It Was Janssen's 1st Birthday on March 19th!

Janssen was the very first pubic piano we placed.  You can find him under the Pavilion at the Chastain Park Playground.  It's been a great location, he's played constantly!  Janssen was painted by Sergey Cherep and is a stunning piece of art.

It was also the one year anniversary of the newly refurbished awesome playground which opened to the public on the same day that we cut the ribbon on Janssen so there was lots to celebrate.

As Janssen's first birthday was approaching we met with the Chastain Park Conservancy to check-in and see if they were happy hosting the piano and we were pleased to hear their heartwarming stories that revolved around it.  So, YES, they love having Janssen there.  And he's freshly tuned -- waiting for YOU!

Ribbon Cutting for Our 5th Public Piano, "Bennett", at the Dunwoody Nature Center

We hope you can join us on March 10th at 5pm as we cut the ribbon on 'Bennett' and celebrate the renovation of Wildcat Creek at the Dunwoody Nature Center.  It's a gorgeous setting and a rare opportunity to play an outdoor piano along side running water.  And if you get a chance, read 'Bennett's' Story on our website to find out how he got his name.  See you on Friday!.

After Four Years, A Beloved Street Piano Retires

Let’s hear it for Street Piano’s Herne Hill Heroes

26 August 2016 --

Way back in 2012, a street piano was placed near the station at Herne Hill, south London. Four happy years later and its work is done (don’t worry there’s another one on its way) – and there’s no doubt it survived this long is thanks to the hard work and dedication of some of our local community heroes.

Number one is Roy Martin our local piano tuner. Most of the time he’s working for people like Stevie Wonder and Damon Albarn, but he’s also taken Herne Hill street piano under his wing, repairing and turning it on his way home for four years. A piano that is played this often needs a lot of extra tuning, and Roy has kept it going.

On a day-to-day basis we have Elaine the florist (AKA the Flower Lady) and Alan from Pullens to thank. Opening it in the mornings and closing it at night helps to keep everyone happy – residents trying to sleep as well as boogie woogie pianists.

And Herne Hill Forum who brought the piano here day one and have managed the Herne Hill Piano Project so well that with the generosity of the amazing Herne Hill Community have raised over £5000 through a crowdfunder – for a new piano. This much-loved  landmark will live on now thanks to them.

But we’ll leave the last word to Roy. Take it away Roy!

“Our well- loved piano has done a fantastic job. I became aware over a year ago that the piano had some problems and was perhaps working too hard for its age and needing a rest. I found a younger, fitter piano.

“As a piano technician the really good work is invisible ‘under the bonnet.’ And we have chosen a very good company to do the work so we will now have a piano as good as new for a much lower price. I am hoping we can have more events and attract more amazing people who may be tempted to do some performances for us.  I hope you will welcome the new one – it may be a bit shy at first but its still ‘The People’s Piano.’”

Find out more about Roy: Find out more about The Flower Lady at and Herne Hill Forum:

Sadly, after 27 years, Pullens has closed its doors. Thank you for everything Alan and Debi! 

Join us for an event to celebrate Herne Hill’s first street piano – and welcome its stunning replacement – on October 1. Details to follow soon. 

This is a link the the original story/post.



Join us at the Woodruff Arts Center for the Ribbon Cutting for Our Second Piano!

We're thrilled to announce the ribbon cutting for our second piano which will be located at the Woodruff Arts Center!  Theresa Dean submitted a fabulous design for it entitled "Monarchs Take Flight".  As we speak, Theresa and Courtney Denis, art teachers at 'Springmont, Atlanta's First Montessori School' are painting the piano, with Springmont students and alumni as contributing artists.

The piano will be located on the Woodruff Arts Center campus at the edge of the Sifly Piazza, directly outside the doors nearest the Box Office in the Memorial Arts Building, near the entrances to the the Alliance Theatre and the Hertz Stage. 

