New Program Uses Music to Help Change the Way People See Downtown Stockton

STOCKTON -- A new program in Stockton is using music to change the way people see the downtown district.

The project is called Music to Our Ears. It allows local artists to restore and paint old pianos that are then placed in public for people to play.

"People's lives are being changed in some small way, what can make you happier than to see that?" Cindy Fargo said.

Fargo is the CEO of the Downtown Stockton Alliance. She said she was inspired by other cities that use public pianos as a way to activate street corners in parts of town that tend to get negative attention.

"For every piece of negative or disappointing news we hear, we in Stockton know all the other good things that are going on," Fargo said.

John Gonzalez, who works in downtown Stockton, close to where one of the pianos has already been placed, said he had been playing it every day.

"I've seen people with guitars come out and jam, harmonicas come out and jam, some beat boxers," Gonzalez said.

He said Stockton needs more programs like it.

"You have people that seem so normal, come out here and be extraordinary, and that's really cool," Gonzalez said.

Nicholas Burnett with Wicked Photography Studio in Stockton is one of several local artists who was wait-listed to paint the pianos before the went out to the public.

"Especially little kids, when they see something like this their face lights up with a smile. It's really good to see," Burnett said.

Burnett's piano is expected to be out in Stockton by mid-October.

Two pianos are already out in downtown. One is located in front of regal cinema in North El Dorado Street. The other is in front of a daycare on Sutter Street.