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Mark of a late-starter.
#2964356 04/07/20 09:54 AM
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Many compare piano (as well as other instruments) playing to speaking languages. If you did not start speaking a language in early childhood, you pronounciation will never be perfect and you will always have an accent. Some guys, due to titanic efforts, decrease their accent to such a minimum that their speech sounds like 99% native. 99, but never 100%. So, it's a mark that tells you "This guy is a foreighner. He started learning the language too late".
Are there such a marks for piano players? If two guys play a piece (not really difficult one, for example), can you distinguish which of them started learning piano as an adult?


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Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964364 04/07/20 10:42 AM
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If both play well, I’ve never questioned nor cared, when they started or how ‘long did it take to get there’.
IMHO, this post is self-defeating as it can lead to thoughts such as ‘I started too late to ever play well’.

Quit worrying and see what you can learn is my advice. Don’t pre-determine a self-imposed limitation


"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

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Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964368 04/07/20 10:47 AM
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There is no need to throw roadblocks in your path. Just keep playing and enjoy your abilities and talents.



Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964370 04/07/20 10:58 AM
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I agree with the motto "who cares" Just enjoy the ride. If you like piano or any musical instrument, practice and play it for yourself. It is a great adventure.


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964371 04/07/20 10:59 AM
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I do believe that a pianist who started to learn piano as an adult cannot become a concert pianist, but only because of timing, not because he can’t attain concert-level skills. By timing, I mean that opportunities are given to younger people, where the investment in that younger person will produce many years of return. Not so with an older person. In fact, I see this happening at my workplace all the time.

I don’t believe that an adult learner cannot achieve the same level of skill as a young learner. It all depends on the person - dedication, talent, resources, etc.

I believe that I could eventually be as good as my teacher if I put in the time and the work. I don’t see why not. Seems like a lofty goal, since I’m only a beginner, but I won’t get there if I don’t think I can do it!

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 04/07/20 11:01 AM.

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Re: Mark of a late-starter.
WeakLeftHand #2964378 04/07/20 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I do believe that a pianist who started to learn piano as an adult cannot become a concert pianist, but only because of timing, not because he can’t attain concert-level skills. By timing, I mean that opportunities are given to younger people, where the investment in that younger person will produce many years of return. Not so with an older person. In fact, I see this happening at my workplace all the time.
Depends on your definition of an adult(21?) and definition of concert pianist. There have been many threads at PW that I think have concluded that no or virtually no top concert pianist began learning as an adult. But becoming a "minor" concert pianist might be possible with a late start although I have never heard of that happening either. Anyone know of a minor concert pianist who began studying at 21 or later?

Re: Mark of a late-starter.
pianoloverus #2964383 04/07/20 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I do believe that a pianist who started to learn piano as an adult cannot become a concert pianist, but only because of timing, not because he can’t attain concert-level skills. By timing, I mean that opportunities are given to younger people, where the investment in that younger person will produce many years of return. Not so with an older person. In fact, I see this happening at my workplace all the time.
Depends on your definition of an adult(21?) and definition of concert pianist. There have been many threads at PW that I think have concluded that no or virtually no top concert pianist began learning as an adult. But becoming a "minor" concert pianist might be possible with a late start although I have never heard of that happening either. Anyone know of a minor concert pianist who began studying at 21 or later?


I don’t think we are in disagreement. I said I don’t think it’s possible to be a concert pianist if learning began as an adult. But the reason for that, in my opinion, has a lot to do with timing and the practicalities of it all, and not necessarily and solely due to learning as an adult.

I also didn’t say there were concert pianists or minor concert pianists who learned as an adult.

Have I misunderstood what you are trying to say? If so, my apologies.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 04/07/20 11:34 AM.

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Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964384 04/07/20 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
So, it's a mark that tells you "This guy is a foreighner. He started learning the language too late".
Are there such a marks for piano players? If two guys play a piece (not really difficult one, for example), can you distinguish which of them started learning piano as an adult?

