Greetings, friends and family of Pianos for People.

As you have likely heard, we lost our beloved founder Tom Townsend on October 4.  Tom passed away surrounded by his lo ving family after succumbing to an aggressive and rare form of cancer diagnosed just two weeks prior. 

Besides being a brilliant musician, artist and writer, Tom was our inspiration, with a deeply compassionate spirit that touched all who surrounded him. Tom will live on through his music, our shared memories and through the ongoing work of this organization.

Needless to say, it has been an extremely difficult time for all of us.  But we are comforted and inspired by the overwhelming outpouring of generosity and love that we have received since Tom's passing. And we are more committed than ever to carrying on his legacy by carrying on our mission - to inspire successful futures by providing free access to the transformational power of the piano. Tom's spirit lives on in the hundreds of homes around St. Louis where a donated piano now fills the house with music. And it lives on in our schools, in the happy faces and hearts of our students discovering the joy of learning how to create music. 
Your ongoing support of this organization that brightens so many lives helps to ensure that we will continue to fulfill Tom's dream of using the piano as a gateway to empowerment, community and self-esteem.
Thank you for helping us to continue Tom's legacy. 
With gratitude,
The PFP Board and Staff

Heartfelt Thanks to Sheena!

Words like 'thank you' and 'appreciation' don't seem enough to acknowledge Sheena Duncan as she leaves Pianos for People and moves on to new life adventures. Sheena has been our 'founding executive director', joining Pianos for People in 2014 when the organization was in its infancy. She worked tirelessly with Tom Townsend, our founder, bringing energy, passion and leadership to guide Pianos for People through exponential growth and national attention for its mission. Sheena built a grant program and brought a framework of strong non-profit practices to this fledgling organization. She had the courage to address important issues and find ways to get things done, from taxi vouchers for kids with transportation needs to lowering the cost of piano placement, stretching our donors' dollars and broadening our reach. Her staff felt supported and students felt a genuine personal interest in their needs. Sheena's enthusiasm, positivity and love for the organization has been infectious, encouraging others to recognize what we have built and join our efforts.

Sheena, we know you have lived this organization and you have truly been an exceptional executive director. The board and staff are going to miss you. We know whatever endeavors you pursue, and however you choose to invest the gifts you have shared with us, you will make a difference!

The Pianos for People Board and Staff

Executive Director transition

Matt Brinkmann
New Executive Director

Matt Brinkmann started on September 30 as the new Executive Director of Pianos for People. He s ucceeds Sheena Duncan, who led the organization since 2014 through a period of exponential growth. Sheena expressed a desire to spend more time with family in her adopted home of Australia.

Matt has an extensive background in nonprofit management and public service, having previously worked in a variety of roles at the Saint Louis Science Center, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, the Sheldon Concert Hall, Great Rivers Greenway and the Gateway Arch Park Foundation. He has been an active community volunteer for KDHX, the Regional Arts Commission and Tower Grove Park. Musically, Matt is known as a former founding member of the Funky Butt Brass Band, where he wielded a sousaphone for eight years, during which time the band released three CDs and was voted Best Funk/Soul band in St. Louis four times. He is self-taught on the piano and enjoys playing daily.

I am deeply honored to be entrusted with leading Pianos for People into the future. Though the past weeks have been a very difficult time for the organization, I've had wonderful support from the board and staff as I grow into this new role. In particular, outgoing Executive Director Sheena Duncan has been very gracious and generous with her time in getting me up to speed. And my incredible teammates Kayia Baker and Elizabeth Welsh have been champions in continuing to do outstanding work during this challenging time of transition. I look forward to continuing this vital work and meeting all of you who have so generously supported this amazing organization.
- Matt Brinkmann



Our 7th Annual fundraising event An Evening of 100 Fingers was held Sunday, November 10 in the beautiful Sheldon Ballroom. The program featured performances by Peter Martin, the 442s, Vera Parkin, Joo Kim, James Czyzewski and many of the PFP students and their teachers.  
The sold-out event was a huge success and raised over $100,000 
for our programs!

PFP students and teachers performing at An Evening of 100 Fingers


Thanks to generous support from Michael and Corinne Manchisi and a match from Mastercard, we have converted our Cherokee garage space AKA "The Piannex" into a new digital piano lab. The space now features six Yamaha digital pianos, all connected electronically to a teacher's listening station. This technology enables students to practice under headphones without distraction, while still allowing the teacher to hear them individually.  


Local pianist extraordinaire  Adam Maness came to PFP on October 26 to conduct a Master Class for six of our advanced students. We are hoping to grow this program in 2020, and with your support we can continue to expand this series, which keeps our more advanced students engaged, challenged and learning! 
Adam Maness with students Camillo and Samuel Hernandez

We hosted Super Theory events at the Cherokee school October 12 and the Ferguson school October 30. These events  reinforce what the students learn in weekly lessons in a fun and engaging way, with games like Rhythm Bingo, Music Style Bingo, music trivia, and the always-popular music-themed group art project.   And of course, pizza!


Ryan Coleman is a professional jazz pianist as well as a music instructor and producer based in St. Louis. Ryan received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in music with an emphasis in Jazz Performance at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville (SIUE). In addition to teaching, playing, and producing music, Ryan is also the owner of Red Coded Music LLC, which currently includes a recording studio, rehearsal space, private music lessons and more. Ryan believes that music is a universal language that bridges the gap between all ages and nationalities. In addition to his private lessons, Ryan also teaches our new and very popular Learning to Improvise class.

Our wonderful website designers at RobMark won a 2019 WEBAWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT in Web Development from the Web Marketing Association for our website. If you haven't already visited, please check out their great work at www.pianosforpeople.org
And be sure not to miss the Thank You Notes page!

3138 Cherokee Street
St Louis 63118
(314) 285 5852