Sunday, 9 February 2020

Little Pins

Needs straightening and the felt put in, but the balance pins are roughly in place. 

The keys are taking a bit of time as some of them need remaking. Trying to get everything the right size is tricky, but those that do fit are balancing well and feel like proper piano keys when you hit them. 

Once the keyboard is finished, we can attach it to the piano, pull the strings up (they've gone very loose since the piano was first strung), insert the Lirika action and see if it plays. 

So much hard work has gone into this under very difficult circumstances. Dés had to purchase some new equipment last month as his shop was broken into. A neighbour broke in and stole some power tools then sold them. Unfortunately, he wasn't caught red-handed so no charges could be brought. Most of what is needed has been replaced, and power tools for the piano, such as the scroll saw and sander we bought, are kept at Dés's house, so weren't taken. 

It's been a bumpy ride but we're almost at the really exciting bit. 

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Keiko Nishizu

We had a really amazing night last night. Got a call from Serena at the end of last week, saying they needed their grand tuned for a concert by Keiko Nishizu.

You might remember, we fixed a damper on that piano last May. Back then it was our first time to take the action out of a grand. This time was our first concert tuning. We've tuned many private pianos, but never one that was then played by a renowned professional pianist.

The main tuning happened on Saturday.

We paused to admire this swanky fallboard. On most pianos, the lid just snaps shut, but not on a beautiful instrument like this.

Yesterday was the night of the concert and we turned up just before to give it a pre-performance check up. They'd moved it across the lobby, so we needed to make sure that the move hadn't affected the sound.


This piano really is a joy to work with. Very easy to tune with a great sound. Though that didn't stop the nerves. Even though Keiko performed a sound check, you still worry that maybe you missed something and a bum note will suddenly reveal itself with a clunk halfway through the performance. Luckily that didn't happen and we eventually relaxed into the performance. It was a really wonderful evening and there's an extreme swell of pride to know that you had a part in that. To hear an instrument you have tuned being played by a professional pianist to an appreciative audience is a really amazing feeling. 

We also learnt that both Serena and Mille Collines have been flying a tuner in from Kenya in the past. Hopefully we'll be able to help them out, because that's a very long way, and a lot of money, to spend on a piano tuner. As our own project progresses, we hope to train a couple of tuners in Kigali so that the city always has them.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Lam Duan

Really beautiful story pointed out to us by one of our supporters:

A British musician by the name of Paul Barton dragged out a piano into the middle of an elephant sanctuary and began playing classical music to a blind elephant named Lam Duan.

Read the full story here: Blind Elephant Starts To Dance Once She Hears The Pianist Playing To Comfort Her

If you love elephants, you can also check out the Sheldrick elephant sanctuary in Kenya and adopt one.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Hammering it Out

You may remember, back in the early stages of this project, that we enlisted the help of Ocean Sole in Kenya to create hammer heads made from recycled flip-flops. The idea was to see whether there might be any locally-available materials to make hammer heads from instead of importing felt from outside Africa. 

Thanks to our new volunteer, Charlie, we should soon be able to test this out. We have no idea at all what it would sound like, but it's exciting to try. He's made amazing progress putting the Lirika action back together, though the flip-flop hammers need a little filing to make the correct size.


Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Helping Hand

Please welcome Charlie to the team. A Londoner living in Kigali. 

He's got an engineering background and wanted to get involved with the project. We're giving him the task of rebuilding the Lirika action so that we can use it to test the prototype. Marion was supposed to be in charge of that but her day job has her pretty busy so we're practising delegation. 

He's got quite a job ahead of him.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Museum of Music

Happy New Year!

We've been a bit late getting started, but we're on the move again. Updates soon.

Meanwhile, check this out. Rwanda is opening a museum of music.

Maybe we could do a display about our piano someday. 

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Balance Pins

Paulin has returned from DRC. Thanks to everyone who made a donation. There's still time.

Here he is putting the front rail and balance rail pins in the keyboard.