Keyboard Loan Initiative Begins

While most freshman have arranged their futons and plugged in their Harvard-approved microfridges, some are still waiting on their last big item for their rooms.

On Thursday and Friday, 11 freshmen will receive a new Yamaha AvantGrand hybrid piano—valued at $10,000—which will allow the students to practice with headphones in their rooms. The loaned pianos will allow many students who are longtime musicians to continue developing their talents and, in some cases, composing music by just walking a few feet from their beds.

“For the moment, I’ve been going to the basement of Wig B [Wigglesworth B entryway], but it would be super convenient to have one in my room that wouldn’t disturb my roommates,” said Layla Siraj ’16, who has played the piano since she was six. “I can literally roll out of bed and practice without disturbing anyone.”

According to Dean of Freshman Thomas A. Dingman '67, the project was initiated when a donor wanted to increase opportunities for students to pursue music. “It’s a pilot, and I hope that people who are the recipients find that it enhances their chance to practice,” Dingman said.

The 11 freshmen were chosen randomly from a pool of 28, which was selected from 32 applicants, said Sheila Coveney, a department administrator at the FDO.

Ethan I. Simon ’16, who likes to compose in the middle of the night, is bringing his own keyboard from home. “I do a lot of my best composing in the middle of the night,” he said, adding that he would have applied to the program, but he mistook the dates.

“I grew up with a piano steps away from where I’ve been living, and I’ve kind of been going crazy without it,” he said.

Carl E. Rogers ’16 and Kevin E. O’Donnell ’16 do not play the piano themselves, but they hope to play music with their other suitemates, who are all musicians and two of whom are pianists. “We would definitely practice here in the room which would be great for them, and we could also use it to all play together,” Rogers said.

“We were going to form a musical quintet when we have all of the musical parts together,” O’Donnell said.

The pianos can be played silently with headphones, allowing students to practice without disturbing others. Dingman said he still has some concerns about noise, but each roommate was required to give their consent in order for the suite members to apply for a piano.

But the problem might not be with suitemates--but with the entrywaymates. Rogers said that he and his roommates have been reprimanded by their proctor for practicing on their own instruments too loudly.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to get away with some [playing],” Rogers said. “Our floormates don’t seem to care if we play.”

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