Travel & Heritage Council Collecting Piano Histories – Press Release 11/03/2003

DATE 11/03/2003 4:55 PM

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.

Travel & Heritage Council Collecting Piano Histories

It’s fitting that the community is helping North Sanpete High School raise money to buy a new piano for use in school and community functions. Piano playing in one form or another has deep roots in the community and county, says Monte Bona, a member of the Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council.

“In the days before radio, television and computers, the piano was the main form of entertainment in just about every family,” Bona says. “Many people may remember gathering around the piano in the parlor with friends and family on just about every occasion. Given that there is a community fund raising project going on to purchase a new piano for the high school, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to draw attention to the history of the piano in our city and county.”

The Sanpete Travel and Heritage Council is looking for stories, old photographs and memorabilia about the piano. Some of the county’s earliest settlers actually brought the unwieldy instruments across the plains with them. “Getting a piano here must have been an extremely difficult task,” Bona says.

The difficulty may be one of the reasons that the piano has continued to be a much-loved instrument over the years. Other reasons may be that the piano tended to be connected to the family. “Brass bands, which were also very popular in yesteryear, were the very common in small towns as a way for the community to pull together. Choir was also very popular, especially among church groups,” Bona says. “But the piano was in the home and it was a family gathering place.”

The Travel and Heritage Council would like to hear from people who have histories to tell like the stories Deneice Blackham and her son, Donnell Blackham of Moroni have to share. . Deneice Blackham taught piano for 72 years, retiring just two years ago at the age of 90. Not only did she teach piano out of her home, but at one time she played piano at the Fountain Green Theater, providing sound effects for the silent movies that played there. Her grandmother, Eliza Anderson, also played and taught the piano. “My mother never remembers a time in her life when there wasn’t a piano in the home,” Donnell Blackham says.

For more information Contact:

Monte Bona
Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502

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