By musicalmessenger | September 02, 2014 at 07:56 AM EDT | No Comments
A few years ago, on a bike trip to Colorado, I found my way into the Mahogany Grille at the Strater Hotel in downtown Durango. The ambiance was elegant Western saloon, focal point being the upright piano and the pianists dazzling a packed-house with their amazing ragtime talents. I only stayed long enough to take a few shots like the one you see here, and be completely blown away with the skills presented by the two pianists that were on duty while I was there.
Later on, while exploring the rest of the town, I stopped into a French restaurant for dinner, and was allowed to play their idle baby grand for a handful of diners in attendance. There is a certain kind of magic that happens when you are playing the piano-- especially for a live audience. It's almost as if the time around you becomes suspended, while you and your listeners enter a separate dimension, exclusive to the music alone. The privilege to occupy and thrive in this "zone" is a gift of experience that has few rivals--at least from my humble point of view.
It would really be nice if everyone could play the piano. If we had been alive in the early 1900's, it might have seemed that way. The United States was chocked full of hundreds of piano factories, cranking out the main source of entertainment for homes, churches, restaurants, and saloons.
In Santa Clara County, California, the municipal parks department has just initiated an experimental program whereby they have "spotted" a certain number of acoustic pianos in places like parks where passersby can spontaneously stop and do some plunking on the keys. I wonder how long these pianos will survive the outdoors, but the experiment is magnificent.
The world is getting crazier by the minute, and this recent news item may be a sign of things to come. The piano and piano playing may be poised to make a big comeback in our society. Playing, and even practicing the piano is a very enjoyable and often therapeutic thing to do.