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Why do we play? #2363559
12/19/14 04:14 PM
12/19/14 04:14 PM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 1,248
presently Germany (Danish)
Jytte Offline OP
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Jytte  Offline OP
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presently Germany (Danish)
I have asked myself; Why is it so important to me to be able to play the piano? I love music, but I could just turn on the radio or CD player and have all the music I want, professionally played. I have no intention of becoming ‘professional’ in any way (far too late anyway). I have no need to impress anybody with anything. Yet I really really want to learn. Why?

Let me share a story: My sister was dying from cancer some years back. She spent many of her last weeks in a clinic, that was in a huge old villa (no hospital atmosphere). There was several living rooms, a library, verandas etc. In the library there was a piano. The patients there would sit around, some knitting, some watching TV, some having visitors, some just staring into space, but common to them all was this particular look of ‘non interest’, like they had already departed this world in their mind. All except one. An elderly gentleman was playing the piano almost constantly, very gently and very good too. Nobody (except me perhaps) was paying any attention, he was usually alone in the room. He played for himself. And his look was entirely different. Like he was off in a private world, where only he and the piano existed, where there was peace and beauty, and where pain, sorrow and regrets had no place.

Watching him play made me think “I want that too”. This was shortly before I took up piano. Now I have that private world, where only me and my piano exist. Where it does not matter that I’m not that good yet. Where being able to play even the simplest little piece fills me with joy, and nothing else matters at that moment. And now I have the answer to my question.

Here in the ABF is a multitude of adult players of all ages (some of us very adult) and varying degrees of skill. We must all share a passion for playing, or else I doubt we would put in the work that is necessary. I’m sure there are varied reasons for wanting to play - some for themselves, some for family, some play for older people in retirement homes (I really applaud that), some may even want some kind of career in music.

Yet, I see a lot of posts focusing on being ‘this or that grade’, taking ‘this or that exam’, reaching certain levels. Yes, we must study and work hard to learn to play the things we’d like to play. This is why we come here with our eager questions, and to discuss the ins and outs of piano playing, to get better. But why should anything but joy in the process and the resulting music matter? To me, it’s ALL that matters.

So, why do you play?


[Linked Image]XXXVII-XXXVIII
I pray, that tomorrow I may strive to be a little better than I am today - and, on behalf of everybody else, I give thanks for headphones.
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Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363578
12/19/14 04:55 PM
12/19/14 04:55 PM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 7,242
Northern England.
peterws Offline
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Lovely story! Wish it was true in my case, well, about the joy bit anyway. My experience isn`t a happy one until the job`s done. That is achieved dint of much swearing. Wife doesn`t like it; I reckon I forget things too easily, and my concentration is poor . . .always has been, . . yet I still persist!

Maybe I should take up knitting or something . .

I know! Smoking!! . . . . at my age, should be safe enough . . smile


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

"[Linked Image]"
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363595
12/19/14 05:17 PM
12/19/14 05:17 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,588
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I play so I can learn how music is made taking it back to the very basics in hopes of composing my own music someday.


music to me is kind of like putting together pieces of a puzzle
i call it the paino because its where i put all my pain
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363598
12/19/14 05:36 PM
12/19/14 05:36 PM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 1,324
England
LarryShone Offline
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That's it. Personal private world. Solace. Escape. And a love of the sound a piano makes.


If the piano is the King of instruments then I am its loyal servant.
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My Piano Group
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363613
12/19/14 06:06 PM
12/19/14 06:06 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,341
The Netherlands, Grootegast-Gr...
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Johan B Offline
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The Netherlands, Grootegast-Gr...
Wow....Jytte....what a story......sad but also inspiring

Indeed many of the PW members are talking about their grade.......for me music is just like breathe, eat or drink........it satisfies you. Music is good for man!

Music is just enjoy the sound and beauty, the feeling, the emotion, the relaxation, the struggle to polish some piece.....for me it's a part of my life.

