The Piano Player
New York City - June 24, 2011
I thought there was something sad about a woman sitting alone at a piano playing for an inattentive crowd. I also thought, what could be sadder still than when the woman starts singing to herself?

Such was the state I saw her in when I ambled into Bryant Park where I suppose in the summer an entertainer was hired to bring music.

An opportuning photographer that I was who, as far as she was concerned, had only regard for capturing images and none for comprehending music, I approached slowly from behind knowing that my camera’s noise would surely rouse her from her melancholy.

Whether or not she heard me taking shots, she kept on playing. She sang “Amazing Grace” listlessly I’d say as if in resignation to the fact that an audience of one however disinterested was better than none.

Soon, however, I heard footsteps and a small crowd formed behind me. I stepped to the side and then to the front of the piano to give the crowd room. I raised my camera to take more pictures at my new location.

As I did, she looked up at me and smiled. She held her smile for some time while she continued singing until perhaps she was sure that I had taken my shot. She then lowered her eyes again at the keyboard.

While I had my camera pressed to my face, I realized I was in the prime spot for hearing her music -- in front of the piano -- and thought it a shame that her back was turned to the crowd because I alone could hear the fullness of her voice and how relaxing and gratifying it sounded as she sang “Amazing Grace” with growing passion and emotion.

When it was over, the crowd gave applause and she bowed in return. She talked to them about music -- a young crowd of what appeared to be college students.

In the past, I have on occasion been to other places where I’m asked to leave the premises and not take pictures. So always in the back of my mind I am prepared to leave promptly and politely however picture-perfect the scene and however dour and downcast I might feel.

This time however, I walked away feeling valiant and lofty. As the smile on the woman’s face would seem to attest perhaps thanking me from the bottom of her heart for bringing to her the crowd, photography was welcome. I’m no knight in shining armor but I like to think that my actions however perfunctory and my thoughts however delusionary bring justice to the world and peace to humankind, and even then when circumstances arise, find occasion to respond and dispense aid to a damsel in distress.

(The piano player’s name is Christy Tennant. You may find her at her website at

Click on a picture to enlarge.
This was the smile she gave me. Unfortunately, my shot is blurred. I was raising my camera merely to check the scene’s composition when she looked up at me and smiled. So I had to pull the trigger quickly at the wrong settings and hope for the best.
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