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#2603506 - 01/12/17 03:55 AM When a piano student is not anymore a beginner?  
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gnomenreigen Offline
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Hi everybody!

Sorry for my english but it's not my first language.

I've been playing the piano since september 2015 (I was almost 20 years old) and after a few months of piano lessons (once a week) I quit because my piano teacher was not a pianist (she was a singer) and her lessons were too expensive.
I've been self-taught since then.

In october 2016 I started again piano lessons with an amazing piano teacher and I'm improving really fast.

Now my question is: Am I a piano beginner?

Now I'm working on Bach invention 13, Chopin waltz in A minor, Burgmuller etude Op 100 no 18, Bartok romanian folk dance no 2, Scarlatti sonata k322 and Haydn sonata HOB XVI: 37 in D major.

Last edited by gnomenreigen; 01/12/17 07:01 AM.
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#2603514 - 01/12/17 04:39 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Muove Offline
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Originally Posted by gnomenreigen

Now my question is: Am I a piano beginner?

Why is this important to you?


Kawai K3 upright - Roland FP30 digital piano
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#2603524 - 01/12/17 06:05 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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It is normal for all of to want to assign levels to ourselves... because that is what was done in school. 'Reading at a xxxx grade level, math at xxx level, etc
With music, the level is often not actual but from the perspective of the person that answers the question If you ask one of her neighbors who does not play the piano , you might be labeled advanced to them, wow! Some whiz kid who played everything imaginable at the age of five might have a different opinion.

Look up any repertoire for difficulty level on the Internet, and you will get different grade levels assigned for the same piece depending on who is doing the assigning.

Please try to avoid assigning something to yourself. If you can quit worrying about how fast you're getting there, wherever there is, and take everything as it comes, the journey will be a lot more fun And honestly, your progress will be quicker



"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
#2603534 - 01/12/17 06:58 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: Muove]  
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gnomenreigen Offline
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It's not actually important to me, I'm just curious to listen to different opinions than mine or my piano teacher.

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#2603540 - 01/12/17 07:16 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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you can start with pianosyllabus.com.

Quite frankly just a listing what you play is really quite useless It depends on how well you play them and how long it took you to learn them.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
#2603541 - 01/12/17 07:16 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: dogperson]  
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gnomenreigen Offline
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I partially agree with you, I was just looking for opinions because I don't know people who play piano so I don't have the possibility to talk to other piano students/ pianist.

Personally I find useful to assign myself a "level" because I have a goal and trying to understand where I am compared to where my goal is helps me.
--

dogperson I already use pianosyllabus but it is not what I was looking for with this post...
I know a list of pieces I practice is not enough, that's the reason why I firstly indicate my instagram account where there is a video of me playing a piece but after receiving the firsts answers I decided to remove it.
I was hoping in something else by writing in this forum: "Don't be shy, you're among friends here :-)"
I just wanted some opinions but I'm quite disappointed with the answers.

Last edited by gnomenreigen; 01/12/17 07:25 AM.
#2603545 - 01/12/17 07:38 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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What does your new teacher think?


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#2603559 - 01/12/17 08:58 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Looking at the timeframe you gave us you are a beginner, looking at the pieces, that's definitly intermediate repertoire. It's not that difficult to find out. Like you said yourself: look at a site like pianosyllabus to know what grade your pieces were asigned by abrsm. Every grade takes aproximately a year of study, although for the first grades the effective workload in time per day is lower than for the later years. In general those grade systems are based on a system of schoolyears where the first 3 grades are made for children below twelve, the next 3 for teenagers below fifteen or sixteen, and the last ones for those below 18 as a preparation for conservatory, where you are expected to get ready for the professional repertoire.

So there you have it: after playing for a year and a half, starting from scratch the repertoire you mention is quite something to be able to play well. It's exceptional. But I suspect you already knew that.

Hey, I really really don't want to come over as harsh with my question, but I think it is relevant: "Why is it important to you?"

Most adult or teenaged piano students go through this phase: where am I in this whole thing? Am I any good? Am I on track? When will I be able to play this or that piece? It's normal, but that question is mostly ego-fueled. If you know what I said in the first paragraph you know enough about measuring progress you'll ever need. It's not a race.

