Iva Ryan: 100-Year-Old Valley Piano Player

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MISSION – It’s a love affair that started more than 80 years ago and is still going strong.

Iva Ryan has been playing the piano since she was 13 years old and even now, she’s still playing in a band.

“A 100, I was 100 July 12th,” she says.

Ryan says she and the piano belong together.

“When I was 13 years old, my cousin started me on lessons,” she recalls. “And I did classical music for a long time. And I said ‘I want to get into jazz,’ because my husband also played and he was jazz. So, I learned how to play jazz.”

She and other members of the Big Band Jam perform and gather crowds every Thursday at Dream Valley Ranch in Mission.

“I think I have a message from God, that’s all I can say. Because it just seems like he wants me to be doing all this,” she says.

It’s something that she loves to do and others enjoy watching.

“She’s great. I wish I could do that when I’m 100,” says a spectator.

“Isn’t she a marvel?” asked another.

But playing with the band is not the only thing Ryan does.

“I still work in the park. I do the posters for them when they need them and take care of the bulletin boards,” she says. “I told my leader, ‘Look for somebody because I don’t know how long I can still do it.' But I’ll do it as long as I can.”

Dick Brown, the leader of the band, is grateful she’s part of the Big Band Jam.

“I think she’s amazing. I think that she is almost unbelievable, I’ll say it that way,” he says.

Ryan added she takes her love for the piano everywhere she goes.

“I sit at the piano at home about every evening and just turn the pages, play each page just for myself,” she says. 

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