Building a Piano

I love building things. dreaming, designing, welding, building, carving, you name it I love it. My father raised me to enjoy building things and I have my own set of tools and a purple leather tool belt to prove it.

KellieAnn carves foam by flashlight while the power is out.

KellieAnn carves foam by flashlight while the power is out.

Some of my earliest memories with my dad are curling up in his lap on a Saturday morning watching PBS’s “New Yankee Workshop,” and standing out in the garage handing him different tools as he built tables and furniture for the house. From my early teenage years on, summer has meant building season. We drag out the saw horses and extension cords and build various light-yet-strong set pieces for our local community theater. Alongside my father we have welded, built, and carved a mini-trailer home, spiral staircases, undersea grottos, clock towers, bathtubs, dozens of platforms and flats, currently a Lost Boys hideout and much more.

The Lost Boys hideout for Peter Pan Jr. starts to take shape.

The Lost Boys hideout for Peter Pan Jr. starts to take shape.

When you build for a theatrical production you have one unique luxury, the “thirty-foot rule.” Meaning that the set pieces only have to look good from the audience’s point of view, 30-feet away. Sometimes dad would forget this, and he’d incorporate intricate details into the work. I’d remind him over and over, “We are not building a piano!”

The pieces didn’t need to be perfect, or even functional,  they just needed to be good. Then one show we ended up building two pianos. Dad was allowed to go a little overboard with the project designing two beautiful and unique pianos, complete with individually cut and placed keys. To this day, this has been one of my favorite projects to build with my dad.

KellieAnn's Dad, Mark, stands proudly next to the stage piano his is in the process of building.

KellieAnn’s Dad, Mark, stands proudly next to the stage piano he is in the process of building.

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