This past summer, when our 50 Sing for Hope Pianos were placed throughout NYC’s parks and public spaces for everyone to enjoy, there was a group of unsung heroes quietly playing a key role behind the scenes. This heroic volunteer band of Sing for Hope Piano Buddies worked to protect each instrument from rain and other calamities, ensuring that all 50 pianos survived the summer in pristine condition. The task of piano protection was all the more important this year because—thanks to Sing for Hope’s new partnership with the NYC Department of Education—upon the close of the pianos’ summertime parks residency, all 50 Sing for Hope Pianos had already been promised to permanent homes in NYC public schools, where they will benefit an estimated 16,000 school children. With the pianos’ permanent school homes in mind, our 100+ Piano Buddies took extra care to check on their pianos at all hours of day and night, covering them when rain was predicted, uncovering them when the sun returned, and reporting sticking keys, loose pedals, and other occupational hazards to our mobile team of piano technicians.
The process for selecting the The 2016 Sing for Hope Pianos’ scholastic “forever homes” had actually begun several months before the instruments hit the streets. During the Spring semester of the 2015/16 school year, all NYC public schools across the five boroughs were invited to apply to receive a Sing for Hope Piano, and our team fielded hundreds of applications for the 50 instruments. Knowing that, for every school slated to receive a Sing for Hope Piano, we would have to turn down at least two deserving schools, we could not ignore the dire need underscoring the process. (Comptroller Scott Stringer’s recent analysis of Education Department data has shown that fully 20% of our urban schools have no arts programming whatsoever, despite the proven benefits of arts education on entire school cultures [State of the Arts, April 2014]).
“I love the title ‘Sing for Hope Piano’ because that is exactly what it will give our students—hope! Our students are from low-income families and our school is in a poor area. The students have every right to be discouraged, but instead they come to school trusting that they will have a good experience, and learn something new. For our students to be able to stand and sing accompanied by a piano, to listen and watch the music teacher play the piano, to learn to touch and play a piano: these would be remarkable moments!” —P17X, Bronx
“Music for my students is the best part of their day… They can shine, sing, play instruments and release energy while being creative at the same time. My students are living in poverty, many in shelters, and they deserve only the best when they are in school. All my students deserve a chance to play a real piano. Our school focuses on the students being part of a community, to learn to love one another and themselves, that each student is important and that each student can excel… I would love to show them that with a new piano. This piano will brighten up the school!” —PS401, Brooklyn
“Our school serves students often in extreme poverty. Our arts program is supported by our administration, but large items such as pianos are never able to make it into the budget… A new piano would greatly enhance students’ ability to learn this wonderful instrument—as due to lack of a quality piano we are currently having to say ‘no’ when a student asks if they can learn piano.” —Grand Street Campus High School, Brooklyn
“Our current piano is on loan from our principal’s house. We desperately need a piano.” —East-West School of International Studies, Queens
From the hundreds of applications received, fifty schools were selected to receive Sing for Hope Pianos based on immediate need, and the pianos began rolling into schools in September. Each school was treated to a special “Sing for Hope Piano Dedication Assembly Program” in which our team recounted the project’s history, philosophy, and operational logistics through narrative and images. The visual artists who created the piano artworks joined the celebrations to talk to the kids directly about the art on the pianos, and the process by which it was conceived and executed. Performing artists from the Sing for Hope Volunteer Roster helped to inaugurate each piano with a lively musical performance, and student performers joined in with musical performances of their own to welcome the piano into their school.
The 2016 Sing for Hope Pianos were awarded to all age groups and will be used for everything from pre-K music classes to high school chorus and musical productions. Some schools will use them for dance troupes and some will use them for piano lessons. All told, the 50 Sing for Hope Pianos will be used by over 16,000 students this year—and every year—as the Pianos live on permanently in each school.