Best regards,
Johan B


[Linked Image]
Kawai CA95SB (Previous:Yamaha CLP320PE & DGX620)
Motto's:
'Music is a way of living' & 'Nil volentibus arduum'
https://m.youtube.com/user/JohanBenjaminsMusic
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363651
12/19/14 07:01 PM
12/19/14 07:01 PM
Joined: Oct 2012
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Whizbang Offline
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Originally Posted by Jytte
Why do you play?


I don't really know why.

I do know that I hate watching sports. It honestly makes no sense to me. But there were sports that I enjoyed doing, however badly.

Same thing with music. I will listen to piano music. But listening to piano music mostly just makes me want to do piano music, however badly.


Whizbang [Linked Image]
amateur ragtime pianist
https://www.youtube.com/user/Aeschala
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363661
12/19/14 07:39 PM
12/19/14 07:39 PM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 30
Australia
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Gemgem Offline
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Australia
Hi everyone, just joined, new to all this so bear with me please. I am in my 50's, started piano exactly a year ago. I was experiencing health issues and playing has brought me joy. While it was frustrating trying to master different pieces, everytime I get to play sufficiently well it gives me a buzz. When I mean play well, its obviously not high standard I am talking about but the best I can do. Does this make sense? Please feel free to advice and comment. I only wish I had started years ago but its still not too late as I am really enjoying it to the point I have bought books at levels way beyond my ability to play. Simply because the books have songs I grew up with and cant wait when I can play them! Warmest regards, gemgem


Thank You God that I can get out of bed every morning and play!
Re: Why do we play? [Re: LarryShone] #2363670
12/19/14 08:27 PM
12/19/14 08:27 PM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,289
Upstate New York, USA
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newbert Offline
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Originally Posted by LarryShone
That's it. Personal private world. Solace. Escape. And a love of the sound a piano makes.


THIS! I play for relaxation. (Even though some frustration is involved in the learning process, my goals are not to pass some certification test. My goal is to enjoy the process. Period. On days I don't enjoy it or I feel frustrated, I let it go and do something else.)

I also play to try to keep the mind sharp. I'm retired and don't have a job to keep my mind occupied (Thank God.) Playing piano requires concentration and physical coordination. Both of which can only be good for you as you age.

And I love the sound a piano makes.

So, I guess that I play for selfish reasons - to satisfy myself. It's as simple as that.


Bert
[Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
Re: Why do we play? [Re: newbert] #2363679
12/19/14 08:56 PM
12/19/14 08:56 PM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 30
Australia
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Gemgem Offline
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Wow, you have summed it up so well. I felt guilty when I missed days thinking I really cant afford to miss practising. But you are so right, its for my own pleasure. Never will come near to being a great pianist. But the music that comes out of this beautiful instrument surpasses a lot of other stuff for me. I thought realistically maybe enjoy another ten years of learning and that's about it then grin Cheers!


Thank You God that I can get out of bed every morning and play!
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363687
12/19/14 09:20 PM
12/19/14 09:20 PM
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Posts: 32
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I play piano because I love music. And when you really,really love something, you can't just look at something, you have to touch it. There is nothing to describe the joy that fills my heart when I hear a beautifully executed piece of music, but that joy is multiplied so many times. The feeling of being completely one with the piano and feeling the music come from your soul though your fingers to your ears is like no other...and then reality hits with a wrong note, and a small portion of the exhilaration is dampened by frustration, but nothing is worth having unless it's worth working for.

Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363688
12/19/14 09:35 PM
12/19/14 09:35 PM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 555
Hawaii
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TheHappyPianoMuse Offline
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Originally Posted by Jytte
But why should anything but joy in the process and the resulting music matter? To me, it’s ALL that matters.


Your incredibly beautiful post has brought tears to my eyes. You have captured in words the essence of what I believe as a teacher and what I'm trying to convey in my blog.

