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Is it hard to restore technical abilities? #2922136 12/12/19 03:44 AM
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Dear all, I'm a "serious" amateur piano player aged 21. Practice being amply sufficient, the most I can manage are Liszt etude f minor, Liszt sonata, and similar - pure mechanically speaking. Have a question for you all: will I still be able to - or how difficult is it going to be - pick up the pure mechanical aspect of my playing after 6 years of predominant inactivity?

Due to pursuing school, the best I can get around to doing in terms of practice is 2-3 hrs every Friday/Saturday.When I do get to resume long hours of daily practice - which is not until 6 to 7 yrs later by which time I'll be 28 - how much of it is going to be permanently gone however much you fight to compensate? You all should be no stranger to the common sense that age 20 or thereabouts is where the window closes on substantial technical abilities growth. Very limited practice over the last 2 years and already, fingers are getting a bit sluggish - although chances are it can come back to me fairly easily for right now.. But in 6 years - I'm feeling alarmed, especially with the things I've heard said and been haunted by about how one's body starts plummeting the minute you're past your early 20s

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Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922141 12/12/19 04:39 AM
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I can understand you are concerned if piano is something important for you. The point though is that it is inherent to being an amateur; music and piano not being your primary area of activity (I assume so given your post) you also have other priorities. Today it is your studies but tomorrow you will have a job, a family, potentially other interests also. So I guess that if you are not working part time, you will have only so much time available for the piano/music in a normal day. All in all it comes down to setting your own priorities. Piano as a hobby is just that, a hobby, thus it comes after a long list of other more important topics.

Now if you want to continue piano/music to be an important part, time wise, of your life, than you will have to make some choices to accomodate this. re physical capabilities, I think you are still far away from having issues there and anyway there is no point worrying about something you can't control .... as it will be what it will be. My recommendation would be to focus on what you can control which is essentially making some decisions about how you want to split your time and how you envision music in your life.

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922163 12/12/19 07:35 AM
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I don't believe anything will be permanently gone at all. I gave up the piano when I was 28 and returned in my 40s, and it didn't make much difference at all. It took a while, but I certainly didn't lose anything.

The physical decline that ends sporting careers at a young age doesn't really affect piano playing. Your body is still up to the demands of virtuoso pieces until late middle age or even later in many cases.

One area where you might notice a difference is in memorising new pieces. Supposedly it's more difficult to build repertoire in your 40s, although I find it easier in my 50s that I did in my 20s.

Last edited by johnstaf; 12/12/19 07:36 AM.
Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922175 12/12/19 08:44 AM
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I had over a four decade gap in playing. Not only did my prior technique return, but it has progressed much further and faster, Sam S, a member here, returned to college at the age of 62 for a performance degree. He is almost finished.

I would recommend that you evaluate how you practice, as a lot can be done in a short interval of time. If you will retain music as a serious hobby past college, this will be a necessary skill as you will still not have enough free time to consistently practice for 2-3 hours per day after college.

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922207 12/12/19 10:42 AM
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Whatever it will be, it is was it is. So why worry about it?
Even if your earlier very high technical level doesn't return, there will be thousands of pieces at slightly lower technical level and of the greatest musical quality available to play.

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: pianoloverus] #2922216 12/12/19 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Whatever it will be, it is was it is. So why worry about it?
Even if your earlier very high technical level doesn't return, there will be thousands of pieces at slightly lower technical level and of the greatest musical quality available to play.


I love tautologies! “It is what it is” is a tautology. William Safire coined the term “tautophrase” to describe these kind of phrases, in this article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/07/magazine/07wwln_safire.html

The answer to “it is what it is” is, what else could it be? smile

In Scorsese’s most recent film The Irishman, the first part is contracted, so, it is, “It’s what it is.”

A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.


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Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: dogperson] #2922233 12/12/19 12:12 PM
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Ok - could be a defining piece of advice. Although concert pianists do look a lot clumsier when they hit 60s or 70s - this is what I've found most disconcerting.

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: johnstaf] #2922234 12/12/19 12:14 PM
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Very heartening to hear that

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: Sidokar] #2922236 12/12/19 12:19 PM
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As long as I'm still far away from physical capability issues I feel relieved and, yes, I can and will put piano over starting a family etc; if you work a 8 hr job, not going to be much of a stretch to play 3-4 hrs daily I assume.

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922243 12/12/19 12:35 PM
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Argerich is 78 and she can still play the Tchaikovsky No.1.
It is said that some concert pianists need to practice continuously to maintain their concert pianist level.
But for an amateur there shouldn't be any concern.

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922244 12/12/19 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by 20062007
As long as I'm still far away from physical capability issues I feel relieved and, yes, I can and will put piano over starting a family etc; if you work a 8 hr job, not going to be much of a stretch to play 3-4 hrs daily I assume.


But, I wouldn't try to do that nor would I recommend anyone else trying to do that.

Whatever the demands of an eight-hour daily job may be, most of us cannot effectively add three to four hours of practice onto such a schedule. A concentrated, well-focused practice session of (say) one and a half hours daily after a full day's work is as effective - perhaps more so - as three hours or more of increasingly unfocused, brain-fuzzy groping around the keyboard.

