When Dotan Negrin discovered that his 9-to-5 as a real estate agent wasn’t his forte, the New Yorker found something he’d be a maestro in. The 28-year-old quit his job and bought a van to haul himself and his upright piano around the world. So far, Negrin has given recitals on the streets of 300 cities across 21 countries; he has even played on top of the Swiss Alps and in the middle of the desert in Nevada. The peregrinating pianist ekes out his income by performing in restaurants and returns to his hometown to save some cash on temporary jobs. “I want to continue challenging myself and learning new skills, of course, but I also want to be more financially secure,” Negrin told Metro.
Q: Why did you start hauling your piano to play in unlikely places around the world?
– One time while working for a photographer in New York, I fell in love with the idea of getting paid to travel the world. But I felt like a machine working towards other people’s dreams. Then I put together everything I loved about life: traveling, making music, performing, and meeting people. I took all my savings out just to do this, bought a box truck on eBay, set it up with carpeting like a studio apartment on wheels... And now you can see it all on my Instagram.
Q: Is your journey an escape from reality?
– For me, this trip has a lot to do with being challenged every day and learning new things. I love to wake up every morning with the excitement that I might learn something different or meet new people. And it is through challenging myself that I have discovered who I am and found some direction in life.
Q: When did you start playing the piano?
– When I was nineteen in college. But when I started playing piano on the streets I wasn’t very good at it. But I put myself out there and kept trying every day. I learned so much by just throwing myself into new experiences.
Q: Where have you already played piano?
– In more than 300 cities and 21 countries around the world: USA, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, All over Europe: UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland…
Q: Any memorable experiences?
– There have been moments in New York where I played piano and had people dancing in the street to some Latin salsa music. Or in New Orleans, where a bunch of musicians would join me for a jam session. There also was one time where I played for sunrise in the desert in Nevada: when I finished playing, everyone around was crying, including myself. Then they came over and hugged me.
Q: Don’t you regret quitting your job?
– I have been doing this for almost five years, I don’t have any regrets. However, I could have had a great career in real estate or some other field; there is no reason why I can’t go back and there is always room to go in another direction.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
– I’m currently taking a break from traveling. I feel as if I've lived multiple lives and I've changed as a person since the beginning and so my goals have also changed. I want to continue challenging myself and learning new skills, of course, but I also want to be more financially secure.