A piano salvaged from a Mt. Juliet family’s tornado ravaged home last year now is a Green Hill High School art project and stands in the school’s commons hall as a symbol of resilience, remembrance and memories.

The project is called “And the Song Played On,” and is the creation of Audio-Visual Production and Sports Broadcasting teacher DeAna Duncan, who previously taught at Wilson Central High School. She partnered for the project with GHHS teacher of the year Robert Brindos, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Middle Tennessee Electric Corporation.

“To create an interactive experience that celebrates the outpouring of support from our community after the tornado of March 2020 and the time of rebuilding that followed,” Duncan said.

Wilson Central graduate Gillian Mak and her family donated the water damaged baby grand piano. It had been stored by one of their neighbors after the March 2020 tornado. Duncan brought the piano to the high school’s STEM class. She said because rain damaged the playing components of the piano, the project participants would replace them with parts to play music, songs and stories.

MTEC and TVA agreed to donate $2,500 each for the project.

“We are honored to be asked to support this STEM project,” said MTEC CEO Chris Jones. “It’s such a positive effort that brings healing to the community amidst devastating times. It goes right to one of our core principles – concern for community – and we are glad to be able to help.”

The piano was revealed this month to a crowd of people at the high school. They saw vignettes painted across the piano, all drawn by art students from local schools. Duncan said that the choirs from Wilson Central and Green Hill recorded songs that the piano will play.

Green Hill art students painted a flaming Phoenix rising on the inside of the piano lid

“This was a chance for hope and healing for the arts,” said Duncan. “Our STEM students restored and installed a speaker system from an IPad. It’s about healing from trauma in an artistic way. It’s about resilience and recovery and is a public symbol.”

GHHS Principal Kevin Dawson said he was impressed.

“I am proud of the creativity and ingenuity of the teachers and students who collaborated on this project,” he said. “It has been a tough year, and to see a group come together to make something beautiful out of what many people would have considered destroyed is a sign of the resilience of our community.”

And while hands will not play the keys, the piano is now a transmitter of stories told in audio files and videos displayed on an IPad inside the piano.

West Wilson Middle students, whose school was destroyed by the 2020 tornado, recorded stories about the tornado and community rebuilding.

“This piano can be put on display in our community to honor the families affected and the entire experience of recovery,” said Duncan. “It, too, is a symbol for our first responders who came to the rescue during the natural disaster.”