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Tickling the ivories down by the Fraser

Vashti Fairbairn, owner of Music Box academy based in the River Market, plays the piano on the patio at River Market while her newest employee, Jennifer McLaren sings, on Friday. The Piano Teachers Federation has placed the piano there for the summer as part of its Pianos on the Street project where anyone can sit down at the piano there and play. - Grant Granger/NewsLeader
Vashti Fairbairn, owner of Music Box academy based in the River Market, plays the piano on the patio at River Market while her newest employee, Jennifer McLaren sings, on Friday. The Piano Teachers Federation has placed the piano there for the summer as part of its Pianos on the Street project where anyone can sit down at the piano there and play.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader

Buskers balk at carting a piano to public spaces.

A keyboard maybe, but not a piano. This summer, though, there will be a piano sitting in front of River Market for anyone to play.

It’s there courtesy of the Piano Teachers Federation’s (PTF) Pianos on the Street project.

The New Westminster On-the-Boardwalk edition was launched next to the Wild Rice patio on Friday with some federation members tickling the ivories.

“It’s a beautiful place to be, it’s accessible,” said PTF founder Sean Pacey, whose family’s Vancouver store Pacey’s Pianos supplied the instrument.

“You have a built-in audience. For pianists it’s important to have people see you play.

“In New Westminster I can’t think of a location that is more iconic.”

Pacey is hopeful people who haven’t played the piano in years will be inspired to plop themselves down on the stool and start playing.

Or for those that do play at home this is their chance to perform before an audience. Or even people who don’t know each other can play together, a scenario Pacey loves.

“It’s one of the beautiful things I’ve seen in my life,” said Pacey.

While he talked, Vashti Fairbairn played and Jennifer McLaren sang. Fairbairn owns the Music Box academy on the River Market’s second floor and McLaren is her newest employee.

“It’s going to be really neat because you never know what they’re going to play,” said Fairbairn, who has run across many ex-pianists.

“It happens every day. They say, ‘I wish I continued or persevered. Or I wish my parents had never let me pull out.’ “

The piano Pacey supplied was painted Monday morning by two resident artists of the Community Living Society (CLS), Leslie Fehr and Mark Pacey, Sean’s uncle.

The society provides services and support to developmentally disabled adults.

Pacey said he almost came to tears when the CLS artistic director selected his uncle to be one of the painters.

The project has a video contest with prizes of up to $400 and a chance to play with the North Shore Symphony. Recorded performances can be uploaded at www.supportpiano.com.

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