Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - CHAD VAN ESTROP

WHERE there’s a will there’s a way. And 88-year-old Joan Heck­man, who has been blind since the age of two, has spent a life­time de­fy­ing the odds.

The res­i­dent of Mar­shall’s Mercy Place Rice Vil­lage, learnt to tickle the ivories by ear, teach­ers guid­ing her fin­gers on to the black flat and sharp keys ini­tially. Later she learnt to read mu­sic by braille.

Ms Heck­man said dur­ing her early years it was a steep task to de­ci­pher the keys.

“I had to prac­tise and I had to find where the keys were. I re­ally en­joy mu­sic and I had good teach­ers,” she said.

Fam­ily say she was the first fe­male en­rolled at the then Royal Vic­to­rian In­sti­tute for the Blind and went on to com­plete a Bach­e­lor of Mu­sic at the Mel­bourne Con­ser­va­to­rium of Mu­sic, ma­jor­ing in pi­ano and or­gan.

About two years ago Ms Heck­man moved into Mercy Place Rice Vil­lage, where she lives with two of her older sis­ters. Be­fore COVID-19 re­stric­tions, she played reg­u­larly at the home to lift the spir­its of staff and res­i­dents.

“Res­i­dents just love it and all come to watch her play. It brings a lot of joy to a lot of peo­ple,” sis­ter Sis­ter Brenda New­man said.

Joan Heck­man en­ter­tains res­i­dents at Mercy Place Rice Vil­lage de­spite be­ing blind since she was two.

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