University of South Carolina

Just ‘enjoy the music’: Sumter instructor, pianist takes to Serbian stage

By Liz McCarthy, lizmccarthy@sc.edu, 803-777-2848

When Jane Luther Smith approaches a piano the first thing she thinks is “enjoy the music.”

Her thoughts sometimes turn toward the history of a particular piece, a composer’s intentions and her many years of piano studies. But then she remembers to just enjoy it.

“That’s the most important thing. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you’re not going to convey joy to your audience and make them enjoy the music as well,” Smith said.

The USC Sumter instructor of music has had a lot to enjoy recently. This summer she was invited to perform and lecture at the fourth World Piano Conference in Serbia, representing USC, South Carolina and the United States.

“I felt like I was at the Olympics,” she said.

When Smith isn’t playing piano across the country and Europe, she teaches music classes at USC Sumter and runs her own piano studio. Her classes are always full.

“I feel it’s very rewarding work because some have studied music for 13 or 14 years and some have had no music at all,” she said. “I really feel fulfilled if I can teach them and bring them to music.”

Smith, a graduate of USC’s School of Music, began playing piano at 9 because she loved being on stage. She studied at Coker College as a teenager before coming to Columbia and then going on to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

She practiced four to six hours a day when she was in school but now she has to grab time when she can, snatching a few minutes in between other obligations. When her piano students get sick or miss lessons she prepares for upcoming performances. Sometimes she’s playing piano past bedtime.

Preparing for performances can take Smith four months, which means a lot of time practicing alone, she said. Her experience playing at the same level as world renowned pianists humbled her.

“I’ve come away with a greater appreciation of the practice it takes to make music,” she said.

Smith was invited to return to Serbia again in 2013, but she’s still considering it. She has four other commitments lined-up for 2013.  

Although music makes the world better, Smith loves the energy, emotion and excitement from being on stage performing. 

“It’s where I should be,” she said. “I’m ready to jump on the stage. I’m always ready to perform.” 

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Posted: 12/11/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 12/11/12 @ 12:27 PM | Permalink