Hi all, a special newsletter about the first public display of the
NZ Photoplayer. Enjoy!
Don Paynter - The Photoplayer Restoration Trust
Opotiki, New Zealand
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Report on the New Zealand Photoplayer At the Waikato Home and Garden
Show, 2nd to 5th October 2014.
With the photoplayer progressing well, the Hamilton show was a great
opportunity to show the photoplayer in public for the first time.
Apart from the body and the piano hammers, we are very close to
a playing instrument.
We took the player to the show in parts, the back, sound board,
and strung frame as one section the key bed and keys another, piano
action, organ pallet separately and the bass side frame (unfinished).
The treble side frame is too damaged to use so Kevin rigged up
a temporary plywood stabilisation foot for safety reasons. These
were all assembled on arrival and gave those attending a good idea
of how the restoration was progressing.
From Opotiki I took along a small selection of pipes, violin, cello,
flute, trumpet, vox, also the bird whistle, boat whistle, and the
tremolo unit. On the percussion side we displayed the glockenspiel,
snare drum, tambourine, fire gong, castanets, wood knock, klaxon,
cymbal, triangle and the doorbell.
To give an accurate idea of the size of the photoplayer we had life
size photos of the two side cases printed and mounted on the screens
either side of the Piano.
We had a great spot in the main arena, everybody (all 32 thousand!),
had to pass our site to go on to see the rest of the show. In the
photo above you will see Kevin's player piano at the side of the site
-- what a show stopper! Every roll we played drew a crowd big enough
at times to block the passageway. Kevin, Nathan, and I manned the
site for 36 hours over the four days and spoke to hundreds of
interested people. Their reactions were very positive and supportive
to our project.
When I hear people comment that young people aren't interested in
mechanical musical instruments they are wrong -- the young ones really
kept asking questions and showed a remarkable grasp of how it worked
and what it will play. The number who had watched silent movies at
school or on YouTube was really encouraging.
We made a series of small picture frames with unusable parts of the
Photoplayer (old felt hammers, etc.) and gave them to people who
supported us with a donation. We did, however, strike the problem
that people these days don't carry money and use plastic.
We had great public interest on our site, developed by two excellent
newspaper articles in the Hamilton papers and by an interview on the
afternoon talk show of Radio NZ National. Both the radio and the
newspaper stories were commented on by many people as they passed by.
We hope our sponsors gained the recognition they deserve from our
display -- certainty the local groups were pleased to see us there
as they stopped to acknowledge their presence.
This was a remarkable exercise in public awareness and support for
the project. It may have cost us some of our hard earned funds and
a little time but was well worth while and worth doing again. By
next year we will have a completed piano that will play as a Pianola.
I hope we can again display it and hopefully have it playing the
xylophone or glockenspiel along with the piano.