PIQUA — Patrons of the Miami Valley Centre Mall can now partake in a bit of piano-playing during their next shopping trip.
Artie Parker, proprietor of Parker’s Sport Shop in Piqua, has donated upright Packard and New York Weber pianos to the mall as indefinite fixtures. Both models date back to the mid-1890s and are open to the public for use during regular mall hours.
The pianos were donated as a result of a project begun by Parker, which entails finding and restoring local pianos that are at risk of being thrown away.
“I’ve been collecting pianos and placing them on my shop’s porch since 2010,” Parker said. “We’ve been moving them into public spaces since 2014. My intention since then has been to place pianos where anyone can play them, such as inside stores or storefronts with overhangs. Having some set up to roll outside for events and fairs and festivals was secondary, but became a big hit.”
By reaching out through social media and networking at his business, Parker has managed to salvage various models throughout the Miami County area that might otherwise have been lost.
“I told people I was interested in finding cheap or free pianos,” Parker said. “Mostly on Facebook, people would comment or tag me. Someone who is local to that (piano) find would know someone wanting one and end up getting that piano for themselves. Sometimes I’ve been the person to go get them, pick them up and deliver them to their new homes.”
As a result of his efforts, as well as ongoing assistance from Scott Oglesbee Tuning & Repair Service in Piqua, Parker has placed pianos in seven private residences and numerous public spaces.
Parker said the entire project has been worth his efforts, if only to expose the power of music to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access.
“I love music. I cannot play myself, but I want others to be able to do so,” Parker said. “Many people live in apartments or rentals and simply do not have the space for a piano. Sadly, most homes do not have them, and some pianos, when people move, get discarded.
“I’d say my main goal is simply to get the younger generation access to pianos, but secondarily, any player of pianos should be able to play them in public for others to enjoy their talents.”
Parker offered special thanks to Scott and Kim Oglesbee for the Packard located at the food court, Piqua resident Suzanna Willoughby for the piano near the Buckle, and mall manager Peggy Henthorn for allowing him to place them at the mall for public use.
“There is no substitution for live music,” Parker exclaimed. “Music is the one thing, maybe the only thing, that utilizes and stimulates both sides of the brain and touches upon a full spectrum of emotion.”
For more information, visit www.parkerssportshop.com.