Learning piano at 58! A student's perspective.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022 by Becky Reesor | Interview

As a child, cartoon and commercial music caught her attention in a snap. The familiar music called and she ran to join in, singing.  

“I noticed that it was more what the cartoons did," Johanne describes, "that they had music to amplify what was happening.” And so began Johanne's life-long love of music.

Her favorite musical memories are those of the Ed Sullivan show, and hearing the organ. She describes a concert at her childhood school, “…at one point, it became a train. I heard everything — It blew my mind! How was she doing it? I thought - me, I would like to play like that.” Today, Johanne dreams of performing music she loves for family and friends. Her most loved tune is Color My World, and she adores Elvis's music.

“I always wanted to learn (piano), but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. I listened to music all the time… all the time.I was always drawn to it. It made me feel good.”


Johanne’s love of music never wavered. At 58, after a career as a cook, she began her first piano lessons. It’s not easy starting at that age, but she said, “If I can’t do it, it’s no big deal and at least I’ll have tried.”

“I liked it right away… and I developed a sort of respect for pianists.”

What an eye-opener. Over her lifetime, her hands had learned to master the art of making delicious food. Now she was slowly and patiently teach them to make music. The process was gratifying, exciting and humbling all at the same time. “I realized a lot of things. Like, the easier something looks… the more I say - hey, there are hours behind that!’”

And her work pays off. She opens her books and enjoys playing the music inside. “I’m really having fun. It’s my time. No matter what’s going on, I forget everything else and I’m in the music.” 

Working to develop her skills, she spends at least an hour a day. Why? “Because it’s fun to play,” she says. “Because I hear my music. Because I learn what I want to play.” 

“I do it for myself. Because I feel like it! It’s for me, no matter what anyone else thinks.”

People have wondered why she wants to spend so much time learn piano at her life stage. But her way of looking at it keeps her going. “I have a brain and I’m capable to learn! If I’m shown patiently, I’m sure I’ll be able to. Either way, I’ll find out.”

After 4 years of piano lessons, Johanne is a proficient reader and has recently performed an arrangement of Gymnopédie No. 1 by Eric Satie. She can chord and learn by ear, and is learning to improvise. She’s always learning more how scales and chords are used in each piece she learns, and is gaining control of her piano technique. It’s soon time to tackle one of her main goals: having “Color my world,” by Chicago in her performance repertoire.

I asked what she would say to anyone on the fence about starting to learn piano. She said, “If it’s something you really want, do it. Go for it. For me it’s been positive. It’s so fun. Above all with a good teacher.”