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Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. #2787840
12/04/18 06:38 PM
12/04/18 06:38 PM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 1
Los Angeles CA
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KrystalVisions82 Offline OP
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KrystalVisions82  Offline OP
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Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 1
Los Angeles CA
Hi everyone. Well I've had my Casio keyboard for about 12 years now but have only started teaching myself to play this passed week. I've always wanted to be a musician but have always gotten discouraged. To be honest I am considered disabled and don't work anymore so I have all the time in the world to practice now. I'm 36 so totally late to learning but I've heard it's never too late. However I'm curious to know how many successful musicians started at my age. By successful I don't mean fame or money I mean being an expert at the instrument. Are there any experts here who started late and how long did it take you to learn?

Also I downloaded an App to learn piano but it feels more like a game than an actual teacher. Do you think it's worth investing in lessons at a music school? I'm looking at the "West Coast Music academy" by my house. It sounds great but is not super cheap. However it may be worth it to achieve my goals. Though Their website shows mostly kids which makes me feel old lol. But I know it shouldn't matter.

Are there any successful self taught pianists here? Just curious. Thanks!


Krystal
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Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2787858
12/04/18 08:53 PM
12/04/18 08:53 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 4,491
Pennsylvania
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dmd Offline
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Forget all those worries about if anyone has been successful.

Just do it.

Start taking lessons and do your best each day.

That is the formula for success.

There are no guarantees about how successful you will be.

Everyone is different.

Good Luck


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Speakers, Yamaha HS8S Powered Subwoofer, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2787903
12/05/18 12:20 AM
12/05/18 12:20 AM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 94
Texas
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jandz Offline
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Hey KrystalVisions82. dmd is right. Forget most of those things and focus on what you want. Few other points:

Definitions of the word “expert” differ. 36 is probably not too late to become one, by my definition anyway. It’ll take you as long as it takes you, some combination of your willingness to work and your aptitude for the instrument. Nobody can tell you how long that is. The key is time. That’s the price of learning to play or learning anything - time.

If you want to be an expert, you likely need a teacher. Not necessarily a school though that might eventually be your path. You probably won’t make it to whatever you consider to be expert level on your own but you might. It is just harder and takes longer.

There are lots of successful self-taught pianists on here, though again, definitions of successful differ. Hang around for a while and you’ll run across a few.

Anyway, welcome to the forum!

Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2787919
12/05/18 01:38 AM
12/05/18 01:38 AM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,370
Australia
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earlofmar Online content
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Australia
Hi there, I guess we all start with the idea of wanting to know "is it too late?", "how good can I become?" and "how long will this take?". I think what happened to me was pretty normal, I got bitten by the piano bug and couldn't stop now if I wanted to, so those sorts of questions simply don't cross my mind anymoresmile

No, it is never too late to enjoy learning and playing music, there are many who started much later than you and I (I started at 54). How good can you become I think depends on what your idea of what good is. My own experience is confirming what I remember reading, (probably here), at the start. That even with dedication and time, ten years will be just the apprenticeship. That might sound long or even harsh, but there is no end to this journey (only a beginning) and if you learn to enjoy the now, then everything else is irrelevant.

My own experience is that having a teacher was just about essential. I don't think it is necessary to have the most expensive teacher at the start, but it is just like pianos. You didn't know you needed a better one until you got one.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


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Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2787938
12/05/18 03:00 AM
12/05/18 03:00 AM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 622
Toronto, Canada
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thepianoplayer416 Offline
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The first thing you have to consider is your keyboard. If it has at least 61 keys you're OK. For advanced players it's preferable to have at least 76 keys. And the keyboard should be touch-sensitive (being able to control the volume with your touch instead of the volume knob). A few years ago, a friend who is an amateur musician acquired a used keyboard for her vacation home. The instrument wasn't touch-sensitive. She considered it to be a toy than for serious music making.

