Elephant plays piano

We've blogged videos before from Paul Barton, a piano instructor and performer based in Thailand who sometimes performs at elephant sanctuaries—and by that, I mean, he performs for the elephants. But this new video is the most amazing yet. He explains:

Musical hijinks with Peter the Elephant on a green piano. Peter discovers the piano (unlisted video). I was actually playing for Soi, a 5 year elephant, when Peter came by with his mahout on his regular evening trip to the river for a bath. Peter heard the music and made deviation from the mud road (behind the tree) to the piano. I suddenly felt something strange sucking the back of my head and had an unexpected duet partner. In another video he plays piano and my back as a drum. The mahout you can hear occasionally isn't giving commands in any way to Peter, rather voicing a tiny bit concern for the piano's survival.

Elephant-lovers please rest-assured - all keys on modern pianos (such as this one) are made from synthetic plastic material and have been manufactured this way for some considerable time.

More videos: "A short Night Vision video with elephant Soi (Debussy and Bach)," and you can meet Peter and elephant friends at elephantstay.com in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Khwan makes a sculpture of Peter and his friend Omm Chakawan, and a nice moment between 2 elephant friends Peter and Omm (8:14).

(thanks, Joe Sabia!)


  1. I think this should be titled “Peter the elephant is an asshole to a pianist.”  Banging on the keys and shoving the back of his head does not count a “playing a piano.”

    1. What I saw was an elephant interacting to an amazing degree with the music, the instrument, and the pianist. Big brains in those big guys!

    1. because all piano keys are made of ebony and ivory like in the song despite better, cheeper and less cruel materials such as plastic being available for nearly a century.makes perfect sense.

  2. PETER THE ELEPHANT: Play for me primate.  Something catchy, something bouncy.
    PAUL BARTON: *plays a few bars of “Baby Elephant Walk” by Henry Mancini*
    PETER: Oh very droll, tiny, squishy being.  Quite clever.  I suppose you know what happens next?
    PAUL BARTON: *sadly plays a few bars of “Elephant Stepped on My Foot” by Maceo Parker*

    1. Come to think of it, I can remember at least three “Far Side” comics that combined elephants and pianos in some way.

    2.  “When all else fails, play ‘Louie Louie,’ right?” –Iggy Pop

      come to think of it, the Stooges did play like a bunch of elephants.

  3. Elephant hates annoying Maple Leaf Rag, and strongly desires for performance to cease.

    Elephant tries every way possible to communicate desire to Piano-man.

    Piano-man mistakes all attempts at such communication for encouragement.

    Elephant reminded once again that man is a species of limited intellectual capacity, piano-man especially so.

    1. According to the experts in elephant behavior at Wikipedia, “Older elephants use trunk-slaps, kicks or shoving to discipline younger ones.” So, obviously, every time Peter bonks Paul on the head, he’s saying, “Hey! You missed a note!”

  4. It’s hilarious how Peter starts tapping the piano with his trunk like he’s trying to figure out where the sound comes from. Very fascinating!

  5. Hipster Elephant was already into Elephant Music when Dave Soldier came through. You probably haven’t heard of him.

  6. Elephants are amazingly human-like! Peter’s technique, sense of rhythm, and ability are JUST LIKE MINE, with uncannily similar results.

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