DETERMINED JOAN STAYS ON SONG
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.