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Traverse City street piano, Traverse City outdoor piano, live music Traverse City

Play Me a Song: Announcing Traverse City’s New Street Piano

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright

I don’t know about you, but those lyrics evoke strong emotions in me. They transport me back to weddings I attended, late nights at the bar with friends, and campfires Up North. Music has the transformative power to uplift and transcend.

We’ve always appreciated the prevalence of great live music in Traverse City, from top artists in concert, to up-and-comers working the local bar scene, to kids playing on street corners trying to raise money for Interlochen summer camp. Music is pervasive here. It’s a part of the community’s soul and DNA. And more live music is on its way to the streets of Traverse City.

We’re excited to announce that Traverse City will now have a “street piano” located in the heart of downtown that will be available for all to play and enjoy. As described below, the piano will be unveiled at a free community event on Thursday, July 21.


Origin Story

Heather and I were in Denver recently and, while strolling the downtown streets, came upon a number of colorfully painted pianos in different parts of the city. These were more than pieces of street art, they were functioning musical instruments played spontaneously by passersby. We looked at each other with the same thought: Something like this would be perfect in Traverse City.


So we got working on it. Being such a collaborative, community-oriented place, it wasn’t very hard to get the wheels in motion. One email to the folks at Downtown TC led to contact information for Jerry Snowden of the Miller Snowden Development Group. The timing was perfect. Jerry and his team were in the midst of completing a new community space on the side of their building at 250 Front Street downtown (the building that houses Chase Bank), complete with beautiful landscaping and a large patio space. Jerry was enthusiastic about the idea of adding a piano to this outdoor space, and after a short meeting to sketch out the details, off we went. We could not have found a better partner than Miller Snowden Development Group for this project.

The piano is now in place and was tuned this morning. The next step is to give the piano an appearance that will match the magic that will flow from it. In the next week, Heather will be designing and painting the piano in a colorful and whimsical motif. We want the piano to be the epicenter of a casual, fun, outdoor environment, and the design of the piano will capture the vibrancy and creativity that permeates throughout downtown Traverse City.

The Unveiling Event – Thursday, July 21

I hope you can join Life and Whim and Miller Snowden Development Group as we unveil Traverse City’s new street piano at a community event on Thursday, July 21 from 6 – 8 p.m. We’ve lined up local Traverse City musicians to play the piano during the event, which will take place on the east side of the building at 250 Front Street downtown. Once the event is over, the piano is all yours – we hope you’ll play the piano, and gather to listen to others show off their musical skills, throughout the rest of the summer. We’ll also have free ice cream (while supplies last and/or until it melts!) during the event. It should be fun and we hope you can make it out!

Check out the page we set up for the event with all the details, and spread the word on Facebook to let others know about this new community feature! We’ll be updating the website and our Facebook page with details about the event in the coming week.

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  • Jess

    Very cool 😊

  • Janel

    Wow!!! First off all, what an innovative and creative idea! I love how you two are such go getters and make things happen! Can’t wait to see the finished piano, I know Heather will do something fun and beautiful! Brilliant 😊

  • Martina Manthei

    Do you need any more piano’s by chance?

    • Heather Harrington

      Thank you for inquiring Martina, we are all set for now with the one!

  • Byron Block

    What a 1der-full idea. THANK U JAY

  • Peggy Johnson

    Wow! This is GREAT! I’ve been looking for something like this for Traverse City and you have kicked it off! I hope we have more public street pianos showing up in the next few years! See you on the 21st! Now I’m going to tell all my piano students about this!

  • Joan McCormick

    What a wonderful addition to our downtown, looking forward enjoying the music
    Thanks so much. This is why I love Traverse City!