March 11, 2024

Striking a new chord

Music returns to UCalgary’s Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning
A student plays piano wearing headphones inside the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning
A student plays piano inside the Taylor Institute. Elyse Bouvier

The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning (TI) at the University of Calgary is once again filled with the harmonious sound of music—maybe just a bit differently—thanks to an initiative that saw the reintroduction of an Alpha baby grand piano, now equipped with innovative silent technology. 

Originally purchased in 2016 when the TI building opened, the piano was recently moved into storage due to the distraction its melodies caused in the communal spaces. Now, the TI has found a solution that favours both music lovers and those seeking a quiet learning environment. 

"UCalgary students have a deep love for music, and this led us to explore innovative solutions that would allow them to enjoy their craft while being respectful of the surrounding classrooms and workspaces," says Brian Pshyk, Operations Specialist at the TI. 

A Genio Silent system, installed by Michael Lipnicki Fine Pianos, now adorns the piano. This system uses optical sensors under the keys and pedals to detect movement and convert it to a MIDI signal. This allows the piano to be played silently through headphones, without losing the touch and feel of a traditional grand piano. 

"During COVID, these systems gained popularity as students had to attend music lessons from home via video call," explained Nicole Lipnicki of Michael Lipnicki Fine Pianos. "The Genio system allows those working, studying, and practicing music to coexist harmoniously." 

This initiative is a testament to the TI’s commitment to fostering an empowering environment for both students and staff. It is also an example of the entrepreneurial thinking that UCalgary values, using existing resources in an innovative way to solve a problem. 

The piano, now located on the main floor of the TI building, is available to the campus community to plug in and play, providing an opportunity for students and staff to relax and unwind amidst their busy schedules. 

"We are delighted to offer our campus community a new way to relieve stress. With the silent piano, it's just you and the music," Pshyk adds.