Bring the family and come celebrate with us at 1pm for the ribbon cutting and some piano music!  And after you've had your turn on the piano, you may as well stay for the (free) Family Fun Day taking place in the Sifly Piazza from 1pm-4pm.

Support Play Me Again Pianos today

At Play Me Again Pianos, we are on a mission to install beautifully decorated public pianos all around the Atlanta metro (and possibly beyond)! As a matter of fact, we held the ribbon cutting for our first one in March. It’s at the newly remodeled Chastain Park Playground in Atlanta. Here’s a video of my son, Nico playing a Bach Gigue while the artist, Sergey Cherep, looks on.

There are a few other organizations around the world that install “street pianos,” for the public to enjoy, but those are typically temporary installations conducted as a short term project.

Our project is much more ambitious. We want to infuse Atlanta with “permanent” street pianos and public pianos. Our dream is for piano music to fill this city, and the surrounding suburbs, every day of the year. 

We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback so far, too. Multiple community organizations have already reached out and asked us to help them get a piano in place! Individual donors are lining up to offer older pianos as gifts for the project.

But even when a piano is donated to us, we estimate that it’s going to cost about $2500 to place and maintain one for 2 years. And that’s why we’re forming Play Me Again Pianos. We are forming a 501(c)3 charity to manage the pianos and accept tax deductible donations to support the pianos. 

So—What do you think? Is this a pretty cool idea? I’d really like to hear your thoughts and suggestions. 

I’d also like to ask for your help. Would you support Play Me Again Pianos? There are a few ways you can support the project:

  1. Support us financially
    We’ve already formed an organization and are in the process of applying for non-profit status with the IRS. But ironically, this is a fairly expensive process. So we’ve created a fundraising campaign at Crowdrise and are working to raise $5000 to get Play Me Again Pianos off the ground. The money we raise will help to pay our fees and costs associated with obtaining 501(c)3 status, as well as maintaining “Janssen” the Chastain Park piano. We also have two more pianos coming soon to Woodruff Arts Center, and a fourth that we'll announce very soon! Later this year, once we’ve obtained 501(c)3 status, we’ll be able to issue you a receipt and your gift should become tax deductible, retroactively. (Speak with your tax professional for details). Donate Here:
  2. Subscribe to our newsletter
    We want to keep you up to date with our activities and build a strong, active mailing list. Most of you know that I work in marketing software. What you may not know is that simply having a large mailing list of supporters who open and read our emails about once a month has a MASSIVE impact on our ability to raise awareness. Seriously! Just subscribing to and reading our newsletter is a big help even if you NEVER do anything else! Subscribe Here:
  3. Spread the word
    We really want to get the word out about Play Me Again Pianos. You could just forward this post via email along with a personal note and encourage everyone you know in the Atlanta area to check us out and support us. You can also share this post with your friends on Facebook

  4. Suggest locations for pianos
    Know a great spot that could use some music? Tell us about it. If you know someone who can advocate for a piano in that area, please introduce us. Once again, just forward this post along with a personal note (and copy when you do)

  5. Introduce us to people who can help!

We do hope you’ll give Play Me Again Pianos your support. After we installed the Chastain Park piano, we didn’t step more than 15 feet away before children and adults alike were swarming the piano to play it and hear it. The excitement and glitter in their eyes confirmed for us that this project is well worth the work and commitment. So come be a part of this exciting new adventure!

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Music

Musical training doesn't just improve your ear for music — it also helps your ear for speech. That's the takeaway from an unusual new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers found that kids who took music lessons for two years didn't just get better at playing the trombone or violin; they found that playing music also helped kids' brains process language.

And here's something else unusual about the study: where it took place. It wasn't a laboratory, but in the offices of Harmony Project in Los Angeles. It's a nonprofit after-school program that teaches music to children in low-income communities.

Two nights a week, neuroscience and musical learning meet at Harmony's Hollywood headquarters, where some two-dozen children gather to learn how to play flutes, oboes, trombones and trumpets. The program also includes on-site instruction at many public schools across Los Angeles County.

