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goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories #2933354 01/13/20 03:47 PM
Joined: Jul 2019
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Peter Hontaru Offline OP
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Hi everyone,

I spent most of this weekend brainstorming/recording/editing a more comprehensive video about what I've learnt around goal-setting and putting into words what I'd like to achieve as well as discuss around related topics (ie. amateur piano recitals, quantity vs quality in music, etc).

I think I've learnt a LOT through just picking up the piano later in life and was able to apply quite a few of these principles in my day to day life (particularly around learning programming languages for work) and I hope you will get some value out of it too!

If you have a few minutes to watch this, I was wondering if you could provide some feedback on this (would really appreciate the help!). This can be both as it regards the content (do you find similarities to your own principles, have you had similar experiences, etc) and maybe the technicalities too (am I speaking loud enough, is my voice too monotone, editing, etc) because I've never really done anything similar where I talk to a camera.

Please feel free to mention positives and negatives (especially) altogether - I would love to learn a few things I am doing wrong (I am sure there's many).

I also tried to add a tiny bit of b-roll and not just make it a "sit down conversation" type video.



Jan '18 - Started playing
Nov '18 - Grade 3 (d)
Nov '19 - Grade 5 (p)

??? '20 - Grade 6

If you'd like to follow my progress, recitals, experiences, check out my YouTube channel
https://www.youtube.com/PeterHontaru
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Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2933373 01/13/20 04:04 PM
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I realize we live in a goal oriented culture where goals are a future event that one wishes to achieve. This is an artifact of our educational system which quantifies and measures achievements. You are talking to this audience so my remarks will not address the primary focus (goal) of your video.

I believe that creating goals moves the mind to some distant event (e.g completing three pieces) and distracts it from the process of actually playing music in an enjoyable manner. My mind when I play is looking for relaxation and the overall musicality of the piece I am playing. Am I projecting the music that my mind wishes to create? Beyond this, I just allow the learning process to unfold. The two biggest benefits of this approach is that I am totally immersed in the process (not distracted by some future goal) and I my mind is creating as opposed to willfully trying to achieve.

As for the video, I think your presentation is fine though you may want to try to make your points a bit more succinct as to hold the interest of the viewer. Good luck!

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2933391 01/13/20 04:24 PM
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Let me congratulate you on trying something new by putting yourself in front of a camera. I've been doing this as well, and I know how difficult it is. Here is some advice, based on what I've learned:

I didn't watch the whole video. That's because it's too long. You have a lot of information in there, and I think you should either trim it down, or break it into separate videos. Try to be very clear on who the audience is, and on what 3-5 points you want them to walk away with.

The audio quality would sound better if you used a lavalier mic.

The video quality would be much better if you used studio lighting, or shot in front of a window in sunlight. What I'm seeing in your video is that the background is lit, while your face is covered in shadow. You want the opposite.

I don't think your voice is too monotone, but the overall flow of the video is. I think it has a lot to do with the fixed camera, and the length of the video, along with the information density.

Making good videos is hard, and takes practice (like learning the piano). What I have been finding useful is, every time I go to make a new video, I find one thing I didn't like about my previous video, and try to improve only that one thing.

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2933465 01/13/20 07:27 PM
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I applaud your sense of community and desire to share.

I'm afraid I gave up at the 2:19 mark, when you mentioned inputs and outputs. I just didn't have the heart to go on. And I spent most of that time (a) distracted by what's posted on the back of the door [circle of fifths?] and (b) worrying there wasn't enough clearance between the door and the keyboard and someone was going to open the door and knock the keyboard to the ground. You are too far from the camera, and you speak too quickly in a voice that isn't projecting the enthusiasm and passion you have for the subject. And in that first two minutes it wasn't at all obvious exactly what the video was about.

Did you do your “due diligence”, that is check out the top say 5-10 piano pedagogy channels on youtube to see how they are approaching these topics in terms of organization and presentation? Knowing what ideas you want to present (your brainstormng) is important, but proper organization and good presentation skills are equally important. I think those last two are what's missing, and that can be fixed by research into those aspects and practice, practice, practice before releasing the next video.

Good luck!

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2933482 01/13/20 08:03 PM
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keystring Offline
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I like the idea of goals and personally find them important. However, I could not relate to the kinds of goals that you presented. Actually backtracking, the first "pre-goal" things you presented were very important and those first 5 or so minutes are worth watching as a reminder even if one scraps the entire "goals" part. I only jotted down a few of them:

- restructure your priorities every once in a while
- view things in a positive light
- change those things that are not going well (and be observant of what is and isn't working - I'd say for long enough)

The kinds of goals you talked about: learning X number of pieces, playing piece X, passing this or that exam (theory or otherwise) are to me a distant second or third. When I took lessons as an adult the first time, those were the kinds of goals that existed in the lesson format. So I learned to play pieces along the syllabus and "pass" them. Often what I did technically produced the desired sound but left me ultimately with tension and awkwardness. I passed an exam with flying colours and on to the next grade, but again, I was left without the foundations that I should have gotten.

