MBU Music Department Receives Grant to Purchase New Steinway Pianos

The Rea Charitable Trust recently awarded Mary Baldwin University funds to enhance the music department. Professor of Music Lise Keiter helped orchestrate the grant, focusing on what would benefit students the most.

“Providing our music students with top-quality instruments will allow them to thrive in their musical studies,” Keiter said.

MBU used the funds to purchase two brand-new Steinway & Sons grand pianos, both now in Deming Hall, and to pay for improvements to one of the music department’s existing pianos, a Steinway Model B.


Keiter traveled to the Steinway factory on Long Island to choose the piano for advanced lessons in the faculty studio, selecting a new seven-foot Model B out of eight options. For the newly renovated practice room, Keiter visited the Steinway showroom in Bethesda, Maryland, selecting a six-foot Model O.

“We are already seeing such positive results,” Keiter said. “I hear our piano students practicing all the time — even right after a lesson! Clearly this new instrument is an inspiration for them.”

The Rea Practice Room is reserved for advanced students, a privilege often lost at larger institutions with lengthy wait lists to use such high-quality instruments. “I am so in love with the new pianos that it saddens me that I am leaving both of them this year,” senior Kelsey Jamerson said. “Practicing on a new piano is so exciting that sometimes I never want to leave the practice room.”

The new piano inside the faculty studio allows advanced piano students to take lessons on the best possible instrument. “With this new piano, we are able to do so much more fine-tuning in the lesson,” Keiter said. “Students are taking their playing to the next level by learning more of the subtleties of refined piano-playing.”

Another benefit to having two additional pianos on campus is the option to have more high-quality instruments in accessible places for the rest of the student body, not just to advanced students. The Model B that was previously used for advanced lessons is now in the renovated classroom in Deming.

The Rea Charitable Trust is named after Mary Baldwin music alumna Isabel McClintic Rea ’39. This most recent grant is in addition to $119,000 MBU received from the trust in 2016 for renovations to the Deming Fine Arts Center.

The trust’s generosity has allowed MBU to make many improvements to the performing and fine arts programs. The renovations to Deming Hall’s four-floor entryway were completed in summer 2017, and provide a modern display area to showcase artwork and the theatre program is also enjoying new flooring in the Fletcher Collins Theatre.

“Getting to choose a new Steinway B for my teaching studio is pretty much a dream come true,” Keiter said. “My hope is that these instruments will benefit countless Mary Baldwin students for the years to come.”

President Fox with advanced piano students in the Rea Practice Room

Kelsey Jamerson ’18 playing the Model O in the Rea Practice Room