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Share your story #2245663
03/12/14 11:01 PM
03/12/14 11:01 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 6,036
Isengard
J
JoelW Offline OP
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JoelW  Offline OP
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Joined: May 2012
Posts: 6,036
Isengard
When did you discover classical music? When did you start playing piano? How does your life relate to music? Detailed replies encouraged.

(bonus: talk about other musical genres in your life)

smile


Serenity now.
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Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2245676
03/12/14 11:20 PM
03/12/14 11:20 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 326
St Louis
A
A Guy Offline
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A Guy  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 326
St Louis
I never really "discovered" classical music. My parents would put recordings of Glenn Gould's Bach for me to listen to in the night, and I would fall asleep listening to it. Even though I was exposed to classical music (especially piano) so early in my life, i didn't start playing until relatively late, in second grade. I was encouraged to start when I constantly heard my mom tinkering around with fur elise on a keyboard we borrowed. I really liked piano the first year, mainly because my first teacher was mainly fine however badly I played, and didnt try to correct me much. When I switched teachers, and actually had to put in work, I started moving away from piano (forced to practice an hour and a half a day). I rediscovered piano around 3 years ago, in 6-7 grade, and now I practice anywhere from 2-5 hours a day, depending on my schedule (I also switched teachers again). I also listen to radio music and rap.

JoelW: it's not fair for you to ask us about our experience if you don't talk about yours as well XD

Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2245680
03/12/14 11:32 PM
03/12/14 11:32 PM
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 2,079
TwoSnowflakes Offline
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TwoSnowflakes  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2012
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Discover it? I don't recall it not being a part of my life. My family always loved classical music and I grew up with great music and going to the orchestra with my parents. I guess I sort of took it on as an interest of my own rather than it just being something we always sort of enjoyed as a family in my mid-teens.

I started taking private piano lessons at age 6 or so, and continued into my mid-teens. My mother was a violinist and I spent some years also taking violin but piano was definitely my primary instrument. I did play violin in the school orchestra through high school, however. After I quit piano (age 16 or so?), I immediately regretted it but didn't think it was something I could do anything about. I continued to listen to and enjoy classical music as a genre and even took a few formal theory classes in college as electives. Later, once I bought a house and had kids, my mother let me take the piano I'd taken lessons on while I was young(an old spinet) under the guise of wanting to start my own kids on piano lessons. Anyway, my oldest took violin anyway, and it sat idle in my house for a number of years as a physical representation of my huge failing, haha. It just seemed to taunt me for never doing right by it. Really, classic "life's major regret" sort of thing. I would occasionally sit down at it in a vain attempt to accompany my daughter, but it just was never a good piano and now never seemed to hold a tune for more than five minutes. Plus, it was just so frustrating to see how terrible the years had been to whatever skills I had before quitting. Really, just an enormous negative energy sitting right there in my living room, haha.

Then, over the ensuing number of years, two friends purchased lovely new pianos and it got me thinking some about that for myself. I decided that when I turned 40 (then, about five years away), I would pull the trigger and get a piano for myself.

And that's exactly what I did.

I tossed the spinet and all the bad mojo it had, bought a grand piano, hired a fabulous teacher, and have been enjoying the heck of out piano ever since. I'm coming up on a year next month. While I of course wish I had finally overcome whatever it was that was holding me back before deciding to do something about regretting giving it up all those years ago, I don't have time to spend too much time worrying about it because I'd rather just be practicing.

Music is definitely a side passion as I do not do anything professionally whatsoever with music.

Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2245681
03/12/14 11:33 PM
03/12/14 11:33 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 990
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Atrys Offline
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Heard a nocturne while studying and thought to myself "holy christ, I want to play that". Bought a keyboard the next day and signed up for lessons shortly after. Good times so far 3hearts


"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
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Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2245691
03/13/14 12:15 AM
03/13/14 12:15 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,152
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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I was walking down the street when out from someone's yard, an oboe came up and bit me.


Semipro Tech
Re: Share your story [Re: BDB] #2245698
03/13/14 12:34 AM
03/13/14 12:34 AM
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 2,079
TwoSnowflakes Offline
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TwoSnowflakes  Offline
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Posts: 2,079
Originally Posted by BDB
I was walking down the street when out from someone's yard, an oboe came up and bit me.


Ouch. Sorry to reed that.

Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2245737
03/13/14 03:01 AM
03/13/14 03:01 AM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 372
B
bellamusica Offline
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When my mom was young, she always wanted to have piano lessons but her family couldn't afford it so she decided her kids would all have at least the opportunity, and then if any of us showed any aptitude we could continue of we wanted but wouldn't be forced. So I started lessons at age 4 or 5, but only with a small digital keyboard (it didn't even have weighted keys as I recall.) After a while it was discovered that I have perfect pitch, but as nobody in my family knew anything about music, we all said "Oh, that's kinda neat" and no further thought was given to it.

Eventually we got a full sized digital keyboard with weighted keys, and that's what I practiced on until I was nearly 18, when I got a new piano teacher who at my first lesson asked me if I had learned any Bach, to which I replied "Bach?!?! That kind of music is what grown-ups play on CDs and stuff! How on earth do you think I could possibly play something that hard?" I was forthwith dumped into a world hitherto unknown to me. We took a field trip to a local music competition where my eyes just about popped out of my head watching 12-year-old kids playing Mozart concertos by memory, and high-schoolers playing what seemed to me unbelievably perfect renditions of Beethoven sonatas and Liszt etudes, which would then be picked apart by the adjudicators. This was the point where I graduated to my first real acoustic piano, my grandma's ancient little Baldwin Acrosonic spinet. By the time a year had passed it became obvious that even this wouldn't cut it, and my parents bought me my Young Chang grand which I still have.

I went to college and got my Bachelor of Music in piano performance, and went on to achieve a Master's degree in the same, married a fellow pianist (who also has a Master's in piano performance), bought a second grand, and our dream now is to eventually make a living teaching, accompanying, and performing! Wish us luck!

Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2245764
03/13/14 06:55 AM
03/13/14 06:55 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,572
New York City
ChopinLives81 Offline
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New York City
When I was in junior high school (middle school) I was assigned to take choir to obtain my music credits for school. Prior to this I had no musical exposure of this sort and I also didn't have any kind of music I liked listening to. I also have no musically inclined family members coming from a Dominican family.

