Nada Brissenden, RATIONALE Luminary

Meet Nada Brissenden


While every Luminary Client embodies the RATIONALE spirit—possessing not only that lit-from-within luminosity, but also personifying a certain commitment to brilliance in life and legacy more generally—it is safe to say that Nada Brissenden is one Luminary who occupies a special place within RATIONALE fold. 

An accomplished classical pianist and accompanist, Nada was a pioneer of musical education in Australia, and, together with late husband Harold, was responsible for bringing the revolutionary Suzuki method of musical education to this country. 

But it is the role that Nada played in RATIONALE Founder Richard Parker’s musical upbringing which is the reason for our privileged meeting today, on the occasion of our Luminary shoot. 

At 91 years of age, Nada is the oldest RATIONALE Luminary ever to grace our pages, with a luminous complexion which belies her years—“I am religious about my RATIONALE routine now!” Nada proclaims—and a vocation for helping children reach extraordinary musical heights which sees her still teaching a remarkable six days a week. 

Here, Nada shares some sage words about gaining confidence and independence in later life, how her mother’s commitment to sun protection foreshadowed modern SPFs, and the simple pleasure which comes of reading the Sunday newspapers in bed… 

What is the first thing you do when you wake up? 

I’m certainly not a person who bounces out of bed, but I commence piano teaching at 7am six days a week, so I try to focus on what I have to achieve with each student, and then concentrate on preparing for the day. I adore Sundays when I can indulge in staying in bed a little longer, reading the Sunday newspapers…  

How did you discover RATIONALE? 

Richard Parker, Founder of RATIONALE, is a former student and now a dear friend. He very kindly introduced me to the incredible RATIONALE range. 

When did you first experiment with beauty? Was it a success? 

Towards the end of high school, my mother started to give me pocket money each week. I’d use it to go to the local pharmacy and buy lipstick—it was all very restrained, I never did any heavy makeup or ‘face painting’ on myself—I just bought a different shade of lipstick each week. 

What is one ritual you practice daily (skincare or otherwise)? 

I am religious about my RATIONALE routine now. I start teaching at 7am Monday-Saturday and I know I have to look my best at that time, so the first task I complete every morning is applying my daytime products. My night-time routine is the last thing I do before I go to sleep. RATIONALE is the one constant in my life. 

When did skincare start to become you thought about? When did it become important to you? 

My family is from Wales, and my mother had beautiful, creamy Welsh skin. When we moved to Australia, from my very first day at kindergarten, my mother made be wear a voluminous hat to school. I felt very self-conscious, but even then my mother could see the effects of the sun on the skin of Australian women, and she was determined to protect the skin of her children. 

Growing up, did anyone’s routine influence your outlook on beauty today? 

I’ve mentioned my mother’s drastic anti-sun measures from early childhood when sunscreens were not really around, but we also had a tube of lanolin at home which she would smear all over our faces before we went into the sun or down to the beach at Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens. So my mother was an enormous influence over my early thoughts on skin health and beauty. 

How has your skincare routine changed over the years? 

The Essential Six Collections have been an absolute revelation to me. This year I am 91 years old, and I get so many compliments on my skin. The products are truly marvellous! 

What is the best thing about becoming a year older each year? 

My husband Harold died in 2005, and we really did have such a wonderful marriage. Since that time I have had to become completely independent, and this has brought with it a certain confidence in myself. I trust myself and my choices far more now, which is a gift of ageing. 

What did you want to do when you were young? 

From the age of 12 I wanted to be a concert pianist, but once I reached tertiary study at the NSW Conservatorium of Music, I realised solo performing was not the life for me. It is incredibly stressful and lonely, very difficult to sustain relationships and enjoy a balanced family life. 

Fortunately, I discovered the joys of being an accompanist when my future husband (also a student at the Conservatorium) asked me to accompany him. Here was my ‘Golden Zone’ where I was able to experience the joy of performing, but also share it with the support of fellow musicians. 

What made you want to become what you are today? 

In the early 1970s, my husband Harold and I introduced the Suzuki Method of music teaching to Australia, and I have been a Suzuki piano teacher ever since. 

Dr Suzuki’s philosophy rocked the conservative music world. He demonstrated that superior musical ability in children was not a genetic ‘accident of birth’ and that any child who had a supportive teacher and family could achieve incredible heights of musicianship and skill from a very early age. I love helping children achieve extraordinary things. I have also developed deep friendships with many Suzuki families over the years. 

What are you most proud of? 

It gives me a sense of deep peace to see my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren living healthy, happy and purpose-filled lives.