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#1000972 - 10/20/04 07:57 AM Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Cindysphinx Offline
Cindysphinx  Offline


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Washington D.C. Metro
I'm taking a course on feature article writing. In this course, we are to write an article suitable for publication and attempt to get it published.

The subject of my article is adult beginning piano students -- including the reasons adults decide to take up piano, the challenges they face, the resources available to help them, etc.

If anyone would be willing to be interviewed for my story, please PM me and we can set up a time to talk on the phone. Don't worry. I don't bite!

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#1000973 - 10/20/04 08:01 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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piqué Offline
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piqué  Offline
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cindy,
i've taught magazine writing at the graduate school level for a long time. i'd love to see your article after you've finished it. this is a subject that fascinates me as well.


piqué

now in paperback:
[Linked Image]

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey
#1000974 - 10/20/04 11:49 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: Feb 2003
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Cindysphinx Offline
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Joined: Feb 2003
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Washington D.C. Metro
Thanks, Pique.

How about you write the article and let me sign my name to it?

No?

Oh, OK. wink

#1000975 - 10/20/04 12:16 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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mikhailoh Offline
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Cincinnati
Cindy, I'd be glad to be interviewed for your article. Let me know if you need contact info.

I was a journalism major and short story writer myself.. actually have toyed with the idea of a novel based on adult beginners...

Maybe a murder mystery? I know I regularly brutally slay Mozart, Bach and DeBussey.


Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'
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#1000976 - 10/20/04 03:33 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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Nina Offline
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Phoenix, AZ
I'd love to help out, but I'm not a beginner... frown

#1000977 - 10/20/04 08:47 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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Jac Ang Offline
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Jac Ang  Offline
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Singapore
Hello Cindy,

I just started my piano last yr during summer time.Wonder if i can help.Let me know how to assist?

#1000978 - 10/21/04 11:07 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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Cindysphinx Offline
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Washington D.C. Metro
Thanks, everyone! Jac and Michael, I'll write to you off-list.

Nina. Nina, Nina, Nina . . .

:offers Nina comforting mug of hot cocoa:

Awwww, I don't want you feeling left out! Are you taking lessons at the moment? Maybe you can be the shining example of all that can be achieved through persistance, hard work, determination and an abiding belief in the American spirit?

:dabs tears:

#1000979 - 10/21/04 12:09 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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jdsher Offline
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Plano, Texas
Cindy: If you need any additional interviewees, I would be happy to contribute. smile
I hope you will allow us to e-mail the finished article to our families and friends. Maybe your good words will help them better understand the reasons why we labor to play the piano.
Good Luck,
Jon


"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein
#1000980 - 10/27/04 08:37 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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Jeffrey Offline
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New York
You can contact me, but only if I can read the final article. PM if you want. I started at 37, about 6 months ago, and couldn't read music.

#1000981 - 10/28/04 01:02 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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Neus A. Offline
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Spain
Cindy,

If for whatever reasons you need it translated into Spanish, you can count me in! :p

Neus

#1000982 - 10/28/04 07:16 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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emrys Offline
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Toronto
Hey Cindy,

I've been learning piano for seven years now but I still consider myself a beginner...especially everytime I start to study a new piece laugh

If you think I qualify please let me know.

Good luck and I'd can't wait to see your article.

I'm sure you will inspire many more to take the plunge of learning the piano no matter what their age.

smile

#1000983 - 10/28/04 07:23 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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Rodney Offline
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Caledon ON, Canada
Hi Cindy,

I'd be happy to be an interviewee.

I'm 38, started learning about a year and a half ago on my own and then signed up for lessons about 4 months ago.

Rodney

#1000984 - 10/28/04 09:03 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: May 2004
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sleepingcats Offline
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Joined: May 2004
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Oregon
Cindy,

You can count me in as well if you need more subjects! smile

I'm 44, started 3 years of lessons when I was 16, then no lessons until last December! Had a 25 year period during most of which I had no piano/keyboard.


"Cats make purrfect friends"
#1000985 - 10/28/04 01:07 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 569
Frank R Offline
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Frank R  Offline
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Posts: 569
Anaheim Hills, CA
Hi Cindy,

I'm an adult beginner, 57 years old, been playing for 1 yr. 9 months. If you need someone to interview I would be happy to offer my time.

Good luck with your project.


Keep a song in your heart!

Frank
--------------------------
It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not!
#1000986 - 10/28/04 01:15 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: Oct 2004
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james_cc Offline
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Chino Hills, CA
I am 44 and have been playing for the last 3-4 years, but more mostly in the last year.

Well I have strong musical background in pop and singing and because my daughters go to piano lesson, that gives me tremendous chance to learn much more.

