Day 370: Piano man

Does that not look like funnnnn?!
Does that not look like funnnnn?!

There’s a garbage strike in the city at the moment so my Litter Lady duties are needed more than ever these days.

Trouble is, there’s nowhere to put the dang trash. Once I pick it up (mostly recyclables recently, but those aren’t getting collected either), I end up carrying it home because Scotch Tape elves came in the night and taped up all the public receptacles with signs that read, “Out of Service.” Peachy.

In the true spirit of recycling, however, here’s an inspiring story I read in my local paper. The artist who created this project, Luke Jerram is my Everyday Hero today.

The story comes with a warning: Beware the overwhelming urge to play “Chopsticks”!

Play Me, I’m Yours
Excerpted from The Globe and Mail
by Elizabeth Renzetti

Alex Beck stepped out of his job at a call centre for a quick spot of lunch and stumbled into the middle of an impromptu sing-along. Actually, he led the sing-along – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, followed by Your Song – and accompanied himself on an old beater of a upright piano that had been left in Leicester Square in the hopes that something exactly like that might happen.

The piano is one of 30 scattered around London, which together form an artwork called Play Me, I’m Yours, by Luke Jerram. This is its latest stop after Brazil and Sydney, both warmer climates in all senses of the word. It’s part community activism, part act of faith; London is not a city where strangers often speak to each other, let alone raise their voices in song. Anyone can sit down at one of the pianos – each has a songbook, containing mainly Abba and the Beatles, but also the odd hit from the 19th century.

Look ma, piano hands: Let you play on any surface, they say. Cool.
Look ma, piano hands*: Let you play on any surface, they say. Cool.

Beck sat down and played – first shyly, and then lustily, as teenagers and tourists gathered to join an Elton John moment. “It’s a brilliant idea,” he said when the crowd finally let him go after three numbers.

The 22-year-old is putting in time at the call centre, but he really wants to be in musical theatre. “Did you see the way the music brought everyone together?”

A few minutes later, Jack Hurd sat down at the same piano, ignored the fact that it needed tuning, and played a heartfelt Hallelujah. He’s a music teacher from Perth, Ont., on an exchange with a school in Glasgow. He had no idea that the piano would be here when he brought his students to London to see Phantom of the Opera; as he began playing, their voices joined his to sing Leonard Cohen’s lyrics: “You don’t really care for music, do you?”

Soon you couldn’t see the piano for the crowd. When he finished, Hurd graciously accepted a round of applause and gathered his charges: “That was just great,” he said. “I think everyone’s quality of life just got a bit better.”

* Couldn’t get Piano Hands link to work in the caption, so here it is, folks.


3 thoughts on “Day 370: Piano man

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