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  • Writer's pictureElise

Monkeying around..

As with the nature of the internet, and videos going viral and spanning the globe, my friend recently linked me to this video of a monkey playing the piano. There are several obvious observations: his complete enjoyment, the ambidextrousness of his feet and complete interchangeability with his hands, and the natural inquisitiveness of 'whats behind the keys', which comes across anyone who has played a real piano. What kind of magic is happening behind there? How do those notes really appear all at the same time and respond so perfectly to my playing? And then the utter disappointment of the fact it's just odd shaped hammers, pads and rusty strings.

Now, I don't condone any animal playing against their will, just like I wouldn't condone any human doing the same (although some teachers and parents would disagree), and I believe that if the animal is exploring for himself, then there is nothing wrong with introducing a musical instrument as long as he is not doing it for the music instrument giver - rather than his own exploration and fun.

Not only does this video remind me of myself and how I have learned piano from one note hammering to playing patterns in both hands, but it makes me wonder if people (or animals) have the opportunity to play an instrument - without any ulterior motive, force or expectations - would we learn to explore making music ourselves? Would we continue to hammer aimlessly, or would we start to form harmonies and remember patterns, and make up little melodies and songs? Would we seek to use this tool at times when we felt most creative or in need to help us understand our feelings and emotions, to play out life situations from our own perspective?

This thought brought me to think about what would happen if we put pianos in nature. Would the animals play? Would there be animals in pockets of de-forestation torn landscapes who use the piano as a tool to express their frustrations? Are we too corrupt and self-centred to think that animals wouldn't also use music for communication too?

We are far from this ideology. But I think when you sit out in nature and listen to birds sing their beautiful songs, it reminds you that we aren't the only ones who love the effect that music can bring to life on this earth. And a little reminder to have that free spirit of the monkey in the video, to always explore whole-heartedly and make sure you are having the most fun, for yourself and no one else.


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