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Calling all music lovers

Five new pianos in locations across campus are waiting to be played

By Joel Bentley

BMus student Serina Mui plays the new piano in the Music, Art and Architecture Library. The instrument is a gift from Tom Lee Music. Credit: UBC Library Communications

BMus student Serina Mui plays the new piano in the Music, Art and Architecture Library. The instrument is a gift from Tom Lee Music. Credit: UBC Library Communications

A student sits at the new grand piano in the Music, Art and Architecture Library (MAA). She has headphones on, concealing the sound, so all you hear is the tapping of keys, rhythmic patterns. It feels like a pre-concert ritual—the quiet excitement of something about to be born. Behind the piano there are rows upon rows of sheet music, the largest collection of scores in Western Canada, waiting to be played. The library is muted and subdued, but the piano calls out to music lovers—beckoning them into the world of sound.

Pianos placed across UBC for you to enjoy

“I love playing with and for others and seeing the joy it brings to everyone involved,” says BMus student Zeta Gesme. A third-year double major in Cello Performance and Economics (Honours), Zeta is one of hundreds of students who have discovered joy at the new grand piano in the MAA at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (IKBLC). It’s all dressed up in black and white, like a butler waiting. At your service. Zeta uses the piano to practice for her piano exams.

Music is about the creation of joy.
— Jeffrey Lee (BComm’09), Executive Director of Tom Lee Music

It’s one of five new pianos that Tom Lee Music provided to UBC this year. The pianos can be found at the Walter C. Koerner Library, David Lam Management Research Library, Woodward Library, and the Nobel Biocare Oral Health Centre—the dental clinic. Two other pianos, previously provided in 2015, are located in the Chapman Learning Commons at IKBLC and the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre. Each piano is available to students, staff, faculty and the surrounding community.

“I thought it was so great that community members could have access to a piano and a library full of music for their own edification,” Zeta says.

The library’s most popular item

Kevin Madill, Acting Head Librarian at MAA, recalls when the idea of the library hosting a piano was initially pitched in 2015. He was cautious at first. A library is a sanctuary, a place of quiet study. But when mandatory headphone use was proposed, he was convinced. Kevin assumed the pianos would primarily be used for practice and theory homework by music students, but the headphones quickly became “the busiest item in the whole library.” He estimates that approximately 4,000 patrons have used the piano in the MAA Library over the past three years, or about three to four people every day.

“What’s been fascinating is that it’s attracted more people to the library. It’s brought people in,” Kevin says.

Take a break, have a seat

Arts student Odetta Li just discovered the piano this September. She’s not a music major, but she grew up playing the piano, taking lessons into her teens. Now, she improvises songs or plays pieces she loves.

“It’s a place to chill between lectures,” she says.

The great benefit of these pianos is the ability to plug in headphones and play in private, which makes them perfect for improvising or relaxing.

“Music is very therapeutic. People have a lot of pressure in their daily lives and they often enjoy an instrument at home,” says alumnus Ron Koyanagi (BEd (Sec) ’84), General Manager of Tom Lee Music’s piano division. But not everyone has the luxury of having a piano in their home, students least of all. Tom Lee Music provided the five pianos to UBC so that students, staff and community members alike could have an avenue to release stress, to improve their mood and mental well-being, and to pursue their musical passions. “We just want them to enjoy music, experience the fun, and take a break from everything that’s going on,” says Ron.

To gain access to one of the available pianos, simply check out a headphone set from a library circulation desk and you’ll have a piano to yourself for up to two hours.


Interested in making a difference? Find out how you can support the UBC School of Music.

Calling all music lovers

Five new pianos in locations across campus are waiting to be played

By Joel Bentley

BMus student Serina Mui plays the new piano in the Music, Art and Architecture Library. The instrument is a gift from Tom Lee Music. Credit: UBC Library Communications

BMus student Serina Mui plays the new piano in the Music, Art and Architecture Library. The instrument is a gift from Tom Lee Music. Credit: UBC Library Communications

A student sits at the new grand piano in the Music, Art and Architecture Library (MAA). She has headphones on, concealing the sound, so all you hear is the tapping of keys, rhythmic patterns. It feels like a pre-concert ritual—the quiet excitement of something about to be born. Behind the piano there are rows upon rows of sheet music, the largest collection of scores in Western Canada, waiting to be played. The library is muted and subdued, but the piano calls out to music lovers—beckoning them into the world of sound.

Pianos placed across UBC for you to enjoy

“I love playing with and for others and seeing the joy it brings to everyone involved,” says BMus student Zeta Gesme. A third-year double major in Cello Performance and Economics (Honours), Zeta is one of hundreds of students who have discovered joy at the new grand piano in the MAA at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (IKBLC). It’s all dressed up in black and white, like a butler waiting. At your service. Zeta uses the piano to practice for her piano exams.

