MIT Celebrates Drop Day, Pushes Piano Off Roof For Annual Tradition

Photo: Karyn Regal / WBZ NewsRadio

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The keys of an old and weathered piano certainly fell flat- on the ground that is. On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge celebrated the 50th anniversary of the "Baker House Piano Drop," a tradition that involves pushing a piano off the roof of the Baker House dormitory hall on campus.

Onlookers on Memorial Drive watched gravity do its work as the piano made impact with the grass below, splintering and shattering into a pile of wood. WBZ's Karyn Regal had a front row seat, and spoke to a couple piano-pushing enthusiasts.

"We do a lot of weird stuff here," said one student, "I would say this is one of those weird traditions."

Student Organizer Hannah Donner says the Baker House Piano Drop is an important and fun activity for MIT students.

"It's a big celebration of the end of the semester- and we have food and music," Donner said.

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According to MIT, the Baker House Piano Drop originated fifty years ago when Charlie Bruno, class of 1974, was faced with the issue of removing a broken piano from the Baker House. At first someone suggested that they push the piano out a window, but that idea crashed and burned as the student MIT handbook forbid throwing objects out the window. But upon closer inspection, Bruno realized that the handbook said nothing about throwing things off dorm roofs.

A motion was passed and after some planning and prep work, the piano was dropped off the roof for the first time.

Nowadays the tradition is observed on "Drop Day," the last day MIT students can drop classes for the spring semester. Modern Piano Drops are done with proper supervision, clear perimeters, and advisories sent to Baker House residents to keep their windows shut. After the piano meteors into the dirt, students are encouraged to scavenge the remains of the instrument to take home a piece of memorabilia.

For any concerned musicians, it should be reassuring to know that all dropped pianos are nonworking, beyond repair, and donations to the residence hall. Otherwise, they'd be shuffled off to the junkyard to play their final note.

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@karynregal) reports.

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