Music a delight for self-taught pianist James, 93

James Lowe, 93, teaches himself piano and entertains Bolton Clarke Winders residents


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TALENTED: Self-taught pianist James Lowe, 93, took up the instrument in his nineties and loves to play for residents and staff in his New South Wales aged care home.

TALENTED: Self-taught pianist James Lowe, 93, took up the instrument in his nineties and loves to play for residents and staff in his New South Wales aged care home.

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He's missing a thumb, but that hasn't stopped this 93-year-old teaching himself piano.

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NINETY-THREE year old James Lowe can't read a note of music and is missing a thumb on his right hand.

But that hasn't stopped the New South Wales aged care resident teaching himself to play piano in his ninth decade.

And he's proved to be such a good teacher - and pupil - that he's now bringing music to everyone in his community at Bolton Clarke Winders aged care home at Banora Point in the Northern Rivers region.

James grew up in the NSW Murray River town of Moulamein, where he worked on his uncle's sawmill, which is where he lost his thumb in a workplace accident.

"We had good fun growing up in the bush, 25 miles out of town with no electricity or running water. We were all rough and tough - I'm still a bit like that today," he said

He had two months of piano tuition as a teenager, but then stopped after he lost his access to the piano.

Almost 80 years later, moving to Winders gave him a second chance to tickle the ivories and he grabbed the opportunity with relish.

Now 93, he plays by ear and said he still cannot read music.

"Since I came here I started mucking around a bit but it all came back to me," he said.

"It's lovely, I love doing it. My sisters were very good singers, my brother had an accordion and we used to have sing songs as a family.

"I noticed when I sat down to play some of the residents would congregate on the couches and listen to me. There was one lady down the hall who wouldn't leave her room but she now comes out to hear me."

These days, James loves to learn new pieces and entertain. Diversional therapist Sue Todd said playing the piano has allowed him to build his confidence and self-esteem after the loss of his wife.

"My wife was originally at Bolton Clarke Darlington, but I became ill and was no longer able to be her full-time carer. They were able to move us into Winders in side by side rooms," he said.

Sue said James has made excellent progress since coming to Winders and it has been a delight to see him take up a hobby he loves.

"We all love hearing him play, it adds atmosphere to the dining room. James will always entertain us and make us smile, you can tell he really loves doing this," she said.

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