No.

It would be funny if national accents existed on the piano. It's like, "Hey, this guy plays with British accent. Oh, and that lady tries to hide her Australian accent, but I can still hear it when she plays F#!" laugh

Re: Mark of a late-starter.
dogperson #2964389 04/07/20 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
If both play well, I’ve never questioned nor cared, when they started or how ‘long did it take to get there’.
IMHO, this post is self-defeating as it can lead to thoughts such as ‘I started too late to ever play well’.

Quit worrying and see what you can learn is my advice. Don’t pre-determine a self-imposed limitation


So, the term "adult beginner" exists. We use it to show people "Hey, don't blame me for such a poor performance, I am 35 although - I started at 31". Using this term, we underline the fact that we started as an adults.
But then where is the moment the word "adult" falls off? Why do not term "adult intermediate" exist, for example? Or "adult Chopin etudes master"?

Last edited by PianoStartsAt33; 04/07/20 11:45 AM.

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Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964391 04/07/20 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
Originally Posted by dogperson
If both play well, I’ve never questioned nor cared, when they started or how ‘long did it take to get there’.
IMHO, this post is self-defeating as it can lead to thoughts such as ‘I started too late to ever play well’.

Quit worrying and see what you can learn is my advice. Don’t pre-determine a self-imposed limitation


So, the term "adult beginner" exists. We use it to show people "Hey, don't blame me for such a poor performance, I am 35 although - I started at 31". Using this term, we underline the fact that we started as an adults.
But then where is the moment the word "adult" falls off? Why do not term "adult intermediate" exist, for example? Or "adult Chopin etudes master"?


Why use any designation other than ‘pianist’? There is no reason to categorize or explain.


"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: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964413 04/07/20 01:25 PM
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I think this is a valid question from PianoStartsAt33 and it doesn't have to be about creating roadblocks.

I very much believe my potential now is significantly less than if I had continued learning as a child and practised with anything like the enjoyment and discipline I am doing now. For me I am enjoying the journey, but I feel like it would be a self deception to believe my potential now is the same as me at age 10.

In my job as a software engineer, solving certain types of problems now is much harder than it was 20-30 years ago. There are other types of problems where experience comes into play. But my brain is just a lot slower at problem solving and learning something new. Denying this reality is a disservice to ourselves. I am without doubt that it is the same when it comes to piano, which is a highly demanding mental activity.

I suspect if both people learnt a piece well, listening to it I very much doubt you could discern which was the adult learner. Watching both play might possibly show a more relaxed natural playing style for the young learner, but that is just speculation.

I think an interesting idea could be if you found an adult learner and child learner who both did well at level 7 ABRSM for example and asked them to learn a stretch piece. Then asked them to log the hours of practise they put in to learn the piece to get it to an equivalent decent level. My guess is the adult learner to learn the stretch piece would need to put in significantly more time than the child, yet they would have both started from the same level of qualification. To me the the child will go further for the same level of sustained effort and this has implications for getting ahead as a concert pianist. Not something I would consider.

These thoughts and considerations will never limit me in my goals, that will be set from my own personal progress as a consequence of my own practising and playing.

Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964415 04/07/20 01:30 PM
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Perfect pitch they say is something most people are born with, but at the critical year between 3 and 6-7 years old they don't get any training to use it so they lose it. Those are critical years to be hearing lots of genres of music especially complex music. It is said learning to speak multiple languages those same years are critical and good to be exposed to people speaking multiple languages around them. Those are the years the auditory sense is growing and with language can easily hear the inflections and sounds of native speakers. With music understand musical sounds, hear complex music to develop an ear for those sounds.

Even as an adult it's all about your ears and lots of listen, serious musician detailed listening, and most important listening to styles of music even ones you don't think you like. You read a lot of great musician interviews and biographies and a common thread is as a child they were immersed in listening to music. Even ones whose parent weren't musicians say they parents had music playing in the house all the time. As an adult you can still grow your musical ear but listening whenever possible and listening to lots of new styles and sound. Grow your ears and your playing with follow.

