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How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? #2871131
07/21/19 07:06 AM
07/21/19 07:06 AM
Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 26
piamissima Offline OP
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Dear Community,

I would love to improve my piano playing, but I have no idea how to succeed.


A few words about my background:

As a child/teenager I received very serious piano lessons for four years. I was considered talented and made easy progress.
But as time went by I developed huge stage fright and avoided having to perform. For this reason I dropped out of class at the age of 14. My teacher was very upset and disappointed because I was one of his favourite students. Unfortunately I could not talk openly with him about my fear. Neither could I talk to my parents.
Maybe otherwise everything would have been different.

At that time I also attended a very demanding type of school with a focus on science. That was also the direction in which I wanted to develop professionally. An even more demanding study followed and playing the piano completely went out of my life.


Today I am 31 years old and got myself a piano again about 1 year ago. Despite the exhausting last years, I had always deeply regretted having dropped out of my piano education. My love for the piano and especially for classical music always remained.


Now to the main issue:

The last pieces that I had learned as a piano student for my upcoming intermediate level examination were Schubert's Impromptu in A flat major and a Beethoven Sonata Op. 42 No.2.

Since I have had a piano again, I have learned some new pieces, but they never went beyond my level at that time.
Rather, they were even lower.

It was very frustrating for me to find out how many of my skills have been lost over the years.
I've always been extremely good at playing fast runs and trills...today I'm already stumbling over the prestos in Mozart's Phantasie frown

I would like to take real lessons again, but I can't do that at the moment for various reasons.
But I still want to develop further and dream of playing more advanced pieces.

How can I reach that? I am willing to invest time and patience every day. What I lack so far is a practice plan. Where and how should I start?

I would be very happy about your advice!

Best regards and thank you in advance,

piamissima

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Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871136
07/21/19 08:01 AM
07/21/19 08:01 AM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by piamissima


As a child/teenager I received very serious piano lessons for four years. I was considered talented and made easy progress.
But as time went by I developed huge stage fright and avoided having to perform. For this reason I dropped out of class at the age of 14.

If it's student recitals or competitions you've been forced into, I sympathize.

I'd have stopped too, when I was a teenaged student, if I wasn't able to continue lessons without doing them. (Luckily, performing in public was never on the cards for me, nor for any of my teachers). I didn't learn piano in order to be a performing monkey, doing someone else's bidding.......


Quote
The last pieces that I had learned as a piano student for my upcoming intermediate level examination were Schubert's Impromptu in A flat major and a Beethoven Sonata Op. 42 No.2.

Which Schubert Impromptu? - there are two in A flat, one considerably easier than the other. Also, do you mean Beethoven's Op.49/2?

Quote
Since I have had a piano again, I have learned some new pieces, but they never went beyond my level at that time.
Rather, they were even lower.

It was very frustrating for me to find out how many of my skills have been lost over the years.
I've always been extremely good at playing fast runs and trills...today I'm already stumbling over the prestos in Mozart's Phantasie frown

I would like to take real lessons again, but I can't do that at the moment for various reasons.
But I still want to develop further and dream of playing more advanced pieces.

How can I reach that? I am willing to invest time and patience every day. What I lack so far is a practice plan. Where and how should I start?

I would be very happy about your advice!

I'm not sure what level you were at, as I'm not sure which pieces you're referring to. (Presumably D935/2, Op.49/2 and K397?)

Either way, a good teacher is always the best plan, especially if you hadn't reached advanced standard before you dropped the piano as a teen, because you still have lots to learn in terms of technical skills, as well as musical skills.

If the scales in K397 are a problem, you have to start practicing (all) scales & arpeggios slowly, paying heed to evenness etc. Never play faster than you can play accurately. Depending on what level you were at in the past, and how long you have been away, it can take several months before you regain your previous standard, and then to improve on that, you need to practice the right things in the right way, which is where a teacher is so important. Lots and lots of time - and patience - is key.

BTW, I barely touched any piano for decades after I finished with lessons as a teenager, and only took it up again in 2010 when I finally bought my own piano. Since then, I have not just regained my previous level, but have kept on improving and learning lots of new pieces that I never managed when I was a student.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871139
07/21/19 08:30 AM
07/21/19 08:30 AM
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 582
Sheffield, UK
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KevinM Online content
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I had lessons for a bit longer than you but was never considered exceptionally talented reaching what sounds like a level not hugely different from your own.

My experience after a forty year break has been that I've regained a considerable amount of skill relatively quickly. I went from almost not being able to read music to doing so relatively well again. My rapid improvement has now stopped and I'm pretty much now progressing slowly at the rate for somebody no longer recapturing skill from previous experience.

