What comes to mind when you think of the Arts Building? Is it the long, lifeless hallways? Maybe you think of the general lack of seating. Perhaps you think of the hammering of hands on the Arts piano. In the latter case, you aren’t alone.
The baby grand Heintzman that sits in the foyer of the Arts Building has become somewhat of an institution within the College of Arts and Science. The piano was installed by President Peter Stoicheff — the then dean of the college — in October 2014 to bolster and enhance the sense of community within the college. Since then, few hours go by without the sound of someone playing the instrument — for better or for worse.
While the piano undoubtedly has the capacity for positivity, as Stoicheff and the previous administration hoped, it also has the potential to be a great nuisance, especially for the adjacent Arts 133 and Arts 134 lecture theatres.
So, the Sheaf decided to talk to both students and staff in the Arts Building to see if the Arts piano falls flat or not.
Marcel André Laforge, second- year arts and science student, believes that the Arts piano made his first-year experience truly unique.
“On my first day, I walked into the Arts Building and heard the piano and thought that this is a place of music and joy. I felt like I was in a Stephen King book,” Laforge said.
As for the rowdiness of the piano, second-year education student Laura Tebay finds it nonconsequential.
“I had class in Arts 134, and I didn’t find the piano disruptive. Even with the door open, it wasn’t bad at all,” Tebay said.
For Emily Myers, third-year engineering student, a similar piano placement would be a great addition to other places on campus that need a more positive atmosphere.
“I would like there to be a piano in the Thorvaldson Building or in the Engineering Building, where it feels like there’s sadness all the time,” Myers said.
However, the students weren’t the only group to advocate for the piano. Richard Harris, an English professor at the University of Saskatchewan, told the Sheaf that the piano has benefits beyond the sonic ones.
“The piano is beautiful to have out. It’s like a gift after a hurricane,” Harris said. “It’s a great place to hang out and make friends, especially for first-year and international students who might not know anybody.”
Moreover, Harris wishes that there were similar spaces for guitar playing on campus. However, Harris said he doesn’t know how the rest of the faculty feels about the instrument.
While most agreed that the Arts piano is a positive force in the College of Arts and Science, not all shared that view. Derek*, third-year political studies student, expresses that the piano is a hindrance when played by the wrong hands.
“The piano is a tool, and the person who uses it defines how I feel about the piano,” Derek said. “It can either be a chaotic evil force in the world, like when people play the Requiem for a Dream theme at three in the morning, when I’m trying to get some last-minute studying in, or else it can be nice and pleasant and add some atmosphere. Overall, I think it has done more harm than good.”
While there are certainly detractors of the piano, the overwhelming majority consider it a pleasant instillation. So, rest assured, it sounds like the piano won’t be going anywhere soon.
What do you think about the Arts piano? Let us know below!
*To respect the privacy of the individual interviewed, their name has been changed.
Tanner Bayne / Culture Editor
Photos: Lauren Klassen