My choir teacher would always play on a keyboard various broadway songs and we would learn to sing the lyrics in preparation for annual school shows that were presented which included us, the band, dance students etc... One thing that always caught my attention was watching my choir teacher play, although I never thought about doing so myself. Soon after starting choir I also had to take a sort of "intro" to music where learned basic music reading and learned simple one-fingered melodies. Again, I didn't really look into any further, although I did find it kinda cool.

Then 1996 rolls along, the Sony Playstation had just come out and my brother and I got one for Christmas along with the game "Resident Evil". Not too far into the beginning of the game this happens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=TgMz9Q-nDF4#t=383

After that something sparked inside me, I had never heard music like this. I didn't know what it was or who composed it, but I knew instantly that a huge void in me was starting to fill. When I returned to school I asked my choir teacher if he'd ever heard of the "Moonlight Sonata" for which he answered " Of course, that's one of Beethoven's most famous pieces". That's when it struck me that classical music was going to be something I wanted in my life. From there on I began to ask around about classical music, began buying CD's which at the time I used to get "piano favorites" or "25 classical best" which not only had Beethoven, but others I had never heard of like Bach, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff etc.

Pandora's Box had been opened, and I was running with it. I soon asked my parents for a keyboard (we didn't have much money, nor room so no piano) I also found the sheet music for the Moonlight Sonata. I was so inspired that I learned the first movement in a week, on my own, no teacher, with only basic music reading skills. By now, my time at the school was almost over and I was getting ready to go to High School, so I never got a chance to show my choir teacher what I was up to. Also, just before High school started I also learned Chopin's Nocturne Op.9 no.2, again on my own, on a 5 octave keyboard.

After I completed that, I went back to visit my choir teacher and told him "Hey, I've learned to play some piano pieces" and he sat me at an old upright in his room where I played the Moonlight and the Nocturne. His jaw dropped...he said he'd never seen anyone play a Chopin nocturne in person and especially not after only a few months of starting piano.

He immediately took me under his wing and walked me through the best he could on how to play such music and soon after enlisted me to take Theory at Queens College where I auditioned for placement in their prepatory music program. By then I has also learned the Minute Waltz and Bach's Invention No.1 which I performed. I don't remember how many levels there were (10 maybe 15) but I was placed in the 2nd to last level. I explained I had money issues and after meeting with the director and playing for him privately, they allowed me to study for free. Covered some advanced theory and learned a lot, however I still didn't have a teacher.

I completed then program and my choir teacher suggested someone he knew to teach me. I met with this teacher, but she felt she wasn't the best person to handle my situation so she referred me to Ana Maria Trenchi de Bottazzi. However, she was a little overhwelming for me and of course money was an issue. After that I just continued on my own, learning new pieces and going deeper into this world, composing the whole time too, until I arrived here.

**EDIT** Forgot to mention that I didn't get my current digital piano until my 2nd year in High School.

Within my first 2-3 years I learned:
1)Moonlight Sonata 1st Mov.
2)Pathetique Sonata 2nd Mov.
3)Invention No.1
4)Invention No.4
5)Invention No.8
6)English Suite No.2: Prelude
7)Toccata & Fugue in D-minor (whole Toccata, part of the fugue)
8)"Little Fugue in G-minor" (Half)
9)Nocturne Op.9 no.2
10)"Minute Waltz"
11) various snippets of mozart, liszt and others.

Last edited by ChopinLives81; 03/13/14 09:29 AM.

"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2245799
03/13/14 08:50 AM
03/13/14 08:50 AM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 10,507
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bennevis Online content
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I grew up in a household without music: we had an ancient gramophone which gathered dust. Occasionally, my father would put on a record of some ethnic music. Those were the only records he had. Relatives would occasionally bring tapes and LPs of pop - but never classical.

My first exposure to classical was when I visited my uncle's family for holidays - his children were starting to learn piano and violin, and he frequently played records of Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty and Bizet's L'Arlésienne Suites: I loved the 'strange' harmonies (so different from pop thumb) and the wonderful sounds of the orchestra - the blazing horns in the farandole of the Bizet never failed to get me dancing around the room grin.

I also saw the biopic The Great Waltz featuring the music of J. Strauss, with entranced me - and the first record I bought with my own pocket money was of Strauss waltzes.

Then my cousins started playing Beethoven's Minuet in G, followed soon after by Für Elise and Rondo alla turca, and that was when my parents got envious and decided that their own children needed to start piano too. I was pretty old by then - 10 (my cousins started on the piano at 5).

So, it was all thanks to my uncle - and he also had big LP boxes of the complete Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos (Philharmonia/Klemperer and Barenboim) and piano sonatas (Wilhelm Backhaus), which he transferred onto cassette tape for me when I left home for greener pastures in my early teens. That was when my music education (including choral singing) and piano playing started in earnest....

At university, I hurriedly got through my performance diploma in order to concentrate on getting my degree (not music-related), so I've not had any further lessons since. And moving around with my job meant that I never thought of getting my own piano, so I scrounged around for anything that resembled a piano to practise on, whenever I had the opportunity. Traveling abroad was such a fertile period grin - playing on Mozart's fortepianos in Salzburg and Vienna (plus my first experience playing the Bösendorfer Imperial there, which left me hooked on it), and Grieg's own Steinway in Troldhaugen, etc. But there have been years when I've had no access to any piano.

At other times, I've stayed somewhere where I had regular access to a good piano, and have given piano recitals and lecture-recitals for fun or charity. I've never made any money from my playing, and don't intend ever to - there are professionals who need it.

Music is a big part of my life, except when it isn't grin - like when I'm perched up on a high mountain in the Himalaya, which is one of my other past-times. Then I don't miss it at all.

But at least I've finally acquired my own 'piano' (in 2010) - a high-end digital - so I don't need to scrounge around for a piano to play on anymore. So, I've been expanding my repertoire ever since, and learning stuff that I never could before.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2245811
03/13/14 09:02 AM
03/13/14 09:02 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 13,837
Iowa City, IA
Kreisler Offline
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Iowa City, IA
Started piano lessons in 2nd grade. Glover/Garrow method. By the time I was 14, I was playing Mozart K 545, but not very well. smile

But while my technical abilities were lacking, I was lucky to have amazing music teachers in school. My elementary, junior, and high school music classes included a lot of solfege and theory instruction, so by the age of 16 or so, I could easily play by ear and played in the jazz band. I was also asked to accompany the high school musical (we did Grease) and quite a few choir concerts. During high school, I also played in a jazz combo with some friends of mine. All five of us are now professional musicians living in different parts of the country. We played mostly jazz standards and some things we wrote/improvised ourselves.

