The People of Piano Grand

Jonas Chickering

This story would not have been possible without the ingenuity and craftsmanship of Jonas Chickering. The movie begins with a brief history of this fascinating man, his triumphs and his tragedies.

Known as the father of the modern piano, Jonas Chickering patented the first full cast iron plate for a grand piano in 1843, forever changing the instrument. Virtually every grand piano built to this day owes it's strength and beautiful tone to him.

Jeanne Swanson

Jeanne and her husband, Brian, purchased Chickering piano #83100 from an auction house in Detroit, MI in 2006. As she describes in the film, she saw the piano in the window one day, and it was love at first sight.

It was Jeanne who first contacted the Smithsonian to find out if they had any information about the piano. She knew they had the company's records, but had no idea what surprise was in store for her.

George Michalski - Forte Piano (Detroit, MI)

After speaking with several piano restorers in the area, Jeane and Brian chose George to restore their beautiful instrument. They were impressed not only with his resume, but knew the Old-World craftsmanship that he brings to every project made him the perfect choice.

George is originally from Poland, where he earned his Master's degree as a piano technician. English is not his native language, so he was a little reluctant at first to talk on camera. But once it was turned on, he was eloquent; even recounting how he survived World War II as a child.

Elmer and Jim Reeder - Reeder Piano (Lansing, MI)

Jim Reeder (R) has been in the piano restoration business for years. His company is one of the few shops that can handle very heavy older pianos, such as this Chickering.

Because of their expertise with such large and difficult jobs, George hired Reeder Pianos to re-glaze the cast iron plate, install a new pin block (which holds the tuning pins) and build and install a new soundboard. Jim's father, Elmer (L), who was 93 at the time, helped build the soundboard to exacting standards.

Greg Pond - Piano Tuner

Greg is one of the Detroit area's top piano tuners.

In the movie, he discusses how he was drawn to the tuning business and what it means to him to do what he loves every day. He also briefly describes the process of tuning a piano, as we watch him work. Once it is tuned, he plays a piece that he composed himself. Fittingly, it is the only music in the movie that is not a period piece.

If you are in need of a piano tuner, feel free to contact Greg at 888-619-1557.

Janice Derian - Piano Teacher

Janice studies piano at the university level and also teaches piano to students of all ages. She performed two of the period pieces in the movie: Chopin's Raindrop Prelude (Op. 28, No. 15) and Mendelssohn's Venetian Boat Song No. 1 (Op. 19, No. 6).

For information about taking piano lessons, you can contact Janice at 734-000-0000

Steven Gotler - Filmmaker and Owner, gotlerTech, LLC

Originally a film major in college, Steve is an engineer, a technical consultant and an attorney. He owns gotlerTech, LLC, a technology consulting, web design and media production company.

Now returning to his filmmaking roots, Steve produced, directed, wrote and edited the film and did the lighting, sound, camerawork and narration.