The Pianist

The Pianist

by John Anderson

HERE IS A SERIES OF BRIEF stories about people who follow a passion – starting with my mum! Jacqueline Frances Anderson is a pianist. She loves the piano. As a child there was always the sound of the piano being played. Away from home she was accompanying singers, choirs, sometimes playing in her local church and occasionally getting to play in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Festival Hall in London.

Now in her 80’s she still plays most days and still performs – currently going into old people’s homes to play for residents. My three boys and I went to watch her play recently. The highlights for my boys was possibly the constant stream of sweets being offered to them by a lady on the front row but for me it was to see the look of joy and reverie on some of the faces of those watching. And knowing that someone who hadn’t been out of their room for weeks had felt inspired to come down and see the pianist. I think my mum thought it hadn’t gone that well – questioning if people had enjoyed it but I saw something very different. Here are my mum’s memories on playing the piano…

What’s your story of getting into playing the piano?

My mother played the piano and both my mother and father sang. We were a very musical family, so I learnt to play from a young age – it seemed a natural step. My mother encouraged me as did my grandmother. And I had a very good teacher. Then I got into the Royal Academy in Baker Street when I was 12. I had good teaching and I was considered gifted.

What did you love about it?

I loved the sound of the piano. I felt free when I was playing. It was always such a joy. It’s not something you work out academically – it becomes part of expressing who you are. I can’t play something and it not have some meaning.wlf-Mum-129-Edit

What’s hardest about it?

There is a certain agony about performing. I remember playing at the Academy, standing in the wings when you are the next player and then the walk across the stage up to the grand piano….

Also I once had a teacher at the Academy who stood behind me whilst teaching me and never offered any encouragement. I didn’t like that. Then I was thankfully given a different teacher – Felix Swinstead. He was an artist in playing the piano. He was such a warm man, very open, sensitive, nothing was pressurised and he was so encouraging.

A particular moment of joy?

On so many occasions…

What are you most proud of?

I just know that I play well – I don’t know if that’s pride…

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