My local farmers market has a public piano by the entrance. I sometimes see kids tapping a few notes on it, but most of the time it sits empty and quiet, even on market days.
Last Saturday, though, a boy who looked around 10 years old plonked away while his parents beamed and his grandma recorded a video of him. After a few seconds, I realized he was playing “Don’t Stop Believin'” from memory. Even thought it was far, far from perfect, it didn’t stop me from listening with a huge grin on my face. His parents looked on proudly, and his mom even wiped a tear from her eye.
When I eventually walked away, I found myself doing the same thing.
When I got home, I pulled out my keyboard and played “Don’t Stop Believin'” from my ancient Journey Escape songbook, which I got when I was about his age. I played that song on a whim at a school party and discovered how music had the power to draw people closer to me and make them happy. For a shy, introverted kid, that’s magical.
I regret that I didn’t fight harder to keep making music in my adulthood, but I’d like to think I’m making up for it now. Practicing classical guitar can be a slog, though, especially when the improvements are so tiny and the plateaus are so long. But there are moments where I sense I’m brushing up against that magic again and it fuels me for the next long slog. Perhaps next year, I’ll have the guts to play in public. Maybe?
So to the boy who had the courage to play at the public piano, thank you. You inspired a stranger, and I hope you keep making music for a long time.
Trivia: At Detroit sports games, fans shout “born and raised in south Detroit” because there’s no south Detroit — it’s Canada (Windsor, Ontario to be specific)!