Ben Treuhaft

Piano Teacher Living in Tent on Portobello Beach

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

With its stunning sea views, easy beach access and room for a piano, it boasts all the hallmarks of an estate agent’s dream. So when Ben Treuhaft’s marriage broke down he decided to “get away from it all” and set up home on Portobello beach.

He bought a tent – designed to withstand even the strongest sea gales – and hired a professional team of Capital movers to help set up his “piano home”.

Now his bed is a sleeping bag behind the piano, he washes at Portobello Swim Centre, where he is a member, and eats at the cafe at Portobello Old Parish Church.

The unusual move has attracted interest from beach-goers, who he insists are free to visit the tent and play piano at any time.

He said: “I’ve always wanted to live with a piano on the beach so people can come in whenever they want and have a play.

“So many people have already come into the tent to have a go, it’s great. I tell them ‘it’s a piano project, please come in’, it’s great to listen, even if they play badly. Some don’t leave until 4am so I have to tell them it’s time to go.

“When I go out, I don’t worry about leaving it. People are welcome in and nobody does anything apart from tidy up in here a little.”

Hailing from New York, the 66-year-old professional tuner honed his skills there in the early 1970s at the prestigious Steinway and Sons Concert Basement, where he tuned daily for international stars such as Glenn Gould. His love of music saw him shipping pianos, instruments and parts to Cuba until he made international headlines after being stopped by the latter Bush administration.

The dad-of-two set up the Underwater Piano Shop in Morningside just over a year ago – and now works from his new home. He hopes to one day set up his own music hall in Scotland.

“I’m planning on staying here for the duration – forever,” he said. “I woke up and saw the sun rise this morning and it was incredible.

“Everyone is being super nice, only worried about if I’m warm enough or if it’s too windy. I’ve not had any trouble from the council, police or any complaints from anyone.”

Mum-of-three Zuzana Jezkova, a regular on the beach, said he just “appeared one day” and had been playing music ever since.

She said: “We just saw a tent and thought it was some sort of event. Then we saw him and he said he stays there.”

Maureen Child, councillor for Portobello, said it was “wonderfully eccentric” and something else to “put Porty on the map”.

She said: “I think people will be amused and intrigued. I’m not entirely sure what the rules are, but I hope he can stay for as long as he wants.”


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