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Re: You can play the piano?? #1103993
11/12/08 05:37 AM
11/12/08 05:37 AM
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Auckland, New Zealand
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Ted Offline
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I have found over the years that most people can take a maximum of about ten minutes of any sort of piano music. But then most trained musicians and pianists don't seem to respond directly to the sound experience anyway but are busily thinking ABOUT it in relation to a host of external considerations and comparisons, what they have been taught and their musical experiences of the past.

So in answer to the original question I tend to say yes, many people do respond in such an incredulous way but I think only a very small number of these do so because of primary, naive love of our piano sound itself. They would probably respond the same to somebody who could lift a heavy weight, run a four minute mile or perform feats of mental arithmetic. Where I used to come unstuck years ago was believing they liked my actual sounds, which mistake led to many misunderstandings.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
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Re: You can play the piano?? #1103994
11/12/08 09:59 AM
11/12/08 09:59 AM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 4,701
Illinois
loveschopintoomuch Offline OP
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I really enjoyed reading all your responses. And I believe there was a element of truth in all of them.

Perhaps I used too wide a brush to paint certain people as snobs. But, you know, the definition of a snob are those who look down on others or who feel superior to them, usually to boost their own ego. And I would bet big money that if you asked any of them if they wished they could play, they would answer "Yes." I still think it is a form of sour grapes, for we all envy and are amazed by true skill and/or talent. If for nothing else, but for the amount of dedication, time and patience involved.

I think melwig's observation is the key... that people for whom music is so important are more appreciative of those who possess the ability to play. thumb And yes, older people who remember the music of years past can be the most appreciative of all.

I have to interject my favorite story here. We had some friends over last year and they all insisted I play (which I hate because of performance anxiety). But I finally gave in and played a somewhat easier version of Chopin's...#10, 3. I managed to get through it with no noticeable mistakes and received a warm round of applause. Then Bob gets up and walks over to the piano and asks if I could play his all-time favorite piece..."The Warsaw Concerto." eek I told him that I would have to hire an orchestra and conductor to do so. Again, just an indication that those who can not play have no idea of how difficult it is. :rolleyes:

From all of the above, I guess it is a mixed bag of experiences, some funny and some sad.

But I happen to think you are all very special in what you do. It is often a thankless and oh so frustrating ambition, but one that can fulfill us so completely that we labor on. smile

My very best to all,
Kathleen


After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891
Re: You can play the piano?? #1103995
11/12/08 10:14 AM
11/12/08 10:14 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
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Coastal Mississippi
Woody-Woodruff Offline
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Coastal Mississippi
Kathleen,
I think all of us are gulity of patting ourselves on the back when we FINALLY get something right. It is what keeps us going. On the other hand, we also severely repremand oursleves when we don't. Regarding others, unless you play the instrument you have no idea how much time and effort goes into playing it. Just my opinion.
Woody


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Re: You can play the piano?? #1103996
11/12/08 10:49 AM
11/12/08 10:49 AM
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 35
Norway
Akvarn Offline
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Norway
Kathleen, that story reminds me of one time when a relative asked me to have a look at her roof to see if it was possible to cover it with tiles. It wasn't possible since the construction was too weak and there was no way to easily and inexpensively reinforce the structure. She was totally devastated because she was convinced that an engineer like me would easily come up with some "miraculous" way to fulfill her wish. I guess lack of experience is a key factor here: Learning the piano, taking education and lots of other things in life require that you put your heart into it. Some people take on challenges like that all their life, others steer away. Maybe people in the latter of the two groups fail (more often, anyway) to recognize the efforts required to play the piano at a decent level.

