In Seattle, they put pianos in the parks, invited people to play and the music brought people together

My 10-year-old son is always on the lookout for a piano. When were visiting Florida in June, he scouted a glossy black baby grand in the corner of the restaurant at our beachfront hotel. In no time, he had talked the manager into letting him serenade the kitchen cleanup crew after the last of the lingering diners had cleared out.

So, of course Michael perked up a few weeks later when we were walking near the library and he spotted an upright piano just sitting there under a canopy in the Ballard Commons Park. 

Pianos are a natural magnet for kids and adults alike. That became apparent once we were standing next to one of the pianos that was part of the Pianos in the Park program.

We watched a procession of musicians — homeless people, teenagers and toddlers and their parents — performing their little impromptu concerts in the park. The piano they  played is called the “Sketchbook,” adorned with the work of artist George Jennings that evokes ornate pen-and-ink drawings.

With little kids dancing in a fountain and skateboard wheels screeching nearby, Michael patiently waited until it was his turn to play. As he chewed on a mouthful of sour-lime gummy candy, Michael dived right in with his version of Bach’s Toccata & Fugue, scooting back and forth along the piano bench to cover the length of the keyboard

We’ve heard him play this piece many times. Michael went on YouTube and taught himself to play Toccata & Fugue, a composition for organ that dates back to the 1830s.

When the first notes of the popular song pierced the air, I swear I saw quite a few heads turn in the park. Once man came over to get a better look because, from his angle, he could not see anyone sitting behind the piano. He said he was surprised to see it was Michael, who was beaming.