You will surely find that life - with a family or without a family - will impose other obligations upon you that absorb much of your time but will, thankfully, give the mind some time to relax its focus and regenerate for the next day's onslaught.

All that said, YMMV (your mileage may vary) and it may work out for you that you can impose such a schedule upon yourself, but in my view it's not practical and could quickly lead to early burn-out.

Regards,


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Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922248 12/12/19 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 20062007
As long as I'm still far away from physical capability issues I feel relieved and, yes, I can and will put piano over starting a family etc; if you work a 8 hr job, not going to be much of a stretch to play 3-4 hrs daily I assume.


Yes it is a stretch. When I first restarted lessons, I tried to keep up this type of schedule. It was Impossible to have long focused piano practice after a day at work. So I started reading about how to practice and realized that I did not need to be practicing three hours per day if I did efficient practice. You will be amazed at how much you can get done in shorter intervals: It needs to be thoughtful, with a concrete goal and focused on that goal. Practicing 30 min per day will get you much further than long practices on the weekend


"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

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: Hakki] #2922249 12/12/19 12:48 PM
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Yes - she is the very example that led me to want to post this, b/c it appears it *is* getting challenging at this age(whereby it follows that one starts to regress much early on as well) albeit remarkable that she still can manage it anyway.

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922253 12/12/19 12:59 PM
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As an amateur most of the time it will be only you who is listening to how you play. Very seldom you will play in maybe a few amateur competitions. Where you won't need to play Liszt Sonata like Argerich. It is an amateur circuit, right?

But if you are worried so much, then you should have choosen piano as your profession.
Again, as an amateur you are not expected to practice 4 hrs/day all your life. It is a hobby, right? You do it just because you love doing it.
Take it easy.

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922722 12/13/19 10:57 PM
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Can you not find an hour or an hour and a half a day, and an hour a week for a good teacher? Sacrifice some sleep, or other activities? If so, you'll be back to proficient in a matter of a few months.

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: MrCatMissMew] #2922745 12/14/19 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by MrCatMissMew
Can you not find an hour or an hour and a half a day, and an hour a week for a good teacher? Sacrifice some sleep, or other activities? If so, you'll be back to proficient in a matter of a few months.


I would suggest not sacrificing sleep! A rested mind and a rested body are two necessities for good, proficient practicing. You can't be alert, focused and productive if you are sleep-deprived.

Regards,


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Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922797 12/14/19 09:34 AM
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One thing I would add that has not been mentioned here yet .... For amateurs and hobby-pianists, the best way to ensure that piano is still a part of your life is to get rid of an all-or-nothing attitude. So you may not have time to practice for four hours, or even one hour? If all you have time (or energy) for is 30 minutes, practice for 30 minutes. If you make a commitment to have piano as a part of your life, and put time in at the keyboard even if it's not your ideal of what a practice session should be, you will find that you can continue to progress. And when you do have time and energy for a longer practice session, those sessions will be more productive because it won't be returning to the piano after a long absence.

I started piano as an adult working fulltime. I took weekly lessons for about 10 years. Then I decided to go back to graduate school (not in a music-related field). I wasn't able to take lessons for first few years at the beginning of my graduate program. But I made sure to continue playing and practicing, again, even if it was just for 30 minutes a day. I eventually returned to lessons for a few years, and then I got my PhD and now I'm in a tenure-track position with teaching and research responsibilities and no time for lessons. (I also can't afford lessons right now anyway because I just spent all of my money on buying a grand piano). But I play piano (and/or practice, which are not the same things) almost every day. I plan to return to lessons at some point in the future.

In the meantime, piano is still very much a part of my life. And because I maintain a regular practice schedule, I'm able to play with a violin-friend and we play at little mini concerts and so on.

I guess the thing you have to ask yourself is, do you want to play piano only if you can play certain pieces or only if you can play at a certain level? Or do you want to just play piano?

I want to play piano.
And so I do.


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Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: 20062007] #2922863 12/14/19 01:17 PM
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There is no reason why you can't continue to play the piano everyday while pursuing school. I went through some of the most demanding academic programs. Guess what, the best students are the ones that have time to play an instrument, have a social life, hit the gym every day, go for a walk in the park. It's about balance, efficiency, mindfulness. You need to relax in order to focus and to grow.

Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: BruceD] #2922910 12/14/19 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by MrCatMissMew
Can you not find an hour or an hour and a half a day, and an hour a week for a good teacher? Sacrifice some sleep, or other activities? If so, you'll be back to proficient in a matter of a few months.


I would suggest not sacrificing sleep! A rested mind and a rested body are two necessities for good, proficient practicing. You can't be alert, focused and productive if you are sleep-deprived.

Regards,



Agree! Sleep and rest are critical with being focused and productive.



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Re: Is it hard to restore technical abilities? [Re: wszxbcl] #2922931 12/14/19 05:16 PM
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Admire and envy your aptitude for mutitasking. Yes, tons and tons of stories like this out there but I admit that my mind gets sidetracked by sideline endeavors - I do get it the most academically successful ppl are the ones who easily juggle things while others - as bad as they want to - just cannot do likewise

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