Earlier today, when going to get food with some of my mom’s friends (hospital food — not so bad)… I heard the beautiful sound of a piano wafting from the lobby. I was too hungry to investigate, so I decided to put it off until a better time.
Later in the day, my mom, aunt, and I walked into the lobby to stretch our legs, and I saw the piano. I walked up to it, trying to see if anyone could play it. Next to it, there was a sign that said “This is a piano for professional performers on specific days of the week. This is also a community piano for staff, patients, and visitors to Duke Hospital. Please share your talents with us.” I took that as an open invitation. The piano was a Boston, baby grand, probably a 6-footer, but it was a godsend in that hospital. I was so happy to see it, I plopped right down, found a hymnal and some sheet music, and started to play.
I played for over two hours.
During the course of those two hours, I met lots of people. Some just tipped their hats or gave silent applause as they walked away to their individual rooms. Some sang along with the hymns quietly or talked to their relatives about memories related to the songs.
One lady I talked to sat very close to me with her husband. They were both 84 and their son had just had heart bypass surgery and was recovering upstairs. The wife of the couple picked out several songs to sing and we sang together for a good half hour.
Another guy came up and played a song for me, asking him to help analyze his chord structure and pick some new chords to spice up his song. He and his fiance were at Duke because their baby had some sort unexpected immune issue. I think it was SIDS. He said the doctor told them that if they had been twenty minutes later in bringing in their baby, he would’ve died.
It was while I was playing piano and interacting with these people that I remembered how many other people out there are like me, and the fact that everyone has been young and will be old at some point. Everyone has hardships, and everyone has the best times of their lives. Time passes. Time flies… And I just had this overwhelming sense of understanding and peace with the world.
That’s what music does for me. It brings me closer to humanity. Always, without fail. There should be musical instruments everywhere, especially in public places. Music is just one of those things that draws people together. I don’t know what I would do if that piano wasn’t there today. You say piano; I say STRESS RELIEF.