The Benson piano brings joy to campus

Campus musicians deserve better reception from student body


Cooper Sullivan, Assistant News Editor

Picture this; You have had a long day and all you want to do is relax. You walk up the stairs to your dorm and you open the door. On your bed sits a beautiful, delectable, rich, extravagant chocolate cake. (If you don’t like chocolate cake, picture a different food that you enjoy. I’m not letting your pickiness derail my analogy.)

You drop your four-ton backpack and prepare to dig in. Right as you are about to take a bite, your roommate interrupts with, “Nope, you can’t eat that.” Confused, you kindly offer them a slice and ask, “Why not?” Again, you are met with hostility. “I’m not hungry, so you can’t have any.”

I’m sure you are thinking that this doesn’t make any sense. Why shouldn’t someone be allowed to enjoy something that was given to them that will improve their mood? In the wise words of President Joe Biden, this cake “grows the economy, benefits everybody and hurts nobody.”

Replace the cake with a piano and you are describing a typical afternoon in Benson. If you open YikYak around 4 p.m. you’ll see dozens of messages telling the guy playing piano in Benson to stop.

But why? It benefits everybody. It hurts nobody.

I understand the initial ire of some students trying to study. It’s fairly quiet, you’re in the groove and then all of a sudden there are ivory echoes coming from above. But then again, you chose to study in Benson. This isn’t the library, this is the Student University Center, which is a hub of student activity filled with noise — from the constant murmur of the people eating downstairs, to the seemingly never-ending chapter meetings upstairs.

In my experiences studying in Benson, I am rarely able to hunker down and get a reasonable amount of work done before I see someone I know, am distracted by the Weather Channel or decide the noise is too much for me to focus on my work. Obviously, my habits do not translate to the entire campus. Some students could throw on some lo-fi study music in the middle of Times Square and be absolutely fine. But, for those of you who can’t, why do you continue to attempt to study in a setting like this?

“Oh, but if they see I’m trying to study, why would they play the piano and distract me?”

Again, Benson is not the designated quiet study space on campus. That building is located a quick 30-second walk due south. Benson is designed to be a social spot where you can hang out with friends while giving yourself the illusion of productivity. And what’s more cerebral than listening to the superior genres of classical and jazz music? It makes sense that there is a piano available for students to enjoy playing and listening to.

“But this isn’t Scales!”

Similar protests could be made about the pianos in any other buildings on campus — why are there pianos in the freshman dorms? I have no clue, but why should we feel compelled to constrict art to one singular building on campus? What does anyone have to gain from that?

There’s no reason to not have music breathing life into all corners of campus, especially well-played music. In a similar vein, everyone needs to stop hating on Austin Torain — more widely recognized by the moniker Speaker Kid — as well. The man plays straight bops and is just trying to make everyone smile.

Of course, if someone were playing the piano all day every day, it might get a little tedious, but that’s not what’s happening. View it for what it is: a brief period in a busy day to sit down, listen and forget your worries.

Disclaimer: I am not saying that everyone should play the Benson piano. It is not for people whose parents forced them to take a year of piano lessons as a child. I don’t need to hear the first few notes to the Pink Panther theme or “Hot Cross Buns”. You are not Bugs Bunny, and should not pretend that you are.