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Marianne Hislop

What inspired you to play piano? When I was a child I expressed an interest in the organ.  Yes I know, completely different instrument.  From memory I preferred the organ because I loved the song Greensleeves, which happened to be the theme to the TV show Lassie (as well as the tune of the Mr Whippy Ice-cream van that would drive around our neighbourhood in the summer).  Unfortunately I lacked the discipline required to practice, so I never made it past lesson 4 or 5.  30+ years later I enrolled my 7 year old daughter in piano lessons, bought a Casio Privia Digital piano with weighted keys, and my interest was rekindled, with a slight diversion.

At what age did you start playing? At the age of around 40 I tried teaching myself by following the Alfred’s Basic Adult All-in-One Course. Unfortunately I had really bad technique and with all the chords involved in this book I experienced very sore hands/wrists to the extent were I would wake up at night with the muscles spasming. We moved to a new suburb a few months after and had to cancel my daughters lessons. Our Casio digital piano became a forgotten dust collector and play station for my friends children when they visited. Five years later my daughter expressed her interest in taking up lessons again, so we found a local teacher, and a couple months after that, at the age of 44, I took the plunge and enrolled in lessons myself. I have been taking lessons now for approximately 11 months.

What memories/stories do you have of piano lessons? No real interesting stories yet. On the 25th of November, two weeks away, I hopefully will be performing in my first recital, a Christmas concert put on by our piano teacher with all her students performing. The piece I will be performing is Ol’ Rockin’ Chair Blues by Martha Mier, as well as a little duet with my daughter. Now initially, when I spoke to my teacher in the beginning I had thought I made it quite clear that I WAS NOT interested in performing. Just wanted to learn and play for my own enjoyment. Don’t quite know what happened there. The lessons include a workshop each term for all students to perform in front of each other. These may have helped, we will see. Now the reason I say “I hopefully will be performing” is because silly me thought I’d try to do some stretchy chords that I was not used too (I have quite small hands, can reach an octave at maximum stretch), and without instruction from my teacher. After all it can be frustrating looking at the pile of sheet music I have collected of my favourite songs and not be able to play them. Unfortunately the chords resulted in injury to my right wrist/thumb (though I have not quite ruled out it may have been the vacuuming I did after practicing these chords). So long story short, the physiotherapist has recommend I refrain from piano (and vacuuming) for two weeks. Bit of a squeeze, though it is good to have an excuse up my sleeve in case I chicken out.

Do you have a favorite piece/style of music to play? My initial interest was to be able to play my favourite pop songs, mainly from the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s. I have since explored some classical music, a genre that I was never really brought up with. I do like contemporary, and my teacher is steering me towards Jazz and Blues, which I am finding fun. Ultimately I would love to be able to play anything/genre that happens to tickle my fancy at any given time.

As an adult, why do you still enjoy playing piano? I am absolutely loving my piano journey, even the frustrating moments. When I started I initially thought it can’t be that hard. I’m a typist, must be similar, learn the notes and press the keys with the right finger at the right time. Hahaha, yeah right. Anyone else thought that? Granted, the journey is slightly slower starting as an adult, but it is still possible. Learning piano is teaching me so much more that music.   Patience, commitment, dedication, focus, attention to detail, even my memory has improved, I think.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not playing piano? Piano is quite a large part of my leisure time at the moment. Kids are not so demanding, enabling me to have my own hobby, after all, life begins at 40 they say. We do enjoy our family camping trips during holidays and long weekends, and we have quite a collection of pets including dogs, chickens, parrots, quails and sheep.They all keep me busy. I do love gardening too, though I am happy to say I am having more success learning piano than successfully growing anything, though I won’t give up yet.

What do you/or have you done for a living? Most of my working career has included Office Administrator, Bookkeeping and Clerical.

Where do you live? (city, state, country) Perth, Western Australia

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