There is one aspect that I'm still lacking from learning as a child is just plain raw speed. For how long I have been playing now I can play relatively complex pieces but I just can't play fast. My most recent choices of pieces to learn are ones that require fast play but other than that are not particularly difficult. One is the only piece that I am relearning from when I was a child, I don't want to compare myself against my child self, the piece is Mozart's K545. Another is Hasche-Mann by Schumann. These were chosen with discussion from my teacher.

The lack of speed, I suspect is two things. One, it will just take time and lots of practise to get something resembling the flexibility I had playing as a child. Two, I also suspect my potential for being able to play fast will be lower now than when I was a child. I should still be able to surpass how fast I could play as a child because I never gave it any specific attention then. However the work involved to get that result will be considerably more than it would have been then. You are much younger than me so you should be able to regain any speed you had and more, it will just take time.

I think you need to recognise progress will be slow, and that there are significant risks not having a teacher. You will struggle to evaluate expected progress, what pieces you are capable of to learn, what bad habits you are forming that will detract from your technique, what you should be focussing on doing to fix things that are your weakest skills.

For myself, I suspect that other than the speed issue I have regained my skill level that I had as a child in 9 months, all but the first 6 weeks has been with a teacher.

Last edited by KevinM; 07/21/19 08:32 AM.

Mendelssohn Song without Words Op19,2 and 19,6, Jensen Sehnsucht Op8,5. Chopin Nocturne C# Minor. Schumann Hasche Mann from Kinderszenen Op15,3. https://soundcloud.com/sheffieldkevin
DP: Casio Celviano AP-470. HP: Superlux HD681 EVO
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871149
07/21/19 09:52 AM
07/21/19 09:52 AM
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Posts: 775
South Wales
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Colin Miles Offline
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Like KevinM I had a long break and even though I had reached an advanced level when very young, regaining speed and fluency took a while. But if you are fit and healthy there is no reason why you should not improve whatever age you are - I am only 77 - providing that you practice A LOT and CAREFULLY. If anything starts to hurt, or even with a little twinge, stop doing that and concentrate on something else. The brain is a wonderful organ and if you exercise it and keep a positive attitude, the rewards are tremendous, physically, mentally and emotionally.


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871150
07/21/19 09:55 AM
07/21/19 09:55 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,940
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Welcome to the forum, and back to piano, piamissima!

Originally Posted by piamissima

The last pieces that I had learned as a piano student for my upcoming intermediate level examination were Schubert's Impromptu in A flat major and a Beethoven Sonata Op. 42 No.2.

Since I have had a piano again, I have learned some new pieces, but they never went beyond my level at that time.
Rather, they were even lower.

It was very frustrating for me to find out how many of my skills have been lost over the years.
I've always been extremely good at playing fast runs and trills...today I'm already stumbling over the prestos in Mozart's Phantasie frown

I would like to take real lessons again, but I can't do that at the moment for various reasons.
But I still want to develop further and dream of playing more advanced pieces.

How can I reach that? I am willing to invest time and patience every day. What I lack so far is a practice plan. Where and how should I start?


There are some positives in your story, and some realities that you will have to face as you return to piano. Let's go over the positives:

- You studied piano to a late intermediate level
- You studied as a child during that "window" of opportunity for ease of learning before the age of 12
- You are committed to putting in the time necessary to bring back something you love and have missed

And I want to add as a side note: your fear of performing is perfectly natural and most people experience it. To me, that just means that you care, but there are ways of dealing with it should you ever want to perform again (or submit a piece to a recital on this forum). So please don't ever feel you can't or just "weren't cut out for it" simply because you struggled with it and no one helped you.

Now for the reality check:

4 years isn't that long in the grand scheme of piano playing. I'm not saying this to be discouraging, but you are 31, and 4 years of that you played. To expect to jump right in after a 17 year break anywhere close to where you left off may not be realistic.

You're thinking about running before you can walk. You are asking about progressing from where you were at the age of 14 to an advanced level, before you can even replicate playing at your previous level. I'm not trying to be harsh, just pointing out the facts so that you can go about this in the most productive, efficient way possible.

So why not take a big step back? Give yourself time to remember all of that stuff you previously learned? It's there, but it's buried under everything new you've learned since quitting piano, so it needs time to resurface.

Also, this is great opportunity to learn some new things - better practice habits and more sophisticated playing now that you're an adult (things that most children aren't able to grasp). So treat this time not as a step backward, but refining and honing so that you will be even more prepared for more difficult pieces.

