One of the best community creative arts developments that has popped up around the world over the last decade has been placing pianos in public spaces and just leaving them there for anyone to play. There’s always a queue! This happened in Sydney about 10 years ago, with one location being a lovely old upright placed on the pavement between the Queen Victoria Building and Sydney Town Hall. It provided the first opportunity for me to play in public, a song called “Natural High”, and to get some instantaneous feedback (along the lines of “very nice” etc!). I once read that Bob Dylan couldn’t walk past a guitar with picking it up - or maybe it was George Harrison - but the point holds true for most musicians; my fingers itch when they see a keyboard.
Not that I find it easy. At my first, and only, eisteddfod when about 7 years old, stage fright took such a hold of me that, after stepping forward to bow to the audience, I had to be guided to the piano because my feet wouldn’t move. Have you noticed how many big name stars avoid looking at the audience until a few songs in? Stories of throwing up before going on stage are not only real for actors, but also musicians and I’m sure the majority of performers - it’s almost like standing there naked; and is anyone going to clap? Most great artists thrive on the energy overcoming such fears and doubts provide, yet we also see and feel their hurt and pain when the clapping / adulation stops.
My favourite public performance was in Perth in December 2017, when I played an improvised duet with my just-5 year old grandson, both watching each other’s eyes to work out what notes to go to next as we serenaded the lunchtime crowd. He’s cool!