Watch the quick video above to hear Harrys inspirational story about learning piano aged 90.
Transcript of Harry's Piano Story
[00:00:28.170] - Declan
Hi Harry - thanks for joining us. I thought it would be really useful if you could share a bit of your piano story. When was the first time that you wanted to play piano, and why?
[00:00:39.910] - Harry
Well I first started - I'm going back to the war years now, Declan - it was 1941. I was ten years old and I got rheumatic fever and I was in hospital twice, for three months each time. My mother thought I was going to be disabled so, when I came out of hospital, she'd bought a piano for me! A Gors and Kallmann German piano. Oh, it was beautiful & black. She decided she'd get lessons for me. This is the first time that I'd started to play the piano. She arranged for a music teacher to come for an hour a week, but I had to get rid of him after a bit because after a few weeks he started to bring - you know those ouija boards that spirituals have?
[00:01:45.830] - Declan
[00:01:49.470] - Harry
I'm not joking, no! He used to bring one of them, and his mother that had been dead for years ...
[00:02:02.930] - Declan
What, to a piano lesson??!
[00:02:02.710] - Harry
I was 10 years old! I got a bit.... he tried to teach me spiritualism as well as the piano, so I had to get rid of him. I had to say to my mother that I didn't want him coming any more. So, I didn't get another teacher. I stopped lessons and I went back into my football. That was how I started!
[00:02:24.350] - Declan
I've heard quite a few stories about strange piano teachers but I think that one is the strangest I've ever heard! He brought a ouija board to the piano lessons...
[00:02:32.970] - Harry
He was quite an old gentleman. Well, to me he was, in those days.
[00:02:40.140] - Declan
So how old were you when you stopped playing piano?
[00:02:46.070] - Harry
Oh, within months, really, of first starting.
[00:02:49.860] - Declan
So about 10? You were still 10?
[00:02:52.150] - Harry
Yeah. The only thing I did after that was just messing about with the piano my mother had bought. I retired and moved here to Cornwall and, two years ago, I bought myself a mini piano and I was messing about and looking on the internet and I found you. That was it, from there.
[00:03:19.630] - Declan
And what was it about the DecPlay advert that made you think that would be worth having a go?
[00:03:28.030] - Harry
Well, it was no scales, no notation, and just by numbers. You can do it from numbers. That's what attracted me. It seemed a simple way of learning without going through a host of scales.
[00:03:48.060] - Declan
How long did it take you to actually play something meaningful?
[00:03:52.100] - Harry
Within 30 minutes I was playing a full tune. Making mistakes, but I was going through the tune within 30 minutes. It was that quick.
[00:04:03.270] - Declan
Wow, that's amazing.
[00:04:04.510] - Harry
And now I can play without looking at my right hand. It seems to find the notes on its own now, which is, I think, quite good.
[00:04:16.170] - Declan
Have you got a few tunes that you can play now?
[00:04:19.510] - Harry
Oh yeah, I've got quite a few. I'm doing the Christmas ones at the moment. "The Christmas Song" and "Have a Merry Christmas" and "Silent Night". I've got them all there. I can play all those. "As Time Goes By"....
[00:04:38.487] - Declan
Oh, that's a great one.
[00:04:38.625] - Harry
[00:04:38.640] - Declan
How does it feel, to be able to play those songs within a few months of being on the course?
[00:04:44.180] - Harry
It feels good. It's really good. I'm able to play.
[00:04:48.180] - Declan
What advice would you have for other people who might perhaps think that they're too old to start learning piano? Or have tried before and failed? What advice would you give them?
[00:04:58.670] - Harry
Well, the advice I'd give to somebody is if you're looking for a hobby and you're interested in music, to take up your course. I'd say that DecPlay is the way to go. Because you can meet people who are in the same position as yourself and you can talk with them and it makes it easier. And I'd also say you're never too old, never too old to do the course.
[00:05:43.569] - Declan
And you had your birthday in August - that was your 90th birthday?
[00:05:43.650] - Harry
Yeah, my 90th. I'm getting on a bit now!
[00:05:43.650] - Declan
So any person in their 60s or 70s or 80s who thinks they're too old....
[00:05:54.850] - Harry
Oh, they're the young ones, them!
[00:06:02.520] - Declan
You've proven that you're never too old.
[00:06:02.700] - Harry
Like I said, it's easy to follow and you haven't got the notation, the scales... It's a good hobby to have and it's fun to do.
[00:06:19.780] - Declan
Great! And in what ways do you think it helps? Because quite a few people say that it helps them. It keeps their mind active and it also keeps the fingers active. Or that it's sociable or it's fun. Which aspects of it are you finding the most enjoyable?
[00:06:41.190] - Harry
Well, if you're retired and you're sat about, that's not doing you any good at all. There's two chairs that'll kill you - the electric chair and the armchair! So I'd say get out of your chair and sit down at a piano, or an instrument, and start playing. It's really nice, really good. It takes your mind away into another sort of world, into the music world. So that's what I'd say- get off your chair and get doing this hobby.
[00:07:20.370] - Declan
And how about if people say that they've tried piano before and can't do it? What would you say to them?
[00:07:29.290] - Harry
I would say to people who've tried it before that it's totally different to what you were learning before because you're not doing the boring bits. You can get into your own type of music and you can start playing your own type of music within days and weeks. There are no scales and there's no time limit on what you're doing. You'll enjoy it.
[00:08:04.470] - Declan
If you had two or three words to actually describe DecPlay, what would they be?
[00:08:11.790] - Harry
Satisfaction, fun and genuine.
[00:08:18.450] - Declan
That's brilliant, great! And I hope to see you on the zoom call tomorrow.
[00:08:18.900] - Harry
Yeah, I'll be there tomorrow night.
[00:08:19.100] - Declan
Brilliant, nice one. Cheers Harry! All the best, now.
[00:08:27.010] - Harry
Cheers Declan! Thanks very much. Bye now.