20,000 Keys to Success

Carr Piano Shop transforms space for staff who maintain more than 215 keyboards at MSU

Mary Lapprand in the piano shop

The MSU College of Music is home to 215 keyboards, including 140 acoustic pianos as well as digital pianos, harpsichords, pipe organs, celestes and a fortepiano—and every single one has to be in tip-top shape, at all times, for lessons, rehearsals, concerts and collaborations.

The Carr Piano Shop, newly renovated and named in honor of a gift from Tom and Denise Carr, is where MSU piano technicians Mary Lapprand (pictured) and David Foster do the vital work of keeping these instruments in prime condition.

Updates to the shop were much needed, and the piano technicians could not be more grateful for the fresh, functional, organized space, where they can focus on the science and math of proper piano care—and have all the tools they need at their disposal.

This is something that Tom Carr identifies with closely. Accustomed to working in a lab, Tom served on the MSU faculty as a cognitive psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist from 1979 until his retirement in 2014.

“As a laboratory scientist, I know how important your equipment is, and I understand the importance of having somebody who really understands and cares about that equipment to keep it running,” Tom says. “Knowing how it all fits together is important, and I think the College of Music got a really great find when they hired Mary. She has a spectacular background, and she has the kind of spirit that can keep hard projects going.”

The Carrs feel that pianos are a foundational aspect of any music school, and their personal history with music played an important role in their decision to help renovate the piano shop. Denise’s first exposure to classical music was in college through donated tickets. At the same time, the low cost of College of Music concerts made it possible for them to attend performances as young parents.

“So many of the various performances we have seen over the years have been subsidized by other donors, and it’s been a huge part of our lives,” Denise explained. “The concerts given by the College of Music are a gift to the community. Music is one of the primary connections that the town has to the university; a gift to the college is a gift to the community as well.”

LEARN MORE about supporting the College of Music by contacting Senior Director of Development Ann-Marie Lindley at alindley@msu.edu or by calling (517) 432-4889.

In the photo above, piano technician Mary Lapprand--who studied piano for 10 years and has been the college’s head piano technician for the past five years--works in the main part of the Carr Piano Shop, tightening string coils on tuning pins on a recently restrung piano.