CSUMB art student helps with ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ project

Monterey County has street art and street people. Now, it’s got street pianos, 11 of them, or it will until March 24, when the “Play Me, I’m Yours” project ends.

Art student Alycia Drube and her piano at the Steinbeck CenterThe pianos are available for anyone to play. The point is simple: Bring communities together through random acts of public music.

As part of the vision of British artist Luke Jerram, who conceived of "Play Me, I'm Yours" in 2008 in his native England, the pianos become the works of art. Each is decorated by a local artist.

Alycia Drube, a student in the Visual and Public Art Department, decorated the piano installed in the National Steinbeck Center.

Through museum studies lecturer Normi Burke, Drube learned that the Steinbeck Center was in need of someone to “do something” with a piano and do it quickly.

The idea appealed to her, and she agreed to take on the project. The piano was to be painted with Steinbeck-related imagery. After a tour of the center’s exhibits, she chose images “that were iconic and recognizable to the Salinas community,” she said.

“It wasn’t until I had started prepping the piano that we found out it would be part of ‘Play Me, I’m Yours,’ ” Drube said.

“On March 8, when all the pianos were installed and the website was launched , I realized what a big collaboration I am a part of and the reach it has in our community and the global community,” she said.

“I can’t wait to see the other 10. It’s like a scavenger hunt, and the integrated social media makes it even more exciting.”

So far, “Play Me, I’m Yours” has reached more than 2 million people worldwide. More than 700 pianos have already been installed in 34 cities across the globe, from New York to London, from Sao Paulo to Sydney.

“I looked on Facebook and Instagram and got to see the whole global community interacting with the pianos. You should take a look, it’s fascinating,” Drube said.


The 11 pianos are located in public spaces across the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas and are available for any member of the public to play and enjoy. Locations are listed here

After being in place for two weeks, the pianos will be donated to local good causes and community groups.

The Monterey County Symphony is the local sponsor of the project.

Photo: Alycia Drube and the piano she painted at the National Steinbeck Center. The piano will remain at the center until it is displayed on campus at the Visual and Public Art Department’s “Site Specific” event in late April.