You may have noticed that there are pianos all over city parks, and I suppose you want to know what’s going on. That’s natural, of course, but can’t we all just let it go? Can’t we accept that there are pianos in parks now?
Sure, pianos don’t typically make appearances in parks, but you need to accept that pianos can appear anywhere at any time. That’s just the nature of life. Don’t think for a second that you can control where pianos appear. Sometimes they’ll be in a park, on a roof, in your shower, wherever need be. Don’t box in the beauty of piano music with your limited world view.
According to my brief research online, Seattle Parks and Recreation partnered with Laird Norton Wealth Management and various other organizations for the summer Pianos in the Parks program. It was probably a slow day at the office. Twenty decorated pianos, which remind me of dressed-up horses, were placed in twenty parks across the city, including Volunteer and Cal Anderson. Parks that already had pianos in them were skipped over, obviously.
The pianos will be in their respective parks until August 17, when they will be rolled to the curb and replaced with Casio synthesizers. Until then, members of the public (you have to be a member) are being encouraged to upload videos of themselves performing to the corresponding Facebook page, for a chance to play at “Concerts at the Mural” on August 22. Man, this is so involved. Good luck playing those pianos when I roll by on my riding mower.
That aside, why would the city go and do something like this? According to Mayor Murray, the program “fosters a sense of community, breaks down class and racial divides and makes summer safer by helping to activate neighborhood parks.” And here I thought you just put some pianos in parks. But if it does all that, then maybe we should put more pianos in the parks, maybe even two per park. They could be used as soccer goal posts when no one’s playing, and the parks could host dueling piano concerts. Those are still cool, right?
The city also began the program because they believe that everyone can “unite around music.” I’m not sure that’s true. Music can be pretty dividing, actually. People frequently have vehement disagreements about their favorite bands, and if I heard someone playing the piano badly in the park, it would only be natural to throw a rock at them. Perhaps if we place someone with a gong next to the piano, we can ensure that only good piano music is played. God I’m being negative.
It is impressive that a piano can just be left in a park, unless they’re really shitty pianos. Are the pianos chained to a post like a dog so people won’t walk away with them? Because a piano will go with anyone who’s willing to play it. If I found a piano in a park, I’d just assume it was free and take it away, like I do with park benches and play structures and dogs. The rain will certainly be an issue as well. If you let a piano get rained on, it will end up sounding like it’s been cursed by the God of the sea, though pianos always sound like that to me.
How the pianos impact park activity remains to be seen. If there are people playing sports, it seems like the person playing piano should stop playing whatever they’re playing and switch to rousing stadium songs, like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” or the old theme from NBA on NBC. That was a great theme. When a player trips, there should be a wacky falling sound, and when there’s a penalty, you play the lower keys.
Otherwise, piano players should be forced to play Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony at all times on a loop, or just start playing it whenever you see me walking into the park. There’s no better park music, except maybe Black Sabbath or something.
Without a doubt, this program needs to be taken further, because not everyone plays pianos or goes to parks. We need to consider putting saxophones on sidewalks, tubas in trees, drums in ditches and other examples of alliteration. Let’s just leave instruments around the city so people can spontaneously jam and make somewhat entertaining music whenever they want. It could be useful if you’re ever short on change for the bus and need to busk for a few minutes to have enough money.
What bothers me most about all this is numerous articles that have been written about the pianos in the parks, including this one. It would have been much funnier if no one said a word about it, never even acknowledging the presence of the pianos, never striking a single key. The city and the mayor and all those organizations would have gone crazy, and then if we ignored their next cutesy idea, and kept ignoring every one, we could change the world. Not for the better, necessarily, but still.
Anyway, one thing is certain: that grass underneath the pianos is not going to make it.