I'm not sure I can recommend pieces you should work on since I haven't heard you play, but my guess would be go back to learn something from Anna Magdalena Notebook level - something simple. Work on that along with going through scales, chords and arpeggios - maybe just start with 2 8vas and work them slowly so you can focus on technique and fingering. Then if after a week you feel those pieces are easy, bump it up a notch to work on one of the Bach Little Preludes and perhaps an easy Sonatina by Clementi or Kuhlau. If, however, the AMB pieces are still tricky after a week, then do another week. Give it time, and try to find pieces that are at that level and work there for a bit.

This is a long-term process that you're going through, and so you want to think in terms of building a solid foundation for future pieces. No one knows how long it will take before you are moving forward from where you left off at 14, but it will happen if you are patient. Try not to put in hours every day just yet - no more than 1 hour to start, and then as the music demands, you can add another hour.

I hope this helps!


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871252
07/21/19 05:18 PM
07/21/19 05:18 PM
Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 26
piamissima Offline OP
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piamissima  Offline OP
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Posts: 26

Many thanks for the answers so far!

Please don't be surprised about my strange English. I am not a native speaker.



Originally Posted by bennevis

If it's student recitals or competitions you've been forced into, I sympathize.

I'd have stopped too, when I was a teenaged student, if I wasn't able to continue lessons without doing them. (Luckily, performing in public was never on the cards for me, nor for any of my teachers). I didn't learn piano in order to be a performing monkey, doing someone else's bidding.......




At least twice a year we had official auditions in real concert halls. We were allowed to play on a stage with a great grand piano. For the first two years I found it exciting and even enjoyed the attention.
At some point it tipped over and I was just terribly nervous and anxious at these events.

Maybe it would have been even possible that I would not take part in these concerts any more. Unfortunately, I had the feeling that I was not allowed to show this fear openly...I dealt with myself until it became too much and quitting seemed the only solution to me.

In retrospect I would of course do it quite differently. But I didn't know any better then.


Quote

Which Schubert Impromptu? - there are two in A flat, one considerably easier than the other. Also, do you mean Beethoven's Op.49/2?


Sorry for the confusion. I meant impromptu op 142 no 2.

Beethoven: yes, Op. 49/2. But only the first movement.

Quote
Either way, a good teacher is always the best plan, especially if you hadn't reached advanced standard before you dropped the piano as a teen, because you still have lots to learn in terms of technical skills, as well as musical skills.


As I said, I would very much like to take lessons if it were possible. Unfortunately it is not at the moment. But I will aim for that in the years to come.
In the meantime, I still would like to progress further. Even if it is only slow.

I too have the impression that I still have a lot to learn in almost every respect.
Another reason why I don't know where to start.


But for returning to the very beginning, I feel too advanced.

Quote
BTW, I barely touched any piano for decades after I finished with lessons as a teenager, and only took it up again in 2010 when I finally bought my own piano. Since then, I have not just regained my previous level, but have kept on improving and learning lots of new pieces that I never managed when I was a student.


That gives courage!


What exactly did you do back then to improve yourself? Just played more difficult pieces and practiced until you mastered them?
Did you have a teacher or certain teaching material during that time?

There is a lot of online teaching material on the internet, including video tutorials on Youtube...but I'm not sure how helpful it really is. Do you have an opinion here?
So far I've only played from sheet music and listened at most to recordings of the ideal end result so I have a point of reference.


@Morodiene

Originally Posted by Morodiene

And I want to add as a side note: your fear of performing is perfectly natural and most people experience it. To me, that just means that you care, but there are ways of dealing with it should you ever want to perform again (or submit a piece to a recital on this forum). So please don't ever feel you can't or just "weren't cut out for it" simply because you struggled with it and no one helped you.



Thank you very much for your kind words. I will try to remember that. smile



Quote
So why not take a big step back? Give yourself time to remember all of that stuff you previously learned? It's there, but it's buried under everything new you've learned since quitting piano, so it needs time to resurface.

Also, this is great opportunity to learn some new things - better practice habits and more sophisticated playing now that you're an adult (things that most children aren't able to grasp). So treat this time not as a step backward, but refining and honing so that you will be even more prepared for more difficult pieces.


That sounds very reasonable.
Actually, that was also my idea, which is why I spent the first weeks mainly repeating pieces I played at that time. I wanted to see what I am still capable of and how it feels.
I started with Bach Inventions (1,8, 13 and 14).
I was able to reactivate them quite quickly, but despite practice I didn't feel as confident about them as I did back then. As a student I was able to play these pieces almost in my sleep, flawlessly and at high speed. Now I was happy if I could manage even one flawless run.
I simply don't play as reliably as I used to. This is currently very frustrating for me.


