Why people hate pianos at Dutch train stations

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A few days ago, a picture of the piano at Amsterdam Central Station was doing the rounds on Instagram, as it was overturned. A friend of mine reposted an article about the unfortunate piano on Facebook, saying “My mood today”.

The man who did it will have to go to court, but having sat down after his ‘crime’, he waited for the police and didn’t seem to care. A new piano was put in its place rather quickly after the incident. The piano has had faeces, acid and other things poured onto it, so yeah, fresh piano it is.

The first reason people hate train station pianos is that listening to a piano is meant to attract attention and evoke emotions, which is for many people the complete opposite of what a train station is supposed to do, which is get people from A to B as easy as possible. In other words, the piano detracts from the goal of getting to their train without being distracted.

The second reason is the fake feeling of ‘life is hard, but doesn’t this small bit of happiness bring us all a little bit closer’, apparently a feeling that is just as irritating as giving out free hugs or anything else that forces people to feel woolly. It’s one thing to encourage togetherness, but it is another when it is done as part of Dutch Rail’s marketing strategy when all they do is up the prices of tickets every year and offer the exact same service year in year out.

Reason number three is that piano playing gives narcissists a stage. Nobody wants to wait around for some amateur noodling of whatever the favourite film ditty of the year is. Playing for people is something that shows empathy, but in fact is a totally narcissistic gesture, according to the people interviewed. At lease a street musician does it for money.

I happen to like public space pianos, but that’s usually because I don’t use the train to commute and have time to find my train and I tend to hear decent piano players, not parents letting their children muck about because they have to.

(Links: vice.com and nos.nl; Photo of piano keyboard by Adam Henning, some rights reserved)

1 Comment »

  1. What a thoroughly depressing article. ‘Playing for people is a totally narcissistic gesture’. Indeed it is possible to walk through a train station, getting happily from A to B without having to turn over a piano.
    Next week: The acceptable face of pissing on artwork.

    Comment by MJB — October 29, 2018 @ 12:12 pm

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