My goals these days are more abstract, and more the types that lie underneath the creation of those pieces that you mention. An early goal when I started music a 2nd time round, and a different instrument (this time piano) was to learn how to practise effectively, toward what kinds of things, how best to work with a teacher, and how to tell if a teacher is worth working with. In regard to theory exams: One can become a fantastic theoretician and shove those dots around as if there is no tomorrow (I passed my intermediate exam with 99.95% because I didn't know the exam was two-sided and only had 20 minutes to finished the 2nd half, and so missed writing the time signature on both staves) --- but that theory should relate to the music you do, and be of practical application. You should be able to use it in the music you do .... see it in the music you are working on .... these are part of my goals these days.

It 's sort of like my goals are the ones that sit underneath your kind of goals, and move them forward. It may be a different view to the same thing.

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2933486 01/13/20 08:21 PM
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You need to confine yourself to under 4 minutes. I won't comment on the content because i couldn't sit through it. But for the presentation, I think you speak well and the video is pleasant. You should try to relax your arms. There is too much gesturing at the forearm level, with elbows in, that looks tense. Be free to put your hands down, or one arm stretch out on the piano.

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2933702 01/14/20 12:15 PM
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I had the whole video on and I believe there is some good raw material to work with. I agree with other posters that this could be shorter - even if it means several five minute videos to break down what you are saying. It could be a little less personal. I would like to see what goals worked for you and which were unrealistic or not achievable. See if you can get down to the basic working advice that would benefit beginning piano players - that might take a few months after you experimented on yourself.

I appreciate that you consider yourself a positive person but being positive is not exactly quantifiable, and not a switch most of us can turn on or off. Another thing you can speak off is attaching habits. Once you create one habit you can connect it to another habit.

Otherwise, good for you for making this.


“Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They'd rather show the highlight of what they've become.”
― Angela Duckworth, Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success
Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2933890 01/14/20 06:45 PM
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I listened to the videos. I think the video feedback was a little harsh. I would not be able to put a video online about me talking about piano so good job ! I think some of the goals are reasonable BUT I think you need to have less goals. There really are too many goals.! We cannot do better and more of everything. If you are planning to take a theory exam and a grade exam that really is enough. I cant imagine what sort of goal has you having to play 30 pieces. piano exam has 3 pieces and it takes 6 months or possible longer to prepare. I cant see how it is possible to play 27 others unless you pick very easy pieces or play pieces to a relatively poor standard. Neither of which I think is a good goal. What did your teacher think of this goal? I think it is a good idea to take time out from exams to play pieces but I have never understood this goal for number of pieces. I always have teachers who focus on playing pieces well. Even if I thought I played it well I often get told this and this and this need to be worked on. So teachers show you your blind spots. Just a word of warning for these piano groups - I also have noticed people are playing pieces slightly too hard for their abilities in piano groups. I am not sure why. It is not even a problem of the beginners, it is of every level. I would be careful not to have goals where you are moving too quickly. Rushing can leads to pieces too hard causing a lot of frustrations and sometimes technical problems (and at worst injuries!). particularly the chopin etudes you mention can cause injuries.

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2933894 01/14/20 06:52 PM
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My goals this year are to learn some earlier music from classical period or maybe baroque if I can bear it. I will need to try and find something nice. I have started to play a few scales and arpeggios and doing some technical work with my teacher as I think this will help with some of the faster pieces. I will have no goals of number of pieces or hours to practice or other such goals and certainly no exams ! Good luck.

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: MichaelJK] #2933930 01/14/20 08:01 PM
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Thank you so much everyone for:
1) taking the time to watch the video (or even parts of the video)
2) to write down so much detailed feedback

I agree with pretty much all the feedback and made a list of many things that I could focus on (I will reply individually to everyone). If I can improve (not necessarily eliminate) on each of these points even a tiny bit each time, I shall be in a good place in a few months, depending on how many videos like this I will post (non-piano playing videos). This one took ages to brainstorm, edit, record, etc but I am sure this will significantly reduce with time as I get better at all stages of the process.

There's a few different views on some things but a clear main theme around the length, so I won't address this individually because pretty much everyone said it, including myself! Outside of not really knowing much better, I wanted to have it longer in order to:

1) record a lot and just practice speaking in front of camera and actually put something out there (I tried to not fall into a loop of improving on something over and over and end up not posting anything) but still edited a LOT of the stuff out. I don't necessarily think I blagged that much but totally agree that I could've made 3-5 videos out of the material as it's very dense. I did learn a lot from it, particularly due to all the feedback on here. I don't think any of you knew much (or anything about me) which is great because your opinion are very objective, which I enjoyed.

2) test. I genuinely don't remember recording myself speaking before and it's hard to see myself as an external person (there is a gap between what I think is important and someone that looks at the video - outside of subscribers). I need to reduce this discrepancy and can only do so through trial and error

Originally Posted by Richrf
I realize we live in a goal oriented culture where goals are a future event that one wishes to achieve. This is an artifact of our educational system which quantifies and measures achievements. You are talking to this audience so my remarks will not address the primary focus (goal) of your video.