I repeat again and again to all students and particularly the parents ... that my purpose as a teacher is to put the love of music in my students' lives forever. That I do not give exams, that I do not hold recitals and that I will not tolerate anything which robs the student of the joy in learning the piano. My main problem is the PARENTS.

Music is like a beautiful flower ... it is a gift of the senses which is not required in order to stay alive at a basic level. But it can lift us from that basic level to one of awe and joy. Like that perfect rose. And some pieces of music are so overwhelmingly lovely that they transcend culture and age. There is a story that the opening theme of the Chopin Second Ballade is so beautiful that children stop in the midst of their play to listen. I believe it. Because I stopped in the hall of my Conservatoire to press my ear to the door of the studio where someone was playing it. To this day, my heart seems to float out of my body when I touch those notes ... and the joy in being able to physically produce them is indescribable.

There is a wonderful verse in the Baghavad Gita ( the most important of the Hindu texts) in which we are told ..." Work without regard for the fruits of your labor"

I had many discussions over the years with people of all faiths regarding this central message. But you understand it completely ... it is joy in the "process".

Thank you so much for this inspiring post.

Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363694
12/19/14 10:11 PM
12/19/14 10:11 PM
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 89
Nashville, Tennessee
Barry1963 Offline
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I play because there is music in me, simple really

Re: Why do we play? [Re: Barry1963] #2363752
12/20/14 03:21 AM
12/20/14 03:21 AM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 2,400
Costa del Sol
SwissMS Online content

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SwissMS  Online Content

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Costa del Sol
Originally Posted by Barry1963
I play because there is music in me, simple really


This is it for me as well, really. I love to play and I love to practice. It is hard work to improve one's skills, but the pay off is to be able to sit down and just enjoy making music, playing the music that I love. Music has supported me through serious illness and recovery, and through good times and bad. It is central to my life.

I am one who does take exams and play in recitals - and I enjoy dong it! Why? For two reasons. First, to me music is to be shared. I like playing for others. I guess I am a bit of a ham. Secondly, I want to nurture and develop my skills. In the past, I was frustrated by holes in my technique or my inability to simply sit down and sight reading something for someone. I began doing exams in order to hone my skills to allow the music within a better pathway to come out. Recitals and exams are not for everyone, to be sure. Yet, I think for me they have been motivating and rewarding. To each their own, as they say!

Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363769
12/20/14 05:01 AM
12/20/14 05:01 AM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 1,324
England
LarryShone Offline
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England
Because music is a friend for life, a companion that never lets you down, is always there for you!


[Linked Image]


If the piano is the King of instruments then I am its loyal servant.
[Linked Image]

My Piano Group
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Gemgem] #2363820
12/20/14 09:16 AM
12/20/14 09:16 AM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 1,248
presently Germany (Danish)
Jytte Offline OP
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Jytte  Offline OP
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Joined: Nov 2014
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presently Germany (Danish)
Originally Posted by Gemgem
I thought realistically maybe enjoy another ten years of learning and that's about it then grin Cheers!


Gemgem, first of all, welcome to the Forum smile

In your first post you mentioned that your are in your 50's, and then the above remark. Made me think you should read this from the Piano Newsletter: "Currently 99 years young, pianist Frank Glazer will be performing a number of concerts next year in celebration of turning 100. "

There's hope for all of us then smile


[Linked Image]XXXVII-XXXVIII
I pray, that tomorrow I may strive to be a little better than I am today - and, on behalf of everybody else, I give thanks for headphones.
Re: Why do we play? [Re: newbert] #2363823
12/20/14 09:25 AM
12/20/14 09:25 AM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 1,248
presently Germany (Danish)
Jytte Offline OP
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Jytte  Offline OP
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Originally Posted by newbert

I also play to try to keep the mind sharp. I'm retired and don't have a job to keep my mind occupied (Thank God.) Playing piano requires concentration and physical coordination. Both of which can only be good for you as you age.


