TAKOMA PARK, MD – Henry Oppenheimer, 22, sits under the gazebo, playing Bach and Beethoven classics while passersby stop and listen, sometimes dropping loose change in his fedora laying at his feet. “It’s so great having this piano here,” stated Oppenheimer. “It’s fun playing for random people, and the extra money I collect helps me afford my daily latte and avocado toast.”
The so-called “Socialist Piano” appeared one hot August day under the gazebo in the Historic District, donated by a musical instructor who just wanted to provide an opportunity for the public to enjoy playing the instrument for fun. Little did he know the about the backlash that would ensue.
“I just don’t understand why we are giving away free instruments,” complained Saul Ryan. “I had to save up for years to afford my upright. Where’s MY free piano?!”
“I’m still paying off many years of debt for my baby grand and private lessons,” stated Susanne Rand. “I insist that everyone else who wants to pursue musical ambitions should also be forced to take on crippling debt. It builds character.”
Charles Coke agrees. “Socialized music doesn’t work. How will young people today learn the value of a piano if they get one for free? They’ll just start thinking that everyone is entitled to a piano, and, before you know it, we’ll have a musically literate population of talented pianists. And we just can’t have that.”
Despite these criticisms, the socialist piano has amassed die-hard supporters who appreciate its democratizing impact. In response, the City is planning to offer additional socialized musical instruments, such as tubas, oboes, bagpipes, and accordians, at BY Morrison Park.
“We are going to revitalize the barely used Takoma Junction Pavilion with music,” stated the City Manager. “So instead of being angry while sitting in traffic, enjoy some fresh polka jams on your morning commute!”
Opponents hope to block this expansion by denying funds for the project in the City budget. “The money has to come from somewhere,” explained Butch McConnor, “and it’s not going to be from my tax dollars. I’d rather we invest in elite for-profit music schools, so we know the students will take lessons seriously. Music sounds so much better when played by students who haven’t eaten in days.”
When asked how lower income musicians could afford to pay for expensive lessons, McConnor laughed. “I put myself through music school with nothing but hard work, a part time job giving tennis lessons at the local country club, and a monthly stipend from my trust fund. It was tough, but I made do. And if I could do it, so can today’s kids.”