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Resident Spotlight

October 17, 2019

Daphne Nelson – Piano Professional

Daphne grew up in a family where everyone enjoyed music. Many evenings they would stand around the piano and sing together, which is something Daphne continued in her own home while raising her children. Daphne never met her great-grandfather, but she proudly owns his 1898 hymnal, which she holds in one of the pictures attached. At 19, Daphne graduated from Flora MacDonald Presbyterian College with a major in Piano Performance. Her music career started in Aberdeen, NC, as a private piano teacher and continued when she moved to Greensboro and then to Wilmington. She has played in over 22 churches in Wilmington and countless weddings and funerals.

senior playing piano

Daphne is known for her 25 years of opening the Azalea Festival Juried Art Show with a piano performance. When she retired from the Azalea Festival, they gave her a pencil drawing of her hands playing the piano, which is displayed above her piano in her apartment. Daphne feels that her biggest accomplishment is that she taught 100’s of students of all ages to play the piano and some have made music their profession. A few of her students even went to Julliard to study. To this day, she will run into her students around town and several still visit her when they come home to visit their families and call often. Daphne Nelson, 90 years old and a resident of Brightmore for 4 years, has been playing the piano since she was 10 years old. Daphne grew up in Marian, NC, listening to her grandmother play in the evenings as a young girl.

She would watch her intensely and then try to play the same song, or she would listen to their old Victrola with her ear to the floor and mimic what she heard on the piano. She says, “My ears were being trained way before my fingers were.”

photo-hands playing keyboard

Though she stopped playing professionally five years ago, Daphne still loves to play for family and herself. She enjoys all types of music including classical, hymns, jazz and contemporary. She says she can still remember very clearly when she played a Beethoven’s Sonata at her Senior recital in college. Her favorites to play are Chopin and Brahms. Even to this day, Debussy’s Page D’Album brings a tear to her eye every time she plays it. Loving what you do is a passion that not everyone gets to experience!

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