My family is always looking for something fun to do. When LNWM announced its sponsorship of Pianos in Parks, I shared the website with my kids. As we looked at each piano, we were so impressed with the creativity of the artists that we had to see them. It also helped that my kids are in their third year of piano lessons and love to play.
So, we mapped out our journey, which not only consisted of visiting a few parks close to home, but also 11 parks in a nine-hour day. Now, of course, we expected to see and play each piano – I mean, that is what the trip was essentially all about. It was what we didn’t expect – the sense of community and pride felt at each park – that made this journey all the more special.
Being so moved, I wanted to share some of the highlights with you:
- At Steve Cox Park, we met a middle school girl who was teaching herself to play the piano. She went to the library and got six books to help get her started. She played Amazing Grace for us.
- We couldn’t find the Greenlake piano on our road trip. So, we went back on another date, this time with our bikes. We rode twice around the lake, which we’d never done before. When it came time to play the piano, we met a boy age 12 who played by ear. He had a set list of about 20 songs he knew by heart. He played “Play Misty for Me” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” as if he were a concert pianist. His grandmother said he can see a piece once or twice and play it. He was good.
- At Alki Beach, we met a piano enthusiast named Paul. He played accompaniment on “I am a Pirate” with my son. Then he played an original song for us. His excitement was infectious!
- At Sam Smith Park, we met a family of three who were finishing up a bike ride. They traveled from Seward Park to Bainbridge Island and back. They noticed the piano on their way out and wanted to be sure to stop on their way home. They listened to my kids play, we shared a few bike trip stories, and then they were on their way.
- At Maple Leaf, there was a group of adults playing ultimate Frisbee. When the kids started playing the piano, they stopped their game and came over to listen. It was really hot, and they told us they were waiting for someone to play the piano so they had an excuse to take a break. When the kids were done, the group clapped and went back to their game. My kids were excited to play for such a large crowd.
- The baby grand at the Seattle Center was the first and only baby grand my kids had ever played. As we arrived, a gentlemen was finishing up a song in which he not only played the piano but also turned to the audience and played music with his mouth, like Bobby McFerrin. It was pretty cool.
- I visited the piano at West Lake Center with a friend at lunch one day. When we arrived, two cute little girls were playing it. I asked their mother if I could take my picture with the piano. She asked if her daughters could be in it. They love selfies – so I said sure. They appeared to be around two and five years old.
I was witness to communities full of devotedness and individuals steeped with pride. In the end, I visited 14 parks with my children, never tiring of hearing them play. As a matter of fact, I visited four parks on my own and missed them being there. The entire experience was eye-opening enjoyment for us. I’m so glad we did it!