My secondary college principal couldn't play the piano herself, but was deeply interested in music, and so she put together a small 20 page photocopied book. The book started with a couple of simple right-hand pieces, before advancing to two-hand ones, and then slowly moved from simple to difficult.
From the age of 13 to the age of 16, I taught myself to play, beginning with her book, and then just by practicing whatever other pieces I could find that I was able to play.
Around 16 my parents finally decided I deserved to be taught professionally, and I spent the next 10 months with the only local piano teacher. After which, it was pretty obvious that my bad habits had become ingrained, and I was about as good as I'd ever get. I'm able to play quite a lot of Australian AMEB Grade 5 pieces, but not all… and my level of theory was always limited to AMEB Grade 3.
I have always enjoyed writing pieces, more in fact, than playing. My main works are modern classical, so to begin with, what are my classical influences? Chopin. Very heavily Chopin - the one composer I truly admire because he is the only person I see as having truly combined theory and professionalism with creativity. The next two main influences, are Beethoven - who shows some creativity, at times, and a lot of professionalism; and Erik Satie - who shows some professionalism at times, and a lot of creativity. These are definitely the main three influences, though there are others I admire to a certain extent.
Also, of mention, is my interest in pop music. Radiohead (an alternative + electronica + Brit rock band) encompass all that I believe is perfect in the creation of music, and have heavily influenced my music in all its forms.