Hello, my name is
Nancy M. Williams

I am the founding publisher of Grand Piano Passion™. I am an amateur concert pianist who debuted at Carnegie Hall, even though I have lived with a genetic, degenerative hearing loss all of my life. I founded Grand Piano Passion™ to share insights from my journey with adults who love to play the piano, musicians with hearing loss, and anyone claiming their passion.

Grand Piano Passion™ will help you to Play. Hear. Aspire.

What I believe…



I believe that everyone has a passion — a pastime or occupation for which we feel an intense desire.



I believe that we have the right to pursue our passions, even when we possess a disability or constraint like hearing loss that according to conventional wisdom seems to limit that pursuit.



I believe that all of us in the hearing loss community must do everything in our power to address the social stigma against hearing loss.



I believe that when we come to terms with our constraints and disabilities, especially those that society stigmatizes, that we gain power and a means for forging our identity.



I believe that claiming our passions leads to self-integration and creates happiness.

Carnegie Hall

I debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2012 with two Chopin pieces, the dreamy “Raindrop” Prelude and beguiling Nocturne in E‑flat Major. I was the only performer wearing hearing aids. Only seven years before, after a hiatus of over two decades, I had reclaimed the piano.

During my 15 minutes on stage, I was intent on nothing else save the physical bulk of the piano, the music’s resonant sounds, and the memories woven within. I played the final notes with reluctance. Along with the birth of my children, my performance was one of the best days of my life.

Nancy_M_Williams playing piano at Carnegie_Hall
Close up photo of Nancy M. Williams at age 16

Playing Rachmaninoff

I first fell in love with the piano when my teacher assigned me Beethoven’s Fur Elise. The music filled me so completely that whenever I passed the piano in our living room, I craved its sounds.

A few months before I turned 16, I performed from memory Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor, with its thunderous chords and chaotic whirlwind of triplets, at my teacher’s recital. Last on the program, I felt shyly proud when I received a standing ovation, although I had experienced an equal joy in the months before, during the hours of practice time. I savored the feeling of my strong hands plunging into the keys.

Nancy M. Williams at her sixth birthday sitting at a table with a birthday cake in white frosting.

Hearing Loss Diagnosed

When I was diagnosed with hearing loss at age six, my parents refused the recommended hearing aid. Their message was that I needed to hide my hearing loss. Not until I was socially ostracized by a group of girls in middle school because I could not hear secrets, did my parents break down and have me fitted with a hearing aid.

At first, Mom supported my love for the piano, telling me that with my beautiful touch, no one would know that I had a hearing loss.

Close up photo of Nancy M. Williams at age 16

Losing the Piano

The summer after I turned 16, I was told that with my hearing loss, I would never be a concert pianist. I was pressured to quit the piano.

For the next twenty-five years, whenever I saw a piano out of my peripheral vision, I longed to play. But feelings locked away inside of me—that I would never progress far on the piano with my hearing loss, that I was too old to study the piano—barred me from finding my way back.

During that time, I attended Stanford University, earned my masters at Harvard Business School, married, gave birth to my two beloved children, and worked as a marketing director.

Close up photo of Nancy M. Williams at age 16

Reclaiming the Piano

When my son turned six, I agreed with my husband we should buy an upright, a decision that catapulted me back to the piano. In my early 40s, I enrolled in adult piano lessons, admitting to my teacher that I wear hearing aids — yet he was undeterred.

At a student recital, I came out in public, explaining to the audience I needed to toggle my hearing aids to the music setting before taking my place on the bench.

I enrolled in a master class on performance, which culminated in my recital performance of the two Chopin pieces at Carnegie Hall.

Nancy M. Williams on the cover of Hearing Loss Magazine wearing a sapphire-blue dress, leaning against a grand piano

Founding Grand Piano Passion™

Pursuing my passion for the piano was a journey not only of making music but of self- discovery. With the help of therapy, Al-Anon, and the renewed bliss I felt practicing the piano, I came to terms with my childhood experiences and the stigma against hearing loss that had mildewed within.

I decided to dedicate my professional life to hearing loss. I founded Auditory Insight, a boutique strategy consultancy focused on hearing healthcare.

I launched Grand Piano Passion as my act of service to those who love music yet fear that their age or hearing abilities constrain them from playing an instrument.

Reflections on a Grand Passion

Scene of Sonoran Desert with saguaro cactus, with bright blue sky overhead.

Deserting the Piano: A Personal Essay

by | Apr 2, 2013 | Claiming your passion,Recommended - Popular | 10 Comments

I am at East Coast Piano, a boxy, windowless warehouse store on New Jersey’s Route 46, because my husband, David, has insisted.

Carnegie Hall

Visualization for Carnegie Hall

by | Oct 15, 2012 | Claiming your passion | 1 Comment

For my performance at Carnegie Hall, I wanted to infuse my music with the same emotion I experienced at home.


Classical Piano Music in a Brownstone

by | Sep 10, 2012 | Claiming your passion | 6 Comments

On New Year’s Eve in 1986, a crowd wearing pointed party hats pressed against the velvet ropes outside a Manhattan club.

Steinway piano keys

Hope for Adult Piano Lessons

by | Jul 11, 2011 | Claiming your passion | 0 Comments

An adult piano student considers her music ugly, a holdover from her childhood. Then when looking to buy an antique Steinway, she instead leaves with hope.