Meet The Valley’s Piano Man
By Clay Hale, Herald Contributor
WATER VALLEY – Nuzzled in between an auto repair store, an artist’s workshop and a bustling coffee shop is a new genre of storefront for Water Valley’s community.
Monty Nichols is the owner and operator of All Things Piano – a business that focuses on pianos. The name fits well, as the store centers its services around all things piano – including selling, tuning and restoring pianos, among other things.
Nichols has been tickling the ivory of piano keys since he was eight years of age. He found that just by playing a few black and white keys in specific patterns, he could summon emotions unfamiliar to his bank of tender sentiments.
“I found music was the place where I could express, I could escape, I could sort out thoughts – in a lot of ways, music is what helped me through my teen years. I’ve loved making music ever since,” Nichols said.
For Nichols, playing the piano opens a door of escapism that leads into a land of artistic expressionism. Though the door will likely always be open for himself, Nichols fears it may be closing soon enough for the general population.
“Playing piano and making music, in and of itself, is becoming a bit of a dying art,” Nichols said. “When (people) hear that I’m a piano tuner, they say to me, ‘I don’t see you guys around very often.’”
Moments like that create clarity for Nichols in a couple of ways. The first way confirms, to Nichol’s beliefs, that playing music – particularly the piano – is a form of art that may soon pass. The second reiterates that the occupation of piano-tuner is foreign to many individuals – and from that, an idea sprouts from Nichols’ mind.
With the motivation of reviving the love of music ingrained in him, and the nearest piano shops hours away from the Water Valley area, the idea of All Things Piano in Water Valley was born.
There is a separate thesis in play by Nichols that though musical art may be on the decline, it is not because people do not want to play – it is that they have no teacher, aside from the ones of their youth. Nichols recalls several instances where, in a dialogue, individuals reveal that they were taught piano as a child, but have since forgotten and fear they have no available tools to bring new life to their once-flaming use of the instrument.
“I’ve heard that chain of dialogue countless times over the last 20 years – they were made to take lessons, hated every minute of it, yet wish they never quit,” Nichols said.
With the opening of All Things Piano, Nichols is hoping to bring his optimistic magic to the Water Valley area. With the belief that music is medicine, Nichols will attempt to reignite the burned out flames, as well as spark new ones, within town.
“I hope to encourage people to play, not to make a paycheck, but just to make life better. If you make time and if you make opportunity to make music, it’ll make your life better. And if I can make an impact on people to make their life better, by encouraging them to play, then I feel like I’ve done my job,” Nichols said.
All Things Piano is located at 220 Blackmur Dr. in Water Valley. You can also find them on Facebook at OprnOKT or on their website at oprnokt.com.