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#2561276 08/05/16 04:45 PM
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If you are easily annoyed by stories about life dramas of a sensitive person, please do not read this.
I'm 19 years old. I've been playing the instrument for quite some time. I am quite proud of what I'm capable of. I play a lot of Mozart's sonatas because they're my favorite. I thought of taking a performance diploma exam next year since my teacher said that I didn't have many technical problems and that I could handle it . I'm not arrogant, I just thought that there's nothing wrong with having a little bit of self-respect/confidence about something one likes doing. DO YOU AGREE?

Anyway, my family and friends picked on me a lot. As we all know, some of Mozart's works could sound plain childish to people who aren't into classical music. They'd humiliate me, or show me videos of really young kids playing Fur Elise and other EASY pieces that sound difficult, then they'd say those kids could play better than me. My older brother used to tell me that I have no talents and that I should spend my time on other things. I've been so depressed about this. But I could picked up my mood easily once I realize that they were just like other people who underestimate Mozart. I didn't take their words seriously anyway.

Nonetheless, I sometimes have difficulties learning new pieces since my sight reading is still developing. Sometimes, when combining hands together, I would feel really confused, and to get the notes in each phrase is agonizing. For me, playing piano is all about going through sequences of mental torment which I have to work and persevere until I get to the end of the piece. Well, maybe my brother was right after all. BUT NOT REALLY!! Once I've got it, I could play it with a good control over the instrument because, as my teacher said, I had some good techniques and I didn't tense much.

However; The other day I saw a 9 year-old pianist playing Liszt's transcendental etudes and Hungarian Rhapsodies perfectly. These are thought to be levels higher Mozart's sonatas. DO YOU AGREE?
Now I really feel worthless. A child younger than half my age could do
what I will not be able to do even if I practice for as long as she's lived. My self-respect and confidence are now horribly ruined. I am sitting on my computer deciding my future whether I should continue or stop practicing music. Do any of you guys have the same feelings? Should I just stop it since I'm probably not a prodigy or a genius and
practicing music would be just a waste of valuable time which can be used to work on other subjects? Should I stop doing it if it gets other people to humiliate me? Should I stop if it is so painstaking and time consuming just to get a piece done? Please share your thoughts.

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First of all, rather listen to your teacher than your friends and family who have not studied music. Secondly, listen to yourself - if music is just what you want to pursue, then go for it. I think you'll probably already know that it is not an easy profession, right? And lastly, yes, there are always children who can play stuff that most of us never will, so what? There's enough music out there for all of us, much of which the 9 year olds will never ever play... Try Morton Feldman! Hmmm, that would be an intersting combination - Mozart and Feldman.... And very lastly, sorry if this sounds a bit paternal, but my son just turned 19!

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Are you hoping to make this a career in the future and forget about pursuing anything else for a living? If yes, then you may want to consider what your family said and make sure you don't pigeonhole yourself into forgetting about academics and just considering music. This doesn't mean you should forget about music entirely, but also develop yourself in other areas. I don't think it's very nice the way your family went about this, if that's their goal, but anyway-- don't let it get you down!

If you are mainly in it to enjoy learning how to play and enjoy making music, then forget about what they said. There will always be prodigies and geniuses, but none of that takes away from what you're doing! I am teaching a 12 year old right now. He's just beginning! Yes I played what he is playing now at 4, but he is much more mature than I was and progressing nicely. I am very proud of him! It is VERY normal to struggle over passages and putting hands together! That's why I practice right hand first and then left hand before I start trying to put them together, but even with a difficult piece, it can be tough! Normal!

Last edited by hello my name is; 08/05/16 05:19 PM.

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Pon P,

Welcome to the forum.

First of all, you have to stop comparing yourself to others and stop judging yourself by what untrained ears hear, especially if what they are hearing are practice sessions. Ask yourself why family and friends choose to humiliate you by showing you videos and making unkind comments. Some families regard humiliation as a way to motivate someone; they think they are being kind. Some people use humiliation to exert power and others use it because they are jealous. Regardless of the motivation, IMO, these people are being cruel.

Even the greatest pianists have to practice hard and they too struggle over difficult passages. Practice sessions do not necessarily sound beautiful! No matter how well you perform, (even if you are one of the greats who float in the stratosphere), there will always be someone who plays better that you on that day. Those 9 year old marvels you see on YouTube are often little robotic music machines who have no understanding of the music but who can reproduce every note to perfection. They have been drilled to imitate. (Yes, there are rare geniuses but almost none of those prodigies continue to successful musical careers.)

