In defence of pianos in train stations

I’ve read some stuff over the weekend written by a Times columnist dismissing the presence of pianos in public places like train stations as things that attract those who can’t play, or those who can (and apparently want the world to know it). This is a bad thing apparently. 

‘There are pianos in stations including St Pancras, Leeds and Dundee and, unless it’s a child, the sight of someone expertly playing a Mozart piano concerto next to a branch of Upper Crust always makes me cringe,’ @Sathnam writes— The Times of London (@thetimes) October 27, 2018

I wouldn’t have cared about what the columnist said especially. It’s dogwhistle journalism. There’s a lot of it about right now. The writer has a couple of books out too (endorsed by JK Rowling too). The chap in question is looking to drive traffic and build sales. 

I’m wondering whether he actually plays a musical instrument. I know of no musician (practising, gainfully employed, or lapsed) who would be so dismissive of such public access to participatory music-making. 

There’s a wilful ignorance in the stance. A smug kind of metropolitan self-loathing. Had it been sporting equipment of the kind freely available for anyone to use like those in my local park, then I doubt it would have been written about let alone provoke the reaction it did. 

Fucking hell, the whimsical train station piano lobby are still coming at me.— Sathnam Sanghera (@Sathnam) October 28, 2018

The op-ed’s sub-text (and the subsequent follow up) highlights how music as entertainment is seen as a commodity, something influential people are taking for granted in our on-demand world. We are presiding over a wholesale devaluing of music participation 

Who gives a fuck where the instrument is, or how good (or otherwise) the player is? Why be so down on the intent behind the endeavour? Why be so fucking mean?