Greg started learning piano 1960 with an elderly Miss Brougham on Oxford Terrace at age 8. Her house was where the Brougham Village is now situated. He clearly remembers her beautiful cottage garden with its wrought iron gate, the dark room with the piano in it and the “olde world” smells of the interior. Miss Brougham was a gentle old soul who knew how to motivate Greg to want to be able to play. About 12 months after his first lesson Greg was able to play Beethoven’s A minor Bagatelle (“Fur Elise”) at the annual students’ concert in her house. Greg’s lifelong love affair with classical piano had begun.
Greg came from a family of pianists on his father’s side – his dad had a natural sense of timing and was a good “ear” player. Greg’s grandmother wasan accomplished pianist and played the organ in the Moonta Uniting Church for over 70 years. It was Greg’s mum, however, who was the driving force in making sure he kept to his daily practice routines over the years despite the distractions of sports such as tennis and football, his mates and then, inevitably, girls!
Greg progressed through to grade 4 before moving to the “Shefte” system of playing with Mrs Dulcie Wedd. This opened a whole new world of chords and improvisations, enabling him to play blues, rock and jazz piano. He got into his first band in Port Lincoln in 1970 and then progressed through several bands in Adelaide over the next 12 years. For part of that time his music became a full time occupation as he toured Australia with one of the bands. He was askedto accompany many very well known pop singers in those years and his classical piano upbringing had prepared him well for that.
Greg returned to Port Lincoln in 1983 and concentrated mainly on his accounting career for a few years before going back to revise his classical piano with Judy Pearce in 1987. He re-sat grade four with honours but again work took precedence so he had to be satisfied with playing occasionally with local bands, playing rock, jazz, blues – whatever was happening. These days he often just sits in with bands when they need the services of a keyboardist who can read.
As Greg approached retirement he decided to have another go at classical piano and under the tutelage of Adelaide teacher Malcolm Day, he gained honours in Sixth Grade AMEB piano in 2014. He is now studying Seventh Grade with Malcolm. He hopes to complete Eighth Grade next year. Now actually in retirement, Greg wants to give back to music by teaching. His chief goal is to instil an understanding and a love of music into his students. For him, the journey has been long, at times very demanding, but ultimately very satisfying. It is a journey that never ends. It has brought Greg enduring friendships, an appreciation of true artistic quality and a sense of confidence and self worth in all aspects of life.
Greg suggests that nobody should ever doubt the importance of art in a well rounded life. If it is a musical instrument that one chooses to express their own individuality, be prepared for a long but wonderful journey. It does require a disciplined practice regime’ and a passionate love of music. He always had the love but it took his mum to ensure the practice happened in those early days that were so important.