Quote
I'm not sure I can recommend pieces you should work on since I haven't heard you play, but my guess would be go back to learn something from Anna Magdalena Notebook level - something simple. Work on that along with going through scales, chords and arpeggios - maybe just start with 2 8vas and work them slowly so you can focus on technique and fingering. Then if after a week you feel those pieces are easy, bump it up a notch to work on one of the Bach Little Preludes and perhaps an easy Sonatina by Clementi or Kuhlau. If, however, the AMB pieces are still tricky after a week, then do another week. Give it time, and try to find pieces that are at that level and work there for a bit.


That would really be a big step backwards.
Actually I wanted to try my hand at Chopin's Nocturne Op 72/1 next. I love the drama of this piece...but probably it is still too difficult for me.


Because I had mentioned my problems with Mozart's Fantasy in D minor :
what is the most effective way to practice the Presti? The rest of the piece is pretty simple...but playing these runs with the necessary speed and lightness seems almost impossible to me.


In terms of "easy pieces":
Schubert's Moment Musical No 3 I was able to play at a slow tempo within two days. Since then, 7 more days have passed in which I have dedicated myself almost daily (at least a few minutes) exclusively to this little piece...and still it is not really good.

These are the moments when I doubt I will ever be able to improve myself at all. frown


But I will try to make a recording of my practice attempts soon so that you can get a better idea of my level.



Quote
I hope this helps!


Thank you very much for your advice and encouragement!



And I'm sorry I didn't respond to each post individually. I found them all very helpful!

Best regards,

piamissima

Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871286
07/21/19 07:21 PM
07/21/19 07:21 PM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by piamissima





Quote
BTW, I barely touched any piano for decades after I finished with lessons as a teenager, and only took it up again in 2010 when I finally bought my own piano. Since then, I have not just regained my previous level, but have kept on improving and learning lots of new pieces that I never managed when I was a student.


That gives courage!


What exactly did you do back then to improve yourself? Just played more difficult pieces and practiced until you mastered them?
Did you have a teacher or certain teaching material during that time?

There is a lot of online teaching material on the internet, including video tutorials on Youtube...but I'm not sure how helpful it really is. Do you have an opinion here?
So far I've only played from sheet music and listened at most to recordings of the ideal end result so I have a point of reference.




I initially went back to pieces which I knew very well and could play in my sleep (even after not playing it for many years), and which were technically far below the level at which I last played (when I had already acquired my performance diploma, after ten years of lessons) - Mozart's K545, Chopin's Minute Waltz, Beethoven's Pathétique etc. I didn't have a teacher, but I did have a book of advanced technical exercises that my last teacher gave me, which I used.

Those 'easy' pieces sounded pretty rough for quite a while, until my fingers 'loosened up' and became more fluent, and slowly, I began to sound like a pianist again. It took about three months of daily practicing (about three hours a day) before I regained my former skills, and I focused on getting scales & arpeggios and passagework (in the pieces) very smooth & even.

When I was a student and doing exams every year, scales & arpeggios were a big part of them, so I could always remember them, even after decades of not playing. Playing them with smooth fluency was what took time to achieve. However, I was under no pressure to achieve anything in a certain time - I was just happy to be able to play the piano again, and for the first time, being able to play at any time of the day or night. (When I was a student, I had to practice on the pianos in the practice rooms in my high school, then university, which were only open in the day time, and closed on Sundays).

Initially, I focused on relearning the pieces that I'd played before which I really liked. Then I started on the long list of pieces that I'd always wanted to learn, some of which were technically more difficult than anything I'd played before.

I adopted a method that stood me in good stead when I was a student - if I encountered intractable difficulties in a piece that I really wanted to learn for myself (not the ones my teacher wanted me to learn), I'd put it on the back burner for a few weeks, or even months, before returning to it afresh after learning and playing other stuff that were more easily mastered. Invariably, I'd find it easier the second time, even more so the third time I revisited it. Eventually, I'd be able to play it to my complete satisfaction.