I believe that creating goals moves the mind to some distant event (e.g completing three pieces) and distracts it from the process of actually playing music in an enjoyable manner. My mind when I play is looking for relaxation and the overall musicality of the piece I am playing. Am I projecting the music that my mind wishes to create? Beyond this, I just allow the learning process to unfold. The two biggest benefits of this approach is that I am totally immersed in the process (not distracted by some future goal) and I my mind is creating as opposed to willfully trying to achieve.

As for the video, I think your presentation is fine though you may want to try to make your points a bit more succinct as to hold the interest of the viewer. Good luck!


Thank you Rich - I do see your point but I do think quantifiable goals have a good role in the overall scheme too. I don't want to go into a full essay but there's plenty of issues with exams like the ABRSM, the education system, etc which are all trying to measure some things that can't be measured. I also make a living quantifying pretty much everything that can be quantified in order to analyse data so I get your point.

However, I also think there's plenty of advantages that come out of it and one could argue that they might outweigh the disadvantages, particularly in this context of a piano beginner (the irony in measuring skill, ha). I wouldn't really say that I am distracted by any of these goals when I will be playing/practicing a piece though - the thought of "achieving a +1" wouldn't really come to mind.

Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Let me congratulate you on trying something new by putting yourself in front of a camera. I've been doing this as well, and I know how difficult it is. Here is some advice, based on what I've learned:

I didn't watch the whole video. That's because it's too long. You have a lot of information in there, and I think you should either trim it down, or break it into separate videos. Try to be very clear on who the audience is, and on what 3-5 points you want them to walk away with.

The audio quality would sound better if you used a lavalier mic.

The video quality would be much better if you used studio lighting, or shot in front of a window in sunlight. What I'm seeing in your video is that the background is lit, while your face is covered in shadow. You want the opposite.

I don't think your voice is too monotone, but the overall flow of the video is. I think it has a lot to do with the fixed camera, and the length of the video, along with the information density.

Making good videos is hard, and takes practice (like learning the piano). What I have been finding useful is, every time I go to make a new video, I find one thing I didn't like about my previous video, and try to improve only that one thing.


Thank you - you made a lot of very good points and I can tell that you've been recording yourself to understand all of this. I don't really plan on doing all the fancy equipment stuff YET. Doing the other points like shorter videos, clear take-away messages, better flow would take the video from 10% to 80-90% (as an example). I am almost convinced that re-recording the video in exactly the same format with a great camera/lighting etc would'nt make it a lot more captivating, but focusing on the non-techy stuff you mentioned definitely will.

Once I am at an ok stage with those aspects, then I can think about getting it "to the next level" (although it's all good to know early on, so appreciate the feedback)

I'm afraid it's past 1am and did not have as much free time as I hoped today to answer everyone but already read all the messages, took a lot of notes and will be getting back to you all tomorrow individually! Thanks for all the feedback again


Last edited by Peter Hontaru; 01/14/20 08:07 PM.

Jan '18 - Started playing
Nov '18 - Grade 3 (d)
Nov '19 - Grade 5 (p)

??? '20 - Grade 6

If you'd like to follow my progress, recitals, experiences, check out my YouTube channel
https://www.youtube.com/PeterHontaru
Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2933944 01/14/20 08:56 PM
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Nice progress with your playing. I am so inspired by so many of my fellow pianists here. I think relatively speaking because of your discipline you are learning at a faster pace than me. I wish I had your discipline to going through piano methods and RCM etc.. scales, technical exercises. I have a hard time sticking with a program of study, I just want to play the pieces.


Working on:

Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004
Chopin: G Minor Ballade
Schumann/Liszt Widmung

Shigeru Kawai SK2
Kawai VPC-1
Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2934047 01/15/20 04:54 AM
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Wow, you must have a lot of time on your hands! Good for you!

I hope you take no offence, but you must be quite bold to go out there and explain to others how to do things when you have only been at it for 2 years. Well, there's no harm in sharing one's own personal experience, I guess, but I think we've all been there through the years, understanding things while we moved along, having moments of "enlightenment", sometimes helping others by answering their questions on the forum, sometimes giving tentative advice. But even after 8 years and 3,000 hours at the piano I personally would never assume that I had much advice to give, to be honest. I actually had the idea of uploading reviews of piano books to my channel, because that's definitely something that I could help with! laugh Being teacher-less, I bought and tried out a ton of books and resources over the years. Maybe in another life!

By the way, you have a lovely accent and a pleasant voice to listen to wink

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: sinophilia] #2934070 01/15/20 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by sinophilia
Wow, you must have a lot of time on your hands! Good for you!

I hope you take no offence, but you must be quite bold to go out there and explain to others how to do things when you have only been at it for 2 years. Well, there's no harm in sharing one's own personal experience, I guess, but I think we've all been there through the years, understanding things while we moved along, having moments of "enlightenment", sometimes helping others by answering their questions on the forum, sometimes giving tentative advice. But even after 8 years and 3,000 hours at the piano I personally would never assume that I had much advice to give, to be honest. I actually had the idea of uploading reviews of piano books to my channel, because that's definitely something that I could help with! laugh Being teacher-less, I bought and tried out a ton of books and resources over the years. Maybe in another life!

