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A Bored Teen Stopped Mall Traffic With This Stunning Spontaneous Piano Performance

"I had goosebumps."

Posted on January 26, 2016, at 12:29 p.m. ET

This is Monntel West, an 18-year-old Everett High School student in Lansing, Michigan. / Via

He is a self-taught pianist, guitarist, and percussionist, West told BuzzFeed News.

On Friday, West was waiting for a friend at the Lansing Mall and decided to walk over to a public piano to play while he waited. It didn't take long for people to stop and listen.

Facebook: video.php / Via Facebook: 100007203918386

Sara Hadley, a photographer in Lansing, caught about two minutes of West's spontaneous mall performance of Yiruma's "River Flows in You" on her phone.

"I had goosebumps watching it," Hadley told BuzzFeed News. "It was just amazing to me."

She said teens in the mall are typically "causing ruckus" and was impressed by West, who appeared to be "just in his own little world," she said.

"He wasn't paying attention to anything else going on," she added. "He was just there playing away."


West taught himself to play the piano in the eighth grade through YouTube videos of a program called Synthesia. / Via

His family couldn't afford to pay for piano lessons and West was busy with the school band.

Synthesia is visually based, and teaches users to play the piano through the keys.

West still does not read sheet music. He plays by hearing the music and memorizing keys.

"I like how different instruments sound," he said. "I just want to know how these beautiful sounds get produced."

West said he likes "soft, moving music." He taught himself to play Taeyang's "Wedding Dress" because he liked the way it sounds.

Facebook: video.php / Via Facebook: monntel.west

West learned the flute, xylophone, and tenor sax through band. He also learned the violin after just a few formal classes and some self-teaching.


"Music is a passion for me," he said. "Music is just something I love to do."

View this video on YouTube

"It was something I was really good at," he said. "Most people have sports that they're good at. Music was my strong point, my talent."

Since Hadley posted the performance to Facebook, the video has received over 300,000 views and has led the Okemos Music Academy to offer West two months of free music lessons.

John Dewey, the academy's director, told BuzzFeed News he offered West the free lessons after hearing about his story in the news.

He believes West can expand his natural talent with formal training.

"This piano at the Lansing Mall isn't the best piano," he said. "And, he was making that thing sing. I saw that he really had talent."

The academy has also set up a GoFundMe page to gather donations towards future lessons.