March 13, 2013 at 9:25 AM ET
Michael Pollack grew up playing piano on Long Island, NY, and as he noted to TODAY anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales and Al Roker on Wednesday, that meant he was naturally drawn to the area's best-known keyboard hero.
"Every Long Island piano player aspires to be Billy Joel," he said. "You don't have a choice. And I've been playing his music since I'm 10, 11, 12."
So the Vanderbilt University freshman took advantage of his talents and a stroke of good luck when he attended a Q&A in January with Joel -- and ended up onstage playing his favorite song, "New York State of Mind," while the Piano Man sang along.
"You can hear my voice shaking," said Pollack, recounting the episode. "But once he said 'OK,' I got up there. I was so excited, I wasn't even nervous."