What's really important is: "Am I enjoying myself?", "Am I making music?" and "How can I make it (a little bit) better?"


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#2603561 - 01/12/17 09:03 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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First find a definition of beginner. websters "inexperienced person" won't cut it unless you define "inexperienced".

But as already mentioned, why does it matter?



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#2603564 - 01/12/17 09:07 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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To be clear: we're trying to be helpful and friendly.

It's just that most of us have learned that it is a lot more fun and less nerve wrecking (and more to the point!) when you don't look at it from the perspective of grading yourself. Because looking at it like that can create all kinds of demons for yourself.


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#2603567 - 01/12/17 09:16 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Hi gnomenreigen, I probably consider my students not to be beginners anymore when they can pick out a melody by ear, can create a beautiful singing tone, understand the basics of staccato/legato and loud/soft as well as their finger numbers and note names, and play a few different hands-together pieces without struggle and with good control of legato and balance between the hands.
But it depends largely on what your teacher considers to be the beginner skills.


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#2603574 - 01/12/17 09:34 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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I'm not sure I understand why you are offended. It's not intentional in any case. People who are trying to answer your question first ask for some more background information, which I think is valid.
In my opinion you can gain a lot from the forums, which are kept alive by very supportive people!
Yes, you are among friends here.

The stuff you are working on is not easy. And for getting there in less than 18 months is amazing. If you want to categorize in "beginner", "intermediate', "advanced", "pro", I would say you're intermediate.
However, if I have to categorize myself the same way, I would have to say advanced looking at my repertoire. But I feel a beginner eventhough I already play for 30 years, because:
I struggle with practising efficiently
I have trouble interpreting pieces (my own opinion, some others may disagree)
My music theory knowledge is lacking
My knowledge of existing classical repertoire is mediocre
I have trouble memorizing ( or am not disciplined enough)
I rarely 'finish' or 'polish' a piece (again discipline?)


Last edited by chopinoholic; 01/12/17 09:41 AM.

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#2603576 - 01/12/17 09:42 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Labels are subjective, unless following a syllabus, and then the labels apply ONLY in regards to the syllabus being used to evaluate.

Two examples: I have an adult student who calls himself "intermediate", but he is studying music that most people don't touch until undergrad in college, which is quite "advanced," perhaps.

As for myself, I get paid to play piano, therefore I am technically a "professional", but I sure as heck can't play music that people would generally consider "professional". I specialize in currently-written music and teaching beginning/intermediate/early advanced students in prep for college as well as adult hobbyists. There is music that I will never be able to play that others can play by the time they are 16 years old. So, yes, I am a "professional," but only because I get paid to play/record. Does that make me above "advanced", even though I couldn't get through all the Chopin Etudes to save my life? See where I am going with this?

But, if I were forced to evaluate the OP, the list of rep posted puts them squarely into the "intermediate" category.


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#2603577 - 01/12/17 09:49 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Based on the repertoire alone, I'd say that's intermediate. This assumes that you can learn them in a decent amount of time (a few months) and play them with some proficiency.

I understand why you ask the question - and I don't think it's bad to get a reference point. We all have that desire to know "where we fit in". Does your teacher have other adult students? Does she hold recitals or piano parties for her adults? Is there any way you can arrange to play a duet with one of her other students, or sit in on a lesson (and have them sit in on yours)?

I think collaborative works with other pianists would help you gain more perspective on your own level of study, and it can be inspirational.


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#2603599 - 01/12/17 10:56 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Thank you very much to everybody!
As someone told you need more informations... And I forgot to write the most important one: I want to be admitted in a conservatory of music here in my country, that's why I always want to know "where I am".

My new piano teacher says I'm very talented but I don't think so... I just work hard because I love music more than anything else.
Muove, I don't think my progress is exceptional, I feel like every little step I make it takes me a lot of effort and sometimes I also feel frustrated but I love the piano too much and I keep going on.

When I was self-taught I used to practice for about 1-3 hours per day.
Now I have a 5 hours daily practice schedule and I usually alternate pieces (3 on one day and 3 on the other).
Usually I also sight-read for a half of an hour everyday because I'm not really good at it.
While the last year I was also busy with other studies, from october I can devote all my time to music.
When I'm not playing I read books about composers, history of music and I also study theory of music and solfege.
I listen to a lot of music (baroque, classical, romantic...).

