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Tickle the Ivories

YOU may have noticed the pianos that have appeared on city streets in the last fortnight. Fee! free to sit down and play reports Jennifer Bennett in Central of 21 January 2009.

It doesn't matter if your skills extend to Rachmaninov or stop at Chopsticks. All that matters is that you have a go at bringing new sounds to the neighbourhood.

Last week, a group of teenagers sung religious songs on the piano outside Paddy's Markets in Haymarket, and kids at The Block in Redfern have got piano fever.

The pianos are the brainchild of British artist Luke Jerram. "Play me, I'm Yours" has previously been to Sao Paolo in Brazil and Birmingham in the UK.

Mr Jerram said the instrument always met with great popularity.

"It's the sort of instrument that a lot of people have had some training on," he said.

He said his role in the work was just that of an enabler. "It's about everyone else's creativity. It's acting as a blank canvas."

Reactions to the pianos are always varied and always positive, Mr Jerram said. "Everyone's very respectful, we haven't had any vandalism or destruction yet."

In Sydney, artists have been invited to decorate the instruments.

Mr Jerram said he was curious to see what Sydneysiders would play. "There were a lot people playing Beatles songs in Brazil. I've got no idea what people here will play."

The pianos attract amateurs and professionals, but you can never tell who's going to be good. "It's really beautiful to just watch and let them go," he said.

The pianos are at: Redfern Community Centre, Circular Quay, Glebe Library, Harry's Cafe De Wheels in Woolloomooloo, Illustrated Man tattoo parlour in Surry Hills, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Hospital, Taylor Square, Wynyard bus station and at the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross. Visit www.streetpianos.com.

Photo: Deborah (centre) and Artie listen to Uncle Ningin play the piano at Redfern.

Source: Central of 21 January 2009.