Music is about the creation of joy.
— Jeffrey Lee (BComm’09), Executive Director of Tom Lee Music

It’s one of five new pianos that Tom Lee Music provided to UBC this year. The pianos can be found at the Walter C. Koerner Library, David Lam Management Research Library, Woodward Library, and the Nobel Biocare Oral Health Centre—the dental clinic. Two other pianos, previously provided in 2015, are located in the Chapman Learning Commons at IKBLC and the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre. Each piano is available to students, staff, faculty and the surrounding community.

“I thought it was so great that community members could have access to a piano and a library full of music for their own edification,” Zeta says.

The library’s most popular item

Kevin Madill, Acting Head Librarian at MAA, recalls when the idea of the library hosting a piano was initially pitched in 2015. He was cautious at first. A library is a sanctuary, a place of quiet study. But when mandatory headphone use was proposed, he was convinced. Kevin assumed the pianos would primarily be used for practice and theory homework by music students, but the headphones quickly became “the busiest item in the whole library.” He estimates that approximately 4,000 patrons have used the piano in the MAA Library over the past three years, or about three to four people every day.

“What’s been fascinating is that it’s attracted more people to the library. It’s brought people in,” Kevin says.

Take a break, have a seat

Arts student Odetta Li just discovered the piano this September. She’s not a music major, but she grew up playing the piano, taking lessons into her teens. Now, she improvises songs or plays pieces she loves.

“It’s a place to chill between lectures,” she says.

The great benefit of these pianos is the ability to plug in headphones and play in private, which makes them perfect for improvising or relaxing.

“Music is very therapeutic. People have a lot of pressure in their daily lives and they often enjoy an instrument at home,” says alumnus Ron Koyanagi (BEd (Sec) ’84), General Manager of Tom Lee Music’s piano division. But not everyone has the luxury of having a piano in their home, students least of all. Tom Lee Music provided the five pianos to UBC so that students, staff and community members alike could have an avenue to release stress, to improve their mood and mental well-being, and to pursue their musical passions. “We just want them to enjoy music, experience the fun, and take a break from everything that’s going on,” says Ron.

To gain access to one of the available pianos, simply check out a headphone set from a library circulation desk and you’ll have a piano to yourself for up to two hours.


Interested in making a difference? Find out how you can support the UBC School of Music.

Concerts in Care

Purdy Pavillion Photo: Brian Hawkes

Purdy Pavillion
Photo: Brian Hawkes

By Anna Collins and Michelle Keong

Since 2008, the School of Music has partnered with the Health Arts Society to deliver the Concerts in Care UBC Ambassadors program. This outstanding program benefits community members by sharing accomplished student performances with audiences in residential care and retirement homes. To date, 112 graduate and undergraduate students have been selected by audition to participate in the program and presented 498 concerts throughout the Lower Mainland and BC interior.

“We see the Concerts in Care UBC Ambassadors program as a wonderfully inspiring and effective way to train musician citizens who contribute compassionately to the community,” says Dr. Richard Kurth, director of the UBC School of Music. “Their Concerts in Care performances teach them to connect as directly as possible with their audiences, and to be communicative and eloquent in their playing and their conversation with the audience.”

Hands-on learning opportunities such as this are vital for students’ training. They provide opportunities for students to refine their craft—teaching performance and communication skills, perseverance, confidence and professionalism—in addition to illustrating the transformative and restorative power of music.

“I truly believe that this program demonstrates the power of music and its healing qualities,” says soprano Eva Tavares, a 2016 UBC Ambassador. “Music makes an impact on human beings, and that impact stays with you throughout life. It marks the highs and lows of life in ways that nothing else can. This program proves that, and proved to me why my job as an artist is vital.”

In the coming year, the School of Music and the Health Arts Society aim to double the number of music students in the program as well as the number of concerts they perform. They will also integrate Concerts in Care into the curriculum, offering course credit and instruction focused on performance and communication skills attuned to this context. The tailored feedback, direction and guidance will help students redefine the goals of their performances and give them presentation skills to maximize the benefits they can share with their audiences in healthcare settings.

“Every year we witness how the Ambassadors grow and blossom as artist-citizens through their Concerts in Care performances,” says Kurth, noting the robust program has presented approximately 60 Concerts in Care events every year. “We would like many more students to be nourished by this transformative experience, and we aim for many more people and healthcare centres to be delighted and fortified by their concerts!”

We invite you to join us to help expand the program as much as possible. Over the summer, alumni will receive a special appeal from UBC requesting support. Every donation will help us to increase student involvement, local performances and tours. We hope that you will consider making a gift to this important program.

To get involved today, please visit our online donation page.