Sing For Hope New York is just one of those annual events hard to resist. It will take you well beyond the regular TripAdvisor must-visits, that’s what makes Public Piano events so special! You get to know places from a variety of angles, not just the touristic and commerce imposed venues. You encounter real people from the real city, not just the customer facing agents – trained to smile at anyone that might buy tickets – at the cities tallest building, longest bridge or darkest cave.
The first full day at SFH NYC 2018 left its marks. I’ve been playing some 20 pianos in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn and my body is telling me to slow down. The 7-day Metro ticket covers the bigger distances; my legs should take care of the endless metro up-n-downs and the piano-spotting parts. The map in my pocket and some pre-visit preparation will give me directions for sure, but the last Mile can be a pain-staking challenge and an ultimate satisfaction at the same time. I’m in for a treat this morning, as I’m about to find out.
My plan for day 2 – initiated by my jet lag, cheered by my legs and feet – puts me on a 75 minute metro ride at 6 AM. First target: 246th Street, trying to catch one of the upper North pianos, then slowly working my way back to Manhattan, all the way down through the Bronx. My first 2 pianos that day are a deception. Other than what my map says, the 1st piano only opens at 10 AM; I find it locked under a plastic cover. My 2nd target proves hard to find and after asking several people, no-one seems able to help. Physical fatigue, mental disappointment, piano fingers itching for an early morning song… Walking back to the metro – zero out of two pianos – I’m asking myself what on earth I’m doing on this hot June day in NYC. For a moment, I feel tempted to find a side-walk café and quit my piano-hunt for a while, but hey….
3rd piano Southbound this morning should bring me to Poe Park Visitor Center and upon entering the venue, both the air-conditioning and the library-like silence put me at ease. I usually prefer playing in louder places, but the ladies at the desk and this piano (artist: Nick Stavrides) are a warm welcome to a cool place.
While I’m playing, a lady – one of the center’s volunteers – comes over to ask if she can do some recordings, well sure… After my 3rd song, I figure it’s time to move on, as tired as I may be. Upon leaving, I greet the ladies at the desk but one of them comes up to me and says:
Oh, I gotta hug you first!…
She’s like 15 Inches shorter than I am, but she must be a Reiki Master Black Belt or something. When we hug each other – believe it or not – I feel energy flowing rapidly into my body, my head, my legs and feet. I recall looking at her right after the hug and I’m sure my face showed a big question-mark… Back outside in the morning heat, my regained energy puts me back on the metro northbound, back to piano #2, the one I couldn’t find earlier. This time, I find it straight away at a children’s playground. An up-tempo 12 bar-Blues erupts from my fingers and within minutes, I’m building a nice crowd of dancing youngsters and their parents around us. I’m back on track for the day! Sitting there, looking around me while playing, I feel so grateful, so happy for whatever happened to me and honestly, so gifted for being able to bring smiles to people’s faces… Time to buy a nice box of chocolate before heading back to Poe Park, back to my new Reiki lady friend!
Months later – back home – I get to know her name (thanks so much Lucy Aponte) and rest assured we warmly hugged again during Sing For Hope 2019. It wasn’t Reiki from her side, but friendliness and sheer positivity in life instead!