Bored, 18-year-old Monntel West simply sat down at a piano in the mall Friday evening and began to play — unknowingly striking a chord with several shoppers.
To kill some time, West sat down at the empty piano in the middle of the mall in Lansing, Michigan, and played “River Flows in You” by South Korean pianist and composer Yiruma. According to the Lansing State Journal, West played the piece strictly from memory as he taught himself how to play piano in the eighth grade, has no formal training or a piano at home and doesn’t really know how to read music.
“I had goosebumps,” Sara Hadley, a Lansing resident said. Hadley filmed nearly two minutes of West’s performance on her iPhone, which went viral over the weekend. The video, posted to Facebook, has more than 4,000 shares and more than 200,000 views.
This is why they put a piano in the #lansingmall. Self taught!! #yiruma. Wow. Gave me goosebumps!!
Posted by Sara Hadley on Friday, January 22, 2016
“It was just amazing, and I figured he just deserved some sort of recognition,” Hadley said.
The Journal reported that West taught himself how to play by practicing on a keyboard and through YouTube tutorial videos. The teenager lives in Lansing with his father and 16-year-old brother, and while he has not been able to afford piano lessons, he plans to study music management at Lansing Community College before transferring to Michigan State University.
“If I did get lessons, I think I could be better,” West said. “You can always get better.”
Hadley said that she hoped the viral video would attract attention to West’s talent and hoped he would be able to get a piano in the future. She said she sent the video to the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
As for West, the Journal reported that he remained humble throughout his interview with the newspaper as he spoke to a reporter by phone while he headed to his job Sunday evening at a Michigan State cafeteria. He said he has received an abundance of messages on Facebook complimenting him on his musical talent as well as the stereotypes he is breaking.
“Everybody has those hidden talents and hidden abilities,” he said. “Hopefully this shows people to not be afraid to show them.”
(H/T: Lansing State Journal)