Although taking up a new hobby in your seventies might not be unusual, Ian Rae’s decision to join a social media site popular with teenagers, certainly is.
“My daughter suggested I look at TikTok. I initially said no, as I didn’t think it would be something I’d enjoy, but once I started exploring I discovered it’s fantastic for a musician like me.”
Originally from Glasgow, Ian, 75, learnt to play the piano as a child, and also taught himself the guitar when he was a teenager. He relocated to Tandridge almost fifty years ago, when he was offered a job at Commerical Union in Whyteleafe. After taking early retirement, he turned back to his love of music, working with CODA, the Croydon Stagers and the Miller Centre, and writing scores for television.
Ian has also created musicals which were performed at Fairfield Halls, in Croydon, and Cornwall’s Minack Theatre, and regularly performs ‘silly songs’ for pre-schoolers at Russell Hill Nursery in Purley. Ian, who lives in Kenley, began uploading videos onto TikTok, experimenting with amusing visual and sound effects, before introducing his piano skills. He was then inspired to go even further, when he saw another TikToker livestreaming his own piano playing.
“I thought, ‘I can do that!’ and so I did. I now do three regular live performances every day, taking requests for all kinds of music. I can play anything from the 1920s through to the 1980s, but I’ve also had to learn some more modern songs, like Dynamite, by BTS!”
In the eight months since Ian joined TikTok he has amassed an incredible 276.8k followers, with fans of all ages regularly tuning in to watch his live sessions from around the world. “It’s become a bit of a community. I get messages saying ‘I was having a rotten day and you’ve cheered me up’, so it’s lovely to know my music brings them happiness. And lots of people have told me they’ve taken up the piano after watching me, so I run tutorials for them, too!” He now has two albums of his own compositions on Spotify, after followers encouraged him to make his music more accessible.
Ian’s wife, Morven is supportive of his new-found fame:
“I’m delighted he has found an outlet for his musical talent, and brings enjoyment to so many people…although, at times, his live performances can be a bit disruptive to our family life!”
Find Ian on TikTok: @raeproduced.