Through high school, I continued piano off-and-on and finally got to a place where I could play the Italian concerto and Beethoven Pathetique sonata. I auditioned on those two pieces for a music minor at the local university (Missouri State U). I was accepted on full scholarship to the chemistry department and received some additional scholarship money devoted to music minors. I enrolled as a chemistry/math major with a minor in music.

I was assigned to the studio of a newly hired faculty member. (Entry into his studio is now quite a bit more competitive - he's a full professor at the University of Michigan and runs their doctoral program.) He's the one who built up my piano abilities, and after five years, I headed off to LSU for a masters degree.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246314
03/14/14 02:20 AM
03/14/14 02:20 AM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,525
UK
Nikolas Offline
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Nikolas  Offline
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UK
Interesting stories so far...

In my case things were simple:

My parents were highly educated (and now at the age of almost 80, this means that when they were young getting education was an accomplishment for Greece to begin with). And my father would occasionally play the piano and/or the guitar, at equal talent (not amazingly talent, but his company loved what he did).

So when I was 5 I got into a friends house with a piano. And I wouldn't let go! So my father mainly (but both of them *ahem*) decided that we should get a piano. If nothing happens with me, he would still be able to play something on it.

Year 1: Private lessons, with Sophia. Did nothing to me, I don't remember anything. She was rude and always smoking while teaching. Bliah!

Year 2: Private lessons: A blonde teacher called Marry. Did nothing to me. I don't remember much, except that she bragged how her students starter off Beyer immediately (brrr... But this is 1983 or so).

Year 3: Off to a small conservatory close to our home. New teacher Nicole. She would hit me with a wood ruler and yell at me constantly. I'd cry before and after every lesson. I was kept there for a full year! My parents thought that I was:
a. Over reacting
b. Hoping to get out of hard work (which I did, A LOT)
c. over reacting

In any case

Year 4: The same small conservatory, with a lovely old teacher, who would not yell, or shout, or certainly hit me. We got along just fine so I jumped at around grade 3 or 4 or something. Playing the difficult works of Anna Magdalena, and some Czerny (the collection with the 30 works in), and some small sonatinas.

She has an issue with completing all the works in a book. So we got Lemoine, which was nice and fine, but she really wanted to do all 50 of them in there! And it was SO boring. Same with Czerny! And I couldn't take it.

I stuck at grade 3-4 for about 6-7 years. No change, no change in books, no change in the quality of my playing... nothing. Never had exams. I didn't want to. And I'd compose endlessly to fill up the gap of anything interesting in my repertoire!

Year 10-11. I'm 15 at the time, and my school (not the music one) organizes a mass concert with the students. I want in and pick a few works to play. My conservatory says otherwise and forbids me to go to the concert. I tell them to [censored] off and quit the conservatory to do what I want. Anyways I would be moving to a new town soon.

Concert goes well, I perform the G major "sonatina" of Beethovens, some Grieg and my own "prelude in D" for piano and flute. I also get introduce with other like minded people (AT LAST!!!) who all love classical music. So I come to love it as well. I find out about fabulous pieces like the Pathetique, and Clair de Lune, etc... I feel in love!

We move to a new town, so in a search for a new teacher, I find Irina! A half Greek Russian piano teacher who is AWESOME! We hit it off straight away and she finally is teaching me piano and music! I jump through hoops to get to the lessons every week, and have 2 hours of lessons on a weekly bases. Within a year I complete the Grieg sonata and go further. By the age of 18 I've decided that I want to be a composer and I don't care about anything else. I want to go abroad (and away from Greece certainly) to study and nothing's going to stop me.

I go through the national exams system for universities in Greece and I manage (with relative ease) to enter the physics department of the University of Ioannina. Don't care about that at all. I manage to complete the following subjects: "English 101, English 201 and Coding 101". Three subjects out of 33 or so!

I drop out and start playing piano at piano bars and stuff like that...

and then at the age of 19-20 I meet Christos Anastassiou (one of the composers in EMF). He tells me that I should study theoretical music (which I'm not doing at the moment, as I'm equally UNlucky in my choice of harmony teachers), and he agrees to teach me. We have daily lessons and very soon I'm on Persichettis harmony of the 20th century.

I'm forced to leave my last piano teacher, a couple of years before I can complete my studies (by getting a performance diploma in piano), and I get back in Athens to finish off. I get my diplomas and everything and I also meet my (future) wife in 1999!

just for fun in 2002 I try out the National Scholarship Foundation, to get a scholarship to fund my studies of composition abroad. Most people tell me how you need to REALLY know someone from inside, but I don't care. I just want to see what the exams are like. And I win! I WIN! I get a scholarship (of around $60,000 in total).

So, I tell them that "I've not found a university to fit me yet". And they're kind enough to allow me to grab the scholarship next year.

Next year I tell them "Well... you know... ahem... I'm in the army now and my wife is pregnant..." And they're even kinder enough to allow me to grab the scholarship in the next year.

So 2004, my older son is born and I get him and my wife to London to do an MMus in composition, in Royal Holloway. The scholarship still active I carry on studying, and going for a PhD (which I got in 2010).

___________________________

There's four people in my life that changed me (not including my parents, which keep changing me even now at the age of 36). A musicologist named George kokkins. A very open minded guy, who'd done a PhD in Marseille and was full of passion for anything he did. My piano teacher Irina, and Christos Anastassiou. And then... my wife of course! wink

___________________________

But what's interesting in my case is that although my parents were very educated, clever people, etc, for some reasons they never thought about my lack of development in piano learning. Somehow they missed the idea that this was because of crappy teachers! Or they didn't think that I'd make a career out of that! haha! But they've always been supportive of me and my music attempts, which suffice to say is still happening!

And what I think is equally interesting, is the fact that I doubt I'd become the composer I am today if it wasn't for all those years of poor learning and poor teaching and poor musical environments! I think...

God I love talking about myself, don't I?

Re: Share your story [Re: Nikolas] #2246377
03/14/14 07:35 AM
03/14/14 07:35 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,572
New York City
ChopinLives81 Offline
1000 Post Club Member
ChopinLives81  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,572
New York City
Originally Posted by Nikolas
I get my diplomas and everything and I also meet my (future) wife in 1999!


Boy, I wish I had met my future wife in 1999. It's 2014 and I still haven't met her. I think I'm doing something wrong.


"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246459
03/14/14 10:55 AM
03/14/14 10:55 AM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,525
UK
Nikolas Offline
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Nikolas  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,525
UK
Lol. Depends on how old you are!

Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246460
03/14/14 10:58 AM
03/14/14 10:58 AM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 6,036
Isengard
J
JoelW Offline OP
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JoelW  Offline OP
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Joined: May 2012
Posts: 6,036
Isengard
Nikolas,

Now THAT'S a story.

(honorary mention: ChopinLives81) grin


Serenity now.
Re: Share your story [Re: Nikolas] #2246462
03/14/14 11:15 AM
03/14/14 11:15 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 23,523
New York City
pianoloverus Online content
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
Interesting stories so far...

In my case things were simple:

My parents were highly educated (and now at the age of almost 80, this means that when they were young getting education was an accomplishment for Greece to begin with). And my father would occasionally play the piano and/or the guitar, at equal talent (not amazingly talent, but his company loved what he did).

So when I was 5 I got into a friends house with a piano. And I wouldn't let go! So my father mainly (but both of them *ahem*) decided that we should get a piano. If nothing happens with me, he would still be able to play something on it.

Year 1: Private lessons, with Sophia. Did nothing to me, I don't remember anything. She was rude and always smoking while teaching. Bliah!

Year 2: Private lessons: A blonde teacher called Marry. Did nothing to me. I don't remember much, except that she bragged how her students starter off Beyer immediately (brrr... But this is 1983 or so).

Year 3: Off to a small conservatory close to our home. New teacher Nicole. She would hit me with a wood ruler and yell at me constantly. I'd cry before and after every lesson. I was kept there for a full year! My parents thought that I was:
a. Over reacting
b. Hoping to get out of hard work (which I did, A LOT)
c. over reacting

In any case

Year 4: The same small conservatory, with a lovely old teacher, who would not yell, or shout, or certainly hit me. We got along just fine so I jumped at around grade 3 or 4 or something. Playing the difficult works of Anna Magdalena, and some Czerny (the collection with the 30 works in), and some small sonatinas.

She has an issue with completing all the works in a book. So we got Lemoine, which was nice and fine, but she really wanted to do all 50 of them in there! And it was SO boring. Same with Czerny! And I couldn't take it.

I stuck at grade 3-4 for about 6-7 years. No change, no change in books, no change in the quality of my playing... nothing. Never had exams. I didn't want to. And I'd compose endlessly to fill up the gap of anything interesting in my repertoire!

Year 10-11. I'm 15 at the time, and my school (not the music one) organizes a mass concert with the students. I want in and pick a few works to play. My conservatory says otherwise and forbids me to go to the concert. I tell them to [censored] off and quit the conservatory to do what I want. Anyways I would be moving to a new town soon.

Concert goes well, I perform the G major "sonatina" of Beethovens, some Grieg and my own "prelude in D" for piano and flute. I also get introduce with other like minded people (AT LAST!!!) who all love classical music. So I come to love it as well. I find out about fabulous pieces like the Pathetique, and Clair de Lune, etc... I feel in love!

We move to a new town, so in a search for a new teacher, I find Irina! A half Greek Russian piano teacher who is AWESOME! We hit it off straight away and she finally is teaching me piano and music! I jump through hoops to get to the lessons every week, and have 2 hours of lessons on a weekly bases. Within a year I complete the Grieg sonata and go further. By the age of 18 I've decided that I want to be a composer and I don't care about anything else. I want to go abroad (and away from Greece certainly) to study and nothing's going to stop me.

I go through the national exams system for universities in Greece and I manage (with relative ease) to enter the physics department of the University of Ioannina. Don't care about that at all. I manage to complete the following subjects: "English 101, English 201 and Coding 101". Three subjects out of 33 or so!

I drop out and start playing piano at piano bars and stuff like that...

and then at the age of 19-20 I meet Christos Anastassiou (one of the composers in EMF). He tells me that I should study theoretical music (which I'm not doing at the moment, as I'm equally UNlucky in my choice of harmony teachers), and he agrees to teach me. We have daily lessons and very soon I'm on Persichettis harmony of the 20th century.

I'm forced to leave my last piano teacher, a couple of years before I can complete my studies (by getting a performance diploma in piano), and I get back in Athens to finish off. I get my diplomas and everything and I also meet my (future) wife in 1999!

just for fun in 2002 I try out the National Scholarship Foundation, to get a scholarship to fund my studies of composition abroad. Most people tell me how you need to REALLY know someone from inside, but I don't care. I just want to see what the exams are like. And I win! I WIN! I get a scholarship (of around $60,000 in total).

So, I tell them that "I've not found a university to fit me yet". And they're kind enough to allow me to grab the scholarship next year.

Next year I tell them "Well... you know... ahem... I'm in the army now and my wife is pregnant..." And they're even kinder enough to allow me to grab the scholarship in the next year.

So 2004, my older son is born and I get him and my wife to London to do an MMus in composition, in Royal Holloway. The scholarship still active I carry on studying, and going for a PhD (which I got in 2010).

___________________________

There's four people in my life that changed me (not including my parents, which keep changing me even now at the age of 36). A musicologist named George kokkins. A very open minded guy, who'd done a PhD in Marseille and was full of passion for anything he did. My piano teacher Irina, and Christos Anastassiou. And then... my wife of course! wink

___________________________

But what's interesting in my case is that although my parents were very educated, clever people, etc, for some reasons they never thought about my lack of development in piano learning. Somehow they missed the idea that this was because of crappy teachers! Or they didn't think that I'd make a career out of that! haha! But they've always been supportive of me and my music attempts, which suffice to say is still happening!

And what I think is equally interesting, is the fact that I doubt I'd become the composer I am today if it wasn't for all those years of poor learning and poor teaching and poor musical environments! I think...

God I love talking about myself, don't I?
Terrific story and makes me feel very lucky that the four teachers I had in my life were all excellent, inspiring, knowledgeable, kind, and with whom I had great rapport.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/14/14 11:15 AM.
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246511
03/14/14 12:31 PM
03/14/14 12:31 PM
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New York City
ChopinLives81 Offline
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Nikolas,

Now THAT'S a story.

(honorary mention: ChopinLives81) grin


Why thank you very much kind sir.


"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246572
03/14/14 03:00 PM
03/14/14 03:00 PM
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Nikolas Offline
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ChopinLives81: Wow... Just read this whole thread. What an inspirational story! I'm in Frankfurt at the moment for the MusikMesse and my time was (and is) limited, but wanted to let you know that WOW!

And thanks guys! ^_^

Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246615
03/14/14 04:33 PM
03/14/14 04:33 PM
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What a great thread!

