Eighteen-year-old Monntel West wasn’t exactly planning on becoming the next viral sensation. Especially when he was just trying to kill time by playing on an empty piano in the middle of a mall.
But on the evening of Jan. 22, the high school senior was waiting for a friend to show up when he decided to play some bars of “River Flow in You,” by South Korean pianist and composer Yiruma. Unbeknownst to him, a surprised shopper caught his playing on camera.
This is why they put a piano in the #lansingmall. Self taught!! #yiruma. Wow. Gave me goosebumps!!Jukin Media Verified (Original)* For licensing / permission to use: Contact – licensing(at)jukinmediadotcom
Posted by Sara Hadley on Friday, January 22, 2016
“It was nice to hear somebody who knew what they were doing,” said Hadley. “And he wasn’t really trying to show off by any means.”
The video quickly got more than 10,000 shares and over 600,000 views.
It didn’t take long before local media caught him for some questions. West told the Lansing State Journal that he never had piano lessons, or even owned a piano at home. Instead, he’s been learning how to play by watching Youtube tutorials and practicing on a keyboard.
What makes his determination even more commendable is that he doesn’t even know how to read music. Instead, he played the piece just by listening to the song. West plans on studying music management at Lansing community college, before transferring to Michigan State to further pursue music.
“If I did get lessons, I think I could be better,” said West, during the interview. “You can always get better.”
And his wish may just come true. Soon after the video was posted online, a local music academy has started a GoFundMe campaign to give him free lessons and buy him a piano. They already achieved their goal, and GoFundMe even donated $1,000 to help West out.
Everett’s own internet piano star, Montel West, playing live @ District Showcase @ Pattengill on 1/30/16. 1:15 pm pic.twitter.com/WBPMqaOSjm
— Lansing Schools (@lansingsd) January 29, 2016