People usually aren't surprised when I tell them I play the piano (or guitar for that matter), but they seem to expect me to be good at it. That bothers me a bit since I don't like to perform in front of people. The lack of surprise might be due to my general profile: I like to play golf, speak Russian and a couple of other foreign languages and have more education than anyone will ever need. I probably just fit into the picture most people have of pianists. :rolleyes:

Re: You can play the piano?? #1103997
11/12/08 10:58 AM
11/12/08 10:58 AM
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Posts: 1,358
MA
Kymber Offline
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A few things come to mind.
People are often in awe of things they can’t do.
You usually only hear and see a pianist after they are already pretty decent.
You rarely see the hard work and preparation that goes into it. And most likely never hear all the bad playing that goes on before it gets good.
I used to do Tae Kwon Do and I would get that WOW response as well. People would tell me how they wish they could do TKD but they can’t because they thought you have to be quick, strong and flexible to do martial arts. I would tell them that you develop that as you practice. But, they weren’t having it. They truly believed that they couldn’t do it and for some reason I could. If only they knew what a clumsy doofus I really am – LOL

Another funny story:
My coworker wants to play piano SO bad. But, she can’t afford a teacher. She had three lessons a long time ago. I told her about some group lessons and one day seminars that might be more affordable. But, she felt a little intimidated. So, I told her one day we could go over the practice rooms and I would show her enough so that at least the piano wasn’t so foreign to her and so she might feel a little more comfortable if she chose to go to the seminar or something. So, we went. I showed her how recognize the notes by looking at the black keys. She was thrilled by this. Apparently the other person didn’t tell her how to do this. I told her to quiz herself every day until she knew every note immediately when she looked at the keyboard. Then I showed her how to play C major and G major and a couple of chords. I went of some basic theory stuff and that was about it. We work in the same dept but our offices are across the hall from each other. When I went over to her side to use the photocopier our supervisor said she couldn’t she couldn’t stop talking about the lesson and she kept going on about how good I was she could tell because of the way my finger moved. She had everyone in the office thinking I was a musical genius-LOL. I kept saying I only play a little bit. But they weren’t buying it.
So, I guess I will have to practice extra hard now to live up to my reputation smile


“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
Re: You can play the piano?? #1103998
11/12/08 11:50 AM
11/12/08 11:50 AM
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MA
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"I happen to think you are all very special in what you do. It is often a thankless and oh so frustrating ambition, but one that can fulfill us so completely that we labor on".
That was a nice thing to say smile

I forgot the mention this in my previous reply. Whenever I tell my friends that I am doing things like taking voice lessons or piano (among other things) they always comment on my courage and they would never have the nerve to do something like that. I think it's kind of sad that the first thought people have is that is it something that is unatainable. But I guess as someone put it (I can't remember who) Obstacles are their to weed out the people who don't want it bad enough (obstacles including our own thoughts). I guess we want it bad enough smile


“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
Re: You can play the piano?? #1103999
11/12/08 07:23 PM
11/12/08 07:23 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,049
Phoenix Metro, AZ
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ProdigalPianist Offline
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Joined: Apr 2007
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Phoenix Metro, AZ
Quote
Originally posted by Laura D:
told her I was trying to make it better, finished the practice session, and never played it again while she was here. I told my husband I should pick out some particularly nasty two bars (those zigzag bars from Minuet 1 of the Bach Partita in B-flat were what I had in mind) and work on them over and over for hours. Then another two bars.
You are much kinder than I would have been. I would have suggested Motel 6 if she didn't like it.

What is it about that Partita??? My husband refers to it as "The Twiddley Bonk Song"!! (he came up with that name when I was learning the Gigue but applies it equally to the other parts!

THAT was the piece that explained to him what I meant when I warned him, before we bought the piano, when he was insisting that he *would too* like listening to me practice, that listening to me _practice_ was not the same thing as listening to me *play*...he knows that now...thanks to the Twiddley Bonk Song!! laugh


Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.
Re: You can play the piano?? #1104000
11/12/08 08:01 PM
11/12/08 08:01 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,371
Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Piano World Offline

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Piano World  Offline

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Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Quote
Originally posted by flyboy01:
I get the same reaction from some people when they learn that I am a certified pilot
with our own plane. Some people are in awe, others shake their head and say I'm crazy.

Now that I am trying to learn how to play the piano I am the one in awe of you good people that are eons ahead of me with your progress.
Ah, see now, I'm jealous of you :-)

I took some flying lessons, absolutely loved it (in spite of my fear of heights). My instructor, a retired Belgium Air Force pilot (with 50+ years flying experience) told me it was too bad I hadn't started sooner, as I'd have probably been a good commercial pilot (I'm already dangerously close to the point where they put them out to pasture).

