When I was a little girl I used to bang about on the piano at my Auntie Agnes’ house in Burscough. All her family were musical and there are plenty of photos of me looking adorable at various pianos aged about 4.
Then when I was 7 or 8 I actually had piano lessons from a very old (or so she seemed) lady in Blackpool called Gladys Jolly. I didn’t find her or the music particularly exciting so after doing a couple of grades packed it in. I can’t actually remember who taught me to read music, whether it was school or Miss Jolly but it’s always been a skill I’ve cherished.
I wish I’d stuck with the piano though. I have one at home home and can quite happily sit down with a piece of music and very slowly bash my way through it but I’d love to be able to do it properly. My cousin Lorilee is a music teacher and plays piano to concert pianist level. She can play anything after hearing it and we’ve spent many fun nights together playing and singing our way through musicals, or brilliantly me playing her a Pet Shop Boys song on Spotify and her transforming it into a wildly detailed piano piece instantly. A couple of years ago she started playing a piano in a hotel lobby and I love the idea that one day I’d be able to just see a piano and pounce on it.
So I was super excited (and very jealous I can’t really get involved) by the Play Me, I’m Yours project that’s currently running in London. The idea of British artist Luke Jerram, 21 pianos have been placed with London’s Square Mile with the intention that anyone can sit down at them and do whatever they like. It’s interesting to think about the very British reserved nature and whether they’ll actually dare to try them, but I’m sure if you see someone do it then you’ll want to get involved.
I love the idea of a ‘public space’ and don’t think there’s enough of them in London. This idea demands a space become one and enables everyone to be creative, regardless of their personal situation, and express themselves through the power of music. You might not know how to play, have played for years, or ever had the chance to own your own piano, but this enables every single one of us to get involved. Also it’s brilliantly not just a bloody London centric thing – it’ll be hitting Belfast, Burnley and Blackburn later in the year.
I’m hoping to find one to tinkle out a little Cole Porter on this weekend.