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The piano man

Junior Jacob Guston talks music and why he plays the upstairs piano after school

Andrea Simmons, Photo editor

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Katie Bullock
1. Junior Jacob Gustin plays the piano alone in the little theatre. Gustin enjoys the privacy that playing upstairs gives him, since he considers himself a shy person.

Serene music rings through the halls after school, reaching the ears of janitors securing the building, teachers grading papers and students practicing the latest musical. The music comes from a piano next to the Little Theater, the sound of mixed emotions.

In March of 2016, junior Jacob Gustin – who has been playing piano since he was five years old – discovered that a piano resides upstairs above the D-Quad. Soon after, he began staying after school to play.

“At first, I didn’t really have a motive,” Gustin said. “I just came back here one day because I had just gotten back from NCC and I saw the piano. I only have a keyboard at home and I really love playing on real pianos. It just kind of evolved from there.”

Senior Anna Braman, who listens to Gustin during theatre rehearsals, is one of many students that find Gustin’s music engaging.

“Jacob would always play for us last year during Fame [the 2016 spring musical]. He kind of became our entertainment so a lot of kids got to know him,” Braman said.

Although Gustin enjoys playing for people, he perfers to remain behind the piano where people can not see him when he plays.

“People would come up and listen to me play or request stuff for me to play and I guess I just liked performing for people,” Gustin said. “But I’m also kind of a shy person so I don’t like for them to necesarily know who I am, which actually works really well because I’ll play after school when everybody is downstairs and they’ll hear me and talk to me from downstairs and I’ll just stick a thumbs up up for them to see.”

According to Gustin, playing piano helps release stress by acting as an outlet for his emotions.Graphic by Katie Bullock

“It’s really nice to play because it calms and it takes my mind off negativity,” Gustin said. “It’s been a kind of therapy for me.”

According to Gustin, one of the benefits of playing in a relaxed setting is that he can play whatever he wants. As a result, Gustin often plays contemporary music.

“I like sad pieces. They’ve always been close to my heart because the chords that go along to it may be sad but they’re also pretty and I like playing that because other people really seem to vibe off of it,” Gustin said. “I like classical, but I don’t really play it that often because of it’s difficulty level. I really enjoy like a cheerful kind of Waltz sound. I also like playing 80’s rock every once in a while, like Queen. I also like playing movie genre music. I play a lot of music from Star Wars, or interstellar.”

Gustin’s favorite composer is Hans Zimmer, and he often plays Zimmer’s song Time.

 

“I like how Hans’s music sounds on the piano,” Gustin said. “[It] sounds really pretty.”

Gustin tries to play as much as he can after school to entertain the custodians and students that stay after school hours. But even when Gustin goes home, he enjoys playing.

“It’s [playing piano] really calming,” Gustin said. “At first when people are learning, they struggle with it, but once you have a general feel for it you just tinker around with it and you’ll lose track of time. I’ve been late before to work.”

Staff members also enjoy taking time to listen to Gustin as he plays.

“Normally I would just sit below him near the Griffin on the staff parking side. His music makes me feel happy and calm,” custodian Bryan Boles said. “My favorite music he plays is probably his Queen selections.”

Braman is now also learning how to play the piano, and hopes that Gustin will continue as an inspiration.

“I hope he continues. I love listening to him and I’m trying to learn to play piano myself,” Braman said.

Gustin hopes to continue playing until he graduates, since he believes that music is his form of entertaining and calming people.

“At first it was just a therapy thing, but now since people notice me playing, I feel like I’m obligated to,” Gustin said. “One of the custodians walked up to me and asked if I would play for them after school, serenade them. Anyone should pursue music if you can. It’s a beautiful thing.”

tain the custodians and students that stay after school hour“I hope he continues, I love listening to him and I’m trying to learn to play piano myself,” Braman said.

Gustin hopes to continue playing until he graduates, since he believes that music is his form of entertaining and calming people.

“At first it was just a therapy thing, but now since people notice me playing, I feel like I’m obligated to,” Gustin said. “One of the custodians walked up to me and asked if I would play for them after school, serenade them. Anyone should pursue music if you can. It’s a beautiful thing.”

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The piano man