Barry Manilow will be bringing music to Centre County in more ways than one.
In advance of his concert March 12 at the Bryce Jordan Center, the singer-songwriter announced that, through the Manilow Music Project, he will donate a new Yamaha piano to the Bald Eagle Area School District.
“I’m thrilled to be giving the gift of music to these kids,” Manilow said in a press release.
And it comes as a way that also gives middle and high school choir students lessons they’ve never had before.
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Superintendent Jeff Miles said school administrators have the chance to choose the kind of piano they want, including an upright piano or keyboard.
Both pianos are digital, which choir director Ryan Wade said allows him to alter lessons that could benefit students.
“The piano will be used for chorus and (we) will be using it (in) choir rehearsal,” he said. “Because of its digital nature, it allows me to step out from behind the piano and assist students.”
He also said students are already planning ways the piano will help them.
“The kids were excited and had so many questions,” Wade said. “A couple (of students) were telling me how they’re planning to use it by recording themselves first and allowing them to work on another part of their project.”
Once picked, the piano will take four to six weeks to arrive, Miles said.
If Manilow has his way, the piano won’t be the only instrument finding its way into the hands of Bald Eagle Area students this spring.
Music fans can drop off new or gently used instruments at the BJC box office in exchange for two free tickets to Manilow’s show.
Tickets will be given on a first-come first-serve basis for pre-selected seat locations. Instruments can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and starting at noon March 12.
“This is great timing as the district is facing uncertainty with the ongoing state budget impasse, as well as much needed upgrades with musical instruments, especially at the elementary level,” district business manager Craig Livergood said.
Livergood said Manilow’s management company approached the BJC and asked about a local school or organization that would benefit from his program.
A representative from the BJC then contacted the district Tuesday, Livergood said.
“I don’t know how we were chosen but (we) were asked if we wanted to be a part of it and said yes,” Livergood said.
On Wednesday, the district got the final confirmation it would receive the gift.
“It’s just really great that someone of Mr. Manilow’s status is doing all kinds of things to help keep music alive in schools,” Wade said. “For some students, it’s all they have. For athletes, their bodies will eventually break down, but musicians can have a lifetime of music.”