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The McKee Family Piano!

Brigham Larson Pianos

My great-grandparents were very musical their whole lives. Douglas was a WW2 Navy vet who loved to sing. He later sang in the Swanee singers and taught a girl's glee club. Regina traveled across the American West and Shanghai as a young woman, performing with her sisters in their vocal group. They married and bought a 47 year-old second-hand piano (built in 1896!), as they were very poor and that's all they could afford. They had six children, the second of whom was Carolyn. Carolyn was the most accomplished pianist of their kids, and embraced a life of music herself. She sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as a 19-year old woman, and after serving her mission, married Eric Shumway. They had seven children, the oldest of whom is Merrilli. Merrilli studied piano and flute as a young woman, and met her husband Darwin at a study abroad in Jerusalem. They married and had five children, all of whom studied the piano. The youngest of their kids is Allyson, me! I began playing the piano at the age of 4, and have loved it my whole life. I played all through college, where I worked at an Assisted Living home and developed a deep love of old things- people and otherwise! I held monthly piano programs where we would sing old nostalgic classics. I would often see the seniors in tears as they remembered their dad singing them that particular song, or because they named their son after "Danny Boy." Or, dementia residents who would rarely speak, but they would sing every word.Those experiences were some of the highlights of my life, and still bring tears to my eyes this day. After my great-grandma Regina passed away, Doug married Dorothy, who was a very accomplished pianist herself, and they continued to grow the family musical legacy. She passed away in January of this year, and my Great Aunt Cindy wanted the piano to go to someone who would not only cherish it, but who was of Carolyn's line. Thus, it passed to me! I play it nearly every day, and with the increased usage after sitting untouched for so long, the old girl is in dire need of repair.
We are not sure who the original owners of the piano were, but it came into our Merrill family in 1943, after my great-grandparents moved to the Avenues of Salt Lake City. Built in 1896, the piano was already 47 years old, but it still taught 6 young children how to play and develop their musical talents. Despite remaining in the same spot, in the same room, in the same house for 81 years, this piano has traveled the world with the songs it has sung, and the voices it has accompanied. It has musically educated arms dealers, professional flautists, music educators, construction workers, multiple generations of soldiers, Tabernacle choir members, University Presidents, Temple Matrons, and a National Mother of the Year. And let's not forget how that education has trickled into their 200+ member posterity. After a lifetime of service in its Salt Lake house, the piano has moved to Bluffdale, and is looking forward to influencing an entirely new generation of musicians and their recipients. The piano would like to note though, that it did tip and dent the wall of its old house, just to leave an even more obvious legacy.

  • YEAR 1800-1900
  • MAKE Generations of Music: Great-Granddaughter Wants to Restore The Piano That Shaped Her Family's Legacy!
  • FINISH Wood Finish
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