Plenty of work for go-any­where pi­ano

DIY mu­sic man de­vel­ops a grand idea

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By JESSICA MAD­DOCK

It took Roxburgh mu­si­cian Alas­tair Monteath six months of evenings and week­ends to turn his key­board into a mo­bile, self­pow­ered grand pi­ano. Mr Monteath, a clas­si­cal, con­tem­po­rary and jazz mu­si­cian, who also plays the trum­pet and flugel horn and sings, wanted to be able to play at the in­creas­ing num­ber of events, par­tic­u­larly wed­dings, be­ing held in re­mote places. But ev­ery time he got one of th­ese gigs, he had to hire a gen­er­a­tor. So last year he be­gan mak­ing a trans­portable, bat­tery-run pi­ano. He had never seen one like it, so had no tem­plate to fol­low. He used 3mm thick cus­tom wood – sim­i­lar to very fine chip wood floor­ing – to cre­ate the rounded shapes of a grand pi­ano, glu­ing five lay­ers to­gether to make it strong. Hid­ing his key­board in the shell, he used ma­te­ri­als such as cop­per, cot­ton and brass to cre­ate im­i­ta­tion in­nards of a grand pi­ano, mak­ing his cre­ation look au­then­tic. The pi­ano stool hides a 12-volt golf cart bat­tery and an in­verter which con­verts it to the 240-volts needed to run the key­board and pub­lic ad­dress sound sys­tem. "Ne­ces­sity is the mother of in­ven­tion," Mr Monteath said. Most of the $2000 cost of the con­trap­tion went on a pro­fes­sional paint job by a Cromwell firm. "But it was worth it, be­cause that’s what make it look like a grand pi­ano." One of Mr Monteath’s mu­si­cal pas­sions is jazz but he said, th­ese days, the peo­ple who tra­di­tion­ally hired five-piece jazz bands - such as restau­rant own­ers and brides and grooms - could no longer af­ford to. So he plays his var­i­ous in­stru­ments and uses high-qual­ity recorded back­ing tracks – some of which are of his own mu­sic – to cre­ate the sound of a five­piece jazz band, for the price of a soloist. "It gets quite lonely when you do it all on your own, but I’m get­ting quite a lot of work." Mr Monteath’s day job is teach­ing mu­sic at sec­ondary schools through­out the Cen­tral Otago and Queen­stown Lakes dis­tricts. He re­turned to his home­town of Roxburgh three years ago, af­ter teach­ing mu­sic at In­ver­cargill’s James Hargest High School for 22 years.

GRAND IDEA: Us­ing a golf cart bat­tery, a key­board and cus­tom wood, Roxburgh mu­si­cian Alas­tair Monteath has built a mo­bile, self-pow­ered elec­tric grand pi­ano, en­abling him to play in re­mote spots where there is no power.

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