MSP airport piano player delights travelers with upside down playing

The Twin Cities International airport is usually filled with busy travelers.

But in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, a musical oasis is taking flight.

Once a week, Nate Hance turns the main concourse into his own personal concert hall.

"I view my job as being a little bright spot in a travelers day because I know how much stress traveling can be," Hance says.

But while he excels at tickling the ivories, Hance can also tickle travelers funny bones as well

"I call it backwards and upside down piano playing. It's hard to describe. It's easier to watch," he says.

For several songs during his set, Hance turns his performance on its head, playing the piano with his back to the keyboard or laying on the ground underneath it.

"The way I do it, my hands are reversed so my right hand is playing my left hand part and my left hand is playing my right hand part, everything is backwards," Hance says. "So when I want to go high, I have to tell myself to go lower. it's a whole mess of a brain thing."

Hance has played the piano for as long as he can remember, he even spent a few years honing his craft on cruise ships after college.

But after he saw Mozart play the piano upside down in the movie Amadeus, he decided to flip the script as well.

"I thought that would be kind of fun, but he was crossing his hands. So his hands were playing the same parts they were playing normally. I said I need a good challenge so I tried to one up Mozart, which I don't know if I can do."

Hance shows off his party tricks at senior centers, where audience members often can't believe their eyes.

He also posts videos of his unusual piano playing on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, some of which have gone viral, racking up thousands of views.

"I think piano should be fun, not a competition. I just want people to know you don't have to be conventional. Be funny. Be yourself," he said.

While this gig at the airport drew quite a crowd, Hance says that's not always the case.

"Some people don't notice if I'm playing at the airport, they just think it's a piano playing itself," he said. "When they notice they are like 'whoa' and there's always people saying How do you do that? How do you learn that? How long did it take you? Why do you do that? It's a whole different mix of reactions."

And those who do notice are usually head over heels for his unconventional skills.

"I play the piano and it's hard enough playing it normally," said traveler Ethan Brunnell-Wright.

"I can't play the piano, first of all. To see somebody lay down, put their hands above their head and play was very impressive," said traveler Lisa Dunwiddle.

"It was definitely cool. It was something unique and unexpected. I wasn't coming here expecting to see someone playing the piano upside down but it was definitely a stress reliever," said traveler Emma Dunwiddle.

And Hance hopes giving his audience a different perspective on his favorite instrument will be the key to longevity.

"The benefit is that people remember me. There's a lot of pianists out there. So they can remember me as the guy who plays upside down that did something they've never seen before, said Hance.