COVID-19 music while we hold: This retired Oklahoma educator plays daily concerts to entertain us.

Great State

PERKINS, Okla. (KFOR) – He is a recently retired elementary school principal, a long-time piano player, piano collector, sheet music collector and play piano roll collector.

“It’s all alphabetized,” says Bobby Simma, poring over the song titles.

He’s always looking, the world over, and at all hours, for something to play or sing or feed to his vintage player piano.

A guest to his home asks, “Are you one of those people who, when they see a piano, wants nothing more than to sit down and play?”

“Of course,” he laughs, “Every one of them, everywhere.”

His school in Perkins closed in March just like all the rest.

Bobby was set to retire anyway.

He says, “I just didn’t see it ending the way it did.”

But he didn’t wait too long to start poring over the 10,000 songs of sheet music and the more than 800 piano player rolls.

His purpose, to give daily performances, June to January if he had to.

He called them the Pandemic Piano Roll of the Day, and so far it’s been March to November.

“I can’t quite find a place to stop,” he admits.

On this day his selection is ‘You Oughta be in Pictures’.

He pumps his legs to keep the player piano going and sings his heart out for anyone on Facebook Live who might care to listen.

“I didn’t see this going on for months,” he admits.

His lively version of hold music drew in friends and family at first, then people from all over the country started listening in while they waited for the world to come back.

It might be until ‘The Whippoorwill Calls Sally’ or sometime after that.

Simma plans to keep going at least through Christmas.

Because of the interest created, he is also creating a YouTube page that contains all of his performances.

Bobby directed us to search for Pandemic Piano Roll of the Day on that site.


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