I've been drawn to music since I was a baby. My mother wrote in my baby book "can hear a song on the radio and sing it nearly perfectly." My neighbor across the street, Carolyn, had a piano. She was crippled (due to polio in her youth) in her legs, which limited her activity, but her hands were fine and she could play quite well. Initially, Carolyn would play music from Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music and I would sing along. She also had sheet music of current "hits" and she would play as I sang. After a couple of hours, Carolyn would grow tired, and I would sit down and play around on her piano. I figured things out on my own, and I taught myself "My Cup Runneth Over with Love." Carolyn called my mother and asked her "Who taught Michael to play the piano?" My mother responded "We don't have a piano...Michael can't play." "Well, that's him playing right now." My mom ran over and, having studied piano herself for her entire childhood, decided to a)somehow get a piano for us and b) start me in lessons. It took a while, but I started formal lessons when I was 5. My parents bought a Baldwin spinet.

My first teacher used the Brimhall method for learning the basics (starting with reading note values, clapping out rhythms, etc.) Then the staff/reading and identifying notes. I don't think I sat at her piano for several weeks! I didn't think I'd ever get to play. But that didn't stop me at home. I played every waking and free minute. I remember starting with very simply tunes like Twinkle Twinkle, reading both hands. Soon after, I was assigned my first pieces...I believe they were Bela Bartok, Burgenmueller, some easy Schumann, Beethoven, etc. From there I took off and never looked back. By 4th grade, I was accompanying school choirs, which I did through my senior year. I also continued singing, only now accompanying myself. Between my pop music for fun and Classical for lessons, I played the piano every waking moment. My poor mother rarely got to play because I monopolized the piano. I was lucky, however, that she had become so advanced in her own lessons, for she had a TON of music...all Classical...from her years of lessons. Between her extensive library and reading music on the fly for the various choirs, I sight read music all of the time.

When I was 12, my first teacher declared she'd taught me all she could and referred me to a professor at the U of MN. I auditioned for lessons with him, was accepted, and I studied with him through my graduation from high school.

Throughout my schooling, I was the go-to performer. I sang at every commencement, homecoming, a couple of dances...everything. When I went off to college, I continued, playing at all open mics, getting a regular gig in the on campus coffee shop every Tuesday night, bookings in local bars. I played and sang all of the time.

I moved to Palm Beach, Fla. in the early '80s and fell into a career that was wildly successful playing at private parties and local venues, as well as several clubs throughout So. Fla. I always kept several of my favorite Classical numbers in my repertoire, but I didn't formally study piano for roughly 7 years.

Everything crashed when I was diagnosed HIV positive in '86. I was given 3 years to live, so I moved home to MN essentially to die with my family. For my sanity, I returned to piano studies at MacPhail, a Minneapolis music conservatory, and I've studied pretty steadily every since. There were periods that I had to suspend my studies for various reasons, but I always played and always returned to formal studies when I was able. The piano I was playing during this period was a beautiful Yamaha G-2.

My last break from lessons was from July, '10 when my companion of 27 years, Nanc, was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. I cared for Nanc in our home and lost her on Aug. 11, '11. It took me two months to even sit at the piano again I was SOOO lost and lonely without my best friend/companion. But once I finally took to my piano, I found the solace that my pianos have brought me throughout my entire life. I started lessons (again at MacPhail) in Jan. '12, and I've been studying since. I play 7 days a week, never for less than two hours in a day...usually for 4-6 hours. It was also at this time that I went on a quest to find the very best piano I could within the US. After many instruments, much frustration and TONS of work by the greatest piano technicians, I now have two glorious instruments....a Steinway D and a Mason & Hamlin CC2.

I believe that the piano has allowed me to live with my HIV for 28 years. I also believe that the piano is the ONLY thing that has saved me from the colossal grief of losing my very best friend, soul mate, companion and ultimate wife 2 1/2 years ago. The only time I don't feel the grief as deeply is when I am playing the piano.

An interesting aside: I haven't been able to sing a single song through to the end since Nanc died. Makes me cry every time...so it's all classical all the time.

As far as other genres of music, I love beautiful music and appreciate true talent. Music needs to soothe me, motivate and move me. There are very few current artists that excite me in the pop, r&b, jazz genres. I prefer the artists of old...Mel Torme, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Jarreau, Frank Sinatra...Current artists I enjoy are John Legend, P!nk (I know!) some Adele. For classical, I'd rather play than listen, but I love Alessio Bax, Rubinstein, Glenn Gould, N. Lougansky, D. Trifonov.

Possibly too much information, but that's my story.
Michael

Last edited by MichaelJamesMN; 03/14/14 04:42 PM.
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246619
03/14/14 04:44 PM
03/14/14 04:44 PM
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When I was around 12 or 13 my cousin got a baby grand piano and started taking piano lessons. I was immediately jealous. Whenever our family went over to her house, 3 or 4 times a year, I would sit at the piano and try to teach myself from her lesson books.

About the same time I got an LP for Christmas about the lives of the great composers. It included some of their music along with spoken biographical information. It opened with Bach's Prelude in C major from Book I of the WTC. I absolutely fell in love with this piece and decided I would do anything to learn how to play it.

My grandmother, who lived a couple of blocks away from us, had an old upright and I convinced her, with much pleading, to let me come over and practice on it. I was allowed to go over twice a week for an hour and within a couple of months I had taught myself to read music and was able to "kind of" play the Bach. I then convinced my mother to let me take piano lessons from a lady who lived nearby.

After a half dozen lessons, I became friends with a girl a grade ahead of me in school, who took lessons at the local music school. Her Dad who heard me play one day and was impressed enough to take me to the same music school where I started taking lesson with a really great teacher, who I really consider as my "first teacher." I was fourteen at the time.

This teacher helped me correct some of the bad habits of the "self-taught" pianist. When she discovered that my grandmother was only letting my practice two hours a week, she found someone to donate a piano so I could practice at home. Under her guidance, in a little less than four years, I went from that Bach Prelude to preparing auditions for several colleges and Peabody Conservatory.

But not all was so good at "home" and when I was in my senior year in high school, within just few short months, I had a major breakdown, met a much older man, fell in love (I thought), dropped out of school, got married and stopped playing the piano.

The marriage lasted much longer than it should have and by the time I was 31 I was on my own, broke and sleeping on a friend's couch. I got my GED and found, through a friend, an entry level job in an advertising agency. Eventually I worked my way up to a senior level position. The agency had some internal problems and went bankrupt in 1990.

