Village News

The gift of music

27 February 2024

Gwen Hingston with her piano


Originally published in the Manawatū Standard by George Heagney.

Gwen Hingston has been playing her piano for 50 years, but now wants to donate it to someone who shares her love of music.

Palmerston North woman Hingston, 86, started learning to play when she was 7 and has owned her Knight piano since the mid-1970s.

But now as she was getting older, she wanted to donate the piano to a child who was learning to play.

Hingston’s interest in classical piano music spanned more than 60 years from when she passed her ATCL piano exam.

The certificate adorns the wall in her room at Metlifecare retirement village where she lives.

While she has had many years of enjoyment from the piano, she said she was happy now to donate the instrument to someone who needed it.

The piano was housed in the lounge area at the retirement village and sometimes other residents came into the lounge to hear her play.

Hingston will thumb through her hymn book, then start playing smoothly as a smile creeps onto her face.

She tried to play a couple of songs every day, but mainly stuck to her favourite piece, Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah.

“I do what I can. There's a limit when you're my age.”

Classical music and hymns have always been her favourite and she played a church organ for a while when she was younger.

She said she liked hymns because they were meaningful and reminded her of her Anglican faith.

Hingston started learning the piano when she was a child in Wairoa, taking lessons from a nun at a convent school and was immediately hooked.

“[I liked] just playing the music. I love the music.”

When the nun shifted to Auckland, Hingston had to catch the train to Gisborne every Saturday for lessons with her new tutor.

There was no-one else in her family who was musical when she was young, but she played at home on a small piano her father got her.

Hingston moved to Palmerston North to train as a nurse and met her husband, then worked as a bookkeeper at a farmers’ co-operative distribution company.

She always kept up her practice over the years.

“You’re always learning.”

Anyone who wanted to be considered for the piano could contact Hingston on with a short video of them playing and tell her why they would like to be given the piano.

Original article and video here.

Latest news.