On the one hand, you say family and friends humiliate you. On the other hand, you say your teacher supports your efforts to continue with music. Whose opinion should carry more weight? It sounds like you give more weight to the opinions of family and friends rather than the (hopefully) trained ears of your teacher. Listen to your teacher!

19 years old is an appropriate time in your life to start pulling away from the expectations and judgments of your nuclear family and start forming your own opinions. The self respect and confidence you claim to have, appears to be built entirely on the opinion of friends and family. Now is the time to earn self respect by what you do and by the choices you make, not by how others judge you.


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Welcome to the forum, and sorry to hear that you're discouraged at the moment about piano playing.

To make a professional career as a performer is incredibly difficult, even for many of these pianists performing Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies at a young age. However, if you enjoy playing the piano and want it to be an important part of your life, do not give it up at all. And I agree with the above, listen to your teacher, and don't pay attention to any untrained musician.

Regarding Mozart, his music is actually incredibly difficult to do well. Everything is so exposed, that the slightest misstep is very obvious. For this reason, I would say his music is very advanced, even if it sounds simple. A great performance of a Mozart sonata or concerto is a real treat.

And for sight reading, find something like a church hymnal and sight read through that. Keep finding simpler things to sight read every day, and over time the skill will improve. I was a lousy sight reader for most of my life, and once I got to college I started working hard to improve it, and I have noticed a lot of improvement. I still have a long way to go, but it's a fun journey, and you discover so much repertoire in the process!

And to reiterate what I said earlier: if you enjoy playing the piano, do not quit. No matter what you do in life, you can usually find a way to keep piano as important part of your life if you want.

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Originally Posted by Pon P

I'm 19 years old. I've been playing the instrument for quite some time. I am quite proud of what I'm capable of. I play a lot of Mozart's sonatas because they're my favorite. I thought of taking a performance diploma exam next year since my teacher said I could handle it. I'm not arrogant, I just think that there's nothing wrong with having a little bit of self-respect and confidence about something I like doing.

Definitely, nothing wrong with that. thumb

Why does the word 'arrogant' come into it?
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However, my family and friends picks at me because, as we all know, some of Mozart's works sound could a bit childish to people who aren't into classical music.

Really?

Those people are idiots. Mozart was the greatest composer who ever lived.

And which other composer is still so loved all over the world 200 years after his death? Not just 'respected', but loved. Everywhere from the UK to New Zealand, from China to Singapore.

Compare his current reputation with that of any current pop singer, with their silly gyrations and idiotic lyrics.....

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They'd humiliate me, or show me videos of really young kids who could play the same sonata as me quite well. My older brother used to tell me that I'm very untalented and should spend my time on other things.

It's the green-eyed monster, jealousy and envy.

Classical musicians get a lot of that. Tell your brother to go practice his air guitar... wink

Quote
The other day I saw a 9 year-old playing Liszt's difficult etudes perfectly. These etudes are thought to be levels higher Mozart's works.
Now I really feel worthless.]

Why compare yourself with others? There're always plenty of people who can do something better than you. But there're many, many more who can't even play Chopsticks with two fingers. (Actually, they can't even play do-re-mi with one finger.....).

And why should flashy/'difficult' music be 'higher'? Plenty of great pianists never play Liszt. Plenty of pianists build their career almost entirely on Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert.

Remember, music - and the piano - will always be your friend for life. Whether or not your career is in music. How many of your current friends are for life?



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My self-respect and confidence are now horribly ruined. I am sitting on my computer deciding my future whether I should continue or stop practicing music. Do any of you guys have the same feelings?

Actually, I don't, and never have.

Because I love music, and the piano, too much to care what others think about me spending all my free time practicing, when I was at high school. While my school-mates were listening to Top of the Pops on the popular radio station, I was listening to Le Nozze di Figaro on the classical radio station, and playing K545.

I didn't even care that when at home, my mother always had the TV turned on loud enough to drown out my playing (the piano was just a few feet away from the TV) whenever I was practicing my pieces. I just wanted to play beautiful music by great composers.

And I knew early on that music was never going to be a career for me (there was a kid of similar age at my school who regularly gave school concerts playing stuff like the Appassionata and Pictures and Dante Sonata when I was still struggling with K545). But it was always going to be my life-long love.......

BTW, many, many decades on, in my old age, I'm now giving (free) recitals and inspiring lapsed adults (who gave up piano as kids) to pick up the piano again, or to start learning as complete beginners. Of all the pieces I play - everything from Bach to Bartók - it's not the flashy Chopin or Rachmaninov études that they love to hear most.

