Prisoner learns to play on a cardboard piano

The New Yorker published an inspiring article recently about the efforts of a prisoner to learn to play the piano on a cardboard instrument he constructed in his cell.

A Yamaha piano. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Demetrius Cunningham wrote of the challenge he faced when the prison choir in which he sung required a pianist. He had never had any piano training and only had access to the prison’s church keyboard for an hour every Sunday.

He was motivated to construct his own instrument out of cardboard and paper after watching a television show about the gospel singer Andrae Crouch. Cunningham then spent hours in his cell each day learning the fingering for scales, chords and eventually many of his favourite pieces of music. He was helped by music books supplied by his mother.

After he was transferred to a new institution unexpectedly, Cunningham took up the position of musical director for his new prison choir and began making more pianos out of cardboard to enable others to learn the instrument in the same way he had done.

You can read the full story at the New Yorker’s website and enjoy an inspiring start to the new year.

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