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Virtuoso veterans discover that the piano is their forte

Armando Iannucci writes in Times2 today about how he took up the piano after his wife bought him one for his 40th birthday.

For Armando Iannucci it involved rather too many songs about billy goats. For Rosie Millard it ended up with some competitive piano-playing with her daughter. And for Ed Balls it meant his hands once shook so much he feared he would drop his score.

They are all part of a growing phenomenon of adults who have taken up musical instruments late in life, a trend that is bringing new challenges to a generation that might have thought the days of practising scales had been left long behind.

Iannucci, the satirist behind The Thick of It and other shows, writes about how he took up the piano after his wife bought him one for his 40th birthday.

“Learning the piano suddenly made music physical,” he writes. “What I saw was revelatory and disarming.”

But, he added, because it is normally children doing Grade 1 “I did start off spending hours practising tunes from kids’ music books such as Farmer Joe’s Billy Goat Got Stuck In A Bush.”

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), the examining board, says that there were more people in their thirties and early forties learning an instrument than in their early twenties.

Rosie Millard, the broadcaster and writer, took up the piano in adulthood for the first time since her teens.

She said: “When you hear a piece by Bach or Mozart they are very beautiful, but when you play them you understand their architecture. You understand them in a completely different way.’

Ed Balls, the former Labour MP, started having piano lessons in 2011, when he was shadow chancellor, and has reached Grade 4. In 2013 he performed in a concert in London in which different people played the 13 pieces of Schumann’s Kinderszenen. “My hands were really shaking, but I managed to get through it without making a mistake,” he said. “But it was so difficult. The TV and politics were nothing compared to this.”

If you are encouraged by this article to take up the piano, or to revive your piano lessons after a long break…approach this with confidence and contact me for the help you need.

With thanks for The Times for letting me reuse this article.

 

I have 10 years’ experience of teaching piano to adults and children, in 1:1 and group sessions. I believe that you can start to learn the piano at any age, and that the most important factor is motivation.

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