I will be happy to give you input..

--James

#1000987 - 10/28/04 02:17 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: Aug 2001
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Nina Offline
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Nina  Offline
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Phoenix, AZ
Quote
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
Thanks, everyone! Jac and Michael, I'll write to you off-list.

Nina. Nina, Nina, Nina . . .

:offers Nina comforting mug of hot cocoa:

Awwww, I don't want you feeling left out! Are you taking lessons at the moment? Maybe you can be the shining example of all that can be achieved through persistance, hard work, determination and an abiding belief in the American spirit?

:dabs tears:
It's OK, I can handle the rejection. Really. Don't worry that I'll be left off the list and ignored. Really, it's OK. Really. :sniff whine:

But it is true that I am taking lessons again, FWIW. Perhaps I can fit into the remedial, still can't get it right column?? wink

#1000988 - 10/29/04 05:54 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Cindysphinx Offline
Cindysphinx  Offline


Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Washington D.C. Metro
Oh, you guys are so wonderful!

At this point, I've interviewed a number of you, and you've been really fabulous. I feel lucky to have had these conversations -- you guys seem so much more *real* to me now! I've been amazed at the different ways you all came to your decision to take up the piano. It's not a "one-size-fits-all" calling.

I'm trying to write something with what I have so far. That way if I find something isn't working I can go back and do more interviews. So would it be all right if I put you guys in a holding pattern for now until I figure out how to frame the story?

And Pique?

Feature writing is really, really hard. I'm a lawyer, OK? I've been trained for years to just stick to the facts and to persuade rather than entertain. It's not easy breaking through all that training.

Cindy -- hoping she'll be able to focus better after the election

#1000989 - 11/29/04 12:00 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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jdsher Offline
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Joined: Feb 2004
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Plano, Texas
Hey Cindy, how's the article coming along? Is there anything we can do to help?
Jon


"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein
#1000990 - 11/29/04 05:11 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: Feb 2003
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Cindysphinx Offline
Cindysphinx  Offline


Joined: Feb 2003
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Washington D.C. Metro
Well, it's going. wink

I have learned that this process is kind of weird. You have to "sell" your story to a magazine or newspaper before it is written. Then they retain you to write it. You are supposed to approach one publication at a time if you care at all about your reputation in the industry because committing the same story to multiple magazines is a no-no.

About two weeks ago, I approached a particular magazine. I am still waiting to hear something. The workshop leader said there wasn't a snowball's chance that this publication would be interested -- something I would have appreciated knowing before I approached them!

So now I have to follow up, which I hope to do this week. I figured that maybe, just maybe, they'll take it, as it might take a while to get on the desk of the right person for an approval, whereas rejections take no time at all. So maybe the delay is a good sign. Or maybe it just means it's Thanksgiving and people were to busy to reject me all proper like. wink

On the bright side, the workshop leader thinks newspapers would likely be interested, but I'll do better sending them a finished manuscript. Which will take some additional editing because the current version is too long. frown

So I'll keep ya posted!

Cindy -- finding that law practice seems to have drained her of any ability to be succinct

#1000991 - 11/29/04 06:16 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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jdsher Offline
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jdsher  Offline
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Plano, Texas
Good luck Cindy. I have a good feeling about your chances. This is the season of charity and all. wink
Jon


"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein
#1000992 - 11/29/04 08:20 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: Jun 2001
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piqué Offline
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piqué  Offline
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cindy,
sounds like you are getting sound advice from your teacher. one thing i differ with her on, based on my professional experience: you can do multiple submissions of a query. you just make certain that the second someone gives you an assignment you call up all the other editors immediately and advise them that you are withdrawing the query, that someone else has bought the story.

also, two weeks to not hear anything is not very long. editors are extremely busy, and it wouldn't be unusual for it to take them a month or more to get back to you. this is another reason it's best to do multiple queries.

what is the angle on your story? i might be able to suggest some other magazines to approach.

i'm impressed that you are going about this in a professional way. i've had a few attorneys as students, and knew several in journalism school (they were switching careers). the only professionals who have a harder time overcoming their training so they can write for a general audience are scientists and academics.

is your teacher teaching you how to write queries?


piqué

now in paperback:
[Linked Image]

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey
#1000993 - 11/30/04 11:29 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: Feb 2003
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Cindysphinx Offline
Cindysphinx  Offline


Joined: Feb 2003
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Washington D.C. Metro
Yep, we wrote our query letter in class.

All right then, Pique. I'll polish the manuscript so I can send it to publications that take them.

OK. Angle. What's my angle? Um, angles are good, so I should have one.

