IT took him three attempts throughout his lifetime to start learning to play but a Ryfields Village resident once christened ‘The One Man Band’ has now passed his grade one piano exam aged 86.
Jack Skelland says he tried to learn to play in the 1940s before a second attempt in 1984 and now hopes it will be third time lucky after starting lessons with tutor Ralph Wheatley in March last year.
Jack added: “When you’re younger you get involved in other things and I had to cut my lessons short in 1984.
“I got the piano a year after moving into Ryfields five years ago and just thought if I don’t learn now I never will.
“I wanted to have a go at an exam but thought I had made a mess of it.
“I was rather jittery and nervous going it so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out I had done it.”
Jack, who puts his love of music down to his mum singing around the house, admits his first love was the drums playing in a jazz band at The Cherry Tree in Culcheth.
He says ‘domestic matters’ lead to him selling his drum kit before he played the trombone with the Warrington Silver Band in the 1960s, had lessons to play the clarinet, the tenor horn and joined the George Formby Society playing the ukulele.
Jack, who started out as as an apprentice compositor at James Wood on Sankey Street in the 1940s before a number of different jobs and eventually retired at Risley Atomic, said: “It feels great learning the piano but I just regret now I didn’t stick with it earlier.
“My heart wasn’t in it then but I wish I had gone for a career in music looking back over my life.
“I used to be a bit of a square peg in a round hole but I want to do as many grades as I can now as you never know how long you have got left.
“I’m looking forward to playing more when I feel more confident.”
Tutor Ralph, 53 and lives on Manchester Road, said it had been a ‘pleasure’ teaching Jack.
He added: “After the lesson, our roles reverse and Jack educates me in music and puts some of his big band records on.
“I’ve taught around eight other members of his family but in 35 years of teaching I’ve never had anyone of Jack’s age come to me.
“He got an easy pass scoring 115 with a 100 pass mark and there’s a strict marking regime so they wouldn’t treat Jack any different to the five-year-olds I have taught and who have taken the exam.”