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Piano donations bring a boost of new sound to an old South Tampa music venue

Posted at 12:56 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 16:05:37-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The Friday Morning Musicale building has been a fixture in South Tampa since 1926. Unfortunately, some of their music equipment is just as old. So this month two brand new pianos were donated just in time for their upcoming concert.

Michael Yao grew up playing the piano at the Friday Morning Musicale and he is now studying it at the University of Chicago.

“I’ve been coming here since I was five, I’ve had amazing experiences here, great concerts, and I’ve also had bad concerts, and that’s where I’m able to learn from my mistakes,” said Yao.

Over the years piano teacher Patricia Handly has watched hundreds of students come and go yet the 96-year-old building and much of its contents remain the same.

“We are in the process of repairing windows, and leaky roofs, and we also need a lot of help with air conditioning systems, so it takes a lot of money to run a building this old,” said Handly.

Long time volunteer Cole Clayton decided to take it upon his own a-chord and donate two new Steinway pianos valued at $250,000.

“Just an honor to be able to help them out, help them grow musically, and educationally, it’s just a great thing to give back to the community,” said Clayton.


Clayton said he was inspired by his brother and mother who both passed away last year.

“My mother would often wake up every morning and play the piano and my brother would often play the piano at his house he loved it very much,” said Clayton.

“Oh it will make a big difference because the sound is just so much brighter they will not have the problem of keys sticking,” said Handly.

The high note to this donation may be the timing. They are having a concert Saturday Jan. 15 at 3 p.m. and Michael will be performing.

“I mean it’s incredible especially for me, this is one of the nicest pianos I’ve ever played on and I know for a lot of the other members its probably going to be one of the nicest pianos they’ve ever touched,” said Yao.

Clayton said it’s one thing to see your contributions have such an impact, but in this case, he can’t wait to hear them.

“It makes my brother and mother’s spirits live on forever you know in a sense when the music is being played it’s such a beautiful thing because it puts a smile on my heart,” said Clayton.