#WeSeeYou: Here’s Why This 18-Year-Old Self-Taught Pianist Went Viral

Like most viral sensations, this video of an 18-year-old pianist was unplanned. But, after Sara Hadley, a Lansing resident, posted her iPhone video of Monntel West playing his own rendition of “River Flows In You,” West became an overnight sensation and heavily sought after guest for media outlets.


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Monntel West, a senior at Everette High School, is a self-taught pianist who doesn’t own a piano. So, when he saw an upright piano sitting in the east end of Lansing Mall, he took the opportunity to play a cover of “River Flows In You,” a classical tune originally performed by Korean artist Yurima. At the time, West was waiting for a friend and had no intention of giving a performance. He simply wanted to kill time. But, he quickly drew a crowd.

“All of a sudden people started surrounding me,” West told the Lansing State Journal. West has been teaching himself how to play the piano since the eighth grade and has not received any formal training. But, that’s not the only thing that’s special about this video. West cannot read music and he was listening to a completely different song in his headphones while playing.

About an hour before Hadley posted the video of West, she wrote a Facebook status expressing her irritation with the person who’s responsible for putting a piano in Lansing Mall. But, shortly after her post, she heard West playing and knew exactly why the piano was there.

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“I had goosebumps… It was just amazing, and I figured he just deserved some sort of recognition,” Hadley told the Lansing State Journal.

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