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Stan Stewart At WaterMusic

Playing Piano Improv at WaterMusic

The Web-Story Version

The Blog-Story Version of WaterMusic

This has become an Ithaca tradition. With rare exceptions (during a pandemic, for example) WaterMusic happens each year in the late summer or early autumn. Triphammer Arts and Friends of Stewart Park are the organizations that help to make it possible. I’m truly grateful to them for inviting me to perform again this year.

The idea is that a variety of performers on the shore and in boats around the Ithaca inlet create a concert for people on land or in the water. Lots of kayaks, canoes, SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboards), and other boats lined the shores wherever there was music playing or dancers dancing. The performances are set up so that respectful players won’t interfere with each other’s sound. And the performing groups truly respect and admire each other.


This year, I decided to perform piano improvisations. In order to do this, I borrowed a Casio Privia PX-5S battery operated digital piano. The Privia performed like a true champ. I was so pleased with the sound, the feel, and — obviously — the portability of the battery power.

Coupled with this was my Roland BA-330 stereo amp combo. This mixer, speaker, and amplifier was an ideal way to let people hear the piano sounds. Once I loaded in fresh batteries, it purred along. (I used my 330 time times that same weekend, all on battery power!)

Making Beautiful Improv

Co-workers, friends, acquaintances, and strangers all took a moment to stop to listen for a moment. Some knew about WaterMusic and arrived intentionally. Many just heard the tunes and were curious. The smiles and foot-tapping were the best.

Of course, I went with improv. Since I consider it to be a high art form, I did my best. There were moments that some might call a “flub”, but I was truly happy with this concert. So many people dropped by for a single improvisation or a whole hour and offered appreciation.

I don’t know why, but I played a lot of blues or bluesy sounding pieces at WaterMusic. And once these sounds appealed to listeners, I was even more drawn to play them. Of the two hours of playing, I’ll bet one full hour was blues. The track and video above have become “Be Better Blues” in my mind. I hope you enjoy it.

Making Improv Beautiful

I’m a deeply introspective improviser. The result is that I played a few improvisations that were like an anthem or a hymn. Here’s a part of one that I’ve decided to call “Hymn to Humanity”.

Hopefully, you can see in what I’ve presented here that this was a beautiful experience. The sense of community and art was so wonderful. Thanks for coming along to listen and feel the good vibes.

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