I had a few lessons at age 10 but not long enough to count. I got seriously into playing keyboard in my mid-30s. Started with a 61, then a 76 and now an 88. You can learn all the techniques in playing a piano / keyboard but at the same time you are constantly learning new pieces. If you get into Western Classical music, there are more than 400 years and thousands of pieces that would take more than 1 lifetime to learn. I wouldn't put a time limit learning to play music.

I started without a teacher and eventually got a teacher for a few months. She pointed out certain things I could improve on. Otherwise I am mostly on my own.

I tend to take a leisurely approach learning new pieces. I play with a music group in church so by default I get a lot of church music with a piano part + other instruments. I would play a lot of these pieces including Christmas songs on the keyboard at home. In the beginning I would practice at least 1h /day, sometimes two 7 days /week. The first year I really pushed myself to get to an intermediate level. After that I tend to divide my time between the pieces I would perform with my music group and the piano repertoire I work on at home.

Right now I play a lot of church music with 4-part harmonies (2 for the L and 2 for the R) because I get them from my music group. These are at an intermediate level. I would occasionally get into a piece at an advanced level like a Beethoven Sonata or Chopin Nocturne. My comfort zone is playing music with 4-part harmonies and I tend to stick to playing these pieces or other pieces at the same level.

I've seen a few people who took lessons before and the piano just sit at home like a piece of furniture. I'm sure they spent thousands of dollars on lessons. This is not my idea of success. You are not training to become concert pianists. As long as you can play a few tunes, you are on the right track. Music is a personal thing. Everybody has different preferences. I used to get into a lot of music by Bach & Handel. You can spend the rest of your life learning the keyboard music of just these 2 composers alone. A came across a few people who took music lessons. They would play only the pieces assigned by a teacher. Even with a teacher I would deliberately go out of my way to pick pieces I like to play. Keeps me motivation and engage with my music for years to come. Once I was playing a piece on a piano when a lady walked by and recognized the tune: "That's a waltz by Shostakovich" and another time "You are playing the hymn Abide with Me. I hear that a lot in commemoration of the Great War". Around Christmas I would download a few holiday favorites from the Internet. A few days ago I got hold of an arrangement of "Carol of the Bells". These are pieces you hear year after year and people can identify a piece like "O Holy Night!" right away.

Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2787984
12/05/18 08:43 AM
12/05/18 08:43 AM
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Posts: 223
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Michael P Walsh Online content
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36? Still very young then! Let's take the ABRSM grades - 1 to 8. I've heard it stated that if you improve at 1 grade per year then you are doing OK. That's 8 years. Of course some people go at a faster pace than that. Let's say another 5 or 6 years for the lower level Diploma. That's 14 years altogether. You'll be 50, quite a bit younger than me but far far in advance of my piano skills. Will that make you an expert? For some people it will, for others it will not.
You'll progress faster with a good teacher than teaching yourself. I think that's virtually a certainty.
More important though is not to fixate too far ahead and enjoy the process, that means right from the start. There will be some frustrating days, some set backs. I think they are inevitable but with some dedication and mindful practice you will progress. That's inevitable too.

Last edited by Michael P Walsh; 12/05/18 08:45 AM.
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2787996
12/05/18 09:48 AM
12/05/18 09:48 AM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 1,007
Chicago
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jjo Offline
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Chicago
If you look for a teacher (which I recommend), make sure they have taught adults before. Teaching adults is different from teaching children and you should find someone experienced at teaching adults.

And don't worry if the school is filled mostly with kids. I play at my teacher's annual recital, and it's kids of various ages and one or two adults. And the parents of the kids in the room are generally extremely jealous of the adults who can play!

Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2788159
12/05/18 05:04 PM
12/05/18 05:04 PM
Joined: Nov 2018
Posts: 74
Left Coast of US
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Docbop Offline
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Don't even waste your time thinking about age, it's all about wanting to do it and putting the time in. I'm in my late 60's and just started learning piano as a second instrument about a month ago, So I have years of experience playing and studying music, but on piano at this point I'm an infant.