As for YT videos, I didn't even know of their existence then. Of the ones I've seen recently, I like Graham Fitch's. But even his videos cannot take the place of a real teacher who can look at your hands and observe your actual technique. I think that is important when you're trying to get to an advanced standard from an intermediate level, because there are a lot of technical things to master along the way, as well as lots of musical stuff to assimilate.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871290
07/21/19 07:48 PM
07/21/19 07:48 PM
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You need to be very patient. I am somewhere between intermediate and advanced. The terms do not mean much but even with teaching it’s slow progress and I could not do it on my iwn. Schubert impromptu 3 for example is a very fiddly piece piece. It is not easy. 7 days practice is not going to improve it much’. It often takes months to get pieces up to a high standard. Even with a teacher going from intermediate to advanced is a path that takes many years. If you wish to teach yourself it will be slower and take even longer. Also some things won’t be solvable by just practice so I am not sure you can teach yourself advanced pieces to a high standard without help. I don’t like YouTube videos and don’t think it replaces teachers. I suspect someone who has performance level diploma is able to teach themselves back to standard but I’m not convinced those who have not can teach themselves to advanced standard. I say this as I see the difficulties in the progress to harder pieces only because of lessons continuing. I would suggest you find some enjoyable pieces within your abilities. This obsession with rush for progress and improving leads most to give up. Be happy with what you can do already. Good luck

Last edited by Moo :); 07/21/19 07:55 PM.
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871303
07/21/19 09:13 PM
07/21/19 09:13 PM
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Welcome, Piaissima, good luck with your studies! I can’t add to the recommendations from the experienced members above, but wish you happiness and success on your journey.


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Working On
Debussy Clair De Lune
Bach Inventions (in a not quite random order)

"You Can Never Have Too Many Dream Pianos" -Thad Carhart
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871323
07/21/19 11:10 PM
07/21/19 11:10 PM
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Long Island, NY
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Schubert Moments Musicaux 3 is not an easy piece. The notes look deceptively simple and the rhythm is simplistic sounding but there are tricky spots, particularly the passage where some editions have fingering that requires the 3rd finger to move right over the 4th finger (m8 or 9). Playing it crisply as one hears on professional recordings requires some practice.

It took me about 6 months to a year to bring back Bach Inventions #13 and #14 back under my fingers to the fluent/fluidity level I had in high school which was when I first learned it. Those are now memorized. If you stick to daily practice, you will be amazed at how quickly it will come back to you and also how much more focused your practice and progress develop as you continue! It is fun, don’t despair!

