This is the transcript of Megan's presentation to the Portland City Council on June 26th, 2016.
I love changing people’s perspective.
It’s what I enjoy most about running this project.
People are used to seeing pianos looking a certain way, in a certain environment, played by certain type of performer.
What I can do by putting these pianos throughout the streets of Portland is allow people to see and experience each other differently. They also experience the city differently when these pianos are around. I think it’s pretty magical and I know a lot of other folks that do as well.
Most folks think they know what they can expect from their friends, coworkers, even strangers.
You may think you know by the look someone whether or not they are a musician, a pianist or artist. What we’ve found year after year is how people are friends, or work alongside each other for years and not know how much that person is a musician and can play the piano. We’ve seen year after year how people without a home or much of anything to their name can still sit down and play Mozart, the entire Beatles catalogue or create something beautiful using this instrument, this tool that can express the things inside that can’t always be spoken.
When these situations happen, that street corner is no longer just a street corner. It is a living room where you’re enjoying/experiencing the creation of music right in front of you and seeing a side to someone you wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise.
The courtyard of the Art Museum isn’t just a courtyard, it’s now a community space where people living in the park and living in high-rises interact and see each other differently.
Those are the beautiful, ethereal moments that make all the hard work totally work it.
What makes me work so hard to continue growing is that I see so much continued potential for collaborations. Every year brings new communities, businesses, technologies, and programs to this project that inject it with even more energy, supporters and players.
I believe the design community has taken to this project full force because they love to see the people interact with their art, their piano, and they love to see the piano interact with its environment... whether it’s a busy street corner or the top of Mt. Tabor.
The technology community, companies like Urban Airship, Gimbal, and multiple code school have supported us. Given us programming time and helped us to develop our piano map app (which is in the App store!) and I know it’s because they love the integration of technology into a community minded music/art installation. Instead using new technology like ibeacons to sell you a product, we are using these beacons to notify you where the closest piano is to you. It delightfully tells you to “Come Play Me!”
It continues to amaze me how many folks out there can play this instrument. I hear it each year from so many locations, businesses, park managers that they can’t believe how many folks can play and play well. And from folks you would look and never think that they could sit down at a piano and play Chopin. I remember that no sooner had we placed a piano on the bus mall last fall, a group of young boys went skateboarding down the street and one of them stopped, walked over, sat down and started playing Fur Elise.
In a short 3 seconds my perspective on who this kid was flipped 180 degrees and I try to remember that same feeling whenever I interact with people as I go about my everyday life in Portland. I remember that you never know what’s lying underneath a person. And if my project can help people reach/communicate/understand each other a little better than I feel like I’ve succeeded.