September 4, 2018

4:16 pm

Playing Bach For Elephants

Bach and elephants might not be two things we'd generally associate with each other -- until we heard about Paul Barton.

22-years ago Barton found himself teaching piano in Thailand. He had only planned a 3-month stay but the universe had different plans. He met a wildlife artist and animal enthusiast. They fell in love, got married and Thailand became their forever home.

This British concert pianist and flutist found himself volunteering with a non-profit called Elephant World which works to rehabilitate and home abused elephants.

"I wondered if these old, rescued elephants might like to listen to some calm, slow classical piano music, so I asked if I could bring my piano along and play to the elephants," Barton told Mother Nature Network (MNN) last week. "They allowed me to do that."

While musicians out there might be eager to follow in Barton's footsteps, they should know that playing for these giants doesn't come without its risks.

"With the bull elephants I am always aware they could kill me at any moment, and the mahouts are aware of it too and I can tell they are nervous for me," he told MNN in the same interview. "Up to now, it’s been these dangerous and potentially aggressive bull elephants that are always kept well away from people that have reacted the most to expressive, slow classical music. There is something about the music in the moment that makes them feel calm."

To learn more about Barton and his work, check out the documentary about him: Music for Elephants.