How long have you been playing the piano?
I have been playing for 36 years – since the age of 5! But for 20 of these years my playing was very occasional. I have only taking it up again seriously in the past 6 months.
What kind of repertoire do you enjoy playing, and listening to?
I still tend to return to the pieces I played well as a child/teenager: Beethoven, Scarlatti and a bit of Debussy. I have just started attempting some of the Bach Preludes and Fugues but have never formally learnt any Bach before so finding it a challenge! I love to listen to Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Debussy.
How do you make the time to practise? Do you enjoy practising?
Practising during the week can be a struggle as I work full time and am often not home in time to be able to practise without being an anti-social neighbour! But I try to practice at least 2 evenings a week and then for a hour or more each weekend. I do love to practise as I find it incredibly therapeutic – because you have to concentrate so much there is no ‘mind space’ available to think about the day-to-day hassles and worries that too often will encroach when doing other, less taxing, activities. And, of course, when I practise in the privacy of my own home I always play superbly!
Have you participated in any masterclasses/piano courses/festivals? What have you gained from this experience?
As a child and teenager I would regularly perform in festivals but nothing since. I would love to at some point – perhaps when I am a little less rusty.
If you are taking piano lessons what do you find a) most enjoyable and b) most challenging about your lessons?
I started lessons again a few months ago although didn’t get very far with the teacher. However I have just recently started learning with Graham Fitch who is inspirational and brilliant! In just my first hour with him I learnt more than I have in many, many years.
Has taking piano lessons as an adult enhanced any other areas of your life?
Immeasurably. Life in the corporate world (which is my current day-job) can be stressful and soul-less. Recently things have become very difficult in my particular job and, partly because of this, I have found myself returning to those things that mean the most to me, and one of these has been returning to more serious piano practice. Being able to ‘zone-out’ and concentrate on specific musical challenges is a wonderful way of switching-off from the stresses. It reminds me of what is truly important and who I really am!
Do you play with other musicians? If so, what are the particular pleasures and challenges of ensemble work?
I have not done so since being at school where I would often accompany friends in their exams and also accompanied the school choir and orchestra. All a very long time ago!
Again, when I am less rusty I would love to do so again.
Do you perform? What do you enjoy/dislike about performing?
Not since the 1980s!
What advice would you give to other adults who are considering taking up the piano or resuming lessons?
Do it. It can be life-saving.
If you could play one piece, what would it be?
Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Maybe not a very original choice!
Rebecca grew up in Southampton where she started playing piano at age 4: her father has always been a very keen amateur pianist and she learnt to read music at the same time as learning to read. She took all my grades and passed grade 8 at the age of 14. Soon after that, real life took over. She had her daughter very young (she is now 25), and then went to Southampton University where she studied English Literature. Rebecca then moved to Teddington and took her PGCE at Roehampton University. She taught English for 2 years in a secondary school before re-training in Finance. She spent 15 years in various finance roles – including 10 at a large Education and Publishing Company where she was a Divisional CFO. Rebecca recently left this job to sett up a piano teaching practice. She has a particular interest in teaching early-years children as well as adult beginners and returners. Rebecca lives in Teddington with her daughter, Carmen, and studies piano with Graham Fitch.