I’m not positive as to what led to pianos being on campus, and I’m sure it was well-intended and is a nice idea in theory. There are a few pianos all around UC Davis, including the ones in the residence halls and the infamous Coffee House piano.
I personally have some piano experience in my life, and know that I could bust out a not-too-terrible “Heart and Soul” or that song the ice cream truck plays to let children and stress eaters like me know there are Push-up Pops near. I choose not to play, however, because I know the damage it can do.
As an employee of the CoHo, one of the biggest perks is that I get to avoid the Coffee House Paradox by having a place to sit at our reserved table. This table is right next to the CoHo Piano. The issues to be discussed below are very relevant to myself and other employees, but through my own surveying, I know the problem stretches to everyone who has sat in earshot during week seven, or any week really.
It actually seems like no one is ever playing the piano during week one; they wait until we need silence before they decide to be loud. I don’t have exact data on this, but a study will be released at a later date. I love “The Office” just as much as everyone else, but the only time I want to hear the theme song is when I go on one of those strings of poor time-management sessions on Netflix. Yes, it’s a piano, and yes you have hands, but no, it is not OK to play it this week with midterms and with Number 5 studiers trying to study.
I know I will take some heat from some people after this, and it’s likely I will receive some angry emails. As a columnist, however, I’ve taken the Miley Cyrus approach: Any publicity is good publicity.
Still, however, I want to try and answer some emails before they come in. These are the things I assume the piano player might say in an email, or in an alternate universe where I would be confronted in person, and not hidden behind my screen.
“I don’t have a piano at home, and I want to practice.” This is actually a very reasonable thing to say. Many people enjoy playing the piano; it’s certainly one of the most common instruments for people of our generation. These pianists aren’t as lucky as the triangle players or the tambourine shakers, as it isn’t very transportable. It’s expensive to get one for a house and expensive to move when the lease is up. My counterargument to that is to invest in a small keyboard, go to the dorm building pianos, or learn to lucid dream practice. There are just too many people in the CoHo trying to study.
The second response would go something like this: “It’s mellow music, good for studying, and it’s not bothering anyone.” Most of the piano players are indeed playing light music, songs I’m sure they are playing perfectly. The issue is that not everyone likes to study to the same stuff. Everyone has their preferences, and the CoHo has established itself as a place for people to study, so they should be able to study their own way. I personally can switch from a one-hour loop of white noise right into a filthy electronic set that you’ll someday hope your kids aren’t seeing live. Aside from showing you I’m kind of a weird person, it shows that this excuse will not fly, as everyone has their own routine.
This leads into the second type of music people like to study to, and that is often played on the piano. This is the movie/video game soundtrack style. I assume these are fun for everyone at a small get-together at a piano-equipped location, or even during week one at the CoHo. I personally love all of this and study to it sometimes. I remember a kid playing Indiana Jones 10 times in a row in the Tercero Service Center while I was not trying to study, and it wasn’t bad at all (emphasis on not trying to study).
I had a roommate once that was very into The Legend of Zelda as a kid and went through a phase of using the soundtrack (and electronic remixes of it) for studying. This was awesome, of course, but I knew at any point we could both put in headphones and choose our own study music. I will never forget the incident last quarter though, when a kid played Zelda on the piano an hour before my midterm. His “Song of Storms” made me want to storm the piano area and Z- C-stick-X him (cue the correction emails, I never actually played).
The final assumed excuse and common playing style is the popular hits. Again, I’ll never ask, but I assume the people playing the Top 40 stuff think it’s fine with everyone because they are great songs. Another thing I’m sure I might enjoy during week zero. In midterm season though, everyone is stressed out, and has no interest in “All of Me” by John Legend, minus the John Legend. No one wants “Fix You” by Coldplay, minus the Chris Martin. These guys have the voices of angels and expensive pianos and expensive producers; you do not.
This is something I’ve needed to say for a very long time, and it was certainly nothing personal to anyone. Although “How to Save a Life” by The Fray is actually making a comeback from an incredibly depressing song to the ultimate crowd pleaser (try it this weekend, trust me), it has a time and a place on a first-generation iPod Nano or a party near you, not on the piano. It is imperative that we control this issue. I hope this article leads to a positive response, and a flow of piano practicing away from midterms and to the other buildings or times when we can all appreciate it.
The UCD Files is your weekly in depth look at our campus and the lifestyle that comes with it, featuring an occasional dropping of knowledge from a senior who has experienced it all.
Feel free to send questions, comments, hate mail, or anything you would like to see in future articles to Adam Marx at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graphic by CA Aggie Graphic Team
Photo by CA Aggie Photo Team