Musicians learn once a pianist, always a pianist
May 6, 2014
By Chad Ingram
For many, music is a lifelong love affair, with the power to enrapture one again and again. Such is the case for three local women who comprised the adult piano class at the Haliburton Highlands Music Festival on May 2. All three took lessons early in life, returning to the ivories years later. “I took them as a kid,” said Lisa Kerr. “I took them until I went to university.” Kerr got a law degree, settled down, she and her husband moving their family to the Highlands in 1998. As a stay-at-home mom, she began taking lessons with teacher Lauren McInnes, a former faculty member of the Royal Conservatory of Music. Kerr plays in the festival every few years, an experience that can be nerve-wracking for her. “The whole music festival thing is a challenge for me,” she said, adding she’d just as soon play in her living room. “That’s kind of why I do it, really, to push myself.” Barb Allman and Ruth Casey joined Kerr in the adult class last week. All three women take lessons from McInnes and are studying at the Grades 9 and 10 levels. “I took lessons in high school,” Allman said. “I didn’t get back into it until I was well over 50.” Allman’s been taking lessons from McInnes for six years now and was playing a Mozart sonata on Friday. “It’s just beautiful,” she said of classical music. “It’s serene, it’s light, it calms me down.
” Allman typically needs some calming down when she takes the stage at the festival. “I love playing the big piano on the stage,” she says of the grand piano housed at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion, “but I’m afraid my nerves do a number on me.” Allman said it was simply the love of the music that drew her back to the keyboard after decades.
“And just to improve my skills,” she said. “My intent is to be able to rock the retirement home.” Casey has taken lessons on and off throughout her life. “I started at 10, for 10 years,” she said, adding that in a later stint, she moved to the organ. Music has been a thread weaved throughout her life, Casey taking choirs to the music festival in Scarborough during her years as a schoolteacher.
“It’s been a big part of my life,” she said. In retirement, Casey plays piano at the West Guilford Baptist Church. She was playing Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag at the festival. Studying with McInnes for the past few years, Casey has a once-a-week lesson, but practises every day. “I told Lauren, if I mess up, it’s not because I haven’t practised,” she laughed. See photos from this year’s music festival on page 12.