One of my favourite parts of travelling to a destination by plane -- and indeed train -- is to play an available piano. I find playing piano relaxing, a way for me to take a break from thinking about all of the details of my journey. With that said, there are many airports without pianos, and many more that have one piano in a single terminal but no pianos in other terminals. I was speaking with a few people about how we could help place pianos in airports where one is not available, providing travellers with the ability to have the same experience I and many other travellers have: a moment to sit back and make music between legs of a journey.
The UK has a rich culture of pianos in public places. I regularly play on public pianos. I enjoy watching people of all ages and experience levels make music, from the young child who is playing keys without a particular melody in mind to the advanced amateur who is able to play Pachabel's Canon in D with grace and elegance. I read about a world-renowned pianist who looked forward to playing music in a UK train station. [^1]
Public pianos inspire. When a talented player sits down, passers-by are greeted serendipitiously to a beautiful song. Some people will listen and enjoy watching. Others may feel compelled to sit down and play the piano. When a beginner sits down, they have a canvas to play a tune in front of people they may never see again; that delivers freedom to experiment. Sometimes, people offer to play with others: a special moment of intimacy when two people come together to make music, in a single moment, for an unknown audience.
There is a big limitation with the idea: pianos are expensive.
In discussion, we came up with a few ways in which we could help airports find pianos, including:
- Working with donors who are interested in financing the purchase of a whole piano (most likely second-hand, although cheaper new pianos could also be financed);
- Helping communities to create grassroots efforts around financing an airport piano (1,000 people donating $5 from a city would raise enough to purchase a piano), and;
- Offering assistance to people who have a piano they want to give away for free (a situation that can arise for various reasons, from there being a piano in a house when you move in to a family member having an old piano they no longer want),
In the second and third scenario, tuning and revamp work may be required to bring a piano into a state that makes it enjoyable to play and suitable for long-term use. Furthermore, one would need to coordinate with an airport to determine the logistics governing how the piano should be installed. How does one request approval from an airport to help them install a piano? How does one get the piano to the airport? Who is going to move the piano? I suspect additional finance would be required for moving the piano.
I read about an inspiring organization that helped to install pianos around the world [^2], although to the extent I could see they are no longer active in their initiative. More pianos in public is a worthy goal, and one I would love to see pursued to a greater extent. I am excited to continue brainstorming this idea and get more thoughts about what it would take to help an airport get a piano. A good place to start would be to pick a single airport and source a piano.
Comment on this post
Respond to this post by sending a Webmention.
Have a comment? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.