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All keyed up: ‘Come Tickle Our Ivories’ project kicks off May 5

By Susan Shinn Turner
For the Salisbury Post

For the third and final year, Salisbury Symphony invites you to “Come Tickle Our Ivories!”

The project linking art with music kicks off Friday, May 5, at Friday Night Out in Downtown Salisbury. Groups who have decorated pianos will unveil their work beginning at 5:30 p.m. Some students from participating schools will be playing their pianos for an hour or so.

Groups participating in this year’s edition of “Come Tickle Our Ivories!” include Catawba College, Livingstone College, Hood Theological Seminary, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, North Hills Christian School, Rockwell Christian School, Rowan County Home School Association and street artist Joseph Heilig.

North Hills is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and tied the celebration into its decorating theme, “Better Together.”

It symbolizes that we’re all a piece of the puzzle, and when we work together we can create something beautiful,” says Mindy Daniel, lower school art instructor.

Some 60 to 75 students in grades one through five have played a role in cleaning, sanding, priming, painting and decorating the piano, Daniel says. “It was like a big production line.”

The school’s families donated old puzzles with pieces of all sizes, which have been painted in the school’s colors of blue, black and gold. Daniel estimates that students have painted at least 1,000 puzzle pieces, which they attached all over the piano. A cutout of the school crest also adorns one end.

Our students are excited to see it on display downtown, and see the progress each time they come to class,” Daniel says.

Meanwhile, the Rowan County Home School Association has incorporated a “Wizard of Oz” theme for its piano — “There’s no place like home school.”

One side of the piano is black and white, depicting the tornado at the beginning of the movie. The other side has become the colorful Munchkinland, according to Sandra Wagoner, the project’s parent coordinator.

These two sides symbolize the home school experience, Wagoner explains. The tornado symbolizes the sometimes-hectic whirlwind of home school, and the colorful side symbolizes days when things are going well. Finally, the pianos’ music stand, decorated like the gates of the Emerald City, symbolize the completion of a child’s home school education.

Allow plenty of time to see this piano — it’s quite detailed. You’ll see Dorothy and her friends, Glenda, poppies, the rainbow, maybe even a flying monkey or two.

Wagoner estimates that the home school group has spent about 65 hours over the past several months on the project. About seven kids regularly worked with her and fellow parent Carrie Safrit.

Wagoner helped with the project even though her two kids have already graduated.

Catawba issued a campus-wide call for the project, and about 16 students agreed to help starting in January, according to Dr. Chris Zink, professor of theater arts. The students eventually settled on a spring theme, with an abstract sunflower serving as the centerpiece of the design. The students applied glass beads as sunflower seeds, with additional flowers on the piano and its bench to complete the spring feel, Zink says.

Students Veronica Leasure and Casey Ellery served as the two main artists for Catawba.

The pianos are on display at the following locations in Downtown Salisbury: Textile Products, 119 N. Main St.; Sweet Meadow Café, 111 N. Main St.; Winsome Hanger, 103 N. Main St.; The Candy Shoppe, 119 S. Main St., Meroney Theater, 213 S. Main St.; Creative Teaching Aids, 310 S. Main St.; The Pedal Factory, 218-B S. Main St.; and at the Square.

In the past, the project has supported school art programs and the symphony. This year, however, the presentation is just for fun, says Mary Miller James, who’s spearheaded the project all along. It’s been a good run — up and down the keyboards — she says.

James also thanks all those who donated pianos for this project: Mary Corriher, Jewel Torrence, Sheri Rodenhuis, Vivian Birchall, Larry Graves, Wendy Roueche, Paul Laity and Jill Burch.

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