The sweet sounds of a trained pianist were replaced by the deafening noise of pounding piano keys this past Friday during an after-school program at The Salvation Army Eastside in Bellevue. With the noise came smiles and laughter of nearly a dozen kids, happy at receiving the gift of music.
The heirloom piano donated to the Crossroads facility was the result of a new program being launched by “Ten Grands” in Seattle, in partnership with the Snowman Foundation, a Northwest organization established in 1999 to promote community-based music programs. Since its launch, the foundation has donated more than 80 pianos to student programs in Oregon and Washington.
Three years ago, board members of the foundation extended the organization to focus on the Seattle and Eastside areas. Seattle representative Steve Dewalt attended the special afternoon presentation at The Salvation Army Eastside to see first hand the work his organization is doing in the community.
“Our goal is to bring music and arts education to underprivileged kids,” he said. “We accomplish this through donations, gifts of musical instruments, lessons, scholarships, band uniforms and so much more. We strive to give ordinary kids the opportunity to be extraordinary. “
The Snowman Foundation has raised more than $2 million for music education over the past decade. The primary source of funding is raised through the annual “Ten Grands” concerts in Portland and Seattle.
The concert features 10 grand pianos and 10 concert pianists playing a variety of classical and modern pieces both simultaneously and individually. Presented just once a year in Seattle at Benaroya Hall, this year’s performance will take place on Friday, April 1, at 7 p.m.
“We hope to bring the joy of music to everyone, from every walk of life,” Dewalt said, adding, “It may just sound like pounding noise, but when kids get the opportunity to explore a piano for the first time, it’s music to my ears.”
The piano donated to The Salvation Army Eastside was a gift from John and Jan Martinka. The piano dates back to the 1930s when John’s mother, who was a teacher and loved playing piano, bought it and taught her kids to play during the Great Depression.
“We played it as kids and then our kids played it growing up,” John said. “It’s now someone else’s turn to make some music.”
Lindsay Larin can be reached at 425-453-4602.
More information about the Snowman Foundation is available at www.snowmanfoundation.org