Had it been any other day a weathered homeless man from Florida may have been simply overlooked. However after public pianos were installed in downtown Sarasota, Donald Gould, 51, became a star of the street as soon as he touched the keys. Passerby Aurore Henry was so taken away by Gould’s playing that she recorded a video of him and posted it to her YouTube on June 30 and it got over 2 million likes in just two days. ‘We went outside to chat and we saw him playing and it was so phenomenal that I got my phone out to start recording it,’ Henry, 34, told ABC news.
Gould said he began playing clarinet when he was just a child and he continued to play in the U.S. Marine Corps. After leaving the Marines he enrolled at Spring Arbor University in Michigan in order to study how to become a music teacher. ‘I took music theory and ear training, and I had to learn how to play every instrument from the piccolo down to the tuba,’ Gould told WWSB. ‘I can write parts like a handbook.’
Gould had to drop out of school with just three semesters left to complete because he couldn’t afford the tuition. He eventually got married and had a child and got other jobs.
In 1998, his wife died suddenly and he descended into depression and addiction and lost custody of his three-year-old son. Gould can play anything from Billy Joel to Bach but his addictions got in the way of him leading a normal life. Thanks to all the media coverage he may get to play at a piano bar at a place called the Surf Shack. Gould told WWSB that he may have never become a music teacher but he teaches kids to play every time they sit at the piano. ‘I play the ‘Heart and Soul’ bass, I say ‘just hit the white keys, you can’t screw up’… It doesn’t matter how they play, if they play crappy or good, I always clap for them,’ He says. ‘I’m a nurturer, I’m a teacher.’