I moved to another town and got a job at a hotel, where I eventually became the general manager and marketing director. During those many years after high school, I listened to classical music, went to concerts, but didn't even consider going back to playing the piano. I also remarried.

About 10 years ago, the owners of the hotel I worked at bought the property next to it, which housed a first floor restaurant. In the restaurant was a Yamaha Disklavier. I started sneaking over during my lunch hour to play it. I would noodle over some of the pieces I had played in high school: a Haydn sonata, a Bach Prelude and Fugue, a Chopin Etude.

My bosses were aware of some of my history and knew how much playing the piano had meant to me when I was younger. That Christmas, at our company Christmas Party, the owners rewarded me for the years I had worked for them with the gift of a Yamaha upright. It took almost a year before I had it moved into our apartment, since my husband and I had to make some renovations to accommodate it.

Now that I had my own piano, I made a decision to take lessons again. I wanted to see how much I could accomplish and to see "how far" I might have taken my music if "life" hadn't intervened. I started searching for a teacher, but there were really none anywhere near where I lived. I went on line, searching to see what piano teachers were out there. I Googled various local piano competitions to see who was teaching the winners. One teacher's name kept coming up.

I sent her an email at the university where she taught, hoping she knew or could recommend a teacher in the area. I told her about where and what I studied as a teenager. I told her about my long absence from playing and how I was looking to "start over." She responding by asking if I was interested in studying with her! She asked me to prepare two pieces and we set up a meeting for two weeks later. I prepared two Scarlatti sonatas that I had played when I was fifteen.

I didn't realize this "meeting" was actually an audition and after listening to me play, she invited me to study with her. She explained that she never took adult students because most of them lost interest after a while, but she was making an exception in my case. We decided on one-hour lessons every other week for several reasons; the lesson costs were not inexpensive, I had a full time job so I wouldn't be able to practice as much as I would like to, and finally, the university where she taught was 70 miles away.

Taking lessons again was a great challenge, but also a great joy. We backtracked a bit and focused on technique. I was assigned scales and arpeggios. I remember the first pieces she assigned were Chopin's Op. 64, No.2 and Brahms Op. 118, No. 2. We did Cramer studies, moved onto Beethoven Sonatas. I was working on Op. 26 for my college auditions when I was a teenager and we picked this back up. Because of her schedule and mine, I sometimes went 3 weeks or a month without a lessons. Once I went almost two months without a lesson.

Eventually I realized that I wanted to make music and the piano an even greater part of my life. A little over four years ago, I quit my job and enrolled full time as a music major at my piano teacher's university. For the first two years, I commuted 5 days a week,70 miles each way. During my freshman year I played in a Chopin/Schumann recital. I was the first time I had performed before an audience in almost 40 years.

During my last two years at the university, I was able to trim my commute to two or three days a week. I took some general ed courses from a nearby (only 10 miles away!) community college and I CLEPed out on some other courses. I started teaching a little over a year ago at the university's preparatory school and I graduated this past May.

I still teach piano in the prep school. My studio has increased to 19 students, who range in age from 6 to 72! I commute two days a week to teach and I am also starting to do some teaching closer to home. In addition, I do some business consulting and web design on the side. I am also the managing director of a small summer music festival in Northeastern Minnesota that my piano teacher founded eleven years ago.

I turned 62 last month. I still practice daily (well, almost) and I still work on learning new rep. I do a little performing but not very much. I have always battled with almost paralyzing stage fright and I have an enormous difficulty with memorizing now that I am older. I will be performing at a small musical soiree this coming Sunday. Wish me luck!



Private Piano Teacher
MTNA/NJMTA/SJMTA
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246740
03/14/14 09:38 PM
03/14/14 09:38 PM
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hreichgott Offline
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I love reading these.

I'll make mine short. I started playing the piano when I was tall enough to reach it. My mom taught me the basics and inspired me by playing Beethoven for me to dance to in the living room. Then I started with a succession of wonderful teachers. Suzuki at first. In high school I developed a strong interest in Christian theology and ministry, and also developed a severe case of tendonitis and ganglion cysts due to all the piano playing I was doing. I also began to feel that piano was too much of an unhealthy ego-driven competitive pursuit. I therefore pursued religion/theology in my degree programs but continued to play piano. I was fortunate enough to attend Oberlin College and study with Peter Takacs at the conservatory there. He completely rehabilitated me from my injuries and taught me a new way of playing that gave me back the ability to play. Once that happened, I considered auditioning for the double degree program (which allows for a B.A. and B.Mus. in five years) but another year at Oberlin was financially impossible. I began working as a musician during college, playing for dance classes, accompanying for conservatory students' recitals, playing for musical theatre. During my late 20s and early 30s I began doing a lot more work as a pianist in order to support myself and my family. In the process I discovered that the various kinds of church and community service available as a pianist fit me perfectly. So now those two parts of my life are much more at one with each other, and I may be the happiest church musician anywhere. I had also grown up enough not to attach my ego too much to my piano playing, and to enjoy what other people are able to do musically instead of feeling competitive with them. Just after getting my church job, in 2012, I felt that I had reached a point where I was not going to improve any further without help, so it was time to resume study. So I got hold of the best pianist I'd heard in concert who was local, asked very nicely, and she made a spot for me in her studio. I do sometimes think about going back for a music degree, but right now I am learning plenty from my teacher and finding enough work, more than enough sometimes.

I feel that music is the way I communicate best with other people, and that it engages me intellectually, emotionally and physically more than anything else I could do.

I married a therapist who is also a highly accomplished amateur violinist, and we are now raising a daughter who loves to play the piano. She only dances when my rhythm is absolutely perfect, though, so perhaps she has a better ear than her mother.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
Cabaret (whole show)
12+ variations from classical ballets
Verdi: Stabat Mater
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Tangos and other fun music for piano duo

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246784
03/14/14 11:05 PM
03/14/14 11:05 PM
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Tim Adrianson Online content
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Hi, Joel! You've certainly gotten some interesting responses to date. Here's my contribution:

Classical music was always part of my home growing up (in the 1950's), and we always had a piano (an Acrosonic spinet , to be exact). This is solely because of my father, who was a big classical music fan and a pretty good pianist; by contrast, my mother had little interest in music. I started lessons at age six or so, and throughout my grade school years was taught by a Dominican nun (Sister Corinne), as I was brought up in a Catholic middle-class setting. I was recognized as gifted enough to be asked to be organist for the 6:00 AM daily Mass starting in 6th grade or so, and continued to provide that service through my sophomore year in high school. I continued to pursue piano as well, but the new Dominican nun (Sister Benedict) admitted that she had nothing more to teach me, and suggested that I get together with a teacher of professional caliber (Grant Malme, to name names).

