FSACF Helps Save the Steinway

Friends of USD 234’s special project, “Restoration of the Steinway grand piano,” has become a work in progress worth following. The project was one of 18 funded by Fort Scott Area Community Foundation grants last year. Here’s what you should know about it!

The History of the Steinway

The Steinway has been a part of Fort Scott music-making for over 40 years. It is fondly remembered by many music teachers and students alike at Fort Scott High School. Originally, the Steinway was donated to Winfield Scott Elementary School by a Fort Scott community member in the 1970s. When the stage at Winfield Scott was torn down in a remodel process, the piano was moved to the high school.

The Steinway was built in 1925, during what is considered the “Golden Decade” of Steinway and Sons piano production. At 5 feet and 10.5 inches, it is considered a Model L, or “Living Room,” model, conducive to smaller spaces, while still boasting the iconic warmth of the Steinway sound. While in this day and age something built in 1925 seems a relic, in piano terms, this instrument remains a priceless gem.

The Need for Restoration

The piano in the music classroom is the microscope in the science class, basketball in PE, camera in photography, or literature textbook in English. Without these imperative instructional tools, students cannot receive a quality education.

FSHS Choral Director Meredith Reid leads a rehearsal accompanied by Pat Harry on the Steinway.
FSHS Choral Director Meredith Reid leads a rehearsal accompanied by Pat Harry on the Steinway.

Furthermore, it is important that these tools are of the utmost quality. Science students need the most up-to-date lab equipment. Web-design students need the most current computer applications. Choir students need a quality piano to perform at the highest level.

The piano lives at the heart of the choral instructional process. FSHS’s tradition of musical excellence was built on high-quality musical instruction using top-tier instruments. By restoring and protecting the piano, they can continue to uphold the tradition of musical excellence at Fort Scott High School.

A good piano enhances the performance of any soloist or ensemble in more ways than even the performer realizes. When restored, this instrument will make every performance better. It will delight the ear of every listener. Great students deserve great accompaniment.

Pat Harry

Notes of Interest

There is a signature from Charles Steinway himself on the plate inside the piano. This will be preserved as the plate is refinished. Also, piano tuners would write in pencil on the bottom of the piano the date of the last tuning. This piano has markings and dates from tunings in the 1930s!

Project Update

Along with the USD 234 school district’s commitment and a community effort including a 2017 FSACF grant, the fully-funded restoration for the interior of the piano became a reality. The Steinway piano was sent off this past February to the repair shop in Nixa, Missouri, where it was taken apart and parts were ordered. The first major component was taking a template of the soundboard, so that the specifications could be sent off to the soundboard builder.

The soundboard and bridges have been delivered to the maker in Utah. The plate has been stripped down and removed from the cabinet. Currently, the new pin block is being prepared for drilling new tuning-pin holes. The hammers and action parts are in boxes waiting to be installed as soon as the soundboard is finished.

Restoring the FSHS Steinway grand piano has truly been a dream fulfilled. The Fort Scott Area Community Foundation helped set this dream in motion from the start. We are so grateful for the immense outpouring of support from our community.

Meredith Reid, 6-12 Choir Director, USD 234 School District

Plans for the Future

Students and music educators are looking forward to receiving back their beautifully restored piano sometime around Christmas. Plans are being developed for a “Thank You, Donors” concert to take place in the spring semester.