Theres the short story, and then theres the long story. Here is the Longer Version. I truly believe that the people, places, and experiences from the last 10 years of my life have led me to discover Piano Across America.
More specifically, it is the events that took place after I graduated college that motivated me to do something extraordinary with my life.
I Graduated college in May 2008 and went to my parents house in Long Island, New York to start auditioning for jobs and build my acting career. Over the course of the year I researched the acting world in NYC, did a few non-union shows, auditioned almost every day, and interned for casting directors and agents while working different jobs and selling stuff on eBay. I even started day trading for a little while in 2009 when the Stock Market hit an all time Low.
I tried so many different things that seemed to get me no where.
I didn’t feel like my career was progressing.
Being an Actor in New York City is very hard. There are hundred of people competing for the same roles as you. On top of that, it's exhausting to have to constantly look for a job. Even when you have a job, its always temporary, leaving you to have to look for another one almost immediately.
In June 2009 I was so frustrated with auditioning that I decided to stop.
I didnt like the fact I was wasting full days waiting on line for a 30 second interview.
I didnt think auditioning was the best way of making a career as a performer and sought a way to create my own opportunities.
I found myself on line at the Actors Equity building for an audition sitting next to a 40 year old man who had some nice looking credits on his resume. But it made me realize that I could do this for 20 years and still be in the same place!
I didnt want to be like that. I began practicing piano routinely and took lessons in hopes of using my music to create a one man show. But what would I be doing in the show?
Like every 20 year old I was brimming with ideas, but couldn’t find a single one that I wanted to focus on.
I was spreading myself too thin juggling all these ideas forcing me to have to let go of some.
I was conflicted between my desire to make money and wanting to pursue my love of being a performing artist.
This is when the big spark happened.
In December 2009, I got an offer from my fathers friend (a photographer) to drive his box truck to Miami for a delivery. He paid for all the expenses including a check for my time.
I thought it was so cool to get paid to Travel.
I saw it as an experiment to travel alone in a truck, filming my experiences, and to explore blogging. When I got to Miami, I got a call from a friend who was in Dominican Republic. He convinced me to come down and I immediately flew down to DR and drove motorcycles through the mountains. It was an experience of a lifetime. I got back to Miami and was paid again to drive back to New York. It was a dream come true!
This was where I became addicted to travel. I became addicted to the new experiences, the new people I was meeting, and spontaneous adventure.
February 2010, I wasn’t auditioning anymore and my acting career took a stand still to work for this photographer as his assistant and truck driver. This was the time Brando entered into my life. It wasnt planned, it just sort of happened. Click here to read the story of my dog, Brando.
May 2010 rolled in and I was still working for the photographer, but I was unhappy again. I was frustrated that I was living someone else’s dream rather than working towards my own dream. I started a blog on tumblr called, ThePiano.tumblr.com where I wanted to create a place for pianists and piano lovers to come together.
Every day I would go to work and ask myself the question: "If I could do anything else in the world, what would I do?" I spent a lot of time dreaming and thinking and brainstorming.
Finally, I came up with the idea for Piano Across America by combining everything that I love to do in life: Traveling, Making music and performing, and meeting People.
The idea was to travel the world with an upright piano and be entirely supported through playing piano. Nothing else.
The only thing was, I wasn't a very good piano player.
June 2010 came and “Play Me, I’m Yours” set their 60 piano’s throughout the 5 boroughs. This was a test for me to play a piano in front of people on the streets. I played about 14 of the pianos in Manhattan, filmed my experiences, and I noticed that it was incredibly easy to meet people and other musicians.
There was a huge social aspect of playing the piano on the streets. It was as if it instantly opens you up to conversation and breaks down all the boundaries.
THIS WAS THE TIPPING POINT. This was the moment where I said to myself, Enough is Enough! I MUST make my dream come true.
But was I ready?
I had only been playing for 4 years. I never played in front of an audience before, nor had I the confidence to do so. There was plenty of self doubt and obstacles but in July 2010 I worked past it and with my fathers help, I strapped my piano to two dollies, wheeled it onto Broadway in downtown New York, and played in front of a deli.
I felt the energy of people’s faces looking at me, pointing fingers, and the feeling of having the spot light on me. I mean, I was pushing a piano across the street!
At first it was embarassing, but after a few hours I began to really enjoy the feeling. I wasnt sure if I could meet the demands of the people with my skills and really blow them away.
I did this a few more times and started noticing patterns, learning from my mistakes, and making changes.
In August 2010, I continued my new found adventure and played on the streets 10 more times. I met a man from England who showed me a few things on the piano. We jammed on Broadway and had an amazing time when this other man came up to us and started rapping.
In City Hall Park, I met this French documentary director who was enamored by my attempt at playing on the streets. I was able to connect with people instantly when I had the piano and I even scheduled my first gig playing at a gallery event.
I was enthralled with meeting new people from all over the world and hearing other people’s stories and comments.
Unfortunately, a terrible incident occurred on September 10, 2010 when I hit a pothole that made the piano fall backwards. I went to stop it but the piano was too heavy and landed on my hand. I broke two fingers and it really put a stop on my goals and dreams.
I was torn up with the thought of never being able to play piano again. I couldnt play for 3 months and spent that time dreaming again of playing on the streets.
Luckily, I didn’t damage any ligaments or joints which led to very positive outcome in the healing process.
This was the point where I started planning for my tour across America.
The shock of almost losing the ability to play piano forever pushed me forward to make the dream of traveling across America with my piano happen.
Looking back at all these events, I find it interesting that they all occurred consecutively.
Its as if someone knew about my dream beforehand and put those obstacles and events in my path: As if it were meant to be.
Life works in mysterious ways and I cannot explain it.
But I do believe if you spend enough time crafting your ideal, eventually it will happen.
Anything is possible!