Alas, that never happened. When I was 15, my dad was severely injured in a freak accident, and died three months later -- and with that, any support for further musical development evaporated. At that time, the Catholic H.S. I attended had virtually no musical programs other than band, and I didn't have other musical connections. It was in my high school and college years that I became more and more intensely interested in 20th century musical literature, piano in particular -- but, briefly put, I never gave myself permission, nor did my family (to say the least!), to even consider a career in music. I obtained a degree in Chemistry instead, in 1967, although I did a fair amount of accompaniment work in Applied Music courses. And I did a lot of intense solo practicing, although never with a teacher. And, because of the times, directly into the military -- the AF, from 1967- 71.

And then: the cherished 1970's -- what I lovingly remember as my "fag years". Yes, it was decided that yours truly was in fact a queer, and by my mother in particular, who literally laughed me out of the house one fine day in 1970. For those not old enough to remember, those were the days of America's "sexual awakening", and faggots could be identified and labeled based solely on how they looked, dressed, acted, and smelled. And, surely, part of that, uh, assessment was related to my intense interest in fag music, although my general comportment was more likely responsible. Hmmm.... didn't play much piano then, although I was an avid record collector and listener.

Well, I never was fully able to wipe the sneer off people's faces, but I did begin to use my considerable pianistic skills for many Community Theatre productions in mid to late 70s. When I finally escaped Wisconsin in 1981 and moved to NJ (and also recently married), I continued to serve as pianist for a great many Community Theatre and Cabaret shows throughout the '80s and early '90s -- all the while sort of maintaining a steady-state in classical music, keeping my core repertoire up, but rarely learning new material. I also began to serve as organist/pianist for a small local church every Sunday, a position I held for 25 years.

Finally, after the Community Theatre/Cabaret phase dried up (just simply because of my age and changing times, I think) in the mid to late 90s, I was looking for outlets more specifically for classical music, and found it in the Amateur Piano Competitions, first introduced by Van Cliburn in 1999. Roughly from that time period till now, I've devoted myself pretty much exclusively to classical repertoire, heavily weighted to 20th century compositions -- although I also made a point of learning all the WTC Preludes and Fugues as a major project over the past 10 years or so. This has been endlessly rewarding in my retirement ye

One additional comment -- I believe classical music is now in much better shape than,say, 1964. The young people I hear playing in Madison are IMO far more musically sophisticated, and far more aware and unprejudiced, than I recall from 50 years back. The late 60s - early 70s were ugly, ugly years, and devastating for me personally -- but out of that sprang a truer and purer fascination for classical music -- for those that "have ears to hear", so to speak.


Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246797
03/15/14 12:18 AM
03/15/14 12:18 AM
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You know, reading all these stories and comparing them to mine, I can't help but wonder where I would be had I started as early as some of the rest of you. I really wish I could have started when I was a child. I can honestly say that I never encountered any other kids who could play the piano within my school years and I often wonder what forces had to come together for me to be the one who went the other way...


"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81
Re: Share your story [Re: Tim Adrianson] #2246804
03/15/14 12:43 AM
03/15/14 12:43 AM
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ElaineAllegro Online content

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Thank you for starting this thread, Joel. All the stories are in various ways incredibly interesting and inspiring.

I owe my interest in piano to my grandmother's huge grand piano (I don't know what kind, I was too young), which had to be sold when she moved to a house that was too small for it. I never heard anyone play it, but it provided ample display space for photos and vases. Grandma's grand was transformed into an electric organ that her youngest son/my uncle played (but not classical). When he moved out, I begged for the organ, and it was somehow transformed again into a Gulbransen spinet. I was eight and thrilled to have it.

I grew up in a multi-ethnic, mostly first generation neighborhood in a since-then burned down and sort of rebuilt manufacturing town. Although the closest BIG CITY was not too far, no one considered or had resources to pay for teachers there. I took lessons with a local teacher via John Thompson - all the red books - and then moved on to the usual suspects in the Sonatina book until high school. My parents had some show tune records, also Caruso and Molly Picon, but I never heard anyone else play classical piano music (except what passed as such at yearly recitals) until just before high school, when a student at my school played Rondo Capriccioso at an assembly. I ended up studying with her teacher through high school, two hour lessons, my first exposure to theory (painful, painful), opportunity to listen to good pianists via his record collection, and (yeah!) Chopin and Beethoven, among others. I went to my first symphony concert in 12th grade. My parents' reaction to all of this was, Why can't you play something nice for a change, like Sunrise, Sunset. (And probably I did play Sunrise, Sunset better than I played Chopin or Beethoven at that time.) Why are you playing the same part over and over?

Starting college (definitely NOT majoring in anything remotely like music), I was asked by a misguided soul to play with a small ensemble, I foolishly accepted, and was just lost. I had never played music with anyone before, not this style of piece ever before, and that was that. Cold turkey. Did not touch a piano for decades.

Through college and beyond, I met people who enjoyed classical music, attended concerts, started buying music to listen to, found classical music stations, and started dancing fairly intensely (ballet), which involved snippets of classical music.

Fast forward through career building, family building, all the building that takes us away from some of the other things we really want to do.

A few weeks before the birth of my first child, I woke up with the urgent conviction that no child should be born into a house without a piano. After a week of intense searching, I chose a Yamaha upright. Both children had lessons, leading one to a sideline of composing (definitely not classical) electronic music, the other to accompanying herself singing (definitely not classical). But at least they have been exposed to it.

Approaching shall we kindly say midlife, I decided it was time to re-prioritize. Dance came back first, then the realization that at some point (bad dance pun), I would have to stop, but probably could play piano a lot longer. Inspired by friends who restarted playing music, I returned to lessons a few years ago, changed teachers once, and have been with my current teacher (1 1/2 hours weekly) for almost two years, "filling in all the gaps, and there are a lot of them." I bought my grand piano just before starting with my current teacher. The Yamaha lingers nearby and stares at it.

I have discovered wonderful friends and opportunities through classical music: piano groups, chamber music, duet partners, playing for senior communities, in a church... Progress is being made, slowly, a trill at a time, but there is always the next peak to scale (ooh, bad pun again) and no end of music to enjoy.

Looking forward to reading more stories from the rest of you.


