Latter-day Saint Life

The viral BYU pianist sharing concertos (and faith) with the world through Instagram

An injury to her right hand could have left Savannah bitter and set back a year on her studies. Instead, she let it motivate her to learn left-handed piano pieces and to share her positivity with a worldwide audience.

Savannah Jones walking in the snow.
Courtesy of Savannah Jones

Savannah Jones is a classical pianist whose message about positivity and the divinity of music sent waves across social media. As a piano performance master’s student at BYU, Savannah often spends long hours alone in a small rehearsal room practicing, practicing, practicing. So she started an Instagram account to connect with other classical pianists her age and to share the fun side of playing classical music, as well as introduce what she considers to be heavenly music (or classical music) to a whole new audience.

“Instead of only performing once or twice a semester, I was able to perform every single day and to share this music that I loved with what turned out to be millions of people. I just thought it was going to be 300,” Savannah says. She has made countless friends all over the world through her Instagram, some of whom she’s been able to meet during performances and events.

Comments from her family and followers showcase the positive impact Savannah has made. “Wow, Savannah, thank you for making classical music popular and promoting a great sense of community,” Joshua Rossetto commented. Leah Jones, Savannah's sister, said, “The thing I admire most about my sister is how independent and driven she is. She has so much passion for her piano playing, it's honestly so incredible.”

Savannah took the video content she already loved to see online (a day-in-the-life, blog, reaction, how-to) and made it relevant to life as a pianist. She wanted to show that classical musicians don’t have to be serious and strict.

“A lot of people view classical musicians as overly serious or boring, but I’d argue that a good majority of us are vibrant people who are full of life. At the end of the day our homework is to create music and our career is to share that music. That’s literally the best career you could ask for,” she says.

Her love for music shines through her videos and creates a safe online space for professional pianists and curious music lovers alike.

A Love for the Classical

Classical music is Savannah’s focus and passion. She loves everything from Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony to Schubert’s Sonata D 960, but not for the reasons you might expect.

For Savannah, classic music helps her connect with Heavenly Father.

Her parents say that “Savannah has always been compelled by beautiful classical music. She finds strength and spirituality in her piano pieces. Piano connects her to her Savior’s love.”

Savannah Jones being recorded at the piano.
Savannah plays piano while the audio is being recorded.
Courtesy of Savannah Jones

“Every time I go to a classical music pianist concert, the number one thing is I can feel the Spirit. Because to me, this music is so inspired. …[it] is beyond perfect. There’s no way that it would have been able to get to that point without the inspiration of Heavenly Father,” Savannah says.

She tries to share the Spirit with others through her performances and the music she chooses to play, often searching for the hidden gems of classical music.

One of her favorite pieces ever, Brahms’s piano concerto number two, reminds her of divinity.

“That one is so grandiose. About twelve minutes in, the piano is creating this sparkling effect in the upper register, and then the French horn comes in with a melody that sounds like sunshine and warmth. That is how I picture heaven.”

Injury and Recovery

In October of 2022, Savannah was fiercely practicing for a competition when she noticed something wrong with her right-hand pinky. She decided to keep practicing on the sore finger for the next week so she could perform at the competition. Afterward, she found out that she had overused her hand, resulting in a torn ligament and broken piece of bone.

Savannah Jones practicing the piano.
Savannah Jones practicing the piano.
Courtesy of Savannah Jones

Frustrated that she would be unable to practice piano, demonstrate pieces for her piano students, or even enjoy her hobby of rock climbing, Savannah struggled with the reality of her injury. So she turned to family, friends, and God to help get her through the difficult recovery period.

Looking back on that time, Savannah says “I feel like I needed to get injured because it humbled me a lot. And it taught me to that you can still be a musician, you can still study your craft, even if you are not able to actively perform. You still have all these resources: you can still teach, you can still study, you can still listen. That's when I was able to find and rediscover a bunch of composers that I love that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.”

Reporting regularly through Instagram on her physical therapy sessions, Savannah encouraged her followers with her positive spirit. She found a left-hand-only classical piece, Etude for the Left Hand by Blumenfeld, she could perform and focused on strengthening her left hand while playing. Despite missing the joy of playing with both hands, Savannah didn’t let her injury stop her from moving forward.

That attitude cheered others in similar positions. Instagram follower @artsygal912 shared in a post “Hello! Thank you for posting about your injury - I'm a 17-year-old viola and oboe student, who since last November has been having pretty bad back problems. It has been horrible. People expecting things out of me that I couldn't comfortably do, having to learn to say no to things I was dying to do… Seeing you post about it made me feel a little less alone … So thank you for posting.”

Playing Her Testimony on the Piano

Savannah stays positive because, as she says, “There’s nothing too serious in this world of classical music and being a performing musician, nothing that warrants being majorly stressed out. What I get to do is a blessing. Why would I turn this blessing into stress? That’s the opposite of what Heavenly Father wants. So I try and just ground myself a lot. Now, are there a lot of stressful practice sessions? Yes. But I try and keep everything in perspective. It’s music, it’s supposed to be enjoyed.”

She credits Romans 8:35–39 for giving her hope in adversity. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Relying on God, Savannah was able to joyfully endure four months of recovery and even a second injury to her hand. Now recovered, she continues to share her music through Instagram, performances, and her calling as a ward pianist. She hopes to help even more people come to see the beauty and divinity of classical music.

“[Playing piano is] my favorite way to share my testimony,” Savannah says. “For me, the most genuine way that I can share my testimony is with music, not necessarily with words.”

Savannah wearing a BYU hoodie.
Courtesy of Savannah Jones

► You may also like: Emma Nissen: Setting the gospel to music

Stay in the loop!
Enter your email to receive updates on our LDS Living content