“The Sing for Hope Piano Dedication Assembly was definitely one of the most memorable assemblies we’ve had, and our students really enjoyed the performance and learning about our new instrument. We can’t wait to create beautiful music of our own!” – Ms. Angderson, P17X, Bronx
“Thank you all so much! You have brought a lot of smiles to kids and adults alike. The school has been buzzing with excitement since you left and many students are coming up to me wanting to learn to play or wanting to look at the beautiful paintings on the piano. A million thanks!” – Mr. Kucher, P811M @ 149, Manhattan
“Sing for Hope has made our music classes magical with this piano, and our children will always remember it as a symbol of community and love in our school.” – Ms. Young, PSM, Washington Heights
Preparations for our next crop of Sing for Hope Pianos have already begun. The 2017 artist-designed instruments will hit the parks and public spaces of all 5 boroughs from June 5-25, 2017, and then, in our continued partnership with the NYC Department of Education, move to their permanent homes in schools next fall. Artist applications for The 2017 Sing for Hope Pianos are currently being accepted here.
But we can’t do it without you. Our goal for 2017 is to try to keep up with demand and reach at least half of the 150 schools currently on our waiting list. Please help us make this a reality, and keep the music playing by donating today at www.singforhope.org/donate. For individuals and foundations interested in providing a transformative gift and ensuring the future of our student programs by joining The Sing for Hope Founders’ Circle (The Arnhold Foundation in loving memory of Sissy Arnhold, The Anna-Maria & Stephen Kellen Foundation, and Ann Ziff) or The Sing for Hope Visionaries (The Ford Foundation and The Lulu & Leo Fund), please contact Sing for Hope Chief Operating Officer Richard Robertson at email@example.com.
Music can change a child’s life forever. Thank you for helping to transform individuals and communities in lasting ways, and for being PART OF THE ART!
Since 2006, Sing for Hope has partnered with over 250 nonprofit organizations, involved over 3,500 artists in community volunteerism, and placed over 330 artist-created Sing for Hope Pianos throughout NYC’s parks and public spaces for everyone to play—a symbol and celebration of art for all.
ABOUT OUR FLAGSHIP “ART FOR ALL” PROGRAM, THE SING FOR HOPE PIANOS
- + The country’s largest recurring public arts project, reaching an estimated 2 million New Yorkers and visitors annually across the 5 boroughs since its 2010 launch.
- + Visible on a global scale, with over 2 billion media impressions—more than any other interactive public arts initiative in the country in the last decade.
- + To date, Sing for Hope has placed over 330 artist-designed pianos throughout the parks and public spaces of NYC’s 5 boroughs each summer for anyone and everyone to play—a symbol and celebration of our mission of “art for all.” In addition to the NYC installation, we place individual flagship Sing for Hope Pianos at the Skoll World Forum for Social Entreprenuership in Oxford, UK, and the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado, with additional possible cities pending for 2017.
- + After the public installation, the Sing for Hope Pianos are placed in permanent homes in under-resourced schools, veterans’ centers, hospitals, disabled persons’ networks, and community-based organizations where they continue to be activated by Sing for Hope’s artists year-round. This year, we are excited to announce that, thanks to our new partnership with the NYC Department of Education, all of the 2016 SFH Pianos will go to NYC public schools, benefiting an estimated 16,000 NYC school children.
- + Grammy Award Winner Alicia Keys says, “Each year, Sing for Hope creates a beautiful moment in our city by bringing the Sing for Hope Pianos to our parks and public spaces. It’s things like this that make me extra proud to be a New Yorker.”
- + Select media links:
- Select music videos created by artists themselves (showing viral reach of the program):
“I believe we have a responsibility and a built-in urge to use our talents and innate gifts to help improve the lives of those less fortunate. Sing for Hope does this every day – from a hospital room in Hell’s Kitchen, to an after-school program in the South Bronx, to The Sing for Hope Pianos on the city streets. I am inspired by this work and proud to be a part of an organization that transforms the lives of under-served New Yorkers on a daily basis.”
— Dr. Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founding board member, Sing for Hope