Jonathan Flores plays the piano inside the Cesar Chavez Student Center at SF State on Nov. 2, 2022. (Ashley Hayes-Stone / Golden Gate Xpress) (Ashley Hayes-Stone)
Jonathan Flores plays the piano inside the Cesar Chavez Student Center at SF State on Nov. 2, 2022. (Ashley Hayes-Stone / Golden Gate Xpress)

Ashley Hayes-Stone

SF State’s classic piano continues to fill Cesar Chavez Student Center with music

The piano at The Depot provides SF State students a space to practice and to listen to music.

November 10, 2022

As the constant chatter and restaurant clamor fill the upper levels of the Cesar Chavez Student center, the sounds of a piano fill the lower levels of the building.

The melodies of Satie, Mozart, Bach, Chopin and Tchaikovsky travel past pint glasses around The Pub to the pool tables of Rack-N-Cue.

The walk through the Cesar Chavez study lounge has become a tunnel that leads to the music. And the beeps of the communal microwaves are the only complementary instrument to the piano.

According to Associated Students Senior Director of Productions and SF State alumnus Horace Montgomery, there has been a piano at the Cesar Chavez Student Center for as long as he can remember.

Montgomery believes it is essential for students to have spaces on campus where they can hang out and unwind.

“It is important to give students a space, so we try to have creative spaces,” Montgomery said. “As a student, I was a big supporter of these spaces.”

The piano is located directly across from the stage at The Depot and is open to all students who want to play. Oftentimes students perform their own compositions or even collaborate by singing, or playing alongside a fellow student.

Students often play throughout the whole day but lunch hours are at the peak of activity. 

According to sophomore Zaza Martinez, the piano is an important part of student life at SF State.

“I just love coming here and listening to the beautiful music students perform,” Martinez said. “Sometimes I perform too but I really enjoy just relaxing and appreciating.” 

Martínez said that with finals approaching, it is important to have these places to disconnect.

“The semester can get stressful,” Martinez said. “I love coming here to decompress between classes.” 

Creative Arts donated the current piano two years ago because the previous one, which was in the building for at least 20 years, needed major repairs. At the time, Creative Arts also offered a grand piano but it was too large to fit at The Depot. 

Montgomery said he was impressed with how well the students play.

“There’s always someone really damn good playing down there,” Montgomery said. “It is the perfect fit for that space.”

The Cesar Chavez Student Center is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. 

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Photo of Oscar Palma
Oscar Palma, Staff Reporter
Oscar Palma (he/him) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in Latin American studies. Oscar was born in Nicaragua but now lives in San Francisco, where he has been for the last 10 years. He previously wrote for El Tecolote, the oldest bilingual newspaper in the United States. Oscar wants to be an environmental journalist who covers Latin America; during his free time, he enjoys cycling, live music and film.
Photo of Ashley Hayes-Stone
Ashley Hayes-Stone, Photo Editor
Ashley Hayes-Stone (she/her) is the photo editor for Golden Gate Xpress. She's an award-winning photojournalist whose work has been published in the Sacramento Bee as well as the Sacramento News and Review and Comstock's Magazine. She's currently a contributor to Advocate News in Fort Bragg as well as Comstock's Magazine. Previously, Ashley was the photo editor of her college campus newspaper, The American River Current, for over two years. She has experience in various types of photography including sporting events, bands, landscape, portraits, animals and more, and in writing on different topics such as news and profiles.

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