Thinking of applying for The Sydney Piano Lovers’ Competition? We asked Ian Lucas, a retired pilot from Queensland, about his experience in 2020. I
Read below as Ian tells us about how he recorded his entry (on a mobile phone) after 30 years away from the piano, the challenges of getting back to practicing but the immeasurable benefits, both therapeutically and mentally, that having a musical deadline gave to him.
Why did you apply for The Sydney Piano Lovers’ Competition in 2020?
Ian: I entered the SPLC simply as a catalyst to help me return to the piano after 30 + years of airline flying and no playing. It was exactly what I needed, and was looking for (giving me a reason to sit at the piano again), and I also enjoyed the process of choosing and learning suitable repertoire to fit within the time limits etc.
What was it like preparing for the competition?
Ian: I found practicing tougher than I remembered, I suffered from continuous back aches, arse aches, arm, and finger aches and yes even headaches. Practicing is tough, a young man’s sport. I was only able to do minimum practice as I was so pianistically unfit, my lack of piano stamina limited me to learning the works then immediately recording them single take only. This year “I’m in better shape” so will tackle harder repertoire and spend a lot more time working/preparing each of the 3 pieces I have selected before recording them. I had a musical friend record my 2021 entry via his mobile phone with the ability to attach an external mic.
Is piano something you have a passion for?
Ian: Yes, I am shameless “piano junky”.
If I am listening to the radio and the played work does not contain a piano, I rarely listen to it through to its end, unless if I know the next work will feature a piano, then I might suffer it. I follow many piano comps especially The Sydney, love brilliant pianism and am envious of those who can demonstrate this.
Did you play the piano often previous to the competition? Has applying for the competition changed your piano habits at all?
I studied piano as a child and dropped out of music after 1 year at the Conservatorium of Tas in 1975 ( when I began learning to fly) not to return until I heard of SPLC 2020. Yes, I’m now able to practice with regularity so as not repeat/go through the pain described in Q.2. I intend to keep practicing and enter Piano Lovers’ in 2022.
Would you recommend for others to apply for the next edition of the competition? Why/why not?
Yes, as co-winner of 2020 I am frequently asked and talk to others about the competition, and I always recommend it. Piano Lovers’ has helped me in numerous ways, some undiscussed. The therapeutic advantages of playing an instrument and the mental health benefits received from having a musical project with a deadline to think about and prepare for are innumerable.It’s great to participate in an event where you perform to and with your peers, simply do your best, enjoy the journey regardless of outcome.