Beethoven, Pathetique; Schubert, some Moments Musicaux and Impromptu Op 90 No 2; Haydn Piano Trio XV:25 (Gypsy Rondo); Mozart Concertone (trio); various piano-violin duets
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246854
03/15/14 07:29 AM
03/15/14 07:29 AM
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wr Offline
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Great stories so far, and great story-telling.

I find that, not unlike playing live for people, trying to type out my own "my story" gives me the serious willies. I do sort of have the vague impulse to share, but I've tried, and each time, it grinds to a halt. It's just too complicated and weird. Suffice it to say that I'm a cranky old [censored] who still enjoys playing the piano and listening to 4'33", in spite of everything that's happened so far.


Re: Share your story [Re: wr] #2246921
03/15/14 10:35 AM
03/15/14 10:35 AM
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Damon Offline
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Originally Posted by wr
Suffice it to say that I'm a cranky old [censored]


We knew that! laugh


Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2246939
03/15/14 11:14 AM
03/15/14 11:14 AM
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Damon Offline
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I don't have much of a story. I didn't come from a particularly musical family. My mother played the "Black Hawk Waltz" on the piano and that was it. I don't even remember when we first had a piano in the house except that it was borrowed from an uncle. I started playing piano at the age of six (1965) because my sister did and competition with her was the only reason. I advanced pretty quickly early on but had no real love of playing until I became enamored with Liszt. Though beyond my abilities, Bugs Bunny, John Ogdon, and Edith Farnadi introduced me to my first love of classical music. My folks found an instructor to move me in that direction. I managed to win local school competitions during my teens but it was a small town. wink One time, I lost to a group of girls that lip-synched the Pointer Sisters. That should have been my first clue. smile

Unfortunately I had very little discipline and partied way too much in my youth, the seventies took their toll. When I sobered up, I realized that my technique was too far behind a professional classical pianist and my memory was never keen enough to hold the information they appeared to command, so I relegated classical to hobby status where it remains to this day. After a 4 year stint in the USAF, I played rock in various bands until the present day. My present band, is giving a final performance this April after 22 years! After that, I'm not sure if I'll continue playing professionally or not.

I will always play classical piano even if only as a hobby, though certain restaurants and old folks homes are a possible professional outlet.

Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2247177
03/15/14 08:01 PM
03/15/14 08:01 PM
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Pacific Northwest, US.
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argerichfan Offline
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My turn, I'll make it as brief as possible.

I was raised by a single mum (no siblings) and things were tight for a bit. But I always had a piano to practise on, piano lessons were a priority even if it meant tightening up in other aspects.

We were devout Anglicans, and if all of my friends hated the Church, I secretly loved the music, the ceremony, and its message for me as a confused adolescent.

So basically there was a parallel situation going on: I was a very, very talented pianist, but after hearing John Scott play Liszt's Ad nos at St Paul's Cathedral in London, I then wanted to be an organist.

Uni came up (leaving out sordid details along the way), and I entered as a pianist. In my second year I tackled Chopin's Bb minor Scherzo, things were going well until I heard Martha Argerich's recording. Here was talent on a level I could barely comprehend, and clearly I wasn't meant to be a concert pianist. I looked back on my performances of Beethoven's Op 53 and Schumann's Op 13 -decent enough, almost note-perfect- but wtf?

That in turn produced a religious epiphany, and for a few months I considered entering a seminary to be an Anglican priest.

Well, that wasn't where it was happening, so I just stuck with studying organ and church music. I have never regretted that change of direction, and I think some of the most glorious music ever written on this planet has been inspired by the Church.

For a variety of reasons I emigrated to the US in 2010...


Jason
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2247273
03/16/14 01:02 AM
03/16/14 01:02 AM
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currawong Offline
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Originally Posted by JoelW
When did you discover classical music? When did you start playing piano? How does your life relate to music?

I discovered classical music as a child, through listening to my father play the piano (though he played more 30s/40s stuff than classical), listening to the radio, "music appreciation" lessons at school, TV (back in the early 60s they actually showed classical concerts on TV in prime time - amazing), including the Leonard Bernstein Young People's Concerts (great stuff!).

I started learning the piano informally at seven, and the books my father used in teaching me had classical pieces, and details about the composers. There was also a huge pile of music on the piano, and I was free to bash my way through anything I liked, without anyone correcting me, so I explored a lot of music that way - no doubt playing it terribly, but learning a lot in the process, and becoming a good reader.

When I was about 12 I saw the Chopin bio-pic A Song to Remember on TV (in b&w, so when I finally saw it on DVD decades later it was a shock to see the blood-on-the-keys scene in colour! laugh ). Dad had a book of simplified selections from the film, and I played through that, but felt something was missing (as indeed it was - about half the notes!) That began a bit of a Chopin craze, which led me to decide I wanted to learn to play the piano properly. I was 14, I'd been playing for seven years and had never played a scale, though I was already playing the organ at church, playing for choir practice and accompanying singers. After checking out all the pianists at my school and finding out who they took lessons from, I chose a teacher myself and my parents agreed to it, as long as I agreed to give up if I wasn't enjoying it! No parental pressure there! smile

At this time, too, I discovered a record section at our local town library, where you could borrow 4 LPs per week (!!), as long as you brought your stylus in periodically to be examined and replaced it when required. The first time I walked in and saw a whole big room full of records, of works I'd read about but never heard, it was like arriving in heaven. I still remember the first records I borrowed - the Berg violin concerto was one of them.

As it turned out, I'd chosen my teacher well. He was brilliant, and helped me achieve a great deal in a fairly short time. In 3 years he'd taken me from noodling around (in a fluent but fairly rough sort of way) to two performance diplomas and acceptance into music degree course at university. I didn't want to study just piano, so I found myself majoring in composition (I'd always written music), music education, taking up violin and clarinet, and doing all sorts of musical jobs, including working as a music copyist (in the days before computers and notation programs!). After my degrees I taught music in schools for A Long Time (I have the grey hairs to prove it), whilst still doing lots of playing, and teaching piano. For the last 25 years or so I've cut right back on the teaching, and my main occupation has been freelance ensemble & accompaniment work.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Share your story [Re: JoelW] #2247281
03/16/14 02:11 AM
03/16/14 02:11 AM
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currawong Offline
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And now, Joel, it must be your turn!


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Share your story [Re: currawong] #2247286
03/16/14 03:00 AM
03/16/14 03:00 AM
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UK
Nikolas Offline
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Originally Posted by currawong
And now, Joel, it must be your turn!
Certainly! wink

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