They say you are never too old to learn something new. But Jane Slade exceeded her wildest expectations as she reports.
“I inherited a much loved but battered viola from an old family friend about a year ago,” explains Jane, 58.
“I had learned the piano as a child and sung in choirs yet I’d never played a stringed instrument. But when I opened that battered case, a sad forlorn viola seemed to call ‘learn to play me’.”
Fortunately she found an inspirational teacher, Aled Jones, who studied at the Royal College of Music and plays viola with the London-based Quartet Volute.
“I feel so lucky finding a teacher like Aled, and really look forward to my lessons. He comes to my house which is fantastic. He has the patience of a saint, encourages rather than bullies and makes the lessons fun.”
Safe to say Jane became quickly addicted and after a few lessons upgraded her viola and bow and after 10 months passed her grade 3 exam with distinction.
“I worked so hard,” she added. “Because I enjoyed it (most of the time) and was desperate to improve.
“I never thought at my age I could progress so fast. But while my fingers still work I want to continue. I have just fallen in love with the viola’s lovely rich sound and range.
She now plans to attend an introduction to chamber music course at Benslow music centre in Hitchin and take her grade 5 in the summer.
“Learning an instrument at any age is a fun and satisfying experience, says Aled, 31, who has been teaching for six years.
“Even though learning an instrument is undoubtedly challenging, the rewards of perfecting a technique or giving a great performance make all the hard work and determination worthwhile.
“I see it all the time. Music is a wonderful social activity too. From chamber groups right though to orchestras, there are opportunities at every skill level to get involved and perform with other people.
“It’s also a fantastic way of keeping the mind active and focused and to channel self expression.
“Jane epitomises the most important qualities any teacher could wish for in a student – determination, focus and a great sense of fun!”