England footballer Leah Williamson plays piano with orchestra in new BBC series

Leah Williamson has been playing the piano for a new BBC digital series (Hamish Jordan/BBC)
Leah Williamson has been playing the piano for a new BBC digital series (Hamish Jordan/BBC)

Footballer Leah Williamson has played the piano with the BBC Concert Orchestra (CO) for a new series.

The England captain, 26, performed a Shania Twain song for BBC Sport digital show Out Of Office, which follows players taking on their interests off the pitch.

In episode one, Williamson heads to north-west London’s Maida Vale Studios where she plays in front of her family – her mother Amanda, grandmother Bernie and cousin Holly –  as well as her Arsenal team-mates Jen Beattie and Kim Little.

Williamson said: “I wanted to put myself in a high-pressure situation before I make my return to football.

Leah Williamson and associate leader of the BBC Concert Orchestra Charles Mutter (Hamish Jordan/BBC/PA)

“It’s been a good learning process for me but as soon as I sat down at the piano my hands started shaking, which is something I didn’t foresee – not even the Euros final touched how I felt in that room.”

She practised the piano by having lessons with the first violinist and associate leader of the BBC Concert Orchestra Charles Mutter.

Mutter helped Williamson develop her ability to read music and she upgraded from a keyboard to full grand size piano with pedals.

After six weeks of lessons, Leah performed Canadian singer Twain’s Still the One with the 57-person BBC Concert Orchestra.

Mutter said: “When I first met Leah, barely a month before her performance, she’d learnt a very simple version of her favourite song on a small keyboard.

“I could tell she had good rhythm, a feel for the song and, crucially, she’d taught herself to read music.

“So, I wrote a ‘bigger’ version that I reckoned she could learn and that would work with full orchestra.

Leah Williamson with Liam MacDevitt, the presenter of Out Of Office (Hamish Jordan/BBC/PA)

“Over the next five weeks we worked on how to play a real piano, how to play the song and how to play it with an orchestra.

“The discipline and nerve required in sport and music are closely related; Leah’s focus and determination made her an absolute joy to teach, and many of my colleagues in the BBC CO commented on how well she did.”

The new series is presented by Liam MacDevitt.

Outside of sport, Williamson has signed a three-book deal with Macmillan Children’s Book.

She has already released You Have The Power: Find Your Strength And Believe You Can, a guide for young girls, in March and non-fiction book The Wonder Team And The Forgotten Footballers in August.

Next year will see The Wonder Team And The Pharaoh’s Fortune published.

The first episode of Out of Office will air on Football Focus on Saturday at 12pm on BBC One along with being available on BBC Sport’s website and YouTube channel.