Last edited by AssociateX; 07/21/19 11:14 PM.

~~~~~~~
Finished:
1. Brahms Intermezzo Op 118/2
2. Beethoven Sonata Op 2/1 (1st mvmnt)

Working on:
1. Beethoven Sonata Op 2 # 1 (2nd-3rd mvmnts)
2. Chopin Prelude Op 28 # 24
3. Chopin Nocturne Op 48/1
*****************
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https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNj0Yha5exOWuJMTezV3t8Q
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871330
07/21/19 11:44 PM
07/21/19 11:44 PM
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A few random thoughts. Four years of piano experience is not very much. If you could perform the pieces you mentioned at a competent level, you probably have many musical talents. You are 31 years old. You have many, many years ahead of you to make progress. Please don’t even begin to think you are over the hill learning-wise. You will need to learn how to practice smart. This will be much easier with a teacher. Don’t expect rapid progress. Just because you can play the notes of a piece does not mean that you can play it well. Try to focus on pieces that are within your skill set, master them, and gradually increase your skills. Again, this is very difficult without a skilled teacher.

I bring up the need for a teacher because I don’t think that anyone at your current level can make significant progress without one.



Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: Moo :)] #2871370
07/22/19 04:58 AM
07/22/19 04:58 AM
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Posts: 26
piamissima Offline OP
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I didn't have a teacher, but I did have a book of advanced technical exercises that my last teacher gave me, which I used.


Thanks for your helpful feedback!

I must confess that scale exercises have never been a big part of my exercise routine..., if I have one at all.

But it makes sense that they help to improve technique and agility. This is a point where I will start.

How much time a day should I invest in these exercises? And which book was it that you practiced with?


I'm sorry I ask so many questions. If it's too much, simply ignore it.
I just really want to make progress and therefore I am grateful for every proposal.




Originally Posted by Moo :)
I am not sure you can teach yourself advanced pieces to a high standard without help. I don’t like YouTube videos and don’t think it replaces teachers. I suspect someone who has performance level diploma is able to teach themselves back to standard but I’m not convinced those who have not can teach themselves to advanced standard. I say this as I see the difficulties in the progress to harder pieces only because of lessons continuing. I would suggest you find some enjoyable pieces within your abilities. This obsession with rush for progress and improving leads most to give up.


To be honest, I have the same concern.

But lessons will be possible in two years at the earliest. I just have a financial bottleneck, which unfortunately does not allow any additional expenses. Really none, not even in other areas. My piano was the gift of a very generous friend. Without his support this investment would have had to wait as well. And yet, my self-image forbids me to accept any more.


Is there no way to improve at least a little until I can take lessons?


Which goals do you find realistic under the conditions of self-learning?

Are there any challenging, but not overstraining pieces for intermediate level, that you can recommend to me?
I particularly like Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven and Grieg. But there are so many great composers and pieces that I am open to all suggestions.


I've been watching some of your videos. You play very beautifully. smile Clearly above my level.

Schuberst Impromptus 3 is much more difficult than the moment musicaux which I am currently trying to polish.
But it is about the level of difficulty I would like to reach in the next two years.

Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871377
07/22/19 05:25 AM
07/22/19 05:25 AM
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Posts: 310
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QuasiUnaFantasia Offline
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QuasiUnaFantasia  Offline
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Originally Posted by piamissima
In terms of "easy pieces":
Schubert's Moment Musical No 3 I was able to play at a slow tempo within two days. Since then, 7 more days have passed in which I have dedicated myself almost daily (at least a few minutes) exclusively to this little piece...and still it is not really good.

These are the moments when I doubt I will ever be able to improve myself at all. frown


I began learning that piece a little over a year ago, and although I got the right hand working reasonably well, the left hand was pretty bad and hands together was a shambles. After about a month I left it alone for a later date, when I would be ready for it.

You're not "really good" at it after nine days, and this makes you doubt yourself? I think there is a disconnect either between your idea of where you should be and where you actually are, or between your belief about the difficulty of the music you have chosen and the actual difficulty of it.

If I could learn that piece (which is one of my favourite Schubert works) in a month, I would be overjoyed, If I could get it up to half speed in half a month, I would be really pleased. Henle has it at level 5, which is precisely medium difficulty, along with Chopins Raindrop prelude, Debussy's Clair de lune, and the majority of Liszt's Consolations. I think you should cut yourself some slack and appreciate that you're still young and have lots of time left to become really excellent. You don't have to cram in the Hammerklavier sonata before Christmas after all. smile


Roland FP-30, Roland E-28, Pianoteq 6.5 (Bechstein DG, Grotrian, Steinway D, K2)
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: PianogrlNW] #2871378
07/22/19 05:28 AM
07/22/19 05:28 AM
Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 26
piamissima Offline OP
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piamissima  Offline OP
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Posts: 26
Originally Posted by AssociateX
Schubert Moments Musicaux 3 is not an easy piece. The notes look deceptively simple and the rhythm is simplistic sounding but there are tricky spots, particularly the passage where some editions have fingering that requires the 3rd finger to move right over the 4th finger (m8 or 9). Playing it crisply as one hears on professional recordings requires some practice.



I'm glad you said that.
Of course, playing it somehow is not an art. But getting it right requires more practice than I originally thought.

These recordings are curse and blessing in one.
