RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Music is nice to listen to, it’s even nice to play. But some students at NC State University know the true mission of music is to connect people.
One instrument has been instrumental in helping students during difficult times.
Echoing through the courtyard of the Centennial campus, is the sound of a 120-year-old piano. It’s painted bright blue and covered with gold bells and green stars.
“There was just this piano here, so we started playing it,” explained senior Computer Science major Andrew Farkus.
He told CBS 17 two faculty members found the piano for free on Craigslist, and brought it back to life. They placed it on the green space off Oval Drive when campus re-opened after the height of the pandemic.
It’s since become a beacon for students, like Farkas.
“I personally went through some mental health struggles over the last year, and with coming back to campus after COVID,” he explained. “This piano really helped me make friends and get through all of that.”
The community of fellow music lovers grew quickly. Using his coding expertise, Farkas created a QR code to launch a special group for more than 130 piano players to connect on- and offline.
“[The piano] is just something to start conversations and something to get students connected to each other, which otherwise doesn’t happen much on an engineering campus, where everyone is hunkered down on their classes,” he added.
With each key played, it’s another barrier broken.
“Piano is a very direct way of putting yourself out there,” said Farkas.
The century old piano was so cherished, students placed a similar piano on the main campus for others to enjoy.
But their mission soon ended when university leaders began taking down the white tents that had been put up across campus.
That piano has since been relocated. But Farkas is one of the reasons why the Oval Drive relic remains.
With the help of his peers, he launched a petition to keep the piano in place. The 300 signatures caught the attention of a faculty member.
“He said, since everyone loved the piano so much, we’re going to keep it at least for the next semester,” said Farkas.
“Having this piano here, the music and community that forms around it, is essential,” added Farkas.
He told CBS 17 the “Oval Drive Piano Players” are in charge of keeping the piano intact and tuned.
Farkas said some of the students have even used 3D printing to replace missing keys.
So for now, the music will live on.