Monntel West was just trying to kill time on Friday while he waited for a friend at Lansing Mall in Michigan, when he started tinkering around with the piano at the east end of the mall.
However, all it took was one impressed passerby and a quick cellphone video for the 18-year-old high school senior to become an Internet star, the Lansing State Journal reports.
“I was going up there to meet a friend,” West told the news site. “All of a sudden, people started surrounding me.”
Even more impressive? West is completely self-taught. He has never received formal training, does not know how to read music and doesn’t even have a piano at home to practice on.
Still, he certainly grabbed the attention of visitors as he played a rendition of “River Flows in You,” a piece by Yiruma, a South Korean pianist, the Journal notes.
“I had goose bumps,” Lansing resident Sara Hadley, who took the now viral video on her iPhone, said. “It was just amazing, and I figured he just deserved some sort of recognition.”
Hadley got her wish for West: Her video on Facebook has been viewed over 214,000 times since being uploaded Friday.
West told the Journal that he learned to play by practicing on a keyboard. YouTube videos also helped out a lot. But the teen also seems to have a knack for replicating what he hears.
“If I did get lessons, I think I could be better,” West told the site. “You can always get better.”
He says that he hasn’t been able to afford lessons but does want to study music management for two years at Lansing Community College before transferring to Michigan State University to pursue a major in the subject.