So a few months ago I was chatting my with my good friend Andrew Walmsley, wildlife photographer and film maker, tree climber and tallest man in Oxford, about music videos. I remarked casually that it would be great if we could wheel a piano up a hill and put it by a tree for a nice 'outdoorsy' music shoot. Andrew replied, equally casually, that if I wanted we could even put a piano up a tree...
At first I thought he was joking - anyone who's ever had to move a piano will know that they are HEAVY - half a ton kind of heavy. This is because of the frames inside the piano, which are usually either iron or steel. Andrew informed me that he's previously put a 4-seater Chesterfield sofa up a tree at a music festival for a musician to perform from. As you do. He thought that a piano, whilst perhaps a bit tricker, would be achievable.
So when it became clear that Andrew was serious, I decided that this was an opportunity that was too good to pass up and we started to plan. The first thing to do was to get a piano - ideally one that was on the lighter side. I was aware that you can get what's often referred to as a 'mini piano' - a very small piano, originally designed to fit in small houses in Edwardian times when a piano was very much a thing to have in in your parlour. They're much lighter and shorter than normal pianos as they tend to be missing an octave. I started hunting for one on Ebay and, as luck would have it, found a lovely little one about half an hour away (made by Collard and Collard), which was going for a 'buy it now' price of 0.99p. Bargain!
So, with piano purchased and Andrew and his team of tree climbers having built a platform for the piano to sit on in the tree and a worked out a complicated system of ropes, pulleys and general hoisting sophistication, the day of filming had arrived.
We started on Friday night, giving Andrew a chance to test the rigging system in his back garden and also check the platform that the platform was going to be big enough for the piano. As you might notice from the picture below, all of this was done in the dark, making head torches a necessity!