It helps you to orient yourself, on the other hand it makes your own dilletantism very clear.

But I try not to let the idea of performance come to the fore too much. As you said, it is above all a great pleasure to be able to make music yourself. I want to preserve that for myself, even if I really am no longer able to improve myself.



Originally Posted by PianogrlNW
A few random thoughts. Four years of piano experience is not very much. If you could perform the pieces you mentioned at a competent level, you probably have many musical talents



Meanwhile, I doubt that very much.
Maybe I once had some potential. My teacher had claimed that, which is why he was very upset when I stopped.

But over the years a lot seems to have been lost.


Quote
You are 31 years old. You have many, many years ahead of you to make progress. Please don’t even begin to think you are over the hill learning-wise


Thank you, your lines really encourage me.

I should perhaps mention that I have a father who played the piano himself at a young age. He took over ten years of lessons and in the end played very advanced pieces.
Of course it doesn't help that he gives me the feeling that it's too late for me to make any noticeable progress. I just shouldn't have stopped then...that's his latently reproachful point of view.


But he doesn't play himself anymore. He doesn't even own a piano since he sold my old one after I moved out.

So my family rather ridicules my current efforts.



Last edited by piamissima; 07/22/19 05:28 AM.
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871380
07/22/19 05:42 AM
07/22/19 05:42 AM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 310
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QuasiUnaFantasia Offline
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QuasiUnaFantasia  Offline
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Originally Posted by piamissima
Maybe I once had some potential. My teacher had claimed that, which is why he was very upset when I stopped.

But over the years a lot seems to have been lost.


You can loose your enthusiasm, and you can drop back somewhat in current ability, but you cannot loose your potential.

Originally Posted by piamissima
So my family rather ridicules my current efforts.


That is too bad, and you have my utmost sympathy. It can be a terribly oppresive force to fight against if your own family is not supportive. But fight against it! Don't let the views of others hold you back. Your path is yours alone, no one else has to walk it, and all discouraging comments from bystanders is simply cheap talk. You have the potential. You can do it!


Roland FP-30, Roland E-28, Pianoteq 6.5 (Bechstein DG, Grotrian, Steinway D, K2)
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871385
07/22/19 06:29 AM
07/22/19 06:29 AM
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Posts: 12,051
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by piamissima
Originally Posted by bennevis
I didn't have a teacher, but I did have a book of advanced technical exercises that my last teacher gave me, which I used.


Thanks for your helpful feedback!

I must confess that scale exercises have never been a big part of my exercise routine..., if I have one at all.

But it makes sense that they help to improve technique and agility. This is a point where I will start.

How much time a day should I invest in these exercises? And which book was it that you practiced with?

The book is Geoffrey Tankard's & Eric Harrison's Pianoforte Technique on an hour a day.

I don't recommend that you use this book at your current level without a teacher - the vast majority of the exercises (all very short - they aren't studies and have no musical value) - assume you already have an advanced technique: complete finger independence and freedom from tension, and very fluent scale & arpeggio & chord & octaves technique. It's very likely you'll do yourself an injury trying to play them.

But what I recommend is scales & arpeggios - there are plenty of books with fingerings, so I won't bother about recommending one (in fact, I don't own one: they have all been memorized long ago, and some permutation of them is in almost every piece I play). Why they are so important from intermediate level up is because so much classical music is built on them. Not least the Mozart D minor Fantasia that you're struggling with. What is that presto made up of? - a D minor scale and a chromatic scale. (Later on, Chopin, Brahms, Rachmaninov........).

If you really want to do pure technical exercises also, there's a simplified version of the book: Tankard's Foundations of Pianoforte Technique, where the first few pages might be suitable for you. But the priority is straightforward scales & arpeggios in all keys. Start with the easier ones, then add more as you become fluent over the next few weeks & months. Don't spend more than 15 min a day doing them. Remember to stop if your hands start to feel tired - especially if they start tensing up (when something is definitely wrong).

Always start slow, and never play faster than you can play smoothly & evenly. You don't want to develop bad techniques. You're talking months and years, not weeks.

BTW, I don't practice them anymore, because so many of the pieces I currently play have them in one form or another (think Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu and Étude Op.25/1, for example).






Quote
Are there any challenging, but not overstraining pieces for intermediate level, that you can recommend to me?
I particularly like Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven and Grieg. But there are so many great composers and pieces that I am open to all suggestions.

There's Chopin's Preludes Op.28 - Nos.4, 6, 7, 20, maybe 15.

Schubert Scherzo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foLq4KJU848

Beethoven sonata movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMhDP1l89Zs

Grieg Lyric Piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vswzh8qJ5k


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871418
07/22/19 09:26 AM
07/22/19 09:26 AM
Joined: Jul 2017
Posts: 1,115
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Moo :) Offline
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Posts: 1,115
Originally Posted by piamissima
To be honest, I have the same concern.

But lessons will be possible in two years at the earliest. I just have a financial bottleneck, which unfortunately does not allow any additional expenses. Really none, not even in other areas. My piano was the gift of a very generous friend. Without his support this investment would have had to wait as well. And yet, my self-image forbids me to accept any more.

Is there no way to improve at least a little until I can take lessons?

Which goals do you find realistic under the conditions of self-learning?

Are there any challenging, but not overstraining pieces for intermediate level, that you can recommend to me?