Personally I still consider myself a beginner because I feel like it requires me a lot of effort for almost everything and I feel like I never play well enough but my teacher says that's no true and that I play very good for my level.

Talking about the time I need to learn a piece... It really depends! Sometimes it's a couple of weeks sometimes it's a couple of months.

The fact is that I have about 1 year and a half to reach the level required by the conservatory and also to prepare all the pieces required for the audiotion so yes I have to always ask myself about my "level" because of this.

I hope I'm giving enough informations with this post.
--
I forgot to tell that my piano teacher teaches in a piano academy but I take private lessons with her and she has only another private student who is very very young so that's why I don't have the possibility to meet other piano students.
--
For those who want to see how I play on my instagram account pf.o_ there is a video of me playing Bach invention no 4.




Last edited by gnomenreigen; 01/12/17 11:02 AM.
#2603603 - 01/12/17 11:18 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Originally Posted by gnomenreigen
Thank you very much to everybody!
As someone told you need more informations... And I forgot to write the most important one: I want to be admitted in a conservatory of music here in my country, that's why I always want to know "where I am".
This makes sense, but I didn't have a problem with you asking regardless of this fact...it's just natural. smile

Quote
My new piano teacher says I'm very talented but I don't think so... I just work hard because I love music more than anything else.
Trust your teacher, they know what they're talking about, unless you think they are lying? frown
Quote
Muove, I don't think my progress is exceptional, I feel like every little step I make it takes me a lot of effort and sometimes I also feel frustrated but I love the piano too much and I keep going on.
Every step is hard fought for everyone. Piano is not easy, no matter how talented you are.

Quote
When I was self-taught I used to practice for about 1-3 hours per day.
Now I have a 5 hours daily practice schedule and I usually alternate pieces (3 on one day and 3 on the other).
Usually I also sight-read for a half of an hour everyday because I'm not really good at it.
While the last year I was also busy with other studies, from october I can devote all my time to music.
When I'm not playing I read books about composers, history of music and I also study theory of music and solfege.
I listen to a lot of music (baroque, classical, romantic...).
IMO, 5 hours seems a bit much, unless you are including your reading activities and theory work. Is this what your teacher recommends?

Quote
Personally I still consider myself a beginner because I feel like it requires me a lot of effort for almost everything and I feel like I never play well enough but my teacher says that's no true and that I play very good for my level.
Again, trust your teacher. You may have to take some of these statements on faith, but they supposedly know a LOT more about piano study than you do. wink


Quote
I forgot to tell that my piano teacher teaches in a piano academy but I take private lessons with her and she has only another private student who is very very young so that's why I don't have the possibility to meet other piano students.
No students at the piano academy? What about students of her colleagues?


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#2603613 - 01/12/17 11:45 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Quote
I want to be admitted in a conservatory of music here in my country, that's why I always want to know "where I am".


Ah, this is essential to make sense of your question.

Then, you could check the admittance requirements for the conservatory. Or maybe contact a conservatory teacher to get an assessment.


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#2603614 - 01/12/17 11:47 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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OK that explains a lot. You're in a race afterall! grin

I wish you all the luck with that goal! Keep us informed. Don't get discouraged and trust tour teacher.


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#2603619 - 01/12/17 12:02 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: Muove]  
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Charles Cohen Online content
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Originally Posted by Muove
Looking at the timeframe you gave us you are a beginner, looking at the pieces, that's definitely intermediate repertoire.
. . .
What's really important is: "Am I enjoying myself?", "Am I making music?" and "How can I make it (a little bit) better?"


+1.



. Charles
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#2603648 - 01/12/17 12:55 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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I trust my teacher, maybe I just have to stop watching to 5 years old children who play the Well Tempered Clavier...

I decided my schedule with my piano teacher, the 5 hours include the solfege and the weight exercises. I take breaks every time I need and I divide the 5 hours between morning and afternoon/evening.

I already know the admittance requirements for the conservatory I want to apply and my teacher thinks I will be accepted so I just have to trust her and keep working hard.

