So...a long time ago (some 30 years ago), a young Jill Hawthorne aged just 7 years old (and I've now just given away my age!!), was given a beautiful second-hand piano (courtesy of my wonderfully musically talented great Auntie Joy).  Even in those early days, with renditions of chopsticks (and other equally annoying and repetitive tunes!), it was clear that this beautiful instrument had ignited the most incredible spark, passion, creativity and energy in me.

Through my childhood and teenage years, I was involved in every musical activity going - solo performances, piano accompaniment, orchestras, choirs, jazz ensembles, chamber groups, concert bands.  My poor Mum and Dad - having to ferry me all round Northern Ireland - never mind having to listen to me banging away on the piano for hours on end...right through to ridiculous o'clock when the rest of the world was trying to sleep.  They were very tolerant (as well as super supportive).

Piano lessons brought structure to my learning and classical training, and enabled me to build strength, dexterity and technique as I worked up through all the grades, onto my performance diploma in piano with Trinity College London, a further diploma in Musical Theory, Literature and Criticism (also with Trinity College, London), 1st in Northern Ireland in A Level music and then, once I left grammar school at the ripe old age of 18, degree level studies at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow and Queen's University, Belfast.

Fast forward a few years now (!) and I have played at concerts, weddings, open days, events, competitions, festivals across Northern Ireland and beyond, including some beautiful venues such as the Ulster Hall, Belfast, Waterfront Hall, Belfast, National Concert Hall, Dublin, Whitla Hall, Queen's University Belfast and some beautiful instruments - the Steinway pianos win every time, but playing in concert with Derek Bell from the Chieftains on a double grand piano (look them up, they are fab) was pretty memorable.

Over this time I've also built up nearly 20 years' of piano teaching experience with 100% pass rate (yay!).  I must at this point apologise to my poor pupils - I know how much you all must have hated scales, arpeggios etc, but look what wonderfully strong piano fingers you all developed as a result!

So this is my story up to now.

So what does all this tell you folk reading this?  Yes, I suppose it tells you that I'm really well qualified and pretty experienced in this whole piano playing arena.

But, I guess what I really want you to see is the passion I have for music, for piano, for playing.  I'm a great believer in doing something that inspires you, that you love, that really gets you going - move away from the 9 - 5 regime, from stress, from the mundane and follow your heart.  Do something different.

So that's why I do what I do.

And that's why I play what I play!

(gasps of delight from people at a recent wedding performance saying 'she's playing metallica' and 'she's playing Linkin' Park' - made me laugh!)

Anything goes.

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