That was also, if not a major, then a secondary reason for my starting to play. I am sure it can only be good for us physically as well as mentally, especially as we grow older. There are plenty of scientific studies on this subject, but I just hold on to the main fact: It stimulates the brain, helps keeping our faculties 'in shape' instead of withering away for lack of use.

And, yes of course, the wonderful sounds we get to make smile


[Linked Image]XXXVII-XXXVIII
I pray, that tomorrow I may strive to be a little better than I am today - and, on behalf of everybody else, I give thanks for headphones.
Re: Why do we play? [Re: SwissMS] #2363877
12/20/14 12:20 PM
12/20/14 12:20 PM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 1,248
presently Germany (Danish)
Jytte Offline OP
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Jytte  Offline OP
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Originally Posted by SwissMS

I am one who does take exams and play in recitals - and I enjoy dong it! Why? For two reasons. First, to me music is to be shared. I like playing for others. I guess I am a bit of a ham. Secondly, I want to nurture and develop my skills. In the past, I was frustrated by holes in my technique or my inability to simply sit down and sight reading something for someone. I began doing exams in order to hone my skills to allow the music within a better pathway to come out. Recitals and exams are not for everyone, to be sure. Yet, I think for me they have been motivating and rewarding. To each their own, as they say!


I don't want to leave the impression that I'm against any and all exams or recitals a such. If they serve a purpose and the people taking/giving them are enjoying it, great. And I don't think you're a 'ham' for wanting to share your music. It's wonderful to hear other people play, and if nobody wanted to 'perform' we wouldn't get to hear any now would we?


[Linked Image]XXXVII-XXXVIII
I pray, that tomorrow I may strive to be a little better than I am today - and, on behalf of everybody else, I give thanks for headphones.
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363918
12/20/14 01:58 PM
12/20/14 01:58 PM
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,365
Southern California
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Sand Tiger Offline
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Southern California
I play because I enjoy it. I play in public because there is virtually nothing like the magic that can occur when a musician connects with a live audience.

Let me share the rest of the story about me and music. It is rather long so I'll start with the little bit that has to do with piano. Three years ago I bought an Android tablet. One of the apps had a piano keyboard on the screen, where you press the keys to make a sound. I enjoyed plinking away so much, that I bought a cheap keyboard, then a Casio PX150 digital piano a year later.

My journey making music began much longer ago. As an adult, I was on vacation, visiting the aquarium in Oregon. There was some beautiful Native American flute music as background music. One of my next stops was Pike's Place market in Seattle. There was a booth selling flutes and I thought to myself, I can learn to play that tune I heard.

I picked up a ceramic flute and tried it. Fluters can predict the obvious, no sound came out. A flute is one of the most difficult instruments for an adult beginner with no prior training. The merchant gently suggested an ocarina. I bought a small clay child's ocarina. I enjoyed the ocarina, but it is a limited instrument. Some weeks or months later, after returning home, I found a pennywhistle with an instruction book for sale and that seemed the next step.

A pennywhistle (Celtic recorder-like instrument) is another instrument that many young children start out with. I struggled mightily with melody only sight reading in the lesson book, so started making up my own tunes. I still don't have enough dexterity in hands or mind, to play the fast tunes in Irish Traditional music. Still, I enjoyed noodling around and had some talent in making up my own tunes. I could sometimes sound out melodies by ear. Most of all I enjoyed it.

After many, many years, I eventually did learn to play Irish flute, though just a tiny bit. During my long journey in music, I've performed at many venues on flute, whistle and piano.

I've touched many lives with my original music. In 2013, I played my pennywhistle at my father's memorial service. Some years before, I sat at my grandmother's side in the hospital and played for her during her last days. Grandma's mind was for the most part gone, no longer able to talk or recognize people, but she still reacted to the music. I've played at the memorial of a friend's suicide, and that performance moved the surviving family to tears.

