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Piano lessons at 45 open gifts to others

Sara Smith sits at her home and practices her piano. Like many women of her generation, she enjoys playing the piano, but what many people may not know is that she began taking piano at the age of 45.

She was encouraged to learn how to play the piano when she encouraged her son, then 13, to begin taking lessons himself. The Rev. Roy L. Scruggs at Lovely Primitive Baptist Church in Gallion also encouraged her to take the lessons.

“I would bring Chris to Uniontown to take lessons from Mr. David Moore,” she said. “I started taking them soon after that. We went to a recital at the same time, and Chris was the best at the recital and I was No. 4 out of about 14 people.”

Smith has done so well with her lessons that she is now playing at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church Memorial Temple.

She began her lessons by learning how to read music, and that got her as excited as a child learning how to read words.

“Chris and I would go out shopping for music,” she said. “I’d go out looking for hymnals, all kinds of hymnals.”

When Smith started taking piano lessons at age 45, several people told her she was too old for piano lessons.

“Whenever you ask God for what you want, He will give it to you,” she said. “I had a total hip replacement three years ago, and I was in the nursing home for 30 days. I went in there for nine days, and I was all over the nursing home, playing the piano for the people in the nursing home. They were blessed.

“It’s like a new breath, and I just thank and praise God for it,” she said. “I’ve been playing for 10 years now. A lot of people came to me and told me that it encouraged them to do it.”

Now able to read music, Smith has compiled a CD of her playing, which sold out. A compilation of gospel music, the CD — called “God Will Heal the Land” — was her first venture in recording, but she said she plans to go back to the studio for another.

Smith also enjoys taking computer classes and she knits and crochets. She makes doll clothes and makes wedding cakes.

Her son, Chris, also puts his piano lessons to good use, playing for a local church and teaching others how to stroke the keys.

Smith said she didn’t consider taking piano lessons when she was younger, because she was given charge of seven brothers and sisters when she was 15 years old.

“At age 15, my mother passed away and left a house full of children,” she said. “I raised seven of those children; I was the head of the household at the age of 15. I didn’t even think about taking piano lessons, but it was always there for me. We went to my grandmamma’s house for two days, and a voice told me, ‘Get those children and go back home. I will take care of you.’ That was the Lord, I believe. So, we went back home and stayed there. I got my first job when I was 15 at Food Fair.”

Smith said her family is now doing fine, living in Birmingham, and she is proud of her own two children, Chris and her daughter, Natasha, who got her master’s degree in psychology counseling from the University of West Alabama in May 2009. Natasha herself has two daughters, so she knows what is like to work and support a family, too.

“It’s like a second life for me,” she said of learning to play the piano at age 45. “I am excited about it, and I’m going to play until I die. No matter what it is, you can do it. Don’t say you can’t — you can do it.”

Smith’s faith has gotten her through a difficult time early in her life and brought her the gift of music later than most. She is living proof that you don’t have to be young to be able to learn what you want.

Psalms 1:5 says in part, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning.” Sara Smith uses her ear for music to listen and to learn, playing God’s praise while she does so.