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Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence #2255851
04/02/14 08:53 AM
04/02/14 08:53 AM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 9
Lansing, Michigan, USA
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rbeltz48 Offline OP
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Lansing, Michigan, USA
I have been away from the keyboard for many years. I am now retired and am starting to get back to playing regularly, which I did from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. I went into the computer programming field in 1984 and had little time to practice after that. After not having a keyboard for more than 13 years, my wife and I bought a Casio Privia PX-780 digital piano last October.

I have discovered that my performance level has dropped about two grades during that long absence from practice and playing. I'm interested in hearing from other pianists who have been coming back to playing after a number of years and what their experiences have been.

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Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2255860
04/02/14 09:35 AM
04/02/14 09:35 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 2,837
Georgia, USA
Sam S Offline

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Georgia, USA
I restarted after 30+ years away. I was never very good as a kid. Its a slow process, but very rewarding. I spent a year working through Alfred's Adult method book 3, then moved on to repertoire. After a year of that I got a teacher. I've been back now about 6-7 years.

I did not want to start with lessons right away since I was still working and didn't want to waste the money if I decided not to continue. Its hard to predict how much time you will have available to practice, or even if you will enjoy it.

There are plenty of restarters here, so you are in good company.

One thing that really helped me was participating in the online recitals here. There are plenty of opportunities to share your playing. There is something about that deadline approaching that makes you put forth your best effort and get a recording done. The feedback is almost 100% supportive.

And during that process I upgraded my piano twice, so be sure to start budgeting!

Sam

Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2255867
04/02/14 09:49 AM
04/02/14 09:49 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 134
Ontario, Canada
jehalliday Offline
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Ontario, Canada
I too restarted after a 30+ years absence. I took lessons from the ages of 10 - 15 and then went back taking lessons after I retired. For many of those in-between years I did not have access to a piano. I did buy an upright in my 30's, but with work and family obligations I never really had the time to do more than play a few Christmas carols once a year.

I was fortunate to find a very good teacher when I restarted and have been taking lessons with her for 6 years now. I had reached a reasonably advanced level when I quit as a teenager (around Gr 9 RCM), but my technical skills had considerably lagged behind my supposed grade level. This has been the biggest challenge for me in going back - bringing my technique up to grade level. It took me 5 years to get my technique up to the requirements for Grade 10.

I was able to complete the RCM Grade 10 examination quite successfully last spring and am now working on the repertoire for the diploma level.

It is certainly a much different experience the 2nd time around. I now know how to practice effectively and have far more patience with myself. It has been a very enjoyable and satisfying journey and I wish you well in yours.

Remember the 3 "p"'s: Persistence, Patience and Practice!

Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2255872
04/02/14 10:07 AM
04/02/14 10:07 AM
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 168
Canada
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ShannonG Offline
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Posts: 168
Canada
Same scenario for me (maybe 25 years). I would surprising how much of my ability to read music I retained, and I do feel my playing skills progressing at a satisfactory pace without a teacher. I have to play every day or it all goes out the window though. My playing seems to serve as a motivator for my young daughter to play so that alone makes it worthwhile.


Yamaha LU101, Casio CDP220R. 1968 Mason & Risch 'frankenpiano' only the cat plays. It's where our musical journey began though so I refuse to get rid of it.
Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2255950
04/02/14 01:14 PM
04/02/14 01:14 PM
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 147
New York City
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RonDrotos Offline
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I'll speak as a teacher, from the perspective of having taught a lot of adults in your position over the years. In fact, I was just discussing this very situation with a friend this morning.

The main thing I've found is that you need to make a mental shift from the way you thought about "achievement" and the piano when you were younger. I'm not saying that you shouldn't strive to improve, but you need to find a way to absolutely enjoy being at the keyboard, even on days when it doesn't seem to be working for you.

Also, you may not have time in your schedule to practice every day, and you may forget much of what you've learned the previous week, for example.

I've seen many adults come back to the piano and love it, staying with it for years. But they've all managed to relax the inner critic (at least somewhat!) and enjoy the process. Those are the ones who've stayed with it the longest, and paradoxically, improved the most.

