After COVID-19 closed Michigan State's doors, many students within the College of Music had to scramble to find the instruments they needed to practice at home instead of at school.
While many students were able to find the instruments they needed, some were not as fortunate, especially piano students who were unable to go into the school to practice.
To help resolve this, MSU's College of Music partnered with Grand Rapids-based West Michigan Piano to deliver digital pianos to students without instruments.
"So, there are quite a few students in the College of Music, many of them are international students or they have made East Lansing their home," the college’s head piano technician Mary Lapprand said. "So, with the executive order going into effect on March 24, that left a lot of students stranded for having access to instruments because the College of Music closed their doors."
After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order went into place, College of Music Dean James Forger contacted Lapprand to see how they could help these students.
"We thought of the idea of providing digital pianos to students," Lapprand said. "So, our Steinway dealership, they work in Grand Rapids, Michigan and West Michigan Piano — they loan pianos to us periodically — I asked them if they were able to help us out with loaning some digital pianos to different students and they said, 'We'd be glad to.' So, they loaned the pianos to the students with no charge to them or the College of Music."
Eight students were given pianos to practice on from West Michigan Piano to finish out the rest of the semester.
"They are digital pianos, so they have a weighted keyboard that makes them feel like an actual acoustic keyboard," Lapprand said. "But they also have synthesized sound, so the students are able to use headsets with them, which is really great. So, if they are in an apartment building with close neighbors, it works really well."
The College of Music has had a long relationship with West Michigan Piano and has received pianos from the company for more than 10 years, so when Lapprand reached out about helping students during the pandemic, they had no hesitation.
"We're happy to do it. We're big supporters of the university and the music department. It's a top-notch school," Owner of West Michigan Piano Ken Wierenga said. "It's an honor to be associated."