Street theatrics are the ultimate form of an Urban Semiotic, and this Summer, in the five boroughs of New York City, you can place your hands on 88 pianos dotting the city core and open your throat in song to light up the neighborhood with your shared joy:  Sing for Hope!

This summer, from June 1st through June 16th, the Sing for Hope Pianos return to our city streets. In one of New York City’s most vibrant public art installations, 88 artist-designed pianos (one for each key on a piano) are placed in parks and public spaces throughout the 5 boroughs for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

Visual artists from Sing for Hope’s roster of over 1,000 Volunteer Artists and local community members were selected through an open application process and donate their time and talent to create this beautiful gift to our city: 88 unique and interactive piano artworks.

What I especially appreciate about this Sing for Hope project is how it encourages impulsive creation.  Sure, you may want to play one of the pianos or burst into song on the street — but the variables of the environment will color your performance in wonderful and unpredictable ways.  You could be singing a duet with someone you do not expect!

I am a bit confused by the promotion of this event. A television report suggested the project was to offer 88 pianos on the street designed by artists that you can sit down and play; but when you visit the Sing For Hope website, the emphasis appears to be on you singing with someone else playing the decorated pianos. Are there permanent accompanists with each piano or not?

I suppose, in the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking to play a piano or a sell song, but sometimes a unification of purpose can help solidify a plan in the minds of the plenty. We cannot effectively be led, or inspired, by two competing memes.

10 Comments

  1. I too was a bit confused about this matter, so I e-mailed them and they responded as follows :

    Thank you for reaching out to Sing for Hope. We are very excited about this weekend’s upcoming start to the Sing for Hope Pianos and are happy to answer any questions you may have.

    The pianos are indeed meant to have anyone come by and play them. The events on the website are suggested ideas of things you can do in the areas which the pianos are placed. You are most welcome to go to any piano site and play all on your own!

    We look forward to seeing around one of the 88 pianos this June!

    Best,
    The Sing for Hope Team

      1. I’m willing to bet you can play, sing, dance, applaud, hoot, holler, or anything artistic that doesn’t damage the piano — they seem pretty open to it!

  2. How did I not hear about this sooner?! Thanks for telling us! I always try to take a few trips into the city during the summer (although it is more of a hassle coming from NJ than from Long Island) and I want to join in for sure.

    I wonder when the first viral video will come out of some impromptu performance that ended up being truly great.

    1. From what I saw on TV, the process is pretty formalized. There are instruction booklets with the pianos. The pianos are locked so people can’t mess with their tuning. I have no idea if someone is always playing or not. There are assigned caretakers to help protect the pianos from weather and other adversities.