At this point it's all about learning the mechanical aspect of the instrument, or some would call it technique. For that I would say to get started get a teacher so you build the basic foundation correctly, having to unlearn bad habits can be hard so get started right. Once you start getting a solid foundation then using an app or video can work.

Last a good thing to do is keep a practice journal and write down what your practice and metronome settings and other comments. Practice journal are really good for beginners because you will hit plateaus in your learning or frustrated, so looking at your practice journal you can actually see the progress you've made. Also helps to see areas that you aren't working on as much as you think. I use use a composition book or spiral notebook from the drug store, don't need anything fancy it just for your own use.

Last and most important remember to have fun as long as you're enjoying yourself you'll keep going.

Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2788161
12/05/18 05:16 PM
12/05/18 05:16 PM
Joined: Jun 2017
Posts: 173
England
Lillith Offline
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England
Originally Posted by KrystalVisions82
I'm 36 so totally late to learning but I've heard it's never too late. However I'm curious to know how many successful musicians started at my age. By successful I don't mean fame or money I mean being an expert at the instrument. Are there any experts here who started late and how long did it take you to learn?


By the standards of many here - have a look round the forum a bit - you're only a lad!!!
Many have started in their fifties, sixties and seventies and gone on to an enjoyable piano career - not professionally of course, but then most people don't anyway - but playing, enjoying and constantly getting better at the piano smile
Forget the age and get those ivories tinkled,


Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?
Roland FP30 in white
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2788202
12/05/18 08:07 PM
12/05/18 08:07 PM
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Posts: 390
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John305 Offline
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I’m guessing the OP is a lass, with a name like Krystal. But, yes, she is plenty young and I would say the sky’s the limit.


It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2788214
12/05/18 08:33 PM
12/05/18 08:33 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,602
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Victoria, BC
I would say that getting a teacher is (almost) essential at nearly any stage of active, serious, productive learning. The biggest danger that some self-instructed musicians encounter is based on understandable ignorance, i.e., not knowing what they don't know. This means, all books and videos notwithstanding, that not knowing what one might be doing wrong, one can learn bad habits, including inefficient fingering, uneven voicing, poor pedal technique. It often astounds people to learn that they often hear what they think they are playing, not what they are playing. One needs a sensitive guide through the early stages to prevent having to back track later if you start by self-teaching.

A good teacher will guide you much more efficiently than any method book or video because of the immediate feedback and the on-the-spot correction, based on the individual student's needs. A teacher can reiterate points or suggestions not fully understood.

As another has said, do get a teacher experienced in teaching adult students. I would add to that: Not just a teacher experienced in teaching adults, but one experienced in teaching adult beginners.

You may learn to read notes and to play simple tunes on a 12-year-old Casio keyboard, but once you know that you are committed to progressing in the study and playing of piano literature, such keyboard will undoubtedly be a hindrance not a tool to meet your growing needs. At some stage you need to plan on acquiring a reasonably good acoustic piano or a very good digital piano.

Some of the opinions expressed in this post might need modification depending upon the type of music you want to play. Since most here are interested in classical repertoire, that was my assumption, although an unfounded one. If, however, your interest is in playing a few pop tunes, then the road to your goal might be different.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2788362
12/06/18 12:12 PM
12/06/18 12:12 PM
Joined: Jun 2017
Posts: 68
Ontario, Canada
SilentQ Offline
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You can become an expert at any time with enough effort.

Why can some people play virtuostic pieces at 20 years old? Well, they have been playing since they were 4. That is 16 years of practice.

If you stick with it for 16 years and actually work at it and getting better, you will only be 52. You could be playing expert level pieces in that amount of time with proper work and instruction.

It is all relative. If you don't start now, every year you pass will be one more where you could have been learning, but didn't.

I find, as an adult, that I am learning faster than most children. I have been learning for about a year and a half and am up to RCM 5 pieces. I love playing. I want to play all the time. If I have free time, I am either taking care of important tasks or at my piano.

