By Janelle Koh
I set foot into the law school one sunny day before the start of semester, and was immediately overcome with a sense of grandeur. One, because I had just been slowly guided into the law school by the paternalistic hands of the revolving doors (see our revolving door editorial for more De Minimis opinions on the matter), but also because someone was midway through a five minute concerto movement. The sound of it echoed and reverberated around the ground floor, which, with its high and well-articulated ceilings, made it annoyingly great for acoustics. The music comes courtesy of this classy little black Yamaha, tucked away in a corner of the ground floor, next to this glass-cased piece of rock that is probably of some intense but unknown importance. ‘Free to play’, the sign on it reads. Is it, though? IS IT?
Despite my plentiful (and over-intellectualised) misgivings about the piano, I often cannot help but put my wits and work aside and sit down nearby to listen at every chance I get. The music seems to have a similar effect on others too - hearing the music often makes people look over, or slow their pace as they enter or leave the building. This not only leads to an increase in the number of people who now understand the phrase ‘don’t let the door hit you on your way out’ (further evidenced by the oily signs of scuffle imprinted on each pane of the revolving doors), but is also testament to the capacity of music to captivate and engage, and to create spaces in which we can take pause from the intellectual cynicism and critical attention that our studies in the law so often demand.
Since the piano arrived, more people have taken to sitting around the piano, meeting around the piano - just to listen, or to wait their turn, or to summon the guts to play. Sometimes when it’s quiet and all the prodigies are elsewhere, I’ll pick out a song I know, slowly, with the damper pedal on. My fingers are heavy on the keys, and my repertoire is limited (I only know how to play a 10 minute long version of ‘Colours of the Wind’ ) but I get the sense that no one really cares, in a good way.
Rating: This bougie looking piano will accommodate all the suburban white moms types of law student, from Linda (only eats organic) to Pam (gets roasted for no reason).