11/22/05 — Piano donation will bring new music to school

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Piano donation will bring new music to school

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 22, 2005 1:47 PM

Students at Dillard Academy will sing a new song this holiday season -- with accompaniment.

The charter school for kindergarten through fourth grades on West Elm Street had an older piano, co-principal William Turner said, but it was not in very good shape.

A volunteer had already been lined up to begin teaching piano lessons with each class after the holidays.

"He said, 'I think I can bang it out on the old piano,' not realizing how old it really was," Turner said.

That struck a chord with a group of women executives from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

When Eliza Zimmerman visited the school for a tour, she said she noticed the lack of a well-tuned piano.

"My grandmother and her twin had graduated from conservatories," Ms. Zimmerman said. "I grew up around pianos and violins, and thought it was so sad for children not to grow up with music."

She decided to take on the project.

"It became like a wild obsession of mine," she said.

Ms. Zimmerman began making phone calls, traveling to other cities in search of a piano before finding one from a private seller in Goldsboro. When she called Clayton Frederick of Frederick Music to find out how to move it, she said he offered to help with the transport.

A comedy of errors followed. She said one of the movers injured his foot, someone in the seller's home had a vision problem, and the move kept getting postponed.

"We're to the point where I'm ready to just roll it down to the school myself," she said earlier this month.

Finally, things came together and the delivery was scheduled for Monday. Despite steady rain throughout the day, Ms. Zimmerman was unwavering in her plan for the schoolchildren to get their piano.

As soon as it was unloaded into the school building, it was put to a trial run. Luckily, Turner said, the school's maintenance man and a van driver, Monty Moore, is also a talented musician.

A class of kindergarten students, ironically just getting started on preparing Christmas carols for the upcoming holiday program, gathered around the new instrument.

"He started playing 'Jingle Bells' and the students started singing," Turner said.

The piano will allow the school to expose students to more of the cultural arts, he said.

"We just feel like we will be able to make it a part of our program," he said. "They may not learn how to play the piano, but will have some knowledge of how a piano works and will be able to use that as a stepping stone."

Turner said the staff and students were very pleased and grateful for the donation, and said that the school has always gotten positive help from the base. In addition to Ms. Zimmerman, others who were a part of the project were Velma Smith, Varda Giordana and Marilyn Roseborough.