Sunday brunch music needs to be restored in the dining hall

In Knorr Dining Hall, there is a piano near the stage over by the door. It’s a standard upright piano that used to be played on Sundays, but has lately sat silently. Now stu­dents should pick up the slack and perform for their peers because there’s so much talent at Hillsdale College.

The piano during brunch is the most important dis­tin­guishing factor of the meal. Music sep­a­rates Sunday brunch from Sat­urday brunch because  it’s just so — extra. It adds to the abun­dance of dessert and stu­dents dressed in church clothes and forms that extra layer of class that is still what dis­tin­guishes the upper crust from the rest of the world.

In other words, as badly as I want it, it’s not like we need it.

But maybe we do: I don’t know about you, but I seem to forget the incredible amount of homework that I’ve put off until Sunday as soon as I walk in and hear the piano. There is a great calming effect that the piano has over my restless, pro­cras­ti­nating soul. I sud­denly realize that despite the fact I still have to do all the research and write 15 pages that afternoon, there is still beauty in the world.

There is a reminder in every note why I study English: It’s beau­tiful, and it has a purpose, just like the music from that old upright in the middle of Saga.

And in a school where so many people are wicked good at piano, someone with the skill and the incli­nation is ought to show off their skills and grace our ears just as the apple-cin­namon scones grace our stomachs (scones have a very clear purpose).

This line of thinking might lead any student who has training in piano to attempt to present their per­for­mance, but that’s not what I’m saying either.

I have expe­ri­enced when someone didn’t know how to play, and it made every­thing worse: The food lost its flavor, the studying got harder, talking was a strain, thinking was slow. All of this could have been avoided had the person thought of the piano more as a grand in a concert hall than an upright in a dining hall.

Hillsdale stu­dents want enter­tainment and music with their milk, cereal, and mashed potatoes at brunch, but they also want to appre­ciate the highest arts with their peers and be impressed by the musi­cianship of their friends and acquain­tances.

The piano in Saga is a great outlet for spon­ta­neous per­for­mances and the appre­ci­ation of the finer things in life because the envi­ronment is not casual nor pro­fes­sional. This gives oppor­tu­nities for people to play who are not about to give a full-blown recital but are nonetheless inter­ested in showing off their pieces.

It could also be useful for serious pianists warming up for com­pe­ti­tions or recitals who want to perform in front of people without the stress of strict scrutiny that comes from being the center of attention.

As the Bard may have almost said, “if music be the food of Saga, play on!” (See, I do use my English major.) Piano players can play music that appeals to the general public, and most players have done a good job of that.

The classics are hymns, Pride and Prej­udice, and The Lord of the Rings. Any of these are acceptable canon. A case could be made for musicals and some pop hits, but that’s another article. Also loved and most welcome is the clas­sical piano canon that most only hear in recital halls.

So, by all means, stu­dents should play the piano during Sunday brunch and play it well. Music should uplift the soul and make stu­dents’ dining expe­rience more enjoyable, like salt on Saga hash­browns, and stu­dents should pass the salt when they can.

If all the world’s a stage as Shake­speare says, that includes the Knorr Dining Hall piano, and it might be your turn to get on up there and show off your tech­nique next Sunday after church.

Brendan Clarey is a senior studying English.