On Saturday afternoon Landry Bicycles set up a tent to do free bicycle tuneups on the Newton Centre Green in preparation for next month’s Tour de Newton. I went down to help out.
Just as I arrived , after a solid week without a break, the rain let up. I saw the baby grand piano on the Green, all wrapped in its plastic cover. Its one of the nine pianos on street corners around Newton this month – the Artful Pianos.
I took it upon myself to pull off the protective covering. As I did, a guy was walking up the path and I yelled “do you play the piano?”. He sort of shrugged and nodded yeah and I called him over. He sat down, walked his fingers up the keyboard to check it out and then exploded! He was wonderful.
His name is David. It turns out that he is a professional musician and he has a masters degree in piano performance. Over the next hour the piano was constantly in use. Everyone who came by we asked if they played piano. A number of them said “well I used to” or “I’m really rusty” and we badgered them to play us a tune. For an hour we had a non stop piano party with people coming and going, kids, old folks, and all sorts of people having a go, and playing tunes in every style.
At one point a man confessed that he didn’t play piano but he loved to sing. He sang us a beautiful song accapella, in French. In the middle of it all, purely by chance, Maria Arvelo, the mastermind of the entire citywide piano project arrived with her mother, to find the piano party in progress.
At the end of the hour, the drizzle started again, and the piano got wrapped back up and the party ended. It was a lovely special treat to stumble upon – everything that Maria had hoped for when she launched into this crazy project.
Go find the nearest piano to you and have a go. You’ll probably meet some interesting neighbors if you do.
I don’t have the complete list of nine but I do know there’s one in Newton Center on the Green, Upper Falls (Chestnut & Oak), Waban at the library, Auburndale at the library, Nonantum in the park on Watertown St, the Highlands in front of Bread & Chocolate and three more at other locations.