A few months ago, a group of students from the University of Minnesota (MN) in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, set out to design and build a piano bar.
It was to be a unique piece of art, but the team was faced with a few problems: it needed to be light enough to play, the wood needed to hold together and have enough room for the strings.
They were also worried about the amount of time the wood would take to be ready to play.
So they began a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise $50,000 to pay for the wood and string.
The campaign ended on July 28, but a few days later, a backer from Canada posted a video of the students playing it, which was met with a mix of cheers and applause.
The video went viral.
When we see a video where a group from the university, and a few other people, are playing the piano, it’s like, “Wow, that was really cool!” says Adam F. Heidt, one of the project’s co-founders.
“We were really excited to see it get more attention, and then when the money started rolling in, we realized it was really going to be our biggest challenge.”
After spending several months designing, testing, and tweaking, the bar was completed in January.
This video shows the band playing a piano note chart, created by the students, and the finished piano bar in Minneapolis.
In order to complete the piano bar’s construction, the students had to spend weeks and weeks tweaking the piano strings and making sure everything fit.
They also had to figure out how to cut out the piano note sheet in a way that would allow the piano to sit on the bar.
“It was pretty challenging and stressful at times,” Heids says.
“But when you get a little bit of encouragement from a lot of people, you’ll get your feet under you and your focus.”
A prototype of the piano bars prototype.
They worked together to design the bar and then they built it in Minneapolis on a 3-D printer.
They used CAD software to design each of the instruments and then went through a 3D printer process to create the wood, string, and wood deck.
The wood and wood piece were cut out and then cut into shape with a router.
The students used a machine to cut the wood out and it took them more than a month to complete.
The finished bar weighs about 35 pounds.
(The team has since added a couple of extra pieces to the bar to give it a little more weight.)
The students say that their final product is more than 30 percent lighter than the prototype.
The prototype bar also includes a piano string, which they used to play the music.
The band had to find a suitable supplier for the piano string.
They chose a company that manufactures strings in the United States but also offers strings in Canada, China, Japan, and Russia.
They ended up with a brand-new violin from a company in Sweden that had the perfect violin strings to use in their prototype.
“It’s been a little while since we’ve used strings and it’s been really rewarding to finally use them,” says Heid.
“You get to play in a new way, you feel like you’re part of something that’s different and beautiful.”
They also used a piano key to control the bar, which can be used to move the piano along the string.
“There’s a lot more going on with the piano in the video,” says Fennell.
“When you have a piano, you can use your hands to play notes, and we’re able to do that with this bar.”
Fennells says that he’s not a big fan of the design process itself.
“I just feel like we’re doing it a lot better with the instruments,” he says.
He and the rest of the band hope that they’ll be able to finish the piano before Christmas.
They plan to have a video posted in January for the students to see.
(Photos by Alex M. Leibowitz)The video was made possible thanks to the support of the University House, a student-run organization that provides financial assistance to students interested in learning about music.
“The students are so excited to be playing music again, and it makes us feel so good to see them doing it again,” says Shelly Egan, the university’s associate dean of student life.