Thank you very much Muove!

I love making music and I enjoy myself, I assure you smile

#2603651 - 01/12/17 12:59 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Originally Posted by gnomenreigen
I trust my teacher, maybe I just have to stop watching to 5 years old children who play the Well Tempered Clavier...


YES +10000!! It's not helpful.

Quote
I decided my schedule with my piano teacher, the 5 hours include the solfege and the weight exercises. I take breaks every time I need and I divide the 5 hours between morning and afternoon/evening.
OK, that sounds a little bit better, but not sure what the "weights" thing entails. Really, time at the piano should be as efficient as you possibly can be. That's the most important thing - that you don't waste time on blind repetition as practice, but employ creative practice techniques.


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#2603654 - 01/12/17 01:05 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Originally Posted by gnomenreigen
maybe I just have to stop watching to 5 years old children who play the Well Tempered Clavier...
You should stop. Or change attitude towards them. Really, this is important.

Originally Posted by gnomenreigen
I decided my schedule with my piano teacher, the 5 hours include the solfege and the weight exercises. I take breaks every time I need and I divide the 5 hours between morning and afternoon/evening.

That's good! May I know what those "weight exercises" are about?


Mark

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#2603663 - 01/12/17 01:35 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Prodigy children are like drugs... I will try to change my attitude towards them because I don't think I can stop listening to them.

I have to admit that when I was self-taught my practice was all about repeating again and again but after beginning to take lesson in october everything changed: I work on a lot of thing, I play a lot slow and hands separately, hand separately working on specific things (details, ornaments, speed, colors...), hands together. Sometimes it's hard and I have to use all my motivation but most of the times I have a lot of fun and I am really happy (or sad, or melanchonic, or passionate, or quiet) playing!

I don't know how to explain the "weight" thing well... Basically I just work on some of Brahms exercises (actually usually are just some bars, not all the exercise so I can completely focus on the weight control). I just have to relax the muscles I don't need to use in playing and use the "relaxed weight" of these muscles to play so I don't make more effort than that which is actually required.
I know this explanation is quite confused... I just devote 10-15 minutes to weight control while playing (like leaving my arms fall on the keyboard and paying attention to keep relaxed triceps and channel the weight in the fingers).
Sorry if it makes no sense for you... I tried my best.

#2603671 - 01/12/17 01:48 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Originally Posted by gnomenreigen
Prodigy children are like drugs... I will try to change my attitude towards them because I don't think I can stop listening to them.

I have to admit that when I was self-taught my practice was all about repeating again and again but after beginning to take lesson in october everything changed: I work on a lot of thing, I play a lot slow and hands separately, hand separately working on specific things (details, ornaments, speed, colors...), hands together. Sometimes it's hard and I have to use all my motivation but most of the times I have a lot of fun and I am really happy (or sad, or melanchonic, or passionate, or quiet) playing!

I don't know how to explain the "weight" thing well... Basically I just work on some of Brahms exercises (actually usually are just some bars, not all the exercise so I can completely focus on the weight control). I just have to relax the muscles I don't need to use in playing and use the "relaxed weight" of these muscles to play so I don't make more effort than that which is actually required.
I know this explanation is quite confused... I just devote 10-15 minutes to weight control while playing (like leaving my arms fall on the keyboard and paying attention to keep relaxed triceps and channel the weight in the fingers).
Sorry if it makes no sense for you... I tried my best.


OK, it does still sound like 5 hours is a lot of time at the piano. Be very careful of any pain or fatigue in the hands, wrists, and forearms (shoulders too) while playing or after playing. Overdoing things or playing a lot with this fatigue or excess tension can cause injury.


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#2603672 - 01/12/17 01:49 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Originally Posted by gnomenreigen
Prodigy children are like drugs... I will try to change my attitude towards them because I don't think I can stop listening to them.

I know how you feel... but now those videos always make me smile/laugh because they're so good it's almost ridiculous.

