Legendary teacher has wish fulfilled at age 96
The piano teacher, born and raised in Trafalgar and a long-time resident of Moe, will perform alongside past students and the Gippsland Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, November 18.
Orchestra conductor David Williams said Judy had made “such a footprint across all of Gippsland” in her 72 years of teaching.
“She’s a bit of a legend and inspiring in a lot of ways. Music keeps her young,” he added.
When speaking to the Gazette about the honour, Judy joked “I’m a bit old to start all of a sudden to have publicity coming my way”.
Judy said an “off the cuff” comment in a radio interview had snowballed into City of Melbourne offering Swanston Hall for the concert.
“I foolishly said my ambition was playing in the Melbourne Town Hall,” she said.
Judy has fond childhood memories of listening to classical concerts on ABC from Melbourne Town Hall alongside her father who was a musician.
“It was always in the Melbourne Town Hall because that was the only hall or theatre that musicians had in that day.”
Mr Williams said Judy was stunned and taken aback upon being given a chance to fulfil her dream.
“It’s really lovely that complete strangers in Melbourne would even be interested and they are really keen for it to happen,” he said. “So, she’s got a chance to fulfil her dream at 96.”
“My first impression was a forcefully determined, extremely talented and gifted musician with the uncanny ability to inspire, motivate and teach others a love and passion for lifelong learning of music.”
Judy’s long list of successful pupils speaks volumes for her abilities as a teacher. However, she firmly puts all credit upon the students themselves.
“What they have done is amazing,” said Judy. “I’m sick and tired of taking credit for them. They have worked like slaves to get where they are. You have to be very ambitious, very clever and willing to work like workhorses, which they have done.”
Although far beyond retirement age, Judy says “I haven’t stopped teaching by any means”.
She has fewer pupils but now focuses on helping teach the next generation of music teachers. This has finally given Judy time to focus on her own playing.
Despite Judy stating “the best teachers are not good players…you can’t often be both”, Mr Williams said her musical acumen is as attuned now as it ever was.
Judy has been performing at charitable community events and retirement homes with “Judy for Friends” over many years. She also spent numerous years accompanying students in competitions.
However, Judy said performing as a concerto – a solo pianist accompanied by an orchestra – was a whole new experience and one that makes her “terribly nervous”.
It was also an experience she had to wait to achieve.
“It’s quite thrilling for a piano soloist with an orchestra behind them. It’s beautiful music. It was always my ambition…and I never did until 73. It was an exciting day.”
With a few more concertos under her belt and the date for the Melbourne Town Hall concert set, Judy has been practicing hard to perfect a bar or two each day.
Whilst her memory is not what it used to be and arthritis affects her fingers, she is giving her all to provide a wonderful performance.
Amongst her past pupils to feature in the Melbourne Town Hall concert are Tim Young and Alex Waite.
Tim spent almost a decade performing in Europe and is now head of chamber music at Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM).
Alex Waite joined Tim at ANAM and has performed in Europe, Asia and across Australia.
Judy has taught students of all ages and stages across her 72 years.
She has been a member of the Victorian Music Teachers Association for 50 years as well as being a life member of the Latrobe Orchestra and the Latrobe Valley Eisteddfod.
She was awarded the VMTA Distinguished Teacher’s Award in 2011 and an OAM for service to music in 1996.
Other past students include Warragul’s Pamela Burnard who has worked as an adjudicator and is now a professor at Cambridge University, Trafalgar’s Paul Rickard-Ford who is now a senior piano lecturer at Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Opera Australia’s Paul Fitzsimon and Vanessa Scammell.
The Melbourne Town Hall concert will be on Sunday, November 18 at 2pm. Entry is free.
For further information, visit gippslandsymphonyorchestra.com.
After 72 years of teaching piano, Judy Hall will fulfil her dream of performing a concerto at the Melbourne Town Hall on November 18.Judy has been practicing at her piano ahead of the two-hour concert which will also feature the Gippsland Symphony Orchestra and past students. Tickets are free to attend.