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VIDEO: Keys in the Cities project brings spontaneous art and music to downtown areas

June 8, 2015

A new project called "Keys in the Cities" provides opportunities for students to play public pianos in downtown East Lansing. 

"The project is an extension of the Capital Area Blues Society community outreach project," said project director Larry Grudt. The project is also associated with Detroit Institute of Art.  

Keys in the Cities means to place artfully developed pianos in different public spaces for people to play during the summer months, he said. There are several different locations in both Lansing and East Lansing. The Lansing-based moving company Two Men and a Truck helped to deliver all the pianos. 

"Without their support, there is no way the project could happen," Grudt said. 

Where to place the pianos around the city was the biggest question when thinking about residents. 

"These locations show the variety of where we are looking for high pedestrian areas" Grudt said. "Where lots of people will be walking past; (it is) good reach out for the pianos." At the same time, he said the location of the pianos should not disturb residents at the nighttime. 

Some students from East Lansing area are unfamiliar with Keys in the Cities but they are willing to try the free public pianos. 

"I never heard about the project," said accounting sophomore Hyeon Kim. "But if there is one in East Lansing, I would definitely go there and play. "

For students who never had experience playing a piano, this project gives them an opportunity to try.  

"It sounds an interesting project to me," said graduate student Jessica Lee. "I would like to take a look and try it."

While moving forward on the project, there are some challenges to face, Grudt said.

"There are some people that don't understand it," he continued. "I know from my experience, this is going to be a very beneficial thing." 

Grudt holds an optimistic attitude toward the project. "Let it sit for a while," he said. "(People) will see (the pianos) for a year, and they will understand it. It’s a learning experience."

He also compared the cities of East Lansing and Lansing in their willingness to help bring in the project. 

"East Lansing totally gets it and they are excited about it," he said. "Lansing is slow on it." 

The third piano in East Lansing was placed in front of the Marriott on June 3, 2015.

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