Have fun!
Ron




Ron Drotos
rondrotos@keyboardimprov.com
Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: RonDrotos] #2256264
04/03/14 08:16 AM
04/03/14 08:16 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 4,624
Richmond, BC, Canada
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Charles Cohen Online content
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Charles Cohen  Online Content
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Posts: 4,624
Richmond, BC, Canada
Only 25 years away from the piano? I've restarted (about a year ago) after 40 years. So you're not alone.

RonDrotos puts it very well, just above.

You will improve at whatever rate you improve. That has nothing to do with how fast you _want_ to improve. I know what I _want_ to play, and I know what I _can_ play -- they don't match very well. But the gap is getting smaller. As long as I'm improving, I'm happy.

Just keep playing. Old skills come back -- slowly -- as you practice them. A teacher is very useful.

I think old people are more "self-motivated" than young ones. It would be difficult for me to fit into a "graded repertoire" system now.

Have fun --

. Charles

PS - I have a PX-350. You made a good choice of piano.<g>


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2256270
04/03/14 08:25 AM
04/03/14 08:25 AM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 1,028
NH
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dynamobt Offline
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Posts: 1,028
NH
Many of us in this boat. Taking lessons because you "want" to beats being forced to take them as a kid. A good teacher really helps. It's not easy silencing the inner critic. But playing as an adult shouldn't be so hinged on progress as much as it's about enjoying it every day.

Welcome to the club. As SamS said, think about the online recitals. They are very supportive and encouraging.


1918 Mason & Hamlin BB
1906 Mason & Hamlin Es
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Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2256281
04/03/14 09:17 AM
04/03/14 09:17 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 2,303
Scottsdale, AZ
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FarmGirl Offline

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Posts: 2,303
Scottsdale, AZ
I'm in this boat as well. I also was not good as a pianist when I was younger. Just kind is sort of liked it. I quit after 7 years of study and came back to piano twice as an adult. First time was when I started going to college in US. For a very odd reasons, I discovered music. I think it was Chopin's nocturne that hit me all the sudden and I had this overwhelming urge to play. I started sneaking into the piano practice rooms at night, bought a piano for $500 and started taking lessons. For about 3 years I think. My teacher then got married and moved away. I was given to her friend who is actually my current teacher - yeah I wish I had continued (but I did not). Life happened. I left her in 3 months. I too got married, graduated, got a job, professional certification, grad school, etc. when I realized almost 15 years flew by. 5 years ago I got a teacher in my neighborhood. I did not have any ambition when I re-restarted. I just wanted to have someone help me continue. Then I got hooked again. The nice neighborhood teacher wasn't enough any more. Besides I needed someone who can teach me after hours not lunch time as it became difficult to have personal time out during the day after I got promoted. So I went back to my college time teacher in late 2012 after nearly 20 years. I just appreciate that I can play the piano. The little progress I make is very rewarding. Love the community here and piano community in my area. I used to think piano is a solitary hobby but finding that it is contrary. My weekend calendar is full with piano and music. It is very common I have to pick one engagement from another. You will have a great time. Enjoy the ride.


1) Bach c minor fantasy
2) Morzart Rondo in A minor, K511
3) Schubert Impromptu A flat D935 No2
4) Scriabin op11 prelude #2 and #14 (Re do #2, new #14)
5) kabalevsky Variations in A minor OP 40-2
Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: FarmGirl] #2260623
04/12/14 08:35 AM
04/12/14 08:35 AM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 9
Lansing, Michigan, USA
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rbeltz48 Offline OP
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rbeltz48  Offline OP
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Lansing, Michigan, USA
Any additional comments would be appreciated. There must be more people out there who have returned to playing after many years.

Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2260629
04/12/14 08:55 AM
04/12/14 08:55 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 592
Italy
torquenale Offline
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 592
Italy
I studied piano some years as an early teen; I was not talented, nor much dedicated, and did not progress much.
Started again in October 2011, at 42, after 25 years without touching a keyboard. I'm not more talented than my previous me, but now I'm dedicated and stubborn, even if I have to stole from family and work the time to practice.
At first it's been difficult, I took my old scores and I could not play nothing decently, even the easiest pieces; now I'm taking lessons (twice per month, the maximum allowed by my life) I feel I'm fine: I am still an early intermediate player, but my playing is more musical than when I was young, I practice in a more effective way and I am more careful on details (I was not).

Most important thing, I'm enjoying every minute of the journey.


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Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2260666
04/12/14 11:11 AM
04/12/14 11:11 AM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,618
Minneapolis, MN
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012
griffin2417  Offline

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Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,618
Minneapolis, MN
There is a lot of good information and advice in this thread. Here is my situation.

I returned to piano studies three years ago after a 35-year hiatus. I started private lessons at age five. I continued with piano for about 13 years, including two years in college.

I had planned to major in music when I got to college. I enjoyed the courses in music literature and music theory. However, I realized that a degree in music was not a good option for me. It was clear that it would take longer than normal for me to complete my work for an undergraduate degree in music.

I made the decision to shift my time and energy to pursuing a degree in journalism and mass communications. It turned out to be a good and practical choice for me. I was already writing for the college student newspaper and developed many friendships that continue even today.

After I completed my journalism degree I worked as a general assignment reporter and freelance writer for about 15 years. I eventually transitioned into administration work for a variety of nonprofit organizations.

Up until recently I only had limited amounts of time to practice the piano when I returned to it three years ago. Yet I did (and do) practice. However, I did my practice sessions in 15 minute segments, allowing me to squeeze practice into my busy work schedule. I've noticed a lot of people do this.

Last summer I retired from a very rewarding career. Now I'm spending more time with the piano. However, there are still other competing interests for my time. Yes, I still have time management issues as a retiree!

Since I am running out of time right now and must practice I'll just say that some days I have to get aggressive about putting piano practice ahead of other things.

Some people around me (including that inner voice RonDrotos refers to) are not accustomed to me putting a higher priority on piano. smile

The best advice I could give at this point has already been offered in this thread by others. Enjoy your piano journey! smile


Carl

Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2260671
04/12/14 11:17 AM
04/12/14 11:17 AM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 2,386
Owen Sound, Ontario
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Greener Offline

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Greener  Offline

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Joined: May 2012
Posts: 2,386
Owen Sound, Ontario
I seem to recall I could play a few things well enough by about grade 8, to impress the girls. It did not work well though. Too many other issues blush .

So, I kept working on the hits for another 15 years or so until realizing it was a dying cause.

I never abandoned piano completely, but there were stretches of 5 years or more at a time where I may play something every 6 months or so.

Oddly enough, as I grow older, I view it from a more salient perspective.

So, back at it years later with a healthier diet and greater vigor.


Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2260736
04/12/14 03:21 PM
04/12/14 03:21 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 1,667
Chicago, Illinois
David Farley Offline
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David Farley  Offline
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Chicago, Illinois
I took a time-out of about 30 years after getting a BA in music. Two years ago I bought a used digital piano, not a very good one but a very cheap one, mostly to hook up to my iPad and fool around with. But I got hooked on the piano instead and decided to start over. I messed around with some dead ends for about a year. "I'll play what I was playing when I stopped. I'll play nothing but Hanon until I get better." The Hanon may have helped build up motor skills without requiring me to do anything else, but eventually I decided to work my way back up the method books, and also upgraded my piano. I can't say it works because I'm not back up to where I was before. My method has been to use a couple different method series, concentrate on the one that grabbed me the most (which turned out to unexpectedly be John Thompson, which I did not use when I was a kid) and use some others (Helen Curtis, Schaum, Suzuki, Mikrokosmos) as back-up material. I've also been working through the supplementary materials for the Thompson books, and getting my hands on as much random music at the same level I'm playing and using it for sight-reading. I don't have hours to spend practicing, so I just work on it when I can, and so far I've been working on my own. My biggest concern has been getting spread too thin, which is why I've sort of decided to focus on one method and let the other stuff percolate for when I get bored.

Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: Greener] #2260742
04/12/14 03:28 PM
04/12/14 03:28 PM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,296
Upstate New York, USA
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newbert Offline
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Upstate New York, USA
After taking lessons for a few years as a child, I gave piano up completely when I hit my teens.

I retired 6 years ago. Last year, I inherited my mothers old acoustic piano and suddenly got motivated to get back into playing piano (although I use my digital piano 99.9999% of the time - I use headphones to spare the neighbors from suffering through my efforts). So it's been about 45 years since taking lessons and I was surprised how much I retained in terms of reading music. Now, I'm trying to learn to really play the piano - not just play notes that are put in front of me. And I play music that I like, not what's prescribed by a lesson plan. In other words, I'm trying to pick-up knowledge of music theory for the first time (chord progressions, etc.) That has certainly been a challenge, but Youtube and other sites have certainly helped with that.

So, yes, it's a bit haphazard as I'm moving in all sorts of directions. But, I'm enjoying it. (It certainly helped me get thru this long, cold winter...).

My biggest difficulty though still is quieting that "inner critic" that others have mentioned. Sometimes the frustration level causes me to back off for a few days - but I always return.


Bert
[Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2261109
04/13/14 02:57 PM
04/13/14 02:57 PM
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 405
upstate NY
zillybug Offline
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Posts: 405
upstate NY
I returned to the piano 3 years ago at age 65 after not touching a piano for over 35 years and not taking lessons and practicing seriously for over 45 years. I did not even remember how to read the bass clef. I went through the first 2 Alfred adult beginner books on my own in 2 months. The reading come back pretty quickly.

I then started to try to play some easier classical pieces and the chopin waltz in A minor, posthoumous. Well after trying to work on that on my own for about a month, I realized I needed a teacher. I did remember enough to know that I was murdering Chopin's music. I started trying to play again in late November of that first year and started taking lessons the beginning of February. I was fortunate to find a teacher that was a good fit for me on the first try and have been with him for over 3 years now.

I will admit to getting frustrated with myself at first because while I could read the music the fingers that had not played in so long would not do what I wanted them to do. we started with that Chopin waltz and some easy Beethoven and Clementi Sonatinas. I started in February and by the end of March I was told they were too easy and given pieces that were grade 5 and 6. I played pieces at that level for the first 2 to 2 1/2 years. During the past year, I have started pieces at grade 7 and 7 and 8 is about where I was when I stopped playing in college. I love the music but am finding the jump from grade 6 to grade 7 quite challenging. I do not take tests (had more than enough of that in college) but use the grade levels to choose pieces.

I have developed more patience and absolutely love it. I can't imagine not playing now. I am semi-retired as I work 3 days a week so I usually practice about 2 hours a day. Enjoy it and try to be patient with yourself as I was not in the beginning.

Judy


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Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2261120
04/13/14 03:30 PM
04/13/14 03:30 PM
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 525
PA
Music Me Offline
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Music Me  Offline
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PA
I absolutely love reading all of these posts. All of you have centered on the core of it all:enjoy and love playing; silence the inner critic. I have my own story, having taken two sabbaticals from the piano in my life. I will write my story later on. For now the most important thing is this:

I found my way back to playing the piano. It is what saves me, it is what drives me emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I am surprised that it took me only four years to get back to where I was when I stopped playing. Actually, I am even further along. I am so grateful. I would not be where I am now, if not for having been away from the piano. In spite of the fact that I wish I had never stopped playing for an intermittent period of time, I truly don't believe that I would be the person that I am and where I am in my playing if my life had turned out any different.

Thanks to all of you for sharing with me. I will eventually muster up the courage to share my story.

Play on, in complete joy!


