Teaching music at 90 – take a bow, Faith Overson

When you meet someone special, you feel their essence immediately.

Faith Overson, resident at Living Choice Twin Waters, has a lovely gentleness about her that allows one to settle the chaos and be present. She is charismatic, charming, witty, and forthright. And she’s just turned 90 years old.

Married at 20 to Chris Overson, a Policeman who never booked anyone, she is a mother of two adult daughters and is a gifted musician and artist.

Faith was given a toy violin at 4 years old. She was forever playing it around the house until her older brother broke it. Faith was given another at Christmas and used it during her first exam at 5. The teacher gave her 91% and asked, “Lovely instrument. Did Dad buy you that?”. To which Faith replied, “No, Santa Claus bought it for me!”

Being the youngest of three siblings, she describes herself “the misfit” and thought being sent to boarding school during WWII was the best experience of her life. She was taught by the finest teachers and pursued her career in music through not only competitions – which she won each time – but through teaching as well.

Faith is a beautiful pianist and taught piano for 35 years in Brisbane. She said there is a big difference between being a teacher and being a performer. The violin is effortless and she loves performing with it, but she must work when playing the piano. There is only one line to read with the violin, the piano has two.

To this day, Faith still has students of all ages visiting her home for lessons and says the only charge is practice. Students are disappointed that Faith does not teach violin, but there is a simple reason for it – Faith found her students did not listen and it got on her nerves!

There are strict rules to learning the piano. Faith insists that first you need to learn to read music. Then you should get your own instrument, and practise for a minimum half an hour a day otherwise it’s a waste of time. Faith promises that if you follow these simple rules you will learn the piano in 6 months. Let it be fair warning for those who practise once a week and think that’s enough. It’s not!

One of Faith’s fondest memories is when she played lead violin in a string quartet at a church function. During the break a gentleman spoke with her and commented how beautifully she played, stating, ‘’you’re quite a musician”. It wasn’t until later that Faith learned the gentleman was the Leading Lecturer of Music at the Newcastle University.

When asked if Faith had any photographs of her performing she said, “There’s only one photo but I threw it out. I hated the dress I wore – it made me look like I was 16 stone.”

In true teacher fashion, Faith says that there is only one thing she doesn’t accept from her students, and that’s excuses.