Music Worth Exploring: ThePianoGuys

Lee Saar, Marek Ast, Jeremy Clay, Gregory Ast
Lee Saar, Marek Ast, Jeremy Clay, Gregory Ast | Source

Discovering ThePianoGuys

The photograph above decidedly does not represent ThePianoGuys. However, it does reflect how much music means to my family. The musicians from left to right, are a close family friend (Lee), my brother (Marek), my oldest son (Jeremy), and my other brother (Gregory). The occasion is Thanksgiving dinner at my house two years ago.

The women were inside cooking and setting the table; the grandchildren were joyously underfoot inside and outside; the four cats had wisely retreated and were hiding under one of the beds; and the men (or most of them, anyway) decided to retreat to the garage for a musical jam session. Their music was great and so was their fellowship.

A perfect moment in family and musical time captured on film. I want to share some music with you that we think is amazing performed by two extraordinarily gifted musicians.

Bring Him Home from Les Miserables


Quite by accident, perhaps by spiritual design, I stumbled upon the music of ThePianoGuys about a year ago. You know how it goes, while searching YouTube for a particular song you find something else equally, if not more wonderful than what you wanted to hear. Well, I found ThePianoGuys, and I promptly listened to everything they had posted on YouTube (there was no DVD or MP3 available at that time).

Of course I inflicted them (shared is what I meant) upon all my friends and family. When you receive an unexpected and generous gift, you want to share it with others. A couple of months later I bought their CD. They are wonderful musicians, but they are also extremely visual. I could try to explain what I mean by that, but I would much rather show you. You do not need to be a fan of Vivaldi or the "Jason Bourne" films to appreciate this.

Bourne and Vivaldi

ThePianoGuys consists of five individuals with various occupations, possessing quite different skill sets, from different locations in the United States. Each of them individually had a well established career: a piano store owner/videographer (Paul Anderson), a music producer (Al van der Beek), a videographer/editor (Tel Stewart), a pianist (Jon Schmidt), and a cellist (Steven Sharp Nelson).

Together they possessed the tools, passion, and drive needed to create an extraordinarily successful music video production company.

Rolling in the Deep - Adele

After they began collaborating ThePianoGuys quickly took off; they produced numerous high quality music videos and posted them to YouTube. In December 2011 they released their first album through ThePianoGuys channel on YouTube. Their popularity and YouTube views have increased exponentially and by September 2012, they had signed a contract with Sony. Their first album was released by Sony Masterworks on October 2, 2012.

Jon Schmidt, often described as a New Age Classical pianist, had previously released eight albums and seven piano books of his song transcriptions, and was quite well known locally. He met Steven Sharp Nelson, who combined traditional cello music with unusual cello based percussion effects, when Steven was just fifteen. They started playing together, eventually performing concerts throughout Utah.

Desert Symphony - Southern Utah

Hailing from Utah, The Piano Guys quickly became known for their immensely successful series of self-made music videos. However, it is the unique combination of classical, pop, and rock music that has generated their phenomenal success. The fact that Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson are incredibly gifted and amazingly innovative musicians, of course has contributed to their meteoric rise.

As ThePianoGuys have said, "Our vision is to create music and videos that inspire people. We want to take that music to the world and make a difference. . . . . We like to put a new spin on classic stuff and a classic spin on new stuff. " All five members of the group clearly put their heart and soul, as well as a great deal of hard work, into every composition they write and every musical video they produce.

PianoGuys Version of Cold Play's "Paradise" (Peponi)

As you will see in the following two videos, ThePianoGuys, especially Steven Sharp Nelson and Jon Schmidt (watch for him, because he is in the video as well, just not playing a piano). have quite a sense of humor. They see no conflict between beautiful classical music and whimsical, humorous videos. In fact the two - gorgeous classical music and humor - often go together quite well.

The first selection begins with a very serious rendition of Pachelbel's Canon intended for what is usually a solemn occasion, a wedding. In no time at all the music has been transformed into Rockelbel's Canon with Four Cellos and the wedding becomes a joyous and celebratory party. All this is accomplished courtesy of Steven Sharp Nelson, who plays all four cellos, and of course the other members of ThePianoGuys production team.

Our final selection, "What Makes You Beautiful" orchestrated by Jon Schmidt, is without a doubt a beautiful piece of music, but to fully appreciate its intricacies, and to understand how closely the five members of the group work together, you simply must see the video. Enjoy!

Pachelbel's Canon in D

What Makes you Beautiful - One Piano - Five Guys

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Your Comments Are Welcome and Appreciated 42 comments

adimax profile image

adimax 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

These guys are amazing, thanks for sharing them! I had seen most of the videos, but the last two were new to me, and the coordination in the final video is mind blowing.

