I wrote this in the voice of the 140 “Keys for the City” pianos that have graced the streets of Lancaster for the past decade. It was published in the October 31, 2019 edition of LNP newspapers.
When we announced in 2010, that 20 of us were going to station ourselves around the streets of Lancaster to be available for people to play 24/7 for four months, the typical response was, “Are you guys crazy? That’s a really cool concept, but you know they will be vandalized and if they are not vandalized, the weather will destroy them. And they will fall out of tune within days.”
But we believed that the vandalism would be minimal because we had faith in the people of Lancaster to respect and care for us. After all, we are not only musical instruments we are all beautifully designed by very talented Lancaster painters and artists. We believed that Lancastrians are good, honest and respectful people and that volunteer caretakers of these pianos will emerge. In short, we believed that Lancaster’s better angels would prevail.
In the nine years since then, that belief has only strengthened. After being on the streets every summer for a decade, we are proud to say that we were correct. Lancaster’s better angels have prevailed. You accepted and cared for us despite our obvious flaws.
You understood and accepted the fact that we weren’t always in perfect tune. You even accepted the fact that our black keys sometimes fall off. Baking in the sun loosens the glue that holds the black keys in place. While a bit embarrassing, it’s not much different than your teeth falling out.
And you’ve been patient with us when the weather affected our mood. But then again, the weather can do that to you as well.
You’ve respected the fact that some of our notes eventually passed away…became unplayable. You understood because we all pass on at some point, don’t we?
And we loved the way you reveled in the fact that each of us had a unique voice and a distinct soul. But that is no surprise because each of you has a unique voice and distinct soul.
In the end, despite our shortcomings, you embraced us. You have tickled us with Chopsticks, caressed us with Chopin and yes, pounded us with Jerry Lee Lewis.
You have given us the opportunity to do what we love. Something that we feel is important: to use the power of music to bring people together.
Your patience, generosity and civic pride is why Lancaster, PA is “The Street Piano Capital of the World”.
We’ve enjoyed meeting and playing music with all of you. Together, we have played in harmony for our city for a beautiful, magical, musical Decade O’ Keys.
Thank you, Lancaster!
And Play On!
The 140 Pianos of “Keys for the City”