Unfortunately the FAA made getting my medical near impossible.

Now, back to pianos.

I've experienced both reactions as well.
People who appreciate piano music, or have some understanding of what it takes to learn an instrument are impressed. Some even after I've played :-)

It's funny when I tell people about founding/hosting Piano World, and they ask if I play. Duh


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Re: You can play the piano?? #1104001
11/12/08 08:10 PM
11/12/08 08:10 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,049
Phoenix Metro, AZ
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ProdigalPianist Offline
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Kathleen,
My guess (and it is only a guess) is that the fact that your piano is a grand is a major part of what impressed him. Grand pianos spell out "Serious Musician" to almost everybody. The fact that you have invested the money and the space for a grand speaks of a different relationship (in most people's minds) to the piano...where I grew up, grands in private homes are rarer than hen's teeth, and garner much more respect.

Edited because I can spell but can't type, apparently.


Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.
Re: You can play the piano?? #1104002
11/12/08 08:37 PM
11/12/08 08:37 PM
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 176
Pennsylvania
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Laura D Offline
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Joined: Sep 2005
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Pennsylvania
Oh, ProdigalPianist, you made me laugh! Nah, she was an ok houseguest other than that one episode. Bought lots of gifts, took kids to HersheyPark, cooked meals, did dishes, etc. How can I complain? (Except here smile )

And I'm so glad somebody else can sympathize about that Partita. I worked for hours on that, would get one 4-measure bar up to speed, and the next day it would be completely gone. I could not hear the piece to keep it in my head--it seemed like just so many random notes. Finally my teacher told me to play it in chords. Wow, what a difference! Play the two RH eighth notes together with the LH note, all the way through the piece. All of a sudden it sounded like very nice Bach. I played it that way for two weeks and enjoyed it, and now I can work on it and I'm finally getting somewhere!

Re: You can play the piano?? #1104003
11/12/08 09:30 PM
11/12/08 09:30 PM
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,163
Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
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sotto voce Offline
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Joined: Aug 2006
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Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Quote
Originally posted by ProdigalPianist:
Kathleen,
My guess (and it is only a guess) is that the fact that your piano is a grand is a major part of what impressed him. Grand pianos spell out "Serious Musician" to almost everybody. The fact that you have invested the money and the space for a grand speaks of a different relationship (in most people's minds) to the piano...where I grew up, grands in private homes are rarer than hen's teeth, and garner much more respect.

Edited because I can spell but can't type, apparently.
I think that's a very good point (even though my own Baldwin M hasn't seemed to have that effect).

But I wonder if the impression a domestic grand piano makes may be the opposite one in the future—a connotation of pretentiousness—because it is so frequently a must-have item in the decorating budgets of aggressively upwardly mobile types who don't play at all but believe that a PSO makes a tasteful statement about their imagined sophistication.

Steven

Re: You can play the piano?? #1104004
11/12/08 09:56 PM
11/12/08 09:56 PM
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 1,676
Maryland
BillM Offline
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Steven - what is a PSO?


BillM (formerly b528nf7)
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Re: You can play the piano?? #1104005
11/12/08 11:02 PM
11/12/08 11:02 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 125
Cornwall UK
Blackbird Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by b528nf7:
Steven - what is a PSO?
Ditto smile

Life is always work living if you learn something new each day

Re: You can play the piano?? #1104006
11/13/08 12:35 AM
11/13/08 12:35 AM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,646
Encino, California
ChatNoir Offline
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I guess I can with fair accuracy assume that PSO is Piano Shaped Object.
It certainly could not be the Portland Symphony Orchestra, could it?
Then again, the upward mobile types will sometimes stop at nothing.


Some men are music lovers. Others make love without it.
Re: You can play the piano?? #1104007
11/13/08 12:37 AM
11/13/08 12:37 AM
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,163
Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
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sotto voce Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Blackbird:
Quote
Originally posted by b528nf7:
[b] Steven - what is a PSO?
Ditto smile [/b]
It's an acronym for "piano-shaped object"—a piece of furniture that may or may not be a worthwhile musical instrument (though in the context of my post it's frequently a Steinway just for the classy cachet it confers).

