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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK,” Tickling The Ivories by Keith Jacobsen tells the story of his lifelong love for the piano and shares his memoir from early childhood (and his often turbulent family life in post-war Liverpool) to the present day, whilst beautifully illustrating how life and music are indelibly intertwined.

Published on 26th July 2022, this work of nonfiction brings together practical advice about all things piano, (whilst not being a ‘how to’ manual) with telling the life story of pianist, ex civil servant and author, Keith Jacobsen.

Tickling The Ivories

Tickling The Ivories by Keith Jacobsen on The Table Read
Tickling The Ivories

Not aiming to be technical, the author shares his musical expertise in a manner that is accessible for all, and his narrative attests to the fact you’re never too old to pursue your dreams. Having achieved his performance and teaching accreditations in his late fifties after a twenty-seven year career in the Civil Service, this book is ultimately about embracing all that makes your heart sing.

Pianist and author Keith Jacobsen tells the story of his lifelong passion for the piano as performer and teacher from early childhood in post-war Liverpool to the present day by interweaving practical examples of how the piano works and how to play a simple tune. He hopes to inspire readers wishing to start their own piano journey. But above all this is a compelling human story, rich in vividly recalled moments and memorable characters.  

Keith Jacobsen

“Tickling the Ivories tells of my lifelong involvement as piano performer and teacher from early childhood to the present day, intertwined with an account of my often turbulent family life in post-war Liverpool.

“It shows how life and music are inseparably intertwined, and interludes indicate with practical examples how the piano works and how sound is produced and controlled. The book’s originality is to be found in its combination of musical and personal autobiography with information and advice. It is not another ‘how to’ manual nor a ‘celebrity’ autobiography.  ‘Ordinary’ readers should be able to identify with my life story, rooted as it is in recognisably human experiences in the post-war social history of a major British city. It may also inspire readers who wish to make music a fuller part of their own lives, especially if they are late starters or want to rediscover a musical spark that has been allowed to fade or expire.”

Keith Jacobsen’s Life

Keith Jacobsen on The Table Read
Keith Jacobsen

Keith Jacobsen says:  “I was born in Liverpool in 1948.  I had a strict Catholic upbringing, which, mixed with the humour of my native city, has proved a rich seam of human interest to explore in my fiction.  I gave up religious practice while at university (St Catherine’s College, Oxford, where I read modern languages) though I retain a strong leaning towards Christianity.

Piano Lessons

“My musical interests have kept a stronger hold over me.  I have been active as a pianist since early childhood, and I have a piano performance diploma from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (2002) and a diploma in Music Teaching in Professional Practice from the University of Reading (2007). More interesting than the dry facts about my diplomas is that that they were obtained relatively late in life, in my fifties, after a twenty-seven year career in the Civil Service. 

‘It’s never too late’ is an important message of the book.  During my time in the civil service I moved through the ranks of what was then known as the administrative class, taking a special interest in international health relations.  After taking early retirement in 1999, I worked as a private piano teacher, and I now teach on a voluntary basis, leading a piano group of my local U3A (University of the third Age).

Music and Writing

“My retirement from the service also gave me time for writing.  I am the author of seven novels, the latest of which, Shadows of Fury, was published earlier this year.  My previous novel, Evil River, was published in 2020 and attracted the following review, describing it as the work of ‘an experienced and skillful writer’ ( 

‘Ivories’ is my first non-fiction book, but I have made every effort to bring that skill and experience to bear, especially in bringing people and places to life as vividly as possible.”

Find more from Keith Jacobsen now:

Published by Cranthorpe Millner Publishers, Tickling the Ivories (ISBN: 978-1-80378-047-4) is published on 26th July 2022 and is available in paperback (£8.99) and Kindle format.

Waterstones | Foyles | Amazon | Cranthorpe Millner


Facebook: @KeithJacobsenAuthor (Keith Jacobsen, Author)


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