By the way, you have a lovely accent and a pleasant voice to listen to wink


To be honest, just because some people would be uncomfortable with discussing goal setting as a new player doesn’t mean that it is incorrect to do. Yes, Peter has not been playing long but he has made remarkable progress and has scored well in exams. He is trying to make thoughtful progress. As long as he is upfront about his experience, I can see why this video could well help others.

.... What works for me’ video.

And BTW: I think you should include book reviews on your channel. I have often wished you would offer more advice here, as you are self-taught but have taught yourself in a progressive, thoughtful way


Last edited by dogperson; 01/15/20 06:52 AM.
Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: wszxbcl] #2934258 01/15/20 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by studiocentrale
I applaud your sense of community and desire to share.

I'm afraid I gave up at the 2:19 mark, when you mentioned inputs and outputs. I just didn't have the heart to go on. And I spent most of that time (a) distracted by what's posted on the back of the door [circle of fifths?] and (b) worrying there wasn't enough clearance between the door and the keyboard and someone was going to open the door and knock the keyboard to the ground. You are too far from the camera, and you speak too quickly in a voice that isn't projecting the enthusiasm and passion you have for the subject. And in that first two minutes it wasn't at all obvious exactly what the video was about.

Did you do your “due diligence”, that is check out the top say 5-10 piano pedagogy channels on youtube to see how they are approaching these topics in terms of organization and presentation? Knowing what ideas you want to present (your brainstormng) is important, but proper organization and good presentation skills are equally important. I think those last two are what's missing, and that can be fixed by research into those aspects and practice, practice, practice before releasing the next video.

Good luck!


Thank you for the encouragement and feedback smile

I think it's fair about that stuff being distracting, I thought it's related to piano playing and I should keep it. I will probably move it in the future to keep the attention on myself more than this way so thanks. Regarding b), that's the ensuite door so no one would come out without me knowing (or if they do, there will be a much bigger problem than them knocking over my piano, oops). Not much I can do about this one as it's the only way pretty much that I could be recording given the very limited space.

Regarding distance, I'd say this might be the only thing I'd slightly disagree with as I haven't really seen many people sit any closer. I'm around 1m away from the camera and all you can see is my bust. Moving any closer would mean just seeing my face only which would be weird. Might try something slightly closer such as ~17:17 which might be a bit better. Will take some playing around with.

Regarding tone, that was my biggest worry too as I am definitely not used to talking to a camera so tried my best to do something natural. I did not want to over do it either. I will have to get exposed to it more and start sounding more natural but I think this one would need a lot of practice, as you said as well. But agree that presentation and more suitable content is the best thing I could improve on and that's why I wanted to make open this thread and get more specifics on to what I can improve on exactly so thanks!
Originally Posted by keystring
I like the idea of goals and personally find them important. However, I could not relate to the kinds of goals that you presented. Actually backtracking, the first "pre-goal" things you presented were very important and those first 5 or so minutes are worth watching as a reminder even if one scraps the entire "goals" part. I only jotted down a few of them:

- restructure your priorities every once in a while
- view things in a positive light
- change those things that are not going well (and be observant of what is and isn't working - I'd say for long enough)

The kinds of goals you talked about: learning X number of pieces, playing piece X, passing this or that exam (theory or otherwise) are to me a distant second or third. When I took lessons as an adult the first time, those were the kinds of goals that existed in the lesson format. So I learned to play pieces along the syllabus and "pass" them. Often what I did technically produced the desired sound but left me ultimately with tension and awkwardness. I passed an exam with flying colours and on to the next grade, but again, I was left without the foundations that I should have gotten.

My goals these days are more abstract, and more the types that lie underneath the creation of those pieces that you mention. An early goal when I started music a 2nd time round, and a different instrument (this time piano) was to learn how to practise effectively, toward what kinds of things, how best to work with a teacher, and how to tell if a teacher is worth working with. In regard to theory exams: One can become a fantastic theoretician and shove those dots around as if there is no tomorrow (I passed my intermediate exam with 99.95% because I didn't know the exam was two-sided and only had 20 minutes to finished the 2nd half, and so missed writing the time signature on both staves) --- but that theory should relate to the music you do, and be of practical application. You should be able to use it in the music you do .... see it in the music you are working on .... these are part of my goals these days.

It 's sort of like my goals are the ones that sit underneath your kind of goals, and move them forward. It may be a different view to the same thing.


Thank you for this. As Rich above, you have made good points about quantifying sometimes what is quantifiable and I addressed it to his post. I think it's a balancing act between the two. I am and a beginner/intermediate (whatever I classify as) and I would imagine the majority of my audience is too. I can't give advice on something very abstract at this point regarding piano playing as I don't even understand everything myself and it would be almost impossible to track that clearly/set goals you can measure against. Practicing effectively is something I always seek to improve by reading books/watching masterclasses/youtube tutorials from teachers/etc. However, how can I clearly demonstrate that in a trackable measure.