Also, every time I see Steven Sharp Nelson I think of Seth MacFarlane. Separated at birth, I'm telling ya!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Adimax - Thanks for responding so quickly (do you actually have a job. . . or are you just that quick and good? I know, I know, you are just that quick and good at what you do.) I enjoyed your WED moment of Zen (unbelieveable actually) and this was kind of my response. I do think they are brilliant and talented and gifted and I am so glad they found each other and are experiencing such success. Do you work tomorrow? I am going to Barabara's around noon. Want to get Chinese either Thursday or Friday evening? Canasta or poker afterward - you know - our new family tradition? :)

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

I love all music and the contemporay sounds are my favorite.. thank you Phdats7 for sharing this hub and the tunes.. I grew up with James Taylor and Carly Simon but I love Chicago and Queen.. so you see I can listen to anything..:) happy Thanksgiving to you and yours :)

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good afternoon Frank. You are so very welcome. Taylor, Simon, Chicago, and Queen were all in my top twenty-five, and like you I lean toward contemporary, with some real musicianship. I am just amazed at what they can do with classical pieces that I would not normally care for very much. :) And Happy Thanksgiving to you too! :) ~~Theresa

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

I've been spellbound by the Piano Guys since discovering them, too. They're so innovative, they're almost beyond classifying, except to just adore them! Thanks for the treat today!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Nellieanna - I just love them, too. Such a feeling of peace (my shoulders relax) and gratitude comes over me when I listen to their music. Its just wonderful. :)

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

Thank you SO much for sharing, Theresa! No one loves piano more than I do, and I also enjoy strings, including cello. I adore classical music, as well as pop and rock--especially classic '70s rock (like you, I have Taylor, Simon, Chicago and Queen in my all-time top list). Humor? Bring it on, any time. I'm a perfect audience for The Piano Guys. How did I miss them before now? (Probably because I don't see anything from YouTube unless someone posts it, sends it to me via email or it's on HP.)

I like your garage band Guitar Guys photo, too, but think at least two of the women should be playing in the band and two of the men in the kitchen cooking--to balance things out! Ha.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Theresa,

"We like to put a new spin on classic stuff and a classic spin on new stuff. " The PianoGuys do a wonderful job of this.

The desert symphony is spectacular. A gift to the eyes, ears and soul.

Voted up away and sharing

Happy Thanksgiving!

Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 4 years ago

Dear Theresa - Awesome search, surf and find for classical music lovers. And, so gracious of you to share with all of us. Soothing. peaceful, gentle and restful. I love this for quiet time and solitude. Love, Debby

Happy Thanksgiving

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Dear Debby - So glad you enjoyed the music. Their music is great for "quiet time and solitude." I always feel, somehow, lifted up, encouraged, calmer - after I listen to their music. Happy Thanksgiving to you to. :) ~~Theresa

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this background. I really didn't know any of it. Paradise is the background music for one of my poems.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Mhatter - You are very welcome. Paradise is one of the first songs I fell in love with when I discovered ThePianoGuys. Which Poem did you use it with? Hope you are having a great Thanksgiving. :)

shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

I am a musical lover and enjoy all forms. I got a great chuckle out of the introduction to this hub with the "home grown" group of family and friends.

In addition, The Piano Guys are stellar and until now, I hadn't heard of them. Thanks for the pleasant introduction.

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

What a wonderful find!!... some brilliant pieces of music. I must say I prefer my Pachelbel's Canon in the classic version a bit more soothing. :). but loved the fun. The version of Coldplay's Paradise with Peponi blew me away, The Piano Guys are indeed talented and I will be sharing this and checking out some more of their stuff. Many thanks for sharing.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

hey tobusiness - Isn't their work simply great? And Paradise with Peponi. I simply loved that one --- so wild and powerful and beautiful. I am so glad you enjoyed their music and videos. :) ~~Theresa

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona

I discovered ThePianoGuys just last week and, like you, wanted to share them. But I stifled the urge.

I'm glad you didn't. Awesome hub and great choices of videos.

Voting up, awesome and sharing.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good Morning Jaye - You are so very welcome. I just knew there would be a few people who loved PianoGuys like I do. :) It is easy to miss new groups, especially today when there is so much traffic and buzz. I am fortunate in that my middle son and I share similar tastes and he frequently sends me links to something he found on YouTube. After I listen to his selection about 16 choices popup nd I spend 30 minutes or so exploring and sometimes I hit pay dirt! :) (Do you suppose pay dirt is a phrase from the God Rush days? I never really thought about it before, but . . .)