Doh!

I think my angle is essentially "Piano lessons aren't for children anymore." I'm basically making the point that lots of adults are taking up the instrument for all manner of interesting reasons.

Is that a decent angle? Dang, I hope so!

#1000994 - 11/30/04 09:32 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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piqué Offline
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piqué  Offline
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whether or not that is a good enough angle depends on the publications you are aiming to get into. it sounds like a good enough angle for a sunday feature for a newspaper. for most magazines, you might need something more.

your angle would be helped a lot by reporting. can you get some statistics on how many adult beginners there are now compared to ten years ago, and is the number growing and how do we know?

maybe the deans of piano departments at music schools have noticed that they are getting more adult students coming through?

you will need facts, even if anecdotal, to back up your premise.

and then you need to think about why should the reader care about this? perhaps cite some studies that have been done about the health and psychological benefits to older adults of taking up the piano?

there's an angle for you! a good angle should make the reader sit up and spit out his coffee and yell "hey, martha, listen to this!"

i realize the fun stuff is just getting to know the people and telling their stories, but that isn't enough to hold a good magazine article together all by itself. you have to answer these questions: why now? why this subject? why should we care?

anyway, i am excited for you that you are doing this and i hope you'll post your story for us to read when you are done. i don't do critiques unless pressed to! wink


piqué

now in paperback:
[Linked Image]

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey
#1000995 - 12/01/04 07:44 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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Cindysphinx Offline
Cindysphinx  Offline


Joined: Feb 2003
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Washington D.C. Metro
Quote
there's an angle for you! a good angle should make the reader sit up and spit out his coffee and yell "hey, martha, listen to this!"
I'm thinking of adding a section about the rising numbers of people who have sex on top of their grand pianos. That oughtta do it!

Seriously, I think that (luckily for me) I am slogging in the direction you suggest. For instance, I talked to the directors of the two big music studios in the area, one of whom said she noticed a surge in adults taking up the instrument after 9/11.

Thanks, Pique! (I'd *love* to read any articles you've had published, so PM me if you're game).

#1000996 - 12/01/04 08:14 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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markb Offline
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Maryland
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
I'm thinking of adding a section about the rising numbers of people who have sex on top of their grand pianos. That oughtta do it!

Yet another reason not to own a spinet.


markb--The Count of Casio
#1000997 - 12/01/04 08:40 AM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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Rodney Offline
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Caledon ON, Canada
Cindysphinx,

I've read a number of articles lately on studies that suggest the "use-it or looose-it" principal applies equally well to cognitive funtions as it does to physical functions. This implies that adults can delay, elminate or even reverse the onset of dimensia and like disorders by exercising their minds doing puzzles, reading, etc.

Perhaps someone has done some research if this principal applies equally well to learning a musical instrument. I can't think of anything more mentally challenging and stimulating then learning to play piano as an adult. It might be worth some investigation.

Who knows, you might inspire an entire generation of geriatrics to take up a new hobbie.

Rodney

#1000998 - 12/01/04 03:37 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 2
Sherry Lassie Offline
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Sherry Lassie  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 2
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Dear Cindy:

Have you thought about submitting your article to a tv news show, e.g., 20/20, 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, Prime Time, etc., or maybe an educational network? Of course, adaptation would be required from print to film, but your basic research would be of great interest to those audiences (I noted the 9/11/01 comment). You could do the script writing and interviewees could be filmed. Maybe contacting senior citizen magazines (AARP)or state or local newspapers, etc., would assist you in getting started.

I am a Legal Secretary (for 30 years) and just started playing piano again during Christmas holiday last year. I just love it. I just turned 52. A friend turned me onto the Scott Houston tape, book and CD and it has helped me play non-classical music in a way I never thought possible (that doesn't mean I'm any good - just better than I thought I would be one year later).

This is my first post to this site. I have been reading for months, but your thread was the first that made me want to reply.

Good luck with any and all of your endeavors!

Sherry Lassie

#1000999 - 12/01/04 03:58 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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piqué Offline
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piqué  Offline
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cindy,
if you are interested in branching out into broadcast, get the story printed in a newspaper or magazine FIRST, then send the tv station the CLIPPING, not an unpublished manuscript. PM me or talk to your workshop instructor if you get serious about pursuing this.


piqué

now in paperback:
[Linked Image]

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey
#1001000 - 12/01/04 08:19 PM Re: Writing an article about adult beginners  
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Cindysphinx Offline
Cindysphinx  Offline


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Washington D.C. Metro
Honestly, I think I'll wind up sticking to law in the end.

Feature writing is *hard.* But this has been a fun exercise, and I've managed to learn a little something.


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