Kind of with your theory example (which makes a lot of sense). You kind of need to know how all the dots work first before you connect theory to
music. As an example, you could be a master of figured bass and contrapuntal compositions but if you don't know how to emphasise a transition in a Chopin piece between a major key part into a minor (or the other way around) then what good is all that theory anyway.

I think early on experience to various repertoire (which can be quantifiable) is important but so is understanding the music (the quality aspect I was mentioning in the video). Similarly, 500 hours of practice could be great or horrendous, depending on the quality of my practice, but there's only one aspect of it that I could quantify really. I am sure that with time I would make a transition as well into more abstract aspects, similar to those mentioned by you.

I'd rather give advice on what I know well now and what is working for me, particularly when the purpose of my channel is to document and help others from my point of view, as a learner, not a teacher. But all you said is great to keep on the back of my mind and grow into it myself. I am very open minded and you definitely added a few more things on my "list" smile

Again, thanks for your tips and sharing your story too

Originally Posted by wszxbcl
You need to confine yourself to under 4 minutes. I won't comment on the content because i couldn't sit through it. But for the presentation, I think you speak well and the video is pleasant. You should try to relax your arms. There is too much gesturing at the forearm level, with elbows in, that looks tense. Be free to put your hands down, or one arm stretch out on the piano.


Thank you! I definitely overdid it with 20 minutes but not sure about 4 minutes. I think it is very limiting in terms of how much depth you can provide but it is clear to me I have to think twice about how much content I want to put in. Thank you for the comments on speaking, glad to hear that. I was actually thinking that as well about gesturing too much, glad to see you picked up on it so it's not just me


Jan '18 - Started playing
Nov '18 - Grade 3 (d)
Nov '19 - Grade 5 (p)

??? '20 - Grade 6

If you'd like to follow my progress, recitals, experiences, check out my YouTube channel
https://www.youtube.com/PeterHontaru
Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2934290 01/15/20 02:35 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
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keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by Peter Hontaru

Originally Posted by keystring
..........

Thank you for this...... I think it's a balancing act between the two. I am and a beginner/intermediate (whatever I classify as) and I would imagine the majority of my audience is too. I can't give advice on something very abstract at this point regarding piano playing as I don't even understand everything myself and it would be almost impossible to track that clearly/set goals you can measure against. Practicing effectively is something I always seek to improve by reading books/watching masterclasses/youtube tutorials from teachers/etc. However, how can I clearly demonstrate that in a trackable measure.

Kind of with your theory example (which makes a lot of sense). You kind of need to know how all the dots work first before you connect theory to
music. As an example, you could be a master of figured bass and contrapuntal compositions but if you don't know how to emphasise a transition in a Chopin piece between a major key part into a minor (or the other way around) then what good is all that theory anyway.

I think early on experience to various repertoire (which can be quantifiable) is important but so is understanding the music (the quality aspect I was mentioning in the video). Similarly, 500 hours of practice could be great or horrendous, depending on the quality of my practice, but there's only one aspect of it that I could quantify really. I am sure that with time I would make a transition as well into more abstract aspects, similar to those mentioned by you.

I'm thinking that what I wrote was probably not that clear. You can definitely give what I had called "abstract" things, because for one thing, you already did. It is in the first few minutes of your video, as I wrote. I'd call it sharing, more than advice. wink And the first things were definitely useful.

The main thing was that I don't see "goals" in the same way you do. That is, named pieces or number of pieces or exams are not goals for me, and there is a reason for this. The actual goal, if you are learning to play the piano, is what lies underneath - the skills and knowledge you need to get. These are the things you want to be aiming for, and you, Peter, probably are. And these are definitely things for beginners and intermediate students (as well as later on) and it's exactly where it's at. For example, you will have learned which written notes matched which piano keys, and consequently, reading the music you work on eventually went better. You learned to count your note values and timing better, to stop playing your thumb note with a louder thunk than the rest of the notes (supposing you did so at first), etc. If you're doing well, you will have focused on these things as you practised. This is another kind of goal.

What I wrote are probably obvious things - such the reading part. But they aren't necessarily so. For example, there are books and programs where you can play along with a recording, or you can watch somebody play, so reading isn't learned. However, the piece has been "learned" (wrong goal). A person can have at it with 50 pieces, but never figured out what height and distance from the piano, and has established some awful habits of discomfort that seem normal to him, because his goal was the pieces, and not how to sit, move, and be comfortable. I imagine that you ARE aiming for the right goals as you have been practising these pieces, HAVE BEEN doing so, but have just not thought about it, or thought it worth mentioning. The word "goals" is important to me, because the kinds of things I have mentioned is exactly what can go missing, and should probably be put out there.

I hope this is a bit clearer.

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2934316 01/15/20 03:49 PM
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MichaelJK Offline
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Originally Posted by Peter Hontaru

I'd rather give advice on what I know well now and what is working for me, particularly when the purpose of my channel is to document and help others from my point of view, as a learner, not a teacher.