None of the women play musical instruments, although we have some lovely singing voices. I was actually out there them singing, until I decided to go get my camera. :) Its chilly this morning. Wonder if this is a fortaste of things to come or just a hiccup? :)


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Thanks for sharing the piano guys. There are so many groups out there to explore. I found this out while doing research for some writing I had to do. Like you, I stumbled upon some great stuff on you tube.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

You have just sold me on this group. How talented they are. I loved everyone of the video music shares. I am so glad that you came across this group for us. Lovely! Voted up.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good evening Sue. They do a great job don't they. I love the desert symphony too. :) whenever I am feeling a bit off, I listen to some good music and they ahve become one of my "go to" groups. :) Thanks you for voting and sharing. Havea great week. ~~Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello shining - I thought the intro with my families' Garage Band" might be amusing. :) I am so happy I was able to introduce you to The PianoGuys. Here's to many years of wonderful listening. :) ~~Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Pamela - Aren't they just wonderful? :) Its always great to find out that other people are moved by the same music. Thanks for commenting and voting and sharing. :) Have a great week :) ~~Theresa

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Theresa, and what an awesome hub this is!

Wow...loved the rendition of the Pachelbel Canon.

Great hub - voted up and away


PS. hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good Evening John - We did have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I am so glad you liked this Hub. I have been wanting to share their music for some this was kind of like my Thanksgiving gift to everyone. :) I hope to do this again with another group I like before Christmas. So glad you enjoyed Pachelbel Canon. As a musician and pianist, you, more than most of the rest of us, really know how good they are. :) Take care. ~~Theresa

LaThing profile image

LaThing 4 years ago from From a World Within, USA

Watching Bourne and Vivaldi, the first that came in my mind was, these guys are the Rock Stars of classical music!! I had never heard of them before. They are fantastic! Your hub is very interesting, and I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.... Voting up and awesome!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Rebecca - I so agree....there is really some great music out there. IN fact I am quite sure there are some groups I have missed that I would love. I listen to CDs and NPR in the car so I don't discover music through the radio. I hope to share about more groups as time permits. Have a great week. :)

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Dianna - So glad I sold you on this group as they really are terrific. I am so glad I found them, too. thanks for commenting and voting. Have a wonderful week. :)

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

La Thing - What a great description. They are the rock stars of classical music!. I am so glad you liked them so much. I am just crazy about them and I want everyone to know about them. Thanks for commenting and voting! :)

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

I love this beautiful music. I had not heard of these dudes. Thank you very much for enlightening me about them. Very pleasurable.

James :-)

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Aren't they just wonderful? I am so glad you like them and there is lots more - I couldn't include everything. They have given me hours and hours of pleasureable, relaxing, yet invigorating listening. I hope and prayt things are well with you. Blessings. ~~Theresa

must65gt profile image

must65gt 4 years ago

Great hub and voted UP!!! I Love music and enjoyed the links you included in your hub. I wondered why you didnt include the "Jam Session" concert from your home stage? I drive through Atlanta about twice a year and would love to sit in if I might. And if I were accepted, Which axe should I bring? Classic, Folk, or electric? or would you prefer a I did say I loved music right? God bless and thanks for posting

Hollis96052 profile image

Hollis96052 4 years ago

I wish you had shared them with us the last day of class last semester when you introduced many people to Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. Absolutely beautiful.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Dallas -

They are wonderful aren't they. So glad you enjoy them. :)

jhamann profile image

jhamann 4 years ago from Reno NV

These PianoGuys are so entertaining, thank you for introducing them to me. Jamie

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Jaimie - You are so very welcome. :) Aren't they great? :)

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Loved this! And they are awesome!! Sharing this around!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Audrey. Aren't they great? I was so pleased when I stumbled across their videos by accident. :)

Hope all is well with you and yours. Theresa

Born2care2001 profile image

Born2care2001 3 years ago from Asheville NC


This is fabulous! There music reminds me of the soundtracks from the Banff Mountain Film Festival clips. I love the energy, and the "visual" as well. What a marvelous find. And...just when you weren't looking! Kinda gives "Ast and you will receive" a different twist! (Couldn't help it, great names and ideas go together!)

voted way up and awesome!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Bruce - Aren't they just great?! I love that they do such a superb job of combining the visual and the aural. They are both so very talented and I love the music they choose to showcase. They have a website (as does everyone), actually I think the way I first accessed their music was through YouTibe - their own channel or something. So glad you enjoyed them. Have a great weekend. :) Theresa

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I'll never forget an anniversary dinner in Dublin, Ireland, the night before my husband returned to Kuwait (where he frequently traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan) and I returned to the States. The pianist played "Bring Him Home." This rendition: Beautiful.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Kathleen - What a memory to have. I continue to be amazed at how very much I like the arrangements by the PianoGuys. Blessings!

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I continue to be amazed at how very many memories we have that we associate with pieces of music!

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