It's Mozart.


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Well young fella, I heard an 8 yo playing Balakirevs Lark. I been labouring over the fast bits first, and guess what.
Theyre way out of my class. I will get over it, Im nearer 70 than 60, and I bet youre loads better than I am.

Ive still managed to make money out of playing, when I needed it. Stop griping and get playing! And remember. Whoever you are, theres always someone better than you


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I think Orange Soda and others give very good advice.

If your question is about continuing piano study but not making music your profession, I certainly think there's no reason not to continue (even if you were much worse than you are at present or even a beginner). Unless you plan to practice some phenomenally large number of hours a day, you will have plenty of time to pursue any other academic interest.

I'm not sure what a performance diploma exam means in your country, but again I don't see any reason not to pursue this unless you decide your profession will not be music related and the time preparing for the exam would make it impossible to spend enough time studying something else in addition to music. Have you taken other exams leading up to the performance diploma?

It's also possible that you're good enough to make music your career if that's what you want to do. You have to assume that you would have to do many other musical activities besides performing like teaching, playing for churches, etc. to make a living. You could get a second opinion from another excellent teacher if you're not sure that your abilities are good enough to make music a career. I'd also suggest discussing this in more detail with your current teacher.

Bottom line is that there is certainly no reason to give up piano if you love playing.

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Originally Posted by Pon P
Should I just stop it since I'm probably not a prodigy or a genius and practicing music would be just a waste of valuable time which can be used to work on other subjects? Should I stop if it is so painstaking and time consuming just to get a piece done? Please share your thoughts.

It's up to you to decide. If you really like to play because you feel it's important for you, by all means you should continue. But don't forget you have to enjoy it while you learn and play.

Lots of people learn to play for wrong reasons - to impress their friends, because their parents want to, or believing they will become a concert pianist someday, etc. Great if someday you make a living out of music, but don't stress out about it for now.

Playing piano (or any musical instrument) can possibly become like the best friend you will have in your life. Always there and available if needed, never pushy, and a great way to exteriorize your feelings (sad or happy). If on the contrary you feel like learning and playing is a torture, maybe it's not as positive. Of course, learning piano is very difficult, so you have to be patient and persevere. But the reward can last a lifetime, even if only for yourself. You can also make other people happy playing for them great composers' masterworks.

Finally, about great virtuosos. I have the opposite view - many of them I don't like (show-off "technicians", all pyro-technical without emotion). But when I hear a good pianist, it makes me happy and I enjoy admiring the great talent, even if it's a million times better than my modest attempts. This then motivates me to become better. I'm not comparing myself to great pianists, of course, but it gives me motivation to improve myself, not necessarily in playing harder pieces, but to try to improve my musical strengths, which can differ totally from the pianist I saw. One example of this is when I saw Valentina Lisitsa in concert. What an incredible talent. So in short, there are so many great pianists, much better than me and you. But music is that : it's huge and great musicians can transfer their passion to others. It's easy to see the positive, especially when you play the same instrument.

It's a lifetime process and we all learn each day. The only regret I have is I wish I had so much more time each day for music, but unfortunately as most people I have to work in a field totally different than music. But as I mentioned earlier, playing music is like a great lifetime friend. This for me is worth a lot, playing Beethoven or other great composers for myself or other people, etc.

Wish you the best.

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The more dullard around me think that Wolfie sounds hard--too many notes (just like Emperor Joseph II said). 😀


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If you enjoy it you should definitely not stop playing the piano.
Your teacher has faith in you and thinks you can pass the performance diploma exam next year, so go for it. Your teacher counts more than your family in this matter.

As others have said it is very hard to become a professional pianist, and it doesn't only require music skills, but also a very strong character. Competitions are hard. You often have to travel around the globe and then perform many pieces for several days in a row. Being on stage is not something for everyone either. I mean, it is not all glory and applause. It is hard and nerve-racking.

You have a passion and should follow it. You are the one who knows what you like more than everybody else. Your family might be jealous, or they might encourage you to stop just because they don't like classical music in general and don't want you to practice. You might consider a silent piano if this is the case.

As for the kids, some of these kids are forced to play many hours a day by their parents and might have more practicing and playing hours behind them than you, even if they are half your age. Don't compare yourself to them or to anybody else. It's your passion, not a competition.

And of course welcome to the forum!