I hope you continue exploring how to communicate what you've learned. I would much rather listen to the perspective of someone who has taught themselves well than that of the average professional piano teacher.

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: dogperson] #2934398 01/15/20 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh1770
I had the whole video on and I believe there is some good raw material to work with. I agree with other posters that this could be shorter - even if it means several five minute videos to break down what you are saying. It could be a little less personal. I would like to see what goals worked for you and which were unrealistic or not achievable. See if you can get down to the basic working advice that would benefit beginning piano players - that might take a few months after you experimented on yourself.

I appreciate that you consider yourself a positive person but being positive is not exactly quantifiable, and not a switch most of us can turn on or off. Another thing you can speak off is attaching habits. Once you create one habit you can connect it to another habit.

Otherwise, good for you for making this.


Thank you Josh - very helpful. Definitely would've been more helpful to everyone if I made a few shorter videos.

I am not sure about making it less personal though. My channel is mainly about MY progress and along the way I want to help as many people as possible through either inspiring them or hopefully directly through advice. However, the advice I'd give will mostly be "I tried this for X period and it worked well/didn't work, etc" so stuff that I learnt myself through trial and error so I think that if I get rid of the personal I'd seem like a piano teacher , which I definitely am not.

Thinking about it actually, I might experiment with something a lot shorter (exactly like you said with the "basic working advice for beginners") but hopefully I won't come across as something I am not. Will need to play with and find something that represents exactly what I am, a student trying to find his way I guess.

Originally Posted by Moo :)
I listened to the videos. I think the video feedback was a little harsh. I would not be able to put a video online about me talking about piano so good job ! I think some of the goals are reasonable BUT I think you need to have less goals. There really are too many goals.! We cannot do better and more of everything. If you are planning to take a theory exam and a grade exam that really is enough. I cant imagine what sort of goal has you having to play 30 pieces. piano exam has 3 pieces and it takes 6 months or possible longer to prepare. I cant see how it is possible to play 27 others unless you pick very easy pieces or play pieces to a relatively poor standard. Neither of which I think is a good goal. What did your teacher think of this goal? I think it is a good idea to take time out from exams to play pieces but I have never understood this goal for number of pieces. I always have teachers who focus on playing pieces well. Even if I thought I played it well I often get told this and this and this need to be worked on. So teachers show you your blind spots. Just a word of warning for these piano groups - I also have noticed people are playing pieces slightly too hard for their abilities in piano groups. I am not sure why. It is not even a problem of the beginners, it is of every level. I would be careful not to have goals where you are moving too quickly. Rushing can leads to pieces too hard causing a lot of frustrations and sometimes technical problems (and at worst injuries!). particularly the chopin etudes you mention can cause injuries.


Thank you for the encouragement - it is definitely appreciated! I think I won't have much of an issue achieving all those goals except for the pieces one. I highly doubt myself that I will get 30 pieces as I won't pick something incredibly easy unless I have a purpose in mind (ie. I am doing a few minuets from the Notebook for Magdalena book because it is likely I will pick a Bach minuet for my Grade 6 exam so it's a good intro). I definitely don't want to compromise too much on quality either.

Obviously, most pieces won't be prepared to exam level but I'd like them to not be far off either. I hope to get upwards of 15, ideally 20+ which is slightly more than last year. I am defintiely opened to changing these goals every quarter or so based on what I learnt, as mentioned in the video. I never set goals that I just stick to "just because". Will have to see how I feel in about three months or so.

Regarding the Etude, that was just a comedy skit type thing exactly to prove a point that I am nowhere near close to etude level. I have 0 plans on tackling any Chopin etudes this year and unlikely to do any next year (maybe one of the easy ones but more than likely won't touch any until after grade 7/8).

Very reasonable goals for yourself, thanks for sharing! It's great to hear that you want to expose yourself to classical/baroque. I also love romantic the most but can enjoy a lot of Bach too. Not that much into classical at this point but will try and learn a couple from that period too.

Originally Posted by Jethro
Nice progress with your playing. I am so inspired by so many of my fellow pianists here. I think relatively speaking because of your discipline you are learning at a faster pace than me. I wish I had your discipline to going through piano methods and RCM etc.. scales, technical exercises. I have a hard time sticking with a program of study, I just want to play the pieces.


Thank you very much. I am also inspired to see others on here, especially those that are playing some of my dream pieces, particularly the First ballade which it looks like you're working on. It's one of my favourite pieces and something I aim to be studying at some point within this next decade, but not earlier than I should. The Schumann piece too. Also, not taking exams doesn't mean you're not dedicated. Studying something like the G minor ballade definitely shows your dedication - that piece isn't a joke.

Originally Posted by sinophilia
Wow, you must have a lot of time on your hands! Good for you!

