A Michigan teen’s impromptu piano performance while he was waiting to meet a friend at a local mall has turned him into the Internet’s latest viral star. Monntel West, 18, had a few free moments when sat down at a piano inside Lansing Mall and a bystander’s video capture of the performance has since gone viral on Facebook and beyond.
West’s skills were put to use at the east end of the mall while he was simply trying to kill time. This self-taught pianist since eighth grade bellied up to the piano on display near the Campus Den sports apparel shop and went to work.
At first, nobody really paid attention. Then a few visitors heard the beginning of West’s rendition of “River Flows in You,” a song by Yiruma, a South Korean pianist and composer, and were blown away.
“I had goosebumps,” said Lansing resident Sara Hadley, who took video of West’s unexpected performance on her iPhone. “It was just amazing, and I figured he just deserved some sort of recognition.”
Hadley uploaded the clip onto Facebook initially, and has added the clip to YouTube as well.
What makes West’s star-making turn much more astonishing is that he can’t even read music and doesn’t even own a piano at home. Now a senior at Everett High School, West hopes to study music management at Lansing Community College before heading to Michigan State University to pursue an undergraduate degree in that major.
The Lansing teen lives with his father and 16-year-old brother said his family couldn’t afford lesson. He taught himself how to play via a keyboard and using instructional YouTube videos. But as these types of stories go, there has emerged some great news that a local music academy hoping to at least jump start some of West’s dreams.
Okemos Music Academy in Michigan launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for lessons for West and to hopefully score him a piano as well. In over 12 hours, the campaign has more than surpassed their goal of $1,080.