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Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
The more dullard around me think that Wolfie sounds hard--too many notes (just like Emperor Joseph II said). 😀

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCud8H7z7vU


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I second what good dog said. I too was humiliated by my family in teenage yeTs playing piano. The video on your other post looked like you had some good technique... Hand postitio , relaxation etc. as for sight reading try starting with works way lower than your current level. Try some simple contrapuntal bach pieces. And then try some unusual meter and unexpected things like Bartok. Don't give up. Oh but also try to find an acoustic piano you can practice on.

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Whenever I mention to people that I play classical piano, the next thing I hear is always "Oh, I took lessons as a kid! Then I stopped. I wish I could still play." The childish attitudes that you are hearing around you are nowhere to be found as an adult. If you can do something special it is seen as setting you apart and showing you had the dedication to achieve a goal.

Will you be a professional? Statistically no. The professional musician is so rare that he may as well not exist. But the passionate amateur probably enjoys it more.

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From the perspective of someone who restarted in their 50s, I can state that no matter how old you are, as soon as people learn you play the piano they will bombard you with Youtube videos of child prodigies. These people don't always mean ill, it's just that to many people music means youth and raw talent, and that is how they respond to anyone doing music. We all know music means more than that. Some of these kids are genuinely talented and some just hit the notes, and some will go on to great careers, but none of them have anything to do with you or your playing. You just need to set that stuff aside.

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Originally Posted by David Farley
From the perspective of someone who restarted in their 50s, I can state that no matter how old you are, as soon as people learn you play the piano they will bombard you with Youtube videos of child prodigies. These people don't always mean ill, it's just that to many people music means youth and raw talent, and that is how they respond to anyone doing music. We all know music means more than that. Some of these kids are genuinely talented and some just hit the notes, and some will go on to great careers, but none of them have anything to do with you or your playing. You just need to set that stuff aside.


"Trudy's best friend's sister's nephew--you know, the one that became the brain surgeon--played something JUST LIKE what you just played in Carnegie Hall when he was six years old!"

um-hum, right . . . 😀


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I am 50 and if I should care about all those little children who play way, way better than me, I would be totally devastated by now. But one advantage of getting older is that you finally don't give a sh*t. We all have our lives to live, we all have our own stories to tell, life simply is too short to compare yourself with others, you don't have time for such baloney.

You just go on and do your thing. Of course you should listen carefully to teachers. You should listen to other pianists and ENJOY what they are doing. If you cannot appreciate another pianist because he/she is better than you, then you have a big problem which you need to resolve asap. So start enjoying other people's skills instead of getting depressed and agonized. Life is no competition!

If you can get rid of this competition/comparing agony, you will also find that you are free to become as good as you want to be ... because that is what is really holding you back right now: agony because you think you must compete,because you need approval, because you cannot bear to hear that you are not good enough. Basically this is agony because you want to control what others are doing and you know you cannot.

No, focus on your own playing now. It is you and the piano and Mozart. Just you. Immense in the music and fall in love with it.

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I was a very talented little kid, if not a prodigy, now getting my turn at 50. Mozart is still hard. In fact, harder now. 😀


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When I could play children's pieces, I thought I could never play Bach like some younger than me could. But I kept practicing anyway.
When I learned Bach, I thought I could never play Beethoven. But I kept practicing anyway.
When I learned Beethoven well I thought I could never play a Rachmaninov concerto. But I kept practicing anyway.
When I learned a Rachmaninov concerto I thought I could never play with an orchestra. But I kept practicing anyway.
Now I've played with orchestras, and I think I will never play Mozart well.

Two lessons here: Mozart is hard, and playing piano is hard. You will never achieve anything if you quit just because someone, somewhere is better than you at any given moment (this will always be the case).

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Don't worry about the competition - virtually everyone in this "racket" fails miserably.

Case in point: Consider all the people who have actually won piano competitions.

Do you know any? A handful at best?

But what of the other winners or even those that did not win - they all have tremendous abilities.

I thought Cliburn was a great pianist - even he does not get much mention.

There will always be people better than you and others that will be jealous of your ability.

This art must be fueled by your love of it - not by accomplishment and definitely not by recognition.

The only art worse than this is dance - how many can you name? Nijinsky, Baryshnikov, Fred and Ginger, Kelley, Syd, Donald,... and yep, that's all I know.

So DO NOT STOP IF YOU LOVE IT! Because you still have no idea how you will mature. CASE IN POINT: ME! Started at 6, hit a brick wall around 8-10, made no real progress until I was about 50 and made my own discovery that piano was a Marshall Art and then the information explosion of the internet.


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