NEW YORK – If you’ve walked around New York City within the past few weeks, chances are you’ve run into a colorful piano that’s sitting on the sidewalk looking a little out of place.
But the piano has been placed there for a reason; it wants you to come and play it.
It’s one of 51 pianos that have been placed around the city by the organization Sing for Hope, a nonprofit that aims to make art more accessible.
“What we’re trying to do at Sing for Hope is give opportunities for people to connect with people,” Sing for Hope co-founder Monica Yunus said.
For the past 12 years, the organization has placed more than 400 pianos throughout the city during the month of June where they sit unsecured and available for anyone to play a tune.
Each year, the initiative touches the lives of over 2 million New Yorkers and tourists.
“In a world where it’s a little hard to see people, this is one way where music and the arts can help us do that,” Yunus said.
Bringing people together through the power of music is a goal for Sing for Hope. The group partners with various organizations and public institutions to make a difference at schools, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, neighborhood centers and more.
Sing for Hope’s title sponsor this year is the automotive company MINI USA. The two partnered together to create this year’s the #MINIPiano, a piano inside a specially designed and modified MINI Countryman.
“MINI is pleased to partner with Sing for Hope in its important mission, bringing even more music, more art, more spontaneous moments of community to every corner of NYC with our unique mobile #MINIPiano,” Lee Nadler, the regional marketing manager for MINI USA, said.
Each piano is bought at a discount, refurbished and decorated by different designers. Some of the past artists who’ve decorated pianos include the Broadway casts of “Kinky Boots” and “Wicked” and fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi.
Keeping the pianos in near perfect conditions is important to Sing for Hope. If it’s forecast to rain, the organization will have volunteers that will go and cover the pianos.
“They get notifications on their phones to go cover those pianos with a rain jacket that’s attached to the back,” Yunus said.
The pianos are not available to the public throughout the year. At the end of this month, Sing for Hope will donate the pianos to New York City’s public schools where they will be placed in classrooms.
Often times, it will be the first time a piano is available at certain schools.
“One-third of our kids do not even have arts education in their schools,” Yunus said.
The organization has already seen an impact. 153 arts programs have been created or expanded and about 34,000 students use Sing for Hope pianos in their schools during the year.
“We founded Sing for Hope with one goal: making the arts accessible to everyone in every community,” Yunus said.