FROM WHERE I SIT on a familiar piano bench at Bellevue Square, I can't help but notice that my solo piano shows bring joy to most everyone, including me! But Sandra on Steinway entails so much more than just pressing piano keys, dear friends.
While we know about the positive benefits of music education upon developing minds, what also holds true is that the frequencies and cadences of live music evokes human feelings, memories and associations, and has the power to bring people together.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, Bellevue Square is one of four sites at the Bellevue Collection that features live piano music in the public square, which fills the mall with soothing sounds for shoppers and shopkeepers alike. Guests gather around the piano or in dedicated seating spaces and connect with one another or with their favorite team pianist.
OK, so it’s true! I can converse and play at the same time. And love it. The uninitiated who venture to speak to Sandra on Steinway are usually surprised by a dose of personalized attention. Adults stop by to talk about their latest creative project or they might have a request or need musical advice. Kids want to learn about the inner workings of the Steinway as they watch hammers strike strings. I don't miss a beat as I explain because the show must go on, and I must model for children what uninterrupted creative expression looks and sounds like.
Where relationship and connection occur we recognize the spark of Divinity within us all. Souls who gather around my piano are some of my greatest teachers. The little girl who handed me a note saying, "You are dowing a grat gob keep up the good work" literally made my day. I had to hold back tears. How did she know I needed to hear that? "Music is a language of the human spirit" is my motto and for good reason.
I wouldn’t trade the spontaneity of an engaged public for the world. During a performance total strangers will begin talking to each other around the piano. Parents who are paying more attention to their cell phones than to their baby will suddenly forsake phones and begin rocking their baby to the rhythm of the music. I soothe the nervousness of a high school jazz horn player who is in town for a competition. Excited cries ring out like "make your hands move like this!" A teenage girl shyly observes from afar before deciding to approach the piano. A young couple shows off their ballroom dancing skills and gathers an audience. Toddlers unselfconsciously twirl and peek at each other until they're twirling in sync, at which exact moment their moms begin to talk. It's date night at the piano for that couple! Singers usually do, and stand next to the piano belting out a favorite chorus. Then there's all of the cameras ...oops, thanks for saying hello, people! And dignified elders observe it all and are gratified to hear songs of their youth.
Amidst this swirling sea of humanity, familiar faces and warm hellos of Bellevue Square staff and shop personnel grounds me anew, as well as the stellar security team and beloved fans who never miss a show.
I'm glad and grateful to be a professional musician. And for a lifetime of opportunity that sometimes means being a "cat among the dogs" (as Joni Mitchell once said about the male dominated field of music). Being a cat means my paws are secure and at home on the keys. So instead of looking down at my hands I look up to serve all the marvelous, magical and miraculous human beings who gather around Sandra on Steinway.
And that, dear friends, is a glimpse of my real "work" as a Bellevue Collection pianist. Until we meet again ~ meow!
(c) 2022 Sandra Locklear All Rights Reserved