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: Music Me] #2261185
04/13/14 06:00 PM
04/13/14 06:00 PM
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 190
New Zealand
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Jessiebear Offline
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Posts: 190
New Zealand
Originally Posted by Music Me
I absolutely love reading all of these posts. All of you have centered on the core of it all:enjoy and love playing; silence the inner critic. I have my own story, having taken two sabbaticals from the piano in my life. I will write my story later on. For now the most important thing is this:

I found my way back to playing the piano. It is what saves me, it is what drives me emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I am surprised that it took me only four years to get back to where I was when I stopped playing. Actually, I am even further along. I am so grateful. I would not be where I am now, if not for having been away from the piano. In spite of the fact that I wish I had never stopped playing for an intermittent period of time, I truly don't believe that I would be the person that I am and where I am in my playing if my life had turned out any different.

Thanks to all of you for sharing with me. I will eventually muster up the courage to share my story.

Play on, in complete joy!


Yes, absolutely this ^^^^^.

I had lessons from 9-18 then stopped for University/work/life etc. My parents gave me my old piano when I bought my first house and it sat as an extra piece of furniture for years until I discovered Einaudi a year ago. I was utterly consumed and _HAD_ to play again. After about 17 years of not playing, things were rusty to say the least, but it didn't take long for me to build up my sightreading and skills again.

Now as Barbara says above, it is a huge part of me. Playing piano saves me and keeps me sane, gives me something to look forward to, keeps my brain ticking over as I devour new pieces.

I'm so thankful for those earlier years of lessons- I didn't appreciate it at the time but can now play for the love of it, not because I'm expected to.


Inspired by Einaudi and Tiersen.
Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2261222
04/13/14 07:23 PM
04/13/14 07:23 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 394
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gingko2 Offline
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Posts: 394
Hello,

Same situation as many here. I liked piano as a kid but didn't understand how to practice and never made great progress. Too much mindless repetition and not enough listening. So I quit in my 20's then dabbled in it, sometimes with a teacher, for brief periods during the next 30+ years.

I found a great teacher two years ago. That makes a difference. Also, as I've been a teacher myself, I understand much more now about the process of learning. You have to practice regularly and pay attention to the practice, listen critically and make changes. Wow, that works!

What's different now as I approach 60, is that sometime in the last year I stopped thinking and caring about the time I "lost. " I used to obsess about "what if" I had studied and played all those years. It's fine now. I had other things to do back then. But I do love being back to the piano now. I don't care if I ever get beyond intermediate level. I'm enjoying how to learn music and just playing it.

Like others have said: Enjoy the journey.


[Linked Image][Linked Image]

CW 1500, Kawai CA63
Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2261587
04/14/14 12:34 PM
04/14/14 12:34 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
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bozzo Offline
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Posts: 6
hi,

I took lessons at school for about 18 months aged about 13-14. I started back last October after nearly 25 years and have been going to lessons every week.
I sat my ABRSM grade 2 exam a couple of weeks ago and have just been told I passed with a merit and 127/150. grin

I've wanted to go back for years but didn't have the room for a piano until now. I'm really glad I went back and wish I never stopped - although it was mainly due to circumstances beyond my control.

Re: Getting Back to Playing After a 25 Year Absence [Re: rbeltz48] #2266670
04/24/14 10:28 PM
04/24/14 10:28 PM
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 1
liss Offline
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Posts: 1
Hi Everyone smile

I took lessons from the age of 9-14 and was at about a 5th / 6th Grade (AMEB) level when I quit lessons (not by choice, but circumstances led to me not having access to a piano any longer). I was for the most part a lazy student who adored music but hated practicing, however I became much more motivated when allowed to choose my own pieces. I always wanted to return to the piano but wasn't in a position to do so.

Now, however, I am on the eve of my 30th birthday and this week I celebrated by buying a piano (hooray!). It has been about 15 years since I played with any regularity but I am keen to get back into it and look forward to sharing the journey with all the lovely members of this forum.

I just started Bach's Prelude in C (BWV 846), and although I have no trouble reading the notes I think it will take me at least a few weeks to play it presentably. I would appreciate recommendations for other pieces that might be suitable for me (things around an early intermediate level). Thank you!

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