We Can Communicate Without Words, If We Want To


Pianos and planes

Coming into the terminal at Heathrow recently after flying in from Spain, I saw a piano placed in a passageway for anyone passing to play. Sadly I have no idea how to play the piano, or I would have loved to sit down and tinkle the ivories! Perhaps it was part of this artwork by artist Luke Jerram, perhaps it was an independent initiative. Who knows? But it made me smile to see a piano in such an unexpected place.

What is the purpose of this exercise? It could be to entertain others, to pass the time while waiting, to surprise people (who would expect to see a piano when they've just stepped off a plane?) or to take people out of their comfort zone and get them to engage with strangers.


Music connects

This is exactly what happened in one clip posted on YouTube, from the Austerlitz train station in Paris. A man sat down and began to play. Drawn by his playing, a second man came up and began to join in.

The two men - a Spaniard and an Algerian - didn't know each other and had never played together before. Yet they were able to find a point of harmony. Over the course of five minutes or so, they were able to reach a point at which their playing harmonised until it sounded as though there was just one pianist. It was a beautiful moment.

Brief encounter

The two finished by shaking hands, to the applause of waiting passengers. It was a beautiful demonstration of the way in which people can be united in simple ways, and strangers can be brought together, if only for a brief while before they go their separate ways. Doubtless they'll never meet again, but a mundane journey must have been made brighter for all concerned.

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