SRC ELECTIONS 2018

Here’s where to find the best pianos on campus

Wondering where you can practice? These pianos are hiding in plain sight!

Artwork by Zi Hui Lie Artwork by Zi Hui Lie

Sydney University Piano Society holds its weekly meeting in the Barnard Eldershaw Room in Manning House. However, sometimes it’s a bit depressing to see a bunch of people jamming around the single piano in the room. Last semester, I began an exploration. I was on the hunt for more pianos; and now I’ve located at least 20 pianos accessible on the main campus of USyd. A video list of their locations is available on Youtube. Also included is a rough evaluation of each piano in question. I hope this information will be useful for those who love to play the piano and are looking for places to practice their skills. Here are the top 5 on my list.

No.1

  • Location: Barnard Eldershaw Room, Manning House LV2
  • Brand: Kawai Linden
  • Type: Upright
  • Rating:
  • Quality ★★★
  • Condition ★★
  • Accessibility ★★★★

Barnard Eldershaw Room is the fixed venue for PianoSoc’s weekly meeting, which makes the piano in this room quite popular. However, it’s affected by the same issue that affects every piano on campus: a lack of maintenance. Normally brand and type determine the quality of a piano, but the real condition depends on how regularly technical maintenance takes place: maintenance which costs money. As a result, these instruments are left worn-out, with no plan in sight to pay the cost for upkeep.

No.2

  • Location: USU Common Room, Holme Building LV4
  • Brand: Kawai
  • Type: Upright
  • Rating:
  • Quality ★★★
  • Condition ★★★
  • Accessibility ★★★★

This piano is ideal due to its easy accessibility. As long as the room remains vacant, you can pop in at anytime within working hours. Moreover, if your visit unfortunately clashes with the schedule sheet at the door, there are two other pianos in the same building: one is a grand piano placed in front of the HostCo Office next door, and the other is an upright Kawai in the Elliott Miller Studio on Level 3.

No.3

  • Location: Wentworth Building LV4
  • Brand: Kawai
  • Type: Upright
  • Rating:
  • Quality ★★
  • Condition ★★
  • Accessibility ★★★

This piano is very popular with students for its convenient location. It used to be in the International Student Lounge, but the staff have moved it to a nearby seminar room. If you find the room locked, go to the ISL office next door. They hold the key to that room.

No.4

  • Location: Nicholson Museum, Quadrangle Lobby F
  • Brand: Steinway & Sons
  • Type: Concert Grand
  • Rating:
  • Quality ★★★★
  • Condition ★★★★
  • Accessibility ★

Climb the stairs from the Nicholson Museum and you will find a splendid concert grand piano in front of the lecture room. This piano was acquired with funds bequeathed to the university in 1953, and is still in very good condition. This is probably due to the notice stuck to the piano cover, which reads ‘NO PLAYING’. The note is most likely left by staff who work in nearby offices for noise control. You may want to try your luck here after hours, but before security locks the gate to the lobby!

No.5

  • Location: Seymour Centre LV5
  • Brand: Kawai
  • Type: Upright
  • Rating:
  • Quality ★★★
  • Condition ★★★
  • Accessibility ★★★★

The piano is made for playing, not for display. Yet an unfortunate fact is that due to noise policies, many public pianos are banned from being played. In this situation, you may want to look for options  such as the practice rooms on Seymour Centre Level 5, to perform quietly. These rooms are open to conservatorium students, as well as those who need to undertake music-related activities.