Pianos out in the open are an invitation. Whether that invitation is intentional (an art installation placed downtown to tempt passers-by) or unintentional (a piano finds its way to a thrift store), many people answer the call.
Many times, those who give in and play are minimally talented. They can plunk out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or a short section of that one classical piece they sort of learned when they took mandatory lessons at age 10.
But it’s rare that a true artist sits down at the beck of an open keyboard and truly entertains. And if people stop and stare, it’s usually because the playing is surprisingly bad or surprisingly good, and they want to see who’s responsible for the noise.
People stared because this woman is good. Very good.
The 84-year-old from Wallaceburg in Ontario, Canada, is full of surprises. When Fern Bezanson sat down at the old piano and started playing from memory, she seemed like any other piano player who’d had extensive lessons.
But she hadn’t. In fact, according to The London Free Press, she can’t read music. Everything she plays, she plays by ear.
“I can’t explain it,” the elderly woman said. “I would hear a song and I could kind of pick it out when I was a kid.”
She’s musically talented, and the piano is not the only instrument she’s mastered. She also plays the accordion.
Music has played a major part in her life. She and her late husband of nearly 50 years used to be part of a band known as “The Joymakers” — and making joy was exactly what they did.
Seeing a piano is an irresistible invitation for this musician. “I am like that,” she admitted. “If there’s an old piano sitting somewhere I’ll say, ‘I’ll try this out’ and I go over.”
Bezanson still performs, bringing joy to hospital staff and patients, nursing home staff and residents, and — apparently — people at thrift stores like Value Village.
Thankfully, Michelle Mainwaring caught the endearing moments on camera and tweeted the video with the caption “Meet 84 yr old Fern playing an old piano with her adoring husband by her side. Recorded at the Value Village in Chatham, Ontario November 7th, 2018. Enjoy this goodness!”
Meet 84 yr old Fern playing an old piano with her adoring husband by her side. Recorded at the Value Village in Chatham, Ontario November 7th, 2018.
Enjoy this goodness! pic.twitter.com/346QhcC5ms
— Michelle M. (@LuvLaffen) November 9, 2018
The simple, heartwarming video took off, but Bezanson had no idea until someone told her she was famous.
“When I hear that number I am overwhelmed,” she said, referring to the number of people who have seen the video on social media. “I can’t even imagine.”
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