I hope you take no offence, but you must be quite bold to go out there and explain to others how to do things when you have only been at it for 2 years. Well, there's no harm in sharing one's own personal experience, I guess, but I think we've all been there through the years, understanding things while we moved along, having moments of "enlightenment", sometimes helping others by answering their questions on the forum, sometimes giving tentative advice. But even after 8 years and 3,000 hours at the piano I personally would never assume that I had much advice to give, to be honest. I actually had the idea of uploading reviews of piano books to my channel, because that's definitely something that I could help with! laugh Being teacher-less, I bought and tried out a ton of books and resources over the years. Maybe in another life!

By the way, you have a lovely accent and a pleasant voice to listen to wink


Not sure what made me came across as if I have a lot of time on my hands. In fact, I struggled to even answer to everyone on here due to lack of time as I am involved in quite a few things outside of piano I also wanted to take the time to ensure that I reply to everyone as I should, not just a "thanks". I have time to study piano for 1-2 (usually 1.5) hours a day because I make lots of other sacrifices. Plus, I can't remember the last time I watched a movie, tv show, etc.

Regarding the "boldness" of explaining to others, I explained it in the first message of this post. I definitely don't want to have a "teacher channel" but a "here's my journey and I also make a few videos of me talking about things that worked/things I am doing".

On top of that, the goal setting principles I was mentioning aren't just something that I've discovered in two years of playing the piano but rather almost two decades of working through the educational system, a pretty tough University, playing so many sports that I can't even remember them all at times, learning programming languages in my own time, all that kind of stuff. I've always been obsessed with learning and nurturing a skill. Piano is just one of them. However, I don't think that there's anything that had as much of an impact on my learning process as my piano journey so far (maybe physical sports). Also, the piano-related tips would usually be things I've learnt from my teacher, Youtubers such as Josh Wright, this forum and then applied into my own learning so I would feel very comfortable to then give the same advice to others. This is just to explain exactly where I am coming from and what my channel is about and hopefully there won't be a confusion such as "look at this guy that's been playing for 2 years and now acts as if he is the head of Piano Performance of Julliard"

Great idea about the book reviews, I've actually re-read a book called The Musician's Way while on holiday at my parents in Italy (I see you're Italian I'm assuming? - awesome!) and made some notes from it and was considering doing something similar as I found a lot of stuff in it that was helpful.

lastly, I think you're underestimating how much stuff you know and how helpful you could be to others. I vaguely remember your username (I'm sorry I'm not incredibly active on here) and I think you had some insightful advice to some other members. You definitely definitely know a lot more than you give yourself credit for.

Also, thanks for the kind words on the voice/accent. It is very encouraging! smile Where would you say my accent is from, if you don't mind? Simply just curious!!!

Originally Posted by dogperson


To be honest, just because some people would be uncomfortable with discussing goal setting as a new player doesn’t mean that it is incorrect to do. Yes, Peter has not been playing long but he has made remarkable progress and has scored well in exams. He is trying to make thoughtful progress. As long as he is upfront about his experience, I can see why this video could well help others.

.... What works for me’ video.

And BTW: I think you should include book reviews on your channel. I have often wished you would offer more advice here, as you are self-taught but have taught yourself in a progressive, thoughtful way



THANK YOU! I've touched upon above in this point on this but this is exactly what I'm intending to do with my channel dogpearson! I'm happy to see that you had this impression from my channel - it's exactly what I intend to do and I should maybe make it more obvious!

I'll post this because if I somehow close this by mistake, I will be a pretty sad guy.... ha


Jan '18 - Started playing
Nov '18 - Grade 3 (d)
Nov '19 - Grade 5 (p)

??? '20 - Grade 6

If you'd like to follow my progress, recitals, experiences, check out my YouTube channel
https://www.youtube.com/PeterHontaru
Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: MichaelJK] #2934409 01/15/20 07:59 PM
Joined: Jul 2019
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Peter Hontaru Offline OP
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Originally Posted by keystring

I'm thinking that what I wrote was probably not that clear. You can definitely give what I had called "abstract" things, because for one thing, you already did. It is in the first few minutes of your video, as I wrote. I'd call it sharing, more than advice. wink And the first things were definitely useful.

The main thing was that I don't see "goals" in the same way you do. That is, named pieces or number of pieces or exams are not goals for me, and there is a reason for this. The actual goal, if you are learning to play the piano, is what lies underneath - the skills and knowledge you need to get. These are the things you want to be aiming for, and you, Peter, probably are. And these are definitely things for beginners and intermediate students (as well as later on) and it's exactly where it's at. For example, you will have learned which written notes matched which piano keys, and consequently, reading the music you work on eventually went better. You learned to count your note values and timing better, to stop playing your thumb note with a louder thunk than the rest of the notes (supposing you did so at first), etc. If you're doing well, you will have focused on these things as you practised. This is another kind of goal.

What I wrote are probably obvious things - such the reading part. But they aren't necessarily so. For example, there are books and programs where you can play along with a recording, or you can watch somebody play, so reading isn't learned. However, the piece has been "learned" (wrong goal). A person can have at it with 50 pieces, but never figured out what height and distance from the piano, and has established some awful habits of discomfort that seem normal to him, because his goal was the pieces, and not how to sit, move, and be comfortable. I imagine that you ARE aiming for the right goals as you have been practising these pieces, HAVE BEEN doing so, but have just not thought about it, or thought it worth mentioning. The word "goals" is important to me, because the kinds of things I have mentioned is exactly what can go missing, and should probably be put out there.