Originally Posted by gnomereigen
I don't know how to explain the "weight" thing well... Basically I just work on some of Brahms exercises (actually usually are just some bars, not all the exercise so I can completely focus on the weight control). I just have to relax the muscles I don't need to use in playing and use the "relaxed weight" of these muscles to play so I don't make more effort than that which is actually required.
I know this explanation is quite confused... I just devote 10-15 minutes to weight control while playing (like leaving my arms fall on the keyboard and paying attention to keep relaxed triceps and channel the weight in the fingers).
Sorry if it makes no sense for you... I tried my best.
Ok, so I thought the right thing in my mind but thanks for clarifying. I do understand because I'm working on that too, but I'm not playing at all.


Mark

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#2603681 - 01/12/17 02:04 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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f3r Offline
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f3r  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 430
Italy
I checked your video on Instagram and it is pretty nice however as it is now it sounds a bit static/flat, both in tempo and dynamics. Did you use your phone's camera to record it (and therefore using also the phone's mic)? Because that may be the reason why I feel like that about your intepretation but, I repeat, it is overall good. Maybe I shouldn't be the one offering tips as I also started in September 2015 and I also have the same problems. I was quite happy initially about my recording of the same Invention... Now? Not really.

I also like the way you move your hands. I think I'm impressed.


Mark

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Kawai CA97 | YouTube
#2603813 - 01/12/17 08:48 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
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Tubbie0075 Offline
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Tubbie0075  Offline
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Melbourne, Australia
If you are comparing yourself with people doing their graded exams, you are not a beginner, probably intermediate. If you are comparing yourself with professional concert pianists, you are a beginner.


Be your ♮ self.

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Studying:
Bach: Prelude & Fugue No. 3 [BWV848] (C#)
Liszt: Liebestraume (Ab)
#2603958 - 01/13/17 07:47 AM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: Tubbie0075]  
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BrianDX Offline
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BrianDX  Offline
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Posts: 2,164
First Town, First State
Since the start of our lessons 3+ years ago I've only concerned myself with level of music I can play based on the Guild's grading system of Elementary, Intermediate, Preparatory (Advanced). This grading system fits in with most music books I buy, as well as mimics school levels in the U.S. (Pre-school, elementary, middle school, high school, etc.)

Above all of that is Professional. My only goal from the start was to be able to play at the Intermediate level, which allows me to learn simple pieces in their original form from most of the great composers.

And yes, I my teacher and I don't consider what I'm doing now "beginner" material.



Yamaha C2X | Yamaha M500-F
Groucho Marx: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."
Curriculum: Faber PA Level 5
Current: Mazurka In G Minor (Faber) (OF)
#2606145 - 01/19/17 02:57 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: f3r]  
Joined: Jan 2017
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gnomenreigen Offline
Junior Member
gnomenreigen  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 12
I make the videos with my smartphone so the quality is not very good but I'm also a little bit nervous when I play in front of someone or when I make a video that's why you noticed that, I noticed that too frown
I watched a few of your videos on YT and you are absolutely amazing! Do you focus on one piece at a time or you practice more pieces together?

#2606192 - 01/19/17 04:23 PM Re: When a piano student is not anymore a beginner? [Re: gnomenreigen]  
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 430
f3r Offline
Full Member
f3r  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 430
Italy
Originally Posted by gnomenreigen
I make the videos with my smartphone so the quality is not very good but I'm also a little bit nervous when I play in front of someone or when I make a video that's why you noticed that, I noticed that too frown
That's fine, the same happens to me. Record yourself often, even daily, and just practice/play. You'll end up forgetting about the camera and, in due time, you'll get used to it.

Originally Posted by gnomenreigen
I watched a few of your videos on YT and you are absolutely amazing!
Thank you but I must admit that I make multiple recordings and I choose the best out of them grin (even with mistakes in them!). You seem to be doing better than me.

Originally Posted by gnomenreigein
Do you focus on one piece at a time or you practice more pieces together?
I'm currently not playing nor working on any piece. I'm doing something else. Back when I was still taking lessons I had to work on multiple pieces and études. As an example, the last things I was practicing, were:
Bach Invention 12
Beethoven Op.49 N.1
Czerny Op.849 N.13
Schumann Op.68 n.10
Field Nocturne N.5

When I was done with a piece the teacher assigned me a new piece unless I had already enough stuff to do.


Mark

[Linked Image]
Kawai CA97 | YouTube
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