Future UVU Musician’s Piano Videos Gain Internet Fame

Even before the world faced a global pandemic, Max Cooper was going viral.


Even before the world faced a global pandemic, Max Cooper was going viral.

Cooper has been polishing his piano skills — especially his ability to play by ear — since he was three years old. Now the future Utah Valley University student has produced multiple videos with millions of views on social media service TikTok.

One recent hit directly addressed the many sports events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, recreating the TV broadcast theme songs for the NCAA basketball tournament, the NBA playoffs, the Masters golf tournament, and the Olympics.

That video drew the attention of SportsCenter’s official Twitter account, garnering thousands of retweets and attention from multiple media outlets in Cooper’s hometown of Olathe, Kansas.

“I taught myself how to play piano when I was three,” Cooper says. “My sister took lessons from my grandma, so I just listened to what she played. Then I started taking lessons when I was five, and I've been taking them ever since.”

Cooper says he doesn’t always realize he knows how to play a particular tune until someone asks him to try. Most of his videos on TikTok feature covers of popular music, like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” or personal arrangements of movie and TV show soundtracks. His videos usually average view counts in the hundreds of thousands.

“Whenever I'm done practicing all my repertoire, I just mess around on the piano,” he says. “I think of a new video idea to post on YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram. I’ve been on the piano a lot during the quarantine.”

But in more serious studies with a private piano instructor, he focuses on jazz and classical music. The balance, he says, helps him round out his abilities.

“My teacher told me if I could play jazz and classical, I could play anything,” he says. “Jazz teaches you the chords, classical teaches the techniques and dynamics and everything.”

Cooper has aspirations far beyond viral-video fame, though. His sister is already studying at UVU, and after taking a campus tour as a high school sophomore and looking into various music degree opportunities, he expects to follow her to Orem.

“My whole family went to school in Utah,” Cooper says. “My sister says UVU is a really good school, and I really liked it there after taking a tour.”

His plan is to study commercial music — “My dream one day is to write music for movies,” he says — but he doesn’t want to limit himself at the moment, instead hoping to hone his talents in a variety of musical fields, including jazz, classical, and vocal music.

“I love performing music,” Cooper says. “I love when people just ask if I can play a song, and I can play it for them. But I love writing music almost as much." 

While he may have started out relying on his ear and instincts, Cooper says he’s learned the value of practice, and he can’t wait to study in a more academic setting.

“If you really want to like achieve something, you have to practice well, not just practice,” he says. “I always wanted to go off and do my own stuff, but when you actually practice the hard stuff, then the stuff that you want to play gets better.”

See more videos from Max Cooper on his TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube pages.