Getting back to the piano again in later life...

The pleasures and challenges of returning to or taking up the piano are addressed in a new book FingerTips for Pianists (Troubador Publishing, £9.99; available from Waterstones, Amazon, WH Smith, independent bookshops etc)

Monday, 25th January 2021, 11:00 am
Elizabeth Hembrey

Author Elizabeth Hembrey, who lives in Storrington, said: “As a pianist, I’m very aware of the advantages and enormous enjoyment of playing.

“It’s something you can do throughout life at any age. It exercises physically and keeps you fit mentally. It releases stress and emotion. It brings endless pleasure and can be enjoyed alone or sharing with others. If this book encourages anyone else to learn, progress or return to the instrument, then it has been worth every minute and effort it has taken to write it.

“Two things inspired me. One was to share my long experience of learning, playing and progressing, using the tips, advice and knowledge that has been gained in the process. I come from a musical family – my grandfather was a professor of music and composer and founder of the family-run music company.

“The second and real inspiration came from the many people who told me they had learned to play the piano as a child and wish they had never given it up. Piano playing can be learned or rediscovered at any age and whilst the book has much of interest for seasoned players, it is written with a special feel to give encouragement, help and confidence to those who would like to return.

“When I started writing FingerTips, the pandemic wasn’t around. To see where we are now and the dilemma of music teachers and musicians makes me doubly anxious to give any encouragement possible to build and energise players for the future. Music is so important for our wellbeing and enjoyment.”

Elizabeth added: “One of the positive things to come out of Covid-19 isolation and lockdown is the enforced resourcefulness in looking for satisfying and entertaining ways to spend our time during lockdown. For many it has resulted in rediscovering skills or hobbies that have provided renewed pleasure. For others it may have offered the opportunity to learn a new one.”

As Elizabeth says, the piano is certainly an example. She said she was touched by the number of people who told her they used to play or they learned piano or keyboard as a child and wished they had never given it up: “Very often the interruption of career, demands of family life or diversity of interests causes a break, but it is good to remember that the journey you started didn’t end when you stopped playing. It is still waiting for you to take up again whatever your age. The book gives useful information for anyone who plays piano, but it is also the ideal companion for anyone who would like to return after a break. Coming back to the piano as an adult is incredibly rewarding. It may take a while to get back into shape, but practice that was once a chore is now a worthwhile challenge that brings satisfying results, hours of enjoyment and progress to play anything from TV jingles to Beethoven.”

As for seasoned players, lockdown has often brought its own challenges, such as finding enough quiet space and time to practise in a busy household: “FingerTips for Pianists suggests strategies and tips that help to develop skills and techniques by focusing attention concisely for maximum practice achievement.”