Street piano project prevents crime

The colourful street piano that sat on Stephen Avenue last summer is gone, but even though the music has faded, the anti-crime tune the piano played lives on.

In fact, the sweet sound may soon be echoing through the streets of Kensington, Mount Royal University and the Devonian Gardens down town.

The instrument was presented to the public on June 23, part of a study to see if crime rates could be lowered in a higher crime area by creating a positive atmosphere and strengthening community bonds.

While results of the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) statistics have not yet been released, the future looks promising.

Valerie Cheadle, a Mount Royal University graduate in criminal justice, co-ordinated the project and said she has noticed some encouraging results from Calgary’s street piano.

“Despite the bars and people in the area, the piano did not experience vandalism or abuse throughout the summer. [It] actually brought people together at all times of the day or night, not to be confrontational, but to play and sing,” said Cheadle.

Calgary Police Services were not directly involved in the project, but encouraged it.

“We can officially say that the Calgary Police Service supports any community initiative that has the potential to impact crime levels and improve the quality of life for Calgarians,” said Michael Nunn, from Calgary Police Communications.

The concept is still new in Canada, and Calgary is among the first three Canadian cities to be a part of the movement.

“The community responded really well. There was a lot of support from civilians donating time to clean and tune the piano, to businesses donating money, time, and resources,” said Cheadle.

Downtown residents also did their best to ensure the piano was protected from the elements by placing a tarp on the instrument during wet weather.

Cheadle was surprised to see the diverse group of people the piano attracted.

“I saw people in business suits, people on skateboards, and street people play and attract a crowd of 20 in three minutes,” she said.

Calgary can expect to see more street pianos in the near future.

Devonian Gardens will receive an indoor piano that will be open to the public throughout the winter months. The project will temporarily move indoors due to the colder temperatures being hard on the acoustics of the piano.

Kensington may also be next in line to test the theory.

“I have spoken with a local who wishes to put one in the Kensington area, and there is interest from students of Mount Royal to put out another CPTED piano,” said Cheadle.

About Jessa Farmer 5 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Jessa Farmer worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2012-2013 academic year.