A local music educator and enthusiast has found a way to keep his community upbeat from a distance and keep music education alive in his neighborhood.
Chaz Bruce lives in Irondequoit. He has a knack for creativity, a passion for music, and is dedicated to educating students at several schools in the Greater Rochester area. This includes his 4-year-old son Ellis and 8-year-old son Myles.
"At my household, we have piano, drums, ukulele, guitar and it is such a cool thing to watch them, even if they don't know how to play, just mess around with it and watch that process," he says.
Amid the New York State on PAUSE Order, Bruce repurposed one of his many instruments for the greater good.
"I wanted to figure out how I can help in my neighborhood," he says.
Bruce placed a touchless piano in his front yard in hopes to entertain and keep music education alive in his community.
"It's called a piano mat," he explains. "I understand everyone doesn't have access to instruments and I know how important that is. I remember bringing this [the piano] into my classroom and the kids just lit up. I was like well, that would be a great idea for a family to walk by and see something like that and just try it."
Bruce is also a well-known social media content creator in the area. He shared his initiative through a video on several social media platforms, including Tik Tok and it spread like wildfire. The video has thousands of views and counting.
"We wrote down the notes of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,'" says Bruce, "and we just kind of sat back and watched. I sat on my porch and watched as families walked by. The kids ran to the piano, even the parents. Everyone came to the piano."
Bruce, known to step to the beat of his own drum, says he has more creative plans in store.
"I am going to continue to do this," he says. "I'm going to put it out every week, put a different melody on and then try to figure out 'in what ways can we do more?' This is the first idea, we might end up with an entire band across the whole thing [laughs]."
Music is universal, something both the young and old can enjoy in unprecedented times.