I know some folks are uncomfortable with such personal stories, so be it. I know many more are touched by such stories. I know that many have been touched by my live music, even though I am for the most part a hack amateur musician. I still struggle mightily with sight reading. I still have a hard time keeping an even rhythm. I still have a hard time playing with other musicians.

I do what I can do. I enjoy it and have touched many lives with my live original music. I guess I can ask for more, but I have been rewarded so abundantly, that I feel blessed by music and where the journey has taken me.

Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2363922
12/20/14 02:16 PM
12/20/14 02:16 PM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 1,248
presently Germany (Danish)
Jytte Offline OP
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Jytte  Offline OP
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Joined: Nov 2014
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presently Germany (Danish)
Sand Tiger, that was truly inspirational. Thank you for sharing that.
That you are able to connect to and touch other people with you music is amazing. Then again, when words fail us, there is always music.


[Linked Image]XXXVII-XXXVIII
I pray, that tomorrow I may strive to be a little better than I am today - and, on behalf of everybody else, I give thanks for headphones.
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2364021
12/20/14 08:26 PM
12/20/14 08:26 PM
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Posts: 30
Australia
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Gemgem Offline
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Thanks Jytte for the warm welcome thumb
I am fairly optimistic I can progress far enough to play my favourite songs if I keep at it.
The older gentleman who was giving a concert, do you know if he started piano later in life? If he has been playing since childhood, then he has the advantage despite his years, wouldnt he?
Anyway, I am glad I stumbled upon this site. Its good to hear comments from older learners and get inspiration and motivation that its never too late. And not to make playing a chore. Its the journey, not necessarily the destination that counts! I am not going for exams, however I do play the exam books so that I am aware roughly what level I am at. At the moment, its preliminary level, long way to go....
Cheers!


Thank You God that I can get out of bed every morning and play!
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Whizbang] #2364101
12/21/14 03:11 AM
12/21/14 03:11 AM
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 247
New Orleans
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Anne H Offline
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New Orleans
Originally Posted by Whizbang
Originally Posted by Jytte
Why do you play?



Same thing with music. I will listen to piano music. But listening to piano music mostly just makes me want to do piano music, however badly.


Yes, this. I actually don't listen to most of the sorts of things I enjoy playing, except if I'm in "study" mode and working on a piece. I do love discovering new music and being able to sit down and work on something that caught my ear, or at least try to learn it to the best of my ability. I also like the feeling of making progress on something, which is why I don't mind the frustrating parts of it. My husband doesn't get this part - he always comes in and reminds me that I don't have to keep going if I'm not enjoying it. But I enjoy the frustrating parts too, even though I might not love the feeling in that exact moment.


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Works in Progress:
Rachmaninoff: Prelude Op 23 No 4

Re: Why do we play? [Re: pianosNpreschooler] #2364154
12/21/14 07:55 AM
12/21/14 07:55 AM
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I LOVE what you said --- 'I play piano because I love music. And when you really,really love something, you can't just look at something, you have to touch it.'

There is NO question, for me, why I play piano. Music nourishes me like nothing else. It's like asking, 'Why do you drink water? Why do you take walks in the park?' Because I NEED to. And what you said about having to touch what we love. That is a HUGE part of musicality, the physical and mental discipline of playing piano is similar to that of athlete's. But I'm going off on a tangent.

Yes, the piano nourishes me, gives back to me so many gifts, such as increased self-confidence and peace. How beautiful!


"I like nonsense. Wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities." -- Dr. Seuss
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2364603
12/22/14 02:20 PM
12/22/14 02:20 PM
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Reseda, California
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1. I like tunes. Of course I can hear tunes played much better than I can in recordings. I listen to recorded music, too. But there's more to it:

2. I like to change things a little bit here and there. Different chords, some decorative stuff between phrases. Only by playing can you try out your own ideas. And there's more than that:

3. In order to play music, you have to concentrate on it completely. Playing gets 100% of my attention, brain power, and physical coordination focused on something I enjoy. I think this is the main and biggest point. And sometimes that's not enough:

4. Going from barely being able to figure out some music to playing it fluently is a challenge. Some people play golf or climb mountains, mostly for the satisfaction that comes from getting measurably better at something. The piano gives you all that plus some melodies to enjoy.



