille that reads “Touch to see”.

Located right across from their offices on North Queen Street in the RRTA Bus station, the piano represents the commitment VisionCorps has to assisting their 2,000 clients and the approximately 250,000 Pennsylvanians who are blind or vision impaired.

Formerly known as the Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired, VisionCorps’ mission is to empower those with vision loss to attain independence, according to Amy Giangiulio, Marketing and Communication Coordinator. They do this through three ‘arms’: the Foundation arm, which is the fundraising arm of the business; the Enterprise Division arm, which aims to lower the 70% unemployment rate for vision impaired Americans by employing workers on projects such as sewing pads for the inside of military helmets and bottling chemicals that go into federal prisons; and the Services arm, which offers occupational therapy, daily living skills instruction, and support services for adults and youth.

Although it is their first time with a Keys for the City piano, it is not their first time working with Music for Everyone. In April, with the help of Stephen Patterson, founder of Ukulele Uprising, Anita Lefever, who helps with the youth services at VisionCorps, and Mika McDougall, board member of Horizons (A summer enrichment program at Lancaster Country Day School), VisionCorps applied for a $1,000 grant from Music for Everyone to buy 15 ukuleles to be shared by VisionCorps and Horizon children. “Our youth services students were taught how to use ukuleles. They actually learned how to play the ukulele through a group (Ukulele Uprising) that came and taught them. And at our last 2nd Look event they performed with their ukuleles” says Amy Giangiulio.

For Amy, this is just the start of incorporating music into their youth and adult services.

“That’s the first big musical undertaking I’ve been aware of since I’ve been here. However, since we now also have a Keys For the city piano, it’s becoming a more important thing to us.”

For Sherry Harry, Senior Director of Business Relations & Marketing at VisionCorps, her ties with the organization go back even further. “John Gerdy (founder of Music for Everyone) and I have worked together for two to three years on the Extraordinary Give and gotten to know each other that way, and I also knew Root 222 (the designers of the piano) because they did work for two years at the Extraordinary Give. It’s just through building relationships between these community partners. Through multiple partnerships over the years, [Music for Everyone] really felt that VisionCorps was one of the organizations they wanted to highlight because they’ve worked with us, and in turn Ukulele Uprising is teaching the children. It all comes around.”

For Root 222, it all comes down to who the piano is for. “I think because we knew the nature of the group we were doing it for, we wanted to… do something specifically for the patrons of the business, being in this case the blind” says Anthony Mark, one-third of the Root 222 trio that also includes Deric Hettinger and Schon Wanner, “So this piece is tactile, something you can see with your hands. And really, the whole piano being painted white was to bring home that it was for touching and not for looking at.”

“It’s really for the blind.” Schon Wanner elaborates, “You can only see the raised images up-close. When we do work for the public, it’s for the public; [The piano] tells people to be inclusive and give something to people who don’t get public art created for them.”

For Deric Hettinger, the piano pushed the trio into uncharted creative territory “When Anthony Mark came up with the idea of drawing in caulk, it was definitely breaking down a wall and trying something new. I thought it was very inventive to just make a painting you can touch. We definitely played with our creative side. I know it might be simple or minimalistic, and we were thinking about throwing a flair of color here and there, but I think it was a unique, one of a kind experience to make almost like a white wedding cake. It’s very off-the-cuff for us because we usually love colorful imagery, so we went in a new direction, which I enjoyed.”

This seemingly simple piano tells a complex story, written by the people who have inspired it. It is a narrative of hard work, service, and community partnerships, dedicated and made for those who are blind or vision impaired.

For Amy Giangiulio, the piano’s ability to silently spread awareness is its best quality “I have seen people there probably every time I’ve walked by but one… I hope when people are seeing the VisionCorps logo and understanding the tactile art of the piece and the braille that’s on it that they’re linking that to our building and the services we provide to the community. It’s all about awareness, because the more we can get the community to know what we do and to be involved with what we do, the more it spreads via word of mouth in our community and the more people we can help.” For this organization, it all comes around.

 

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Pictures From Keys for the City 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out some of the scenes that this year’s “Keys for the City” produced! We are thankful to all of our sponsors and artists who made the program possible!! Fear not the Keys will be back next year, as long as we can secure the necessary sponsorship!

 

 

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Lancaster PA, “Street Piano Capital of the World”

Lancaster PA, “Street Piano Capital of the World”

 

As you have heard (literally), Keys for the City pianos are still on the streets in downtown Lancaster. And while you’ve head those pianos, have you also heard that Lancaster is the “Street Piano Capital of the World”?  We can make this claim based on several metrics:

 

Consecutive Years for Program: We’ve placed pianos on the streets for five years running, the most consecutive years of any city that we are aware of.

 

Length of the Program:  Our pianos are out for use by the public 24/7 for over four full months. Again, a longer stretch of time than any other city we are aware of.

 

Piano Per Capita Ratio: Lancaster can boast of having one street piano per every 4563 residents (13 pianos for 59,325 [2013 estimate])

 

Piano Key Pey Capita:  We can also boast of having one piano key per 51.86 residents!

 

So, get you groove on and come down to tickle a few ivories on any and all of the 14 pianos. Head to the Keys Website or Music For Everyone’s Website for more information regarding locations and additional events  around the pianos. You can also follow the pianos on the MFE Facebook Page where we will be posting pictures and announcing various events and promotions relating to the pianos all summer long.

