John Wayne Airport puts out piano for travelers to play

by in News

Anyone with keyboard skills who doesn’t mind playing for strangers can help make traveling a little more pleasant at John Wayne Airport, where the “Play Me! Piano” program launched this month.

Inspired by “Play Me, I’m Yours,” a project of British artist Luke Jerram that has placed street pianos in more than 60 cities worldwide, the airport recently bought the piano it had been using for scheduled musical performances and opened it up for the public to play.

But the music in the air at John Wayne goes beyond strains of “Heart and Soul” pounded out by folks on their way to their departure gate. Last spring the airport started JWAlive, which books local singer/songwriters to perform in the terminal to soothe harried passengers, and there are now typically one or two performances daily, airport spokeswoman Deanne Thompson said.

“The purpose was to add another element of that elevated guest experience,” she said, adding that in addition to positive feedback from airport workers and visitors, “we’ve heard from gate agents that passengers are less surly when there’s a delay when there’s music playing.”

People were already stopping to play a few notes while passing through the terminal, but even more have been sitting at the piano bench since a sign went up inviting them to exercise their musical talents, Thompson said.

She also noted the program costs taxpayers nothing; the piano was paid for with money airport businesses chip in to a marketing fund.

Visit www.ocair.com and select “JWAlive Music” under the Terminal Information heading for a calendar of scheduled performances and information on how to participate.