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Piano program playing a new tune

POULSBO — Students of the Parks and Recreation Department’s piano program will soon be striking chords to a new, or gently used, rhythm after nearly four years of fundraising.

With more than $2,600 collected from practice-a-thon pledges, silent auctions and a Poulsbo-North Kitsap Rotary Club donation, the program’s squeaky 1913 Wellington Upright piano is on its way to retirement, and a 6-foot 2-inch Kimball Grand is rolling in.

“It will just be more responsive to the students’ touch,” said program instructor Patti Ray. “It will give them a better sound for what they’re working with.”

The piano is being sold by a family in Indianola, which has offered the instrument to Ray’s program for a harmonious $2,500, and a $100 moving fee. It was evaluated by a local piano technician, who gave the black and ivory the go-ahead.

Ray said the old Wellington, which the city has used since 1993, has started to rattle a bit, and the new Kimball Grand will allow her students to key into some of its more receptive workings, which are different than the upright’s.

“It’s the way the hammers actually hit the strings to make the sound,” she said. “It’s different on a grand than it is on an upright. It’s more responsive to what your fingers do.”

Ray said she offers lessons on a school year schedule, so most of her students have yet to find out about their new practice instrument.

“It’ll be a surprise when they walk in,” she said. “The ones who do know are pretty excited.”

The department plans to continue fundraising for the piano’s maintenance and upkeep. The old Wellington Upright will eventually be sold.

“It will make somebody a very fine practice piano,”Ray said.

Parks and Recreation director Mary McCluskey thanked Ray for her work during the Sept. 5 city council meeting, during which the purchase of the new piano was approved.

She said Ray reaches far beyond the call of teaching, taking students to festivals and events and offering lessons over the summer.

Ray has taught the city’s piano program since 1997, and instructs about 35 students each week, many of whom are beginners. Her program is run through Poulsbo’s Parks and Recreation Department. For more information on lessons, call (360) 779-9898.

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