August 24, 2018

Pianos for the Public

Tomoko appreciates how music brings people together. And she also appreciates when people spontaneously perform the piano in public places. “Societies love music, and they always have,” says Tomoko. Here are a few examples she has experienced or heard about.

For instance, Tomoko remembers having her students play at San Francisco’s City Hall. “There were 200 people listening, many of whom were homeless. One of the homeless men asked if he could play, and we let him. He played very well, and it made his day.” Tomoko remarks, “I like homeless people more because of that musical connection.” 

The space in which the piano is performed impacts the listening experience. Tomoko especially likes the European cathedrals in which concerts occur, emphasizing the community experience. She also mentions an entirely open environment; San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park now has an open-air piano for anyone to play. 

Pianos that may be played by anyone are appearing in shopping malls and airports. 

Several libraries provide pianos to play on. At the main Auckland Public Library, a well-used upright piano is wheeled out each day for library users and passers-by to play. Some Swedish public libraries, such as in Goteborg and Malmo, provide music rooms with electronic keyboards. 

British artist Luke Jerram has a project called “Play Me, I’m Yours,” which installed more than 1900 street pianos in over cities around the world. The pianos are decorated by local arts, and the public is encouraged to share their love of music.

Tomoko would applaud these public piano initiatives. She asserts, “Music is a natural urge, and a way for people to express their commonalities and celebrate.”

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