For two weeks, ending July 5, 2010, 60 pianos will be located in the public parks, plazas and streets in all five boroughs of New York City. All are welcome to play. I visited a number of these and witnessed all manner of players, listeners and playing skills.
Play Me, I’m Yours is an art installation resented by Sing for Hope. The idea was created by British artist Luke Jerram, who has been touring the project globally since 2008 (London is being presented simultaneously with New York).
The comments on forums online vary wildly - some individuals are in love with the idea and its efforts to bring music to the people. Others are infuriated or just highly cynical. Why are they located primarily in affluent areas where they are least needed? What about vandalism? Who will tune them? How will chaining them to a cinder block prevent theft? Why did they allow painting of the keys themselves, which will affect playability? Some see its approval by the Bloomberg administration as posturing to feign support of street artists.
There are certainly worse things to do with people's time and money. In the few instances I watched at various locations, there were a number of highly skilled pianists and children with audiences. Learning to play a musical instrument is a long process requiring substantial time on a consistent basis. I wish these could be permanent installations, indoors and out, installed in all communities, particularly where there is a real need. The availability of these instruments would go a long way to making an impact and fostering musical interest.
For those who can already play, this installation provides for many impromptu performances and summer fun. For those who don't play, perhaps some moments with all that ivory will whet their appetites :)
More about the installation: The 60 pianos will be available to play across New York City from 9am-10pm each day. The pianos are attended by individuals who lock and unlock the keyboards daily. Plastic tarps are on hand for protection from rain. On July 5th, to celebrate the culmination of the Play Me, I’m Yours, the street piano at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park will be brought to life by some of New York City’s most talented artists. A map with locations can be found here.