UC Berkeley music department to receive fresh supply of instruments

Lorenz Angelo Gonzales/Staff

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Music students at UC Berkeley will soon practice on new pianos with a partnership between the campus and a nonprofit foundation, which will loan instruments to the music department in exchange for the opportunity to sell instruments at a sale on campus later this month.

In the partnership, announced this week, the Rockley Family Foundation, which works with universities to promote musical education, will loan 17 new pianos and possibly other instruments to the music department. The foundation is hoping to continue loaning new pianos to the department on an annual basis.

“The instruments are used by thousands of students a year, and we do a lot to keep them maintained … But they are old, and they need to go,” said Jim Coates, manager of the music department.

In return for loaning instruments, the foundation will sell pianos and guitars in Hertz Hall for three days beginning Aug. 22. The selection will include a range of pianos and guitars, most less than a year old.

“It’s an ongoing swap,” Coates said. “It gives them access to the market here to sell pianos, and it gives us access to the pianos.”

The instruments loaned by the foundation for practice rooms will be used for a year and then sold in the next sale. The music department will then receive another set of instruments for a year. The collaboration allows the music department to maintain a collection of newly furnished pianos while giving the foundation an opportunity to sell its own pianos on campus.

On the bottom floor of Morrison Hall, practice rooms hold about 30 pianos, some of which are not in top condition.

“The instruments are pretty old, and most of them definitely need to be repaired,” said Eric Delgado, a UC Berkeley junior and music major. “Getting newer instruments is definitely an up for students.”

The music department is currently working independently to sell its instruments to make room for the new ones.

“We have a real problem maintaining them all. Some are probably decades old,” said Cindy Cox, chair of the music department. “This is a fantastic opportunity for music students.”

Contact Sarah Rockwood at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @srockwood44.