Not only was a public piano that was destroyed replaced, but a kind soul is also in the process of repairing the damaged one — key by key.
On Nov. 17, a piano that was placed in a pedway connected to the Health Sciences LRT Station for people to play and enjoy was destroyed.
University of Alberta officers reported the damage to Edmonton Transit at about 3 a.m. and transit officers then passed the information on to police. The Edmonton Police Service is investigating.
After hearing about the incident, a local radio station reached out to the city, saying it knew of a piano that could donated.
“We are pleased the community pulled together to find a replacement,” a city spokesperson said.
“Some of our transit peace officers had offered to find a piano replacement themselves but this other Good Samaritan beat them to it.”
On Friday, that piano was sitting on one end of the Health Sciences LRT pedway.
The old, damaged piano sits on the other side of the pedway and it seems to be getting some TLC.
A hand-written sign on the front of the piano is providing updates and progress on “our old friend.”
As of Thursday, 53 of the 88 keys had been fixed.
The note is signed “Rob,” who identifies himself as a Grade 8 science teacher and provides his email address. He writes that he’s looking for other people with wood-working skills or access to a 3D printer to help with the restoration project.
Rob Raincock isn’t a piano player himself, nor does he have any experience repairing instruments. But he does walk by the piano every day and was heartbroken when it was damaged.
“It was unbelievable,” he told Global News. “I couldn’t believe someone would do that to an instrument.”
He spent four and a half hours working on it and was able to fix 55 of the keys.
“I picked up a key that had a date on it: February 1916. Looking at the keys, most of them were there. It’s simple Newtonian physics and a little Pythagoras in the acoustics, so I’m putting it back together.”
Then, he shared his idea on Facebook, posting a video Thursday on the Overheard at the University of Alberta group.
“It’s kind of a cool piano… Why wait to figure out who owns the piano and whose land this is and all that sort of stuff, when you can just say, ‘It’s all of our piano’ and just fix it?
“No guarantees she’ll sing again, but it’s getting better,” he said in the video.
“I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people come by and talk to me about the piano,” the musical Good Samaritan said Friday night. “It’s been absolutely heartwarming.
“At first, the conversation was: ‘I can’t believe how somebody could have done this.’ It was very negative focused. It’s now very positive. It’s: ‘How can I be involved? Can I help?’ I hand kids my tools. There was a homeless fellow last night that came by and he helped me order the keys. It was great.”
Raincock said Friday two dozen people have contacted him, offering to help fix the piano. A pianist even reached out pledging to perform a concert on the piano once it’s repaired.
He’s working on the piano from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. every day and invites anyone to drop by and visit or help.
“Having the ability to transcend language, transcend culture and to create music in the world and sort of have something that’s just a source of joy and happiness is a great thing.”