Unity. Warmth. Family. 

These are a few of the themes that popped up repeatedly as our Youth Chorus members dreamed up a design for their 2015 Sing for Hope Piano. They wanted the Piano to be a product of who they are as a community–welcoming, bright, and vibrant. And as enthusiastic high school students who have found hope and inspiration in the arts, they wanted their Piano to invite passersby to explore, create, and discover the joy of music.

While their early brainstorming sessions had students envisioning the finished product, there was a lot of work left before the completed Piano would be rolled out in early June. For most students, this meant the fun was just beginning. “I’m ready to get my hands dirty, to start painting,” enthused one Youth Chorister, while others discussed how exciting it was to have a “blank canvas” to design and create from scratch.

Youth Choristers brainstorm designs at their first Pianos session.
Painting a Sing for Hope Piano is an incredible opportunity for any artist to conceptualize and execute a piece that will eventually take on a life of its own in a unique interaction of two art forms. For the Youth Chorus, it represents a one-of-a-kind chance to experience the creative process at every level. Not only do these young musicians get to paint a publicly-exhibited piece of art, they also get to do something not too many Pianos Artists have the chance to do: in June, when their Piano is out on the streets, they will pair their visual artwork with their musical performance, delighting audiences.

The Youth Chorus performs around a 2013 Sing for Hope Piano in Greeley Square.
True to Sing for Hope’s mission, painting a Sing for Hope Piano isn’t just about the opportunity for Youth Choristers to create something themselves, but also about empowering those around them to develop their own creative potential: once their Piano has finished its public installation, it will find a permanent home in an under-resourced school, hospital, or community center.

This aspect played directly into students ideas for their piano’s theme. They wanted the piano’s bright colors to not only reflect the personality of its creators, but also to relate a message that their instrument ,is for anyone to use, to feel safe and inspired to create. They hoped to make their instrument relatable, so those who will see it on the street or in its eventual home would ,enjoy it as much as [they] did .

hey also wanted the piano to create an opportunity for others to express themselves. As Chorus Member Laura puts it, ,I want people to feel like they’re in the right zone. People think that you have to pay for a piano, but here you have the chance to play and express your feelings–not just to show other people, but to show yourself what you can create.

Following Izabel Lam’s lead, Youth Chorus members drafted their designs onto paper, then transferred them to the piano.

On Tuesday, April 28th, chorus members gathered for their final Pianos session, during which they painted the instrument in a single sitting under the tutelage of Pianos Artist and well-known New York designer Izabel Lam. Comparing the experience to conducting an orchestra, Lam directed students through a process of drafting, transferring, and finally painting their designs onto the piano. Chatter filled the air while each student worked on her portion of the instrument, and every so often, the group would break into song, their voices filling the studio as they poured their energy and creativity into their Piano.

CLICK HERE for more information on where this and the other Sing for Hope Pianos will live during their public installation from June 5—21 – and keep an eye out for a special Pianos edition of our newsletter, featuring a video tracking the Youth Chorus Piano from start to finish.

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