Monday, 14 January 2019

88 Pianists, 1 Piano: An engineering challenge to inspire the next generation

Jack Trethewey, Cohort 2018

If I was to tell you to gather up eighty-eight of your dearest friends and have them all play the piano at the same time, you would probably think I had finally cracked, that the stress of trying to achieve my own high standards had now caused me to demand the impossible. I wouldn’t blame you. When I was told about ambitious plans of the 88 Pianists project, created in honour of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo DaVinci’s death, I nearly spat out my cappuccino in disbelief. The idea of trying to smash the world record for the largest number of people playing the piano at the same time, seems an unnerving task on its own. However, combine this with expecting eighty-eight primary school children to use comically long mechanical fingers to delight an audience with joyous tunes, and you have an amusing spectacle that appears doomed to fail. But this daunting prospect did not faze The University of Cambridge’s Professor Julian Allwood, who still appears inspiringly optimistic that the record will be broken. This positivity was emphasised within The University of Sheffield by Dr Candice Majewski, a lecturer within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who is coordinating Sheffield’s collaboration with the project.