Reaching out is key for `people's pianist'

AN INSPIRING Sydney musician is on a tour of Tasmania telling the story of her unorthodox upbringing - one that involved no school.

Dubbed the ``people's pianist'', Ambre Hammond was educated in the New South Wales highlands by her single mother, which saw her begin piano studies at age three and perform her first concert two years later.

``I've never been to school - no high school, college or university,'' she said.

``When I was about nine or 10 I was doing about nine hours practice a day.

``My mum would wake me up really early in the morning at about 5am and she made me run eight kilometres and then I'd start my practice.

``Three hours then a break, three hours then a break and then another three hours of practice and then a break every day.''

Hammond still holds the world record for achieving her Associate and Licentiate diplomas of music in 1989 as an 11-year-old.

She has this month donated her time to speak with 14 Probus and Rotary clubs across the state in Devonport, Deloraine and Westbury and will visit Coles Bay and Scottsdale among other places before she departs.

The 36-year-old has played solo and with symphony orchestras around the globe and last year started a project called ``Girl Piano Truck''.

The concept involves Hammond carting a piano on the back of a truck and playing concerts in remote areas.

She has so far played in India, East Timor and Southern Thailand orphanages as well as a mental asylum in Belarus.

``The next step is I want to take the project to outback Australia, Africa and China and make a TV series out of it,'' Hammond said.

``What I really enjoy about it is how music is able to touch people and they are not even sure why they feel moved or emotional by the music that I play.

``Even people that have never heard classical music before are moved by it.''

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