I particularly like Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven and Grieg. But there are so many great composers and pieces that I am open to all suggestions.

I've been watching some of your videos. You play very beautifully. smile Clearly above my level.

Schuberst Impromptus 3 is much more difficult than the moment musicaux which I am currently trying to polish.
But it is about the level of difficulty I would like to reach in the next two years.


Sorry I meant moment musical 3 being a fiddly piece. Impromptu 3 is also a fiddly piece! I have actually played both but am playing impromptu at the moment which is probably explains the Freudian slip. sorry for the confusion. Schubert pieces are much harder and fiddly than they look.

It is hard to answer your questions. I don’t think there is a magic formula to improve. Without a teacher playing harder material is very difficult. If you can’t afford I would concentrate on learning pieces well. I returned to piano after 10 years of not playing although I thought I could play some pieces, when I took my first piece to my teacher as an adult I only then realised I was mostly just playing the notes and it was not musical.

I am quite experienced at piano now so please don’t compare. I have had lessons for 5 years as an adult and 10 as a kid. I tend to pick up the notes quickly and in lessons we spent most of the time in lessons working on small things. I think the perception online is that people play advanced material with certain formula but to play a piece well you need to refine. it is not the most interesting process so you need a lot of discipline to do this yourself. It is a slow process without short cuts.

As for pieces Lyric pieces are excellent. My favourite is phantom. Chopin a minor waltz is a popular one. There is nicer polonaise by Chopin, I think in g minor is Nice.

Last edited by Moo :); 07/22/19 09:30 AM.
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871423
07/22/19 09:33 AM
07/22/19 09:33 AM
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Moo :) Offline
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M

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Yes I found it. 👍

https://youtu.be/XhNaIwGbiOA

Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871461
07/22/19 11:38 AM
07/22/19 11:38 AM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,248
Toronto, Ontario
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Peter K. Mose Offline
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Toronto, Ontario
Hi, piamissima, and welcome. You are among friends and encouragers! Already many helpful thoughts have been posted here. I'll just list a couple more, as someone who specializes in teaching adult piano learners not unlike yourself...

1. Don't share your music-making with your family. Sad to say, they are clearly toxic to you in this regard, so keep your piano playing a secret from them.
2. Try to remember that at age 31 you are more impatient than you will be in another decade or two.
3. Try to get to the piano every day, for at least half an hour. Seven days a week.
4. You seem fixated on recapturing your last skill level from age 14. That's not helpful. You need to work on repertoire that is distinctly easier than where you left off.
5. You need to take a single lesson of 60-90 minutes with a friendly, understanding teacher who can assess where your piano skills are, select a variety of pieces for you for the coming year or two, and maybe suggest some exercises as well. If you can't afford to pay for a single such lesson, then borrow the money to pay for it, or ask a friend to pay for it, or ask a teacher if you can barter somehow for this session.

Last edited by Peter K. Mose; 07/22/19 11:41 AM.
Re: How to improve from intermediate to andvanced? [Re: piamissima] #2871517
07/22/19 03:37 PM
07/22/19 03:37 PM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 7,713
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peterws Offline
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Originally Posted by piamissima
Originally Posted by AssociateX
Schubert Moments Musicaux 3 is not an easy piece. The notes look deceptively simple and the rhythm is simplistic sounding but there are tricky spots, particularly the passage where some editions have fingering that requires the 3rd finger to move right over the 4th finger (m8 or 9). Playing it crisply as one hears on professional recordings requires some practice.



I'm glad you said that.
Of course, playing it somehow is not an art. But getting it right requires more practice than I originally thought.

These recordings are curse and blessing in one.
It helps you to orient yourself, on the other hand it makes your own dilletantism very clear.

But I try not to let the idea of performance come to the fore too much. As you said, it is above all a great pleasure to be able to make music yourself. I want to preserve that for myself, even if I really am no longer able to improve myself.



Originally Posted by PianogrlNW
A few random thoughts. Four years of piano experience is not very much. If you could perform the pieces you mentioned at a competent level, you probably have many musical talents



Meanwhile, I doubt that very much.
Maybe I once had some potential. My teacher had claimed that, which is why he was very upset when I stopped.

But over the years a lot seems to have been lost.


Quote
You are 31 years old. You have many, many years ahead of you to make progress. Please don’t even begin to think you are over the hill learning-wise


Thank you, your lines really encourage me.

I should perhaps mention that I have a father who played the piano himself at a young age. He took over ten years of lessons and in the end played very advanced pieces.
Of course it doesn't help that he gives me the feeling that it's too late for me to make any noticeable progress. I just shouldn't have stopped then...that's his latently reproachful point of view.


But he doesn't play himself anymore. He doesn't even own a piano since he sold my old one after I moved out.

So my family rather ridicules my current efforts.




Sounds to me that you will make an advanced pianist; it was in your father, and your history showed similar promise. You'll therefore make progress without a teacher just by playing stuff you find challenging, at the level you're aiming for. I imagine you'll feel what you play, and it'll be in line with the notion aspects on the music. A decent teacher will always be a big help of course.
Might be worth remembering there are several here (yes, I'm one) who'll never become advanced pianists no matter how hard we try. It's something to do with brains, and dexterity!
But enjoyment is the thing. Don't ever lose that like your dad.


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

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