Harmony Project is the brainchild of Margaret Martin, whose life path includes parenting two kids while homeless before earning a doctorate in public health. A few years ago, she noticed something remarkable about the kids who had gone through her program.

"Since 2008, 93 percent of our high school seniors have graduated in four years and have gone on to colleges like Dartmouth, Tulane, NYU," Martin says, "despite dropout rates of 50 percent or more in the neighborhoods where they live and where we intentionally site our programs."

There are plenty of possible explanations for that success. Some of the kids and parents the program attracts are clearly driven. Then there's access to instruments the kids couldn't otherwise afford, and the lessons, of course. Perhaps more importantly, Harmony Project gives kids a place to go after the bell rings, and access to adults who will challenge and nurture them. Keep in mind, many of these students come from families or neighborhoods that have been ravaged by substance abuse or violence — or both.

Still, Martin suspected there was something else, too — something about actually playing music — that was helping these kids.

Enter neurobiologist Nina Kraus, who runs the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University. When a mutual acquaintance at the National Institutes of Health introduced her to Martin, Kraus jumped at the chance to explore Martin's hunch and to study the Harmony Project kids and their brains.

Breaking Down Brainwaves

Before we get to what, exactly, Kraus' team did or how they did it, here's a quick primer on how the brain works:

The brain depends on neurons. Whenever we take in new information — through our ears, eyes or skin — those neurons talk to each other by firing off electrical pulses. We call these brainwaves. With scalp electrodes, Kraus and her team can both see and hear these brainwaves.

Using some relatively new, expensive and complicated technology, Kraus can also break these brainwaves down into their component parts — to better understand how kids process not only music but speech, too. That's because the two aren't that different. They have three common denominators — pitch, timing and timbre — and the brain uses the same circuitry to make sense of them all.

In other research, Kraus had noticed something about the brains of kids who come from poverty, like many in the Harmony Project. These children often hear fewer words by age 5 than other kids do.

And that's a problem, Kraus says, because "in the absence of stimulation, the nervous system ... hungry for stimulation ... will make things up. So, in the absence of sound, what we saw is that there was just more random background activity, which you might think of as static."

In addition to that "neural noise," as Kraus calls it, ability to process sound — like telling the difference between someone saying "ba" and "ga" — requires microsecond precision in the brain. And many kids raised in poverty, Kraus says, simply have a harder time doing it; individual sounds can seem "blurry" to the brain. (To hear an analogy of this, using an iconic Mister Rogers monologue — giving you some sense of what the brain of a child raised in poverty might hear — be sure to listen to the audio version of this story.)

Working with Harmony Project, Kraus randomly assigned several dozen kids from the program's waitlist into two groups: those who would be studied after one year of music lessons and those who would be studied after two years.

And what she found was that in the two-year kids, the static didn't go away. But their brains got better — more precise — at processing sound. In short: less blur.

Why The Improvement?

It goes back to pitch, timing and timbre. Kraus argues that learning music improves the brain's ability to process all three, which helps kids pick up language, too. Consonants and vowels become clearer, and the brain can make sense of them more quickly.

That's also likely to make life easier at school, not just in music class but in math class, too — and everywhere else.

To be clear, the study has its limits. It was small — roughly 50 kids, ranging in age from 6 to 9. It wasn't conducted in a lab. And it's hard to know if kids doing some other activity could have experienced similar benefits.

But 10th-grader Monica Miranda doesn't need proof that playing violin has helped her. She's one of the first students in the door at a recent Harmony Project re-enrollment event in the auditorium of a nearby elementary school.

"I feel like music really connects with education," she says. "It helps you concentrate more."

Miranda is in her third year with Harmony Project.

"When I do my homework or I'm studying for something and I feel overwhelmed, I usually go to my violin, to start playing it," Miranda says. "I feel like it relaxes my mind. And coming here to play with an orchestra, it's just amazing. I love it."

And, the science says, her brain loves it, too.

September 10, 20144:28 PM ET
Heard on NPR on  All Things Considered