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Willie Marble’s Ten Tips for Jivin’, Strivin’ and Survivin’ Keys for the City”

Willie Marble’s Ten Tips for Jivin’, Strivin’ and Survivin’ Keys for the City”  

  1. Get a map! You can’t play ‘emif you don’t know where they are.Go to KeysfortheCity.com.
  2. Dress Up or Dress Down.  Either way, you want to look good when tickling those ivories.
  3. If you have a friend or a group of friends who play instruments, meet them at a piano for a jam session. If you are in a band, have your group meet at a piano for a “guerilla, hit and run” concert performance. Announce it on your FaceBook page or tweet your fans 30 minutes prior and see what happens.
  4. Bring a “Bag ‘O Percussion”. Pack a few shakers and hand percussion instruments. Hand them out and immediately, everyone is “in the band”. Get people shakin’em and dancin’ and before you know it, you are in the middle of a Happenin’! Now that’s magic!
  5. Piano players look great in shades. Ray Charles sure did.  And you will too!
  6. No need to bring an electric tuner. Other instruments will need to be tuned to the piano, as there is no guarantee it will be in perfect pitch. Remember, this is not about perfect pitch, but a perfect musical moment.
  7. If you can’t play a lick, try this: Use the black keys only. Something slow.  Dreamy sort of stuff. As long as you are hitting only black keys, it’ll sound like you know what you are doing. And when someone asks, “Who wrote that song?”,you can reply, “It’s an original, of course.”
  8. Consider the Design. Twenty of them to choose from. Enough said!
  9. Take care of the pianos. They are beautiful instruments and works of art. And be respectful of those who may live, work, or sleep close by.
  10. Enjoy the music and the magic!

 

Willie Marble is a Lancaster based Blues musician.

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Music Friday & Community piano painting

Last Music Friday we got together with artist Loryn Spangler-Jones and members of the community to paint the MFE Community Piano on Lancaster Square. These are some of the people that joined us and left their handprints on the piano! Thank you Lancaster Community! You are awesome!

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Musical Street Interactions All Summer!

Music for Everyone (MFE) is gathering up the Lancaster community to raise money for kid’s music programs through activities surrounding the street pianos (Keys for the City project). The first activity will be #KeysforMFE on Friday June 6th at the piano located in the Prince Street Parking Garage (111 N. Prince Street) starting from 5:00 P.M and ending at 8:00 P.M.

#KeysforMFE every First Friday!

As a Lancaster resident you will have a unique opportunity to help raise money for MFE just by playing at least one key on the designated piano. It’s simple: play one piano key this Friday and MFE will get $1 from a sponsor. Piano sponsors Prince Street Café and Mean Cup have agreed to donate $1 for each person who plays at least one key during hour and half increments on First Friday.

Music for Everyone is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to raising awareness and resources to strengthen the role that music plays in our schools and communities. Since April 2006, Music for Everyone has awarded almost $200,000 in grants to schools and community groups in Lancaster County. The objective of Keys for the City and these activities is to provide access to musical opportunity, foster creativity and build a sense of community among the public and, in the process, raise awareness for local music and visual arts education initiatives.

Join us in making Lancaster an even more vibrant and creative city!

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An Art Revolution Perhaps…

By Loryn Spangler-Jones, artist

Photograph provided by Vanessa Reisig, owner Annex 24 Gallery

Photo by Vanessa Reisig, owner Annex 24 Gallery

As artists it is our job to constantly challenge the status quo, push boundaries, cross lines even challenge societal norms. We are constantly evolving and looking for ways to translate this into our work whether visually, musically or whatever your medium of choice. We have, I believe, a responsibility to society to bring the arts into the homes and lives of everyone around us, to create a richer more appealing world for us all to exist in. One of the most beautiful things about art is there are no rules. The only limitations are the ones we create. For too long music and the visual arts have peacefully coexisted in Lancaster as two equal but very separate forms of art.

The arts were not meant to be nor should they be mutually exclusive on any level. After all, creative energy is the source for all art no matter the medium. This universal energy, available to all, is free for the taking. Whether one is making music, painting a canvas, dancing a story or writing a book the energy used all comes from the same place. And it is far time we begin to blur that invisible line of demarkation and break down the walls that separate music from a canvas from a dance. No matter the medium all creativity tells us a story. And if that is the case, wouldn’t it only make sense that in mixing mediums we would just create a richer more vibrant story? Even looking at indigenous cultures where creativity is the hub of their existence, any and all rituals and/or celebrations are oozing with color, music and dance.

MFE’s Keys to the City project has been a fantastic way to incorporate the visual arts with performance: recreating older pianos into something more visually stimulating if not inviting for the public to sit down and play. In addition, giving several of Lancaster’s local artists an opportunity to donate there time and talent. But why stop there? Well, they didn’t. MFE invited 6 local artists to paint HUGE 8x10foot canvases with music as their inspiration. These canvases were then hung in Lancaster Square across the street from Binn’s Park to bring some much needed color and life to a what is currently a very industrial pallet. What a fantastic way to bring visual celebration to MFE’s volume V CD release party this past Music Friday. With fresh live music and huge colorful lively art, senses were certainly being stimulated and creative energy flowing through all who attended.

With MFE pioneering an art revolution here in Lancaster we are all sure to be influenced to some degree by this universal energy filled with inspiration, stimulation and creation.

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