Sometimes PSO is confused with another acronym: POS.

From the Free Online Dictionary :

PSO = Piano-Shaped Object (shoddily made or badly damaged piano)
POS = Piece Of Stuff (polite form)

smile

Steven

Re: You can play the piano?? #1104008
11/13/08 09:42 AM
11/13/08 09:42 AM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 5,921
SC Mountains
-Frycek Offline
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SC Mountains
Quote
Originally posted by sotto voce:
But I wonder if the impression a domestic grand piano makes may be the opposite one in the future—a connotation of pretentiousness—because it is so frequently a must-have item in the decorating budgets of aggressively upwardly mobile types who don't play at all but believe that a PSO makes a tasteful statement about their imagined sophistication.

Steven [/QB]
If we ever reach that point then the sight of something like my second hand Paderewski editions, held open with clothes pins, piled onto the music desk of my battered, but dusted and recently tuned, no recognizable name (but with real ivory keys! and home made string cover) 1937 "not quite" grand will speak volumes.


Slow down and do it right.
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Re: You can play the piano?? #1104009
11/13/08 10:17 AM
11/13/08 10:17 AM
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Posts: 210
Central NC
Ivory Dreams Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Laura D:
And then there was my recent house guest who commented that she had heard enough of one particular piece I was working on.
I love my piano and my time at the piano. I would have answered: "Well bless your heart..., Sweetie, I didn't know you were planning on leaving so soon... Do you need some help with your luggage?"

DON'T MESS WITH MY MUSIC.... This person would need a motel reservation for future visits.


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You can own a Chickering, Christifori, or Steinway, but if you can't play it.... It is just a piece of eye candy.
Re: You can play the piano?? #1104010
11/13/08 10:36 AM
11/13/08 10:36 AM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 4,701
Illinois
loveschopintoomuch Offline OP
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Illinois
So great to read all of the above.

I am not, by nature, a materialistic person...far from it. The ONLY thing I have ever wanted and dreamed about was a grand piano. It did epitomized the total and complete grandeur of music composed for the piano. And, naturally, Chopin deserved the very best.

And so, about 20 years ago, I bought mine (a 1917 Lyon and Healy and in almost perfect shape) for just $2,000. True it does have a few problems (cracked sound board), but its tone is heavenly. Every time I sit at it, I get this very strange feeling that it is demanding me to do my best, for that's what it was made for.

On other note (pardon the pun), have you ever noticed in a movie or something on TV, when a piano is shown in someone's living room...that there is either one piece of music on the stand or none at all? Good grief. I have about 15 different books and pieces of sheet music scattered about, a glass filled with sharpened pencils, a timer, and lots of clothes pins (Frycek...ha!). Anyone who is serious about the piano (and this is just a guess) would have more than one piece of music on board.

Kathleen


After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891
Re: You can play the piano?? #1104011
11/13/08 11:06 AM
11/13/08 11:06 AM
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Posts: 1,358
MA
Kymber Offline
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MA
Kathleen,
Yes, I noticed that there is always a piano in the background. But it never hit me that you rarely see any music. A very important detail the set designer left out.

I also noticed sometimes they will have the piano covered pictures frames-lots of them. I appreciate the sentiment but it makes me nervous that if someone was doing some serious playing they would fall like dominos.


“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
Re: You can play the piano?? #1104012
11/13/08 12:02 PM
11/13/08 12:02 PM
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Posts: 794
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Donna R. Offline
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Posts: 794
Quote
Originally posted by Akvarn:

People usually aren't surprised when I tell them I play the piano (or guitar for that matter), but they seem to expect me to be good at it.
I always say I'm learning to play. That usually dampens expectations somewhat. But it does drive me crazy when someone asks me to play, listens to my small and not very difficult repertoire, and then asks for something by Liszt or Chopin, or, my favorite request :rolleyes: , Rhapsody in Blue (don't I just wish . . . )

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