MUSIC LOVER: Maryborough's Bev Pelling, 74, at her beloved piano which has moved around the state with her. She is still teaching piano to students after more than five decades.
MUSIC LOVER: Maryborough's Bev Pelling, 74, at her beloved piano which has moved around the state with her. She is still teaching piano to students after more than five decades. Alistair Brightman

The story of Bev Pelling: Volunteer, teacher, musician

THE theme song to Bev Pelling's life would be underscored by the dulcet tones of piano keys.

Music has been a constant throughout the 74-year-old's life.

Not only did it define her career as a music teacher, it was present when she met her husband at the cabaret in Yeppoon and through the upbringing of her children.

As she spoke to the Chronicle this week, Bev's hands danced across the keys to bring to life the notes of her favourite Mozart sonata.

Above her head a sign read 'Life is like a piano, what you get out of it depends on how you play it'.

Bev's 1959 Beale piano, which sits in her Maryborough home surrounded by towering stacks of sheet music, resembles its owner.

Both have aged gracefully, the years adding character and experience to the musician and her instrument.

 

Bev Pelling.
Bev Pelling. Alistair Brightman

It was only last week that the grandmother-of-three was made a patron of the Maryborough Eisteddfod, more than four decades since she first became a volunteer at the event to watch her children and students perform.

Born to a family of farmers in Wooroolin, about 30km out of Murgon in the South Burnett, Bev and her older brother Mervyn both fell in love with music when they were sent to boarding school at St Peter's Lutheran in Brisbane.

"I loved the piano as soon as I first got the opportunity to learn at school at 13," she said.

"I always wanted to play the piano but we lived in the country.

"My brother was a singer.

"When I graduated and I went back home to the South Burnett I kept learning from the nuns in the Murgon Covenant, about half-an-hour away from my house."

Her parents bought her the beautiful Beale piano as the dedicated student finished her exams and diploma to teach piano.

In 1964, Bev accepted a job in Yeppon teaching at St Faith's boarding school.

Her beloved Beale came too.

One year later Bev, 21, married Sid, a dashing young forestry worker, after meeting on a Saturday night dancing at the cabaret.

 

Sid and Bev Pelling at their wedding in Yeppon 1965.
Sid and Bev Pelling at their wedding in Yeppon 1965. Alistair Brightman

"My dancing days stopped after I got married because Sid didn't dance," she said with a laugh.

"Then we moved into the married quarters on the forestry reserve and I would drive into town to teach at Sid's mother's house, who had a piano."

Two children later, Sid was posted to Tuan and the family bought the property which remains their home to this day on Alice St in 1973 where her last child was born.

In Maryborough Bev's business took off.

At her busiest she taught 50 students including her two sons Andrew and Geoffery, while her daughter Helen preferred to dance.

In 1973, Bev attended her first Maryborough Eisteddfod to watch her daughter perform.

 

Sid, Helen, Geoffery, Bev and Andrew Pelling in a family photo from 1990 celebrating Sid and Bev's 25th anniversary.
Sid, Helen, Geoffery, Bev and Andrew Pelling in a family photo from 1990 celebrating Sid and Bev's 25th anniversary. Alistair Brightman

She found herself coming back for her other children and in 1975 began volunteering.

Bev would go on to become the longest-standing volunteer the event has had.

Now Bev still teaches six students not for exams but "for the pleasure of learning".

"I watched so many people around town come in for lessons and then grow up," she said. "I used to go to the Eisteddfod a lot of the time to watch them.

"I found out by being a volunteer you didn't have to pay to go in.

"I kept coming back because I just loved watching the kids perform.

"I was generally a marshal or an announcer or a runner."

Currently, as one of two local Eisteddfod patrons along with with Robin Hinricks, Bev passes on her wealth of knowledge to others. Bev's three grandchildren in Gympie have inherited her musical talent.

 

Maryborough Eisteddfod's patrons Bev Pelling and Robin Hinricks.
Maryborough Eisteddfod's patrons Bev Pelling and Robin Hinricks.

Thirteen-year-old Sam plays saxophone, 11-year-old Hamish plays both violin and trombone, and nine-year-old Caleb plays trumpet and violin.

"I am so proud of all my students," Bev said.

"I have one 11-year-old student playing the piano in the upcoming Eisteddfod."

Of course, Bev will be found in the crowd, supporting the region's young talent for the 45th year.


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