A labor of love: 'Completely redoing a piano is kind of where my heart is'

Artisan Pianos restored this nearly 100-year-old piano, played by 91-year-old Marjorie Wood (left). (KATU Photo)

Ivory keys and a special lady, Marjorie, share a birthday.

"We've had this piano in our family for 91 years, and my mother is 91 years old coincidentally," Marjorie's son Bob Wood recalled.

A picture shows Marjorie and her piano in 1947, sharing a song together that would last for four generations.

"I was just there to tune it," David Hayes, owner of Portland's Artisan Pianos said.

Hayes stumbled upon the Sommer piano during a service call for tuning.

"I said if you ever want to have some restoration and repair work done, we do that. And we kept on talking and she said, 'I want to do it all because my son and future daughter-in-law are getting married, and we want to give this as a wedding gift,'" Hayes said.

They found the right place.

"We do servicing and tuning in Oregon and Washington and maintenance and repair work, but we actually have a nationwide presence for restoration work," Hayes said.

The shop is full of old beauties.

"Completely redoing a piano is kind of where my heart is," Hayes said.

This project not only took passion, but some elbow grease.

"It was kind of a diamond in the rough like it was an old house with good bones," Hayes said.

Hayes and his band of brothers from Artisan Pianos brought it back to life.

"Once you come into the shop and see the level of work they do, you see the level of detail. I mean it's their stock in trade but it's also an amount of pride, and you have to respect that for them to keep this alive in our culture," Wood said.

This turned out to be a labor of love for him and his brothers who all played a part.

"The nice thing about having three other brothers here is that they are gifted in their own ways," Hayes said.

"When you're able no matter what you do to combine your passion and something you really care about with a way to make your living you're very lucky and I think these guys are a great example of that," Wood said.

They scoured the walls for old tools.

From heavy scraping to find the original wood, they began to put her back together.

"It's not just something we can rush," Hayes said.

New strings and some final polishing, then the moment arrives -- only one person would remember her in this restored condition: Marjorie remembered the piano immediately. She sat down, reached for the ivory keys again and began to play.

"This piano is coming up on 100 years old and it will be around for the next century." Hayes said.

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