-- J.S.

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Re: Why do we play? [Re: JohnSprung] #2364611
12/22/14 02:44 PM
12/22/14 02:44 PM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 1,248
presently Germany (Danish)
Jytte Offline OP
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Jytte  Offline OP
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

Going from barely being able to figure out some music to playing it fluently is a challenge. Some people play golf or climb mountains, mostly for the satisfaction that comes from getting measurably better at something. The piano gives you all that plus some melodies to enjoy.


Yes, I think you're right, the challenge is a big part of it. The sense of victory when you finally 'conquer' a piece. When after days and days of getting a piece, or even a part of it, put together and you are suddenly able to play it fluently and the way you want... it's like floating on clouds smile And there's always a new challenge ahead, always a new piece waiting. This is why it never gets 'old' or boring.


[Linked Image]XXXVII-XXXVIII
I pray, that tomorrow I may strive to be a little better than I am today - and, on behalf of everybody else, I give thanks for headphones.
Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2364664
12/22/14 05:38 PM
12/22/14 05:38 PM
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maju Offline
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I'm not 100% sure why I want to play the piano, but I know it's been my lifelong ambition. I had two or three years of lessons in my teens and early twenties, then life got in the way, I had no access to a piano, and I put it out of my mind. When I got to my 60s I thought it was too late, but an older friend said you're never too old, so I bought a small cheap keyboard and began. I've recently bought a full size digital piano (not expensive but much better than my keyboard) because this is something I am going to be doing for the rest of my life.

One of the reasons why I play is because I like learning pieces of music that I like to listen to. Another is because I really enjoy the challenge of gaining mastery over a piece of music that at first sight looks very complicated and possibly too hard for me. Not that I have ever completely mastered a piece, but I have learnt a few pieces reasonably competently. Another reason is tied to this challenge: I want to keep my mind active for as long as possible, and I've read that playing the piano is excellent for this because of the way it uses different parts of your brain. But even if I didn't think there was much cognitive benefit to playing the piano I think it is something that I would still want to do.

Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2364718
12/22/14 08:14 PM
12/22/14 08:14 PM
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Philadelphia area
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Dave B Offline
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If I don't play I get grumpy... and I should mention that I refer to my piano as my prayer box.

Re: Why do we play? [Re: Jytte] #2364763
12/22/14 11:19 PM
12/22/14 11:19 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,411
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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I play because I can't not play. I tried it for a year once, I was miserable.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: Why do we play? [Re: Morodiene] #2364832
12/23/14 07:45 AM
12/23/14 07:45 AM
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Eindhoven, The Netherlands
chopinoholic Offline
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Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Originally Posted by Morodiene
I play because I can't not play. I tried it for a year once, I was miserable.


+1

When I try to explain this to others (that don't play any instrument) they don't seem to understand... I only play two times a week on average at the moment and friends think that is a lot.
I get nervous and miserable when I don't have access to a piano. I don't need to play it constantly, being nearby is good enough.

That's also why I love this forum. Fellow sufferers of piano addiction smile


Paul

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Re: Why do we play? [Re: chopinoholic] #2364849
12/23/14 09:13 AM
12/23/14 09:13 AM
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Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by chopinoholic

That's also why I love this forum. Fellow sufferers of piano addiction smile

Haha, love this!


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: Why do we play? [Re: Morodiene] #2364960
12/23/14 02:05 PM
12/23/14 02:05 PM
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 2,182
First Town, First State
BrianDX Offline
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I can't specifically say why I play, only that it is important that I do.


Yamaha C2X | Yamaha M500-F
Groucho Marx: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."
Curriculum: Faber Developing Artist (Book 3)
Current: German Dance in D Major (Haydn) (OF); Melody (Schumann) (OF)
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