It isn't about years, it is about the hours over the years. Put in the time and effort, persevere through the tough parts. Play the plateaus (not through them) until you break them, even it it takes 1000 hours. Play more and challenge yourself and you will get there.


Q
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: SilentQ] #2788683
12/07/18 11:00 AM
12/07/18 11:00 AM
Joined: Nov 2018
Posts: 30
Paris, France
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ericco Offline
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Originally Posted by SilentQ
You can become an expert at any time with enough effort.

Why can some people play virtuostic pieces at 20 years old? Well, they have been playing since they were 4. That is 16 years of practice.

If you stick with it for 16 years and actually work at it and getting better, you will only be 52. You could be playing expert level pieces in that amount of time with proper work and instruction.


Just for contrast, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a professional pianist and I used this same argument as yours. He told me that I was very wrong: if you start at an adult age you will never become a "natural" piano player. You may play very well, but not virtuosic. He told me that after a few years of serious practice, almost everybody can play Fur Elise, Mozart's Rondo a la turca, some Chopin nocturnes, even beautifully and with musicality. However, most people who start as adults will NEVER be able to play La Campanella at concert speed, no matter how hard they try or how long do they practice.

Last edited by ericco; 12/07/18 11:00 AM.
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: ericco] #2788688
12/07/18 11:16 AM
12/07/18 11:16 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 4,783
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content


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Originally Posted by ericco
However, most people who start as adults will NEVER be able to play La Campanella at concert speed, no matter how hard they try or how long do they practice.

How can I unread this? I need some techniques.


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2788694
12/07/18 11:26 AM
12/07/18 11:26 AM
Joined: Nov 2018
Posts: 30
Paris, France
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ericco Offline
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by ericco
However, most people who start as adults will NEVER be able to play La Campanella at concert speed, no matter how hard they try or how long do they practice.

How can I unread this? I need some techniques.


Sorry! Maybe he said it to motivate the heck out of me! Of course, after this conversation the first thing I tried to do was to learn the damn piece, but I realized immediately that it is not the right moment yet. laugh

Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: ericco] #2788700
12/07/18 11:42 AM
12/07/18 11:42 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 4,783
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content


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Originally Posted by ericco
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by ericco
However, most people who start as adults will NEVER be able to play La Campanella at concert speed, no matter how hard they try or how long do they practice.

How can I unread this? I need some techniques.


Sorry! Maybe he said it to motivate the heck out of me! Of course, after this conversation the first thing I tried to do was to learn the damn piece, but I realized immediately that it is not the right moment yet. laugh

Planning on not trying La Campanella for 7 more years myself (yes, strangely precise - that's OCD for you). This is irritating to read as one could say I started learning piano back on Feb 14 of this year in order to play this. A pox on his house, I say. wink LOL.


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: ericco] #2788722
12/07/18 12:24 PM
12/07/18 12:24 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 223
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Michael P Walsh Online content
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Originally Posted by ericco
Originally Posted by SilentQ
You can become an expert at any time with enough effort.

Why can some people play virtuostic pieces at 20 years old? Well, they have been playing since they were 4. That is 16 years of practice.

If you stick with it for 16 years and actually work at it and getting better, you will only be 52. You could be playing expert level pieces in that amount of time with proper work and instruction.


Just for contrast, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a professional pianist and I used this same argument as yours. He told me that I was very wrong: if you start at an adult age you will never become a "natural" piano player. You may play very well, but not virtuosic. He told me that after a few years of serious practice, almost everybody can play Fur Elise, Mozart's Rondo a la turca, some Chopin nocturnes, even beautifully and with musicality. However, most people who start as adults will NEVER be able to play La Campanella at concert speed, no matter how hard they try or how long do they practice.


Never say never. The world is a big place with some exceptional people.

Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: Michael P Walsh] #2788739
12/07/18 01:06 PM
12/07/18 01:06 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,602
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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BruceD  Offline
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Originally Posted by Michael P Walsh
Originally Posted by ericco
Originally Posted by SilentQ
You can become an expert at any time with enough effort.

