Play Me A Song You’re The Piano Man
Collingwood Street Pianos returned to the downtown heritage district in 2016 for year two of what will hopefully be a long run. The pianos were once again a big hit with locals and tourists alike.
The concept of introducing pianos to the streets of Collingwood came from two local musicians, Jim Kinnear and Catherine Brown.
Collingwood musician Catherine Brown
Catherine said she was vacationing in New Zealand when she saw people playing pianos in the streets. “I was on a holiday with my husband and we were walking down the street and there was a piano sitting there, and it just invited me to go over and play it. A year later we were at Heathrow airport, and there were pianos all through the terminal buildings inviting people to sit down and play.”
These two experiences were followed by a chance meeting between piano and player (Catherine) at the end of a driveway on a Nottawa street. Catherine saw it and decided to walk over to play it. By chance, along came Jim Kinnear who immediately began to shoot video of the impromptu performance. The partnership between Brown and Kinnear was born on the spot and the idea of positioning street pianos throughout Collingwood streets was soon to follow.
“Jim and I met for coffee, we talked about the idea, he found the pianos that were donated for us, he made sure they were tuned, and with his connections in the music business, we were able to get this project up and running.”
Jim Kinnear playing a few songs in downtown Collingwood
When you visited downtown Collingwood this past summer, you would often see a person walk along, stop, look at the piano, and start playing. This kind of spontaneity is what makes the whole program work so well. “Absolutely, that’s what we want to see happen. We want older people, younger people, anybody who can play just to feel free to do that.”
Adam is a talented young musician from Guelph. He was thrilled to see the downtown street pianos and almost immediately after meeting us he was playing some of his original compositions. “It think the project is good, and the pianos are in tune which is something you usually don’t get when they’re on the street.”
Collingwood BIA General Manager Susan Nicholson
Collingwood BIA General Manager Susan Nicholson says she is so thankful to Catherine and Jim for bringing this great idea to the downtown. “We certainly supported it but it has been their project. We really appreciate it when community people like Catherine and Jim come downtown and want to be a part of our summertime activities.”