Why I Like “The Piano Guys”

by Melannie Svoboda SND on October 6, 2014

Have you ever seen someone sky diving with a cello? Have you ever seen someone playing a piano or cello while sitting atop a mesa in the middle of a desert or while sitting in the surf at the edge of the ocean? If you haven’t, then it’s time for you to meet “The Piano Guys.”

piano guys standing

“The Piano Guys”: Al, Jon, Steven, Paul.

“The Piano Guys” are an American musical group consisting of four men (sometimes five): Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson, and Al van der Beek. Basically they perform piano and cello renditions of all kinds of music: classical pieces, popular songs, and their own original compositions. “The Piano Guys”started out by making music videos and posting them each week on Youtube. Soon their postings went viral.  A few had over 20 million views! In 2012 they decided to release their first album called simply The Piano Guys.  

Why do I like “The Piano Guys”? First I like their music—which I find amazingly diverse. Their piece “Rock Meets Rachmaninoff,” for example,  is really a modern version of Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C# Minor.” The “Cello Wars” video is a spoof of the Star Wars soundtrack and films–complete with an appearance by Darth Vader. They even take One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” and perform a unique rendition using ten hands on one piano. Their music is eclectic. They do Mozart and Beethoven as well as Elvis and Adele.

“The Piano Guys” playing the entire piano with ten hands.

Another reason I like these guys is because of their creativity. Some would say they’re really more than creative. They’re “off the wall”!  Some of their works, for example, feature the piano. But they don’t play just the keyboard of the piano as most performers do. No, they play the entire piano. They remove the lid of a baby grand and pluck and strum the strings inside. They play other parts of the piano as if it were a drum or a violin. By doing so they elicit new and unusual sounds from the piano. “The Piano Guys” also take their music everywhere: concert halls, beaches, deserts, forests, the Roman Colosseum,  and even atop the Great Wall of China. One of my favorite videos features them playing a “Charlie Brown Medley” in an assisted living facility. It is heartwarming to watch the elderly residents come alive with their music.

A third reason I enjoy “The Piano Guys” is because they seem to be having so much fun doing what they do. One of their videos on YouTube is called “Skydiving with a Cello and More.” It consists of clips from behind the scenes of their filming and “out takes.” It makes me laugh every time I watch it. These men really enjoy their work. Now, I know they have their challenges and “bad days” (just as we all do), but their love for what they do always comes shining through. I ask myself, how much do I enjoy what I’m doing—whether it’s giving a talk or writing this blog? Do I have fun with my work? Do I have fun with my life? (On another level, I thought: If we could make living the Gospel look this enjoyable, this life-giving, and this much fun, we’d have no problem with evangelization!)

Let me conclude this post with two music videos by “The Piano Guys” on YouTube. The first one is their blending of two songs: the theme from the movie The Mission and the traditional Hymn “How Great Thou Art.” The Mission is a 1986 British film that tells the story of an 18th Century Jesuit missionary (Jeremy Irons) and his work among the native people in South America. The music video was filmed at the magnificent Iguazu Falls that border Argentina and Brazil and at the colossal Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

The second video is One Direction’s “What Makes You So Beautiful.” It’s the one played on one piano by ten hands. Each video takes only about 4 minutes.

I’d love to hear what you think of “The Piano Guys.” And, as usual, thank you for reading my blog!

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Magiera October 6, 2014 at 5:37 am

How beautiful Sr. Melannie!

A good reminder about enjoying work. Sometimes I focus on all the burdens of my work and forget the blessings.

Kathleen

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Kathy Gruber October 6, 2014 at 9:23 am

Beautiful music. I have hear these men before. Thanks.

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Carolyn Shalhoub October 6, 2014 at 9:30 am

Thank you for introducing me to the Piano Guys. Such a treat for a Monday morning.

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Michelle Authier October 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

WOW AWESOME!;

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Mary Beth Pettek October 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

Wow!! Thanks for sharing!

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KC October 6, 2014 at 10:05 am

Oh how glorious! They set my soul singing and dancing. Thanks so much.

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Fran McCreary October 6, 2014 at 10:44 am

How spectacular! The combination of God’s great creation & the talents He has blessed some of us with to share with others.

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Mary Schneider October 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

Beautiful music by beautiful young men. I am always amazed at the glorious sounds than can be brought out of all musical instruments. Thank you Sr Melannie!!!

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Marilyn T. sabatino, S.N.D. October 6, 2014 at 10:56 am

Mellanie…………how marvelous and beautiful….thank you for introducing me to the Piano Guys…take care, Marilyn

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Carol October 6, 2014 at 11:47 am

I like your reflection on why we like the Piano Guys, Sr. Melanie, I agree with you wholeheartedly! I’ve been enjoying their music since I saw them on the Today show last year. I always find them a great way to relieve stress. Just ordered their newest CD, “Wonders”
Hope you have a wonderful week, Carol

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Jan October 6, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Cool!

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Suzanne Sayer October 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm

I have been lucky enough to see The Piano Guys perform in person-quite a show! I like your reminder to ENJOY whatever it is we are doing.

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Dorothy Janofsky October 6, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Thanks so much, Sr Melanie! I hope to get one of their CD’s; they are filled with joy!
Dorothy

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mary james October 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm

WOW! Thanks so much! It was a first for me and I love it!
The Mission is one of my favorite movies and the falls are gorgeous.
the second video gives new meaning to percussion and picking–for sure.
Thanks so much for the meditation–music ALWAYS leads me t0 prayer and sets my soul singing. God bless this ministry!

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Barbara d'Artois October 6, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Reading your blog is always a wonderful way to begin a new week, Sr. Melannie and today’s post was very special. I love the way you introduced the Piano Guys and I find their music truly awesome. This is the first time I have heard them. Thank you for sharing their giftedness with your readers. When I record today’s blessings in my prayer journal this evening, those two short videos will head the list!

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Nona Higgins October 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm

What a treat to greet the week — the Piano Guys love what they do and it shows! I appreciate Sunflower Seeds every week. Thank you!

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florence October 6, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Thank you so much for such a neat musical rendition. I’ve never heard of these boys, but plan to get their CDs.
You always give us the neatest topics

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Shirley Walters October 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for reminding me how we can bring joy to our work. I HATE dusting, I abhor dusting, I despise dusting — BUT, I put on a Sinatra or or Rod Stewart oldie (I’m OLD) and I dance and sing my way through with the duster flying — and I’m happy!

(An SND Associate from Clearwater FL

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Carol Fox October 9, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Shirley, that is my favorite way to do housework, loud music !
The Piano guys will make short order of any undesirable task 🙂

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Dorothy October 6, 2014 at 9:32 pm

How they can create this beautiful music is superb. Thanks for showing us how beautiful music can be & to Praise Our Lord & King…

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Kim Hollinger October 13, 2014 at 11:22 am

Simply beautiful, thanks for sharing . I also liked the basketball blog since a few of my children play.

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Pat Sylvester October 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Just as you said Melannie. These guys are having fun. That’s part of what makes it so entertaining. Thank you for sharing this!

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Jean Canatsey November 14, 2014 at 9:38 am

Sr. Melannie,
Thank you so much for introducing me to the Piano Guys! As a pianist, I would have never have envisoned getting so many sounds out of this incredible instrument. I love the way they combine cello, piano and nature to make music. They are now my favorite group!

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