Every time you enter the Coffman Student Union, you can hear the same cursed sound: some poor soul slamming on the piano keys and hoping beyond hope that something resembling music comes out.
The unwilling audience knows that the chances of hearing real music at Coffman is next to nothing, and the best you’re likely to hear is six covers of “Hallelujah” in a row with the only discernible differences being how many notes sound like a cat dying.
However, a group of four young piano players (The Black Sheep will generously refer to them as “musicians”) have decided to take the school tour guides more seriously than most and not only bang away on the piano for hours every day instead of going to class, but actually form a piano quartet as if one wasn’t enough.
“Our biggest challenge right now is to find a place with four pianos at once so we can practice,” sophomore Richard Lakes, who took piano lessons in fifth grade, tells the Black Sheep. “I don’t think Coffman will let us bring keyboards into the building so we can all play together, but you can hope, right? We just want the student body to be able to appreciate our music.”
Music is not exactly how the student body would refer to what the piano players do, but luckily for them, Lakes is correct in assuming that the building of Coffman will immediately vomit out any more musical instruments brought inside the building. The building itself can barely tolerate the piano that’s still there, forced to listen to students who can only plunk out “Heart and Soul” think that they’re the next Beethoven.
“Maybe we can practice in Ferguson,” says freshman Brittany Johnson, the second member of the quartet who once had guitar lessons, and they’re basically the same thing, right?” Wrong. “West Bank is a little inconvenient, but it’s the music school.”
Johnson assumes that what she and her fellow players are making is music, a conclusion which Ferguson Hall and the music school in general have yet to come to reach.
“We want our sound to be something the school would like,”the third member of the quartet and self-taught piano player Johnny Carson says. Since his name is close to Johnny Cash, he believes himself to be just as talented despite never even touching a musical instrument before the poor, poor piano in Coffman. “Something cool, and fun, and maybe a little edgy.”
The Black Sheep attended the group’s first practice which, after much consideration, was held in fourth member Tori Felton’s parents’ garage in St. Paul to see if their sound would exist as more than just some vaguely Christian church song that everyone inexplicably knows the words to.
Unfortunately for the quartet, the four them really were not on the same page and simultaneously played the four songs “Drops of Jupiter,” “Lean on Me,” “You Raise Me Up” and some Ed Sheeran song that sounds the same as all the other Ed Sheeran songs. The combination of all of the songs at once made Felton’s cat’s eardrums spontaneously burst on the spot.
And yet somehow, the session ended with them all playing “Hallelujah,” though constantly one beat off from one another so it sounded like an endless echo of “Hallelujahs” all throughout time.
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