Children Will Get To 'Take Apart A Piano' At Dover Public Library

May 26, 2017

The piano children will be taking apart on Saturday at the Dover Public Library.
Credit Dover Public Library

Piano lessons are often a great way for children to get introduced to music – but what about taking a piano apart?

That’s exactly what children at the Dover Public Library will be doing Saturday morning. It’s part of the library’s ongoing “take apart” program. The event is for children in grades 3 and up. 

Cathy Beaudoin is director of the Dover Public Library. She joined NHPR’s Morning Edition.

This is rather unique event. Where did this idea come from?

We’ve been doing take apart programs for about a year now as part of our STEM-related activities. Once a month, we have a STEM Saturday, where kids learn science, technology, engineering, and math skills through various things like soldering or snap circuits or K’NEX building blocks, things like that. And we had run a couple take apart programs. We had asked patrons to bring in old toasters or old radios, things like that, and kids would not only learn to use tools and how to use them safely, but also what made things ticks, what was inside these broken-down appliances, what made them work.

It’s almost like reverse engineering.

Right, reverse engineering, and there was no way would ever make them work again. It wasn’t to make them whole, it was to take them apart. And so we had a new for us, older baby grand Steinway donated to the library. The friends of the library agreed to pay to move it from the donor’s house to the library. Then we thought what will we do with our old, broken, run-down piano that had seen its better life. I didn’t want to ask the friends to pay the same amount to have that moved out and disposed of. And I thought well why not take apart the piano? And then we can break it down and get rid of it in small pieces and not have to pay to haul it away.

So how do you do that? Who guides the children through that process?

We have an expert piano tuner/technician named Peter Poole from Rochester. He’s been tuning and salvaging our old piano as best he could for many years. So I approached him and said what do you think about a take apart program. And he really jumped at the idea, he loved the idea. While I personally will be there and observing, I have no idea how to take apart a piano, but Peter does. He will sort of pre-loosen the piano so the main parts are almost ready to come off, and then inside, he calls it the action, and that’s mainly where the kids will be working.

What do you hope the children will take away from this?

Well, I think we’ll get children who not only like to take things apart – we’ll have a lot of participation from children who maybe previously did our smaller appliances – but I think we’ll also get music students. And we’ve had a lot of interest from adults. And so we’re also having an observer row, where adults can come and sit, people that are interested in music, but they’re not allowed to participate, just the kids do. We expect a big crowd.

Has there been a lot of interest in this series?

There has. We ran actually, after we started doing the monthly at the library, we ended up running an eight-week after school take apart program at one of the elementary schools in Dover. And that actually progressed because it was the same kids every week. It progressed then to taking the parts from the things they were taking apart and assembling sort of free form sculptures or artwork, things like that. That was an eight-week program we ran at the school. There’s a lot of interest in it and there’s a lot of things out there people are happy to get rid of, so it doesn’t really cost us much. We just supply the tools, the safety glasses, and we’re ready to go.