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How Many Pianos Does It Take To Hold A Singing School?

How Many Pianos Does It Take To Hold A Singing School?

Every two years, Hawke’s Bay is host to the New Zealand Singing School: Te Wānanga Toi Waiata. This year, the school’s 25th, there will be 85 students from around the country and several from Australia coming to refine their craft with a faculty of 35 tutors from England, Australia and New Zealand.

The school gives students the opportunity to improve their performance in a wide variety of musical styles including opera, oratorio, musical theatre, jazz and contemporary song. To do this, 24 pianos needs to be provided at EIT, where the summer school is held. EIT is not the home of 24 pianos, so it has been the job of Ian Appleton of Appletons for Pianos and Conroy Removal to find, deliver, tune, return and retune 24 pianos.

“It’s quite an undertaking”, says NZ Singing School Trust Chair Eileen von Dadelszen. “The school is unique in the southern hemisphere, and provides an important opportunity at a significant time in many singers lives, but the school itself is put together by a Trust of volunteers. That’s a lot of work and a lot of organisation to stage a school from scratch every two years. Finding 24 pianos has been one important task amongst thousands of other tasks!”

Ian Appleton has been involved with each school since he arrived in Hawke’s Bay in 1981. Organising the pianos means borrowing from local schools, his own shop stock, and wherever else he can track them down. Then comes the logistical challenge – shifting all the pianos on site to EIT. Pianos are sensitive instruments that don’t like being shifted, so each piano has to be carefully moved and allocated to the correct room at EIT, including upstairs classrooms. Just before the school starts, each of the pianos is tuned ready for use. This has to be left as late as possible as the summer heat can affect tuning of the pianos.

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“It’s a challenge every school, but we’ve always managed to pull together what we need” says Ian Appleton. “The schools have been a great asset to Hawke’s Bay, and the benefit the students get is huge”.

The 25th New Zealand Singing School is being held at EIT, Hawke’s Bay from Wednesday 5th January 2011 to the 15th January 2011, and the public are invited to attend the Festival of Song – the school’s concert programme at venues around Hawke’s Bay over the same dates. For more information about the school and concerts, including ticketing information, please visit the website: www.singingschool.org.nz.

ENDS

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