I hope this is a bit clearer.


Yes, apologies, I think I misunderstood you the first time. Of course I am aiming for all of those things and I hope I can improve on every single one of them. Right now, I am playing some easier minuets just to get my head around them in the "run-up" to the exam where I'd likely be playing Minuet 1&2 from Bach's Partita 1. There will be plenty of things such as how to play repeats differently and how you can learn to be creative with them. That's also one of my "goals" now as ideally you don't want to be playing a repeat the same. Another one would be to voice the same repeated melody within an Elton John song (trying to play something non-classical) differently to bring something new each time. That's also a goal but I think we just thought of them differently. For me studying a piece out of 10 or 20 or 30 is studying the most important things that sit under it, so everything you mentioned. Consequently, if this happens, after X pieces I would've learnt a lot of this little things that add up in the long term. It's exactly like you said at the end, I've definitely been doing a lot of these things but just haven't thought of them as "goals". We're probably both aiming at exactly the same thing, just under different terms maybe - great to know I am focusing on the right thigns though and thanks for taking the time to explain in detail smile
Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Originally Posted by Peter Hontaru

I'd rather give advice on what I know well now and what is working for me, particularly when the purpose of my channel is to document and help others from my point of view, as a learner, not a teacher.


I hope you continue exploring how to communicate what you've learned. I would much rather listen to the perspective of someone who has taught themselves well than that of the average professional piano teacher.


Thank you! I hope I will be able to keep some sort of documentation like this up on the channel.I think, for the amateur pianist, there's a benefit for both listening to someone like me (doesn't have to be me!!!) as well as a professional piano teacher (goes without saying that the priority should be here). Obviously, if you're a concert pianist, or even an amateur studying at FRSM diploma level, maybe ignore everything I say and if you're still watching my channel, watch purely for enjoyment (if any, lol). I definitely like to see advice from multiple perspectives and form my own opinion based on a variety of factors.

Lastly, I added a timeline to the video based on everyone's feedback of it being too long to hopefully provide a better idea of the content and show what will be included in the video like below:

TIMELINE:
00:00 - aims of this video
00:52 - principles of goal-setting I found useful
06:05 - goal #1 and discussion on documenting my journey
07:34 - goal #2 + discussion on quantity vs quality
10:00 - goal #3
10:25 - goal #4
10:50 - goal #5 + some recital footage
11:52 - discussion on recitals and benefits
13:08 - my first recital experience
16:04 - I won't be playing this anytime soon
17:20 - coffee break
17:50 - audacious goals
18:05 - how can you begin your exam journey?
19:45 - remember this!


Thank you so much everyone for the help and sorry for taking a while to reply, but wanted to find the time to reply individually, particularly when you took the time to help me yourselves.


Jan '18 - Started playing
Nov '18 - Grade 3 (d)
Nov '19 - Grade 5 (p)

??? '20 - Grade 6

If you'd like to follow my progress, recitals, experiences, check out my YouTube channel
https://www.youtube.com/PeterHontaru
Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: Peter Hontaru] #2934563 01/16/20 03:45 AM
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sinophilia Offline

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Originally Posted by Peter Hontaru

Not sure what made me came across as if I have a lot of time on my hands. In fact, I struggled to even answer to everyone on here due to lack of time as I am involved in quite a few things outside of piano I also wanted to take the time to ensure that I reply to everyone as I should, not just a "thanks". I have time to study piano for 1-2 (usually 1.5) hours a day because I make lots of other sacrifices. Plus, I can't remember the last time I watched a movie, tv show, etc.


Ok, sorry for assuming things! It's just that, as you said, it takes a lot of time to make a video like this, and also to ponder about goals, practice habits, efficiency etc. It's something I do too, to a lesser extent, and sometimes I wonder if we all shouldn't just simply sit at the piano and play wink

Originally Posted by Peter Hontaru

Also, thanks for the kind words on the voice/accent. It is very encouraging! smile Where would you say my accent is from, if you don't mind? Simply just curious!!!


Just a beautiful British accent, I can't recognise from where exactly - I only know that you're not Scottish or Welsh laugh
And yes, I am Italian. Haven't been on the forum much myself lately.

Re: goal-setting, piano goals, exams, recital stories [Re: sinophilia] #2934986 01/16/20 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by sinophilia

Originally Posted by Peter Hontaru

Also, thanks for the kind words on the voice/accent. It is very encouraging! smile Where would you say my accent is from, if you don't mind? Simply just curious!!!


Just a beautiful British accent, I can't recognise from where exactly - I only know that you're not Scottish or Welsh laugh
And yes, I am Italian. Haven't been on the forum much myself lately.


As a possibly accent deaf American, to me it sounds like you have an acquired UK accent, but it's not your first language.If I were to guess, your accent sounds central European, maybe Romanian/Bulgarian/Serbian/Hungarian?


Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO
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