Why can some people play virtuostic pieces at 20 years old? Well, they have been playing since they were 4. That is 16 years of practice.

If you stick with it for 16 years and actually work at it and getting better, you will only be 52. You could be playing expert level pieces in that amount of time with proper work and instruction.


Just for contrast, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a professional pianist and I used this same argument as yours. He told me that I was very wrong: if you start at an adult age you will never become a "natural" piano player. You may play very well, but not virtuosic. He told me that after a few years of serious practice, almost everybody can play Fur Elise, Mozart's Rondo a la turca, some Chopin nocturnes, even beautifully and with musicality. However, most people who start as adults will NEVER be able to play La Campanella at concert speed, no matter how hard they try or how long do they practice.


Never say never. The world is a big place with some exceptional people.


In the context of this thread "Never say never" is somewhat of a panacea to encourage ones determination to meet daunting challenges. That said, most of us amateur adult pianists are not "exceptional people" with incredible talent, and it is somewhat of a pipe-dream to think that a large amount of determined practice over a number of years will bring us to the virtuoso level. I know too many adult pianists who, dedicated, determined and disciplined in their approach to piano study and with a lot of time to practice will, nevertheless, not reach virtuoso level. They are, however, fine musicians and very good pianists who, within the scope of their abilities, can perform some repertoire at a near-professional level.

Let's be realistic, work with dedication, while we enjoy the journey but without deluding ourselves that we may eventually be concert-stage material.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: BruceD] #2788752
12/07/18 01:29 PM
12/07/18 01:29 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 4,783
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content


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Posts: 4,783
Originally Posted by BruceD
Let's be realistic, work with dedication, while we enjoy the journey but without deluding ourselves that we may eventually be concert-stage material.

I think you've erroneously conflated the ability to play a virtuosic piece and being "concert-stage material". I have one virtuosic piece I would like to play eventually. I do not believe there is any path to a concert stage for any adult (unless you find your way via a TV show like Paul Potts!).

I've seen young adults on Youtube even self-teach themselves virtuosic pieces at tempo. Of course, they aren't to a performance standard - but see my comment above about "concert stage." So based on this evidence (because of course we all believe what we see on Youtube! LOL) I believe it is possible, but difficult, as long as you don't have unrealistic expectations that you will be able to polish those pieces to a concert performance level. (That said, I haven't seen the particular virtuosic piece I would like to eventually play, actually played by an adult-learner on Youtube, so I feel a bit frown )

BTW, I don't even believe people who do have virtuosic piano skills even all are interested in concert stages. This fellow who has a DMA from Yale uses his virtuosic pianistic skills to compose and play video game music arrangements:


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Hello everyone. Total beginner with some questions. [Re: KrystalVisions82] #2788769
12/07/18 02:47 PM
12/07/18 02:47 PM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 622
Toronto, Canada
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Not everybody would end up on stage performing after a few years playing. There are people who quit after a few years of taking lessons and their instruments sit at home as pieces of furniture. Some people get enrolled into a music program by their parents in their childhood. They had no interest to music or the pieces they play which were assigned by their teachers.

The people who started late like myself play for interest instead of being part of their academic studies. Many of us are not going to end up on stage but we tend to continue playing for many years to come.

I play at an intermediate level and don't see myself becoming a virtuoso anytime soon. Back in my school days I took up violin playing in a Strings class (violin, viola, cello & bass). I had a positive experience in group lessons as well as performing for the parents in our year-end concerts. After starting piano, I downloaded piano arrangements of pieces I played in high school. Once our class had to do a research project on a great composer. The name JS Bach came up. I got a recording of the French Suite #3 (harpsichord) for the class presentation. After starting piano, the 6 movements in the Suite #3 has become my favorite playing pieces. I don't have any personal connection to Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart or Haydn the same way. I don't get the same feeling playing any piece of Classical music or any composer but playing that number always get me excited.

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