Re: Mark of a late-starter.
KevinM #2964420 04/07/20 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
I think this is a valid question from PianoStartsAt33 and it doesn't have to be about creating roadblocks.

I am guessing you are responding to my short response as I suggested the OP should not put limitations on their potential. I do agree that adults who took lessons as children probably have an advantage over adult starters, depending how long they took lessons, how much time they spent practicing, and quality of instruction. I still can play from memory pieces I learned when I was 10 or 11, and that is probably true for many, or most, adults who took piano during their childhood. But where I disagree is that I know adult learners who are quick studies and they play with a great deal of musicality. I also know adults who were child learners who do not play with a lot of musicality.

This type of thread pops up every few months. I don’t think it is productive for adult learners to think they have inherent limitations just because they did not take piano as a child.




Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964425 04/07/20 02:02 PM
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Many adult learners would not pursue a professional career in music and play as a hobby. People like myself would get into playing all sorts of easy arrangements of songs from books outside a conservatory repertoire with original Classical pieces. There is no plan to take a conservatory exam, prepare for a piano recital or get into playing in competitions.

People like myself get into adult group lessons. The teacher I have also teach privately 1-on-1 mainly to younger students. The younger folks are usually enrolled into a music program like Suzuki or Yamaha or with a private teacher by their parents. They tend to be more academic oriented. They would tackle technical pieces like Mozart & Beethoven sonatas and Chopin Nocturnes. We would play an easy arrangement of a Chopin Ballade with just the melody & easy L part than the original version. Don't think anybody in my group class even got into playing Bach Inventions.

How far a learner would go depends on the individual. You see YouTube videos posted by people tracking their 100-day progress (learning on their own without a teacher). Some are more Classical oriented playing a Mozart Sonata or the Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, etc. while others focused on movie themes and Pop tunes like Billy Joel "The Piano Man". People in my class tend to take a leisurely approach to learning. Nobody in the group anticipate finishing a repertoire book in a few months. We'd work on 1 easy piece for a few weeks and then move to the next.

Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964427 04/07/20 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
If two guys play a piece (not really difficult one, for example), can you distinguish which of them started learning piano as an adult?

The difference is only obvious to me at the virtuoso level. I would expect to spot most (possibly all) late starters playing extremely technical pieces. Of course the vast majority of early starters also never become virtuosi either.

Re: Mark of a late-starter.
dogperson #2964436 04/07/20 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
Originally Posted by dogperson
If both play well, I’ve never questioned nor cared, when they started or how ‘long did it take to get there’.
IMHO, this post is self-defeating as it can lead to thoughts such as ‘I started too late to ever play well’.

Quit worrying and see what you can learn is my advice. Don’t pre-determine a self-imposed limitation


So, the term "adult beginner" exists. We use it to show people "Hey, don't blame me for such a poor performance, I am 35 although - I started at 31". Using this term, we underline the fact that we started as an adults.
But then where is the moment the word "adult" falls off? Why do not term "adult intermediate" exist, for example? Or "adult Chopin etudes master"?


Why use any designation other than ‘pianist’? There is no reason to categorize or explain.


If you play Liszt or Chopin in front of some one, he or she might know that millions of pianist graduate from colleges and conservatories each year, and all of them can play this. So, would you be able to overpower temptation to add "And I started learning piano as an adult, by the way. Only several years ago"? Because these words will change the perception. People would say "Wow, that's great!"
There are tons of Chopin or Liszt pieces recordings on Youtube, performed by conservatories students etc., wich got so few of views. But vidoes like "Adult beginner 2 years progress" etc. attracts tons of attention and millions of views.


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Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964466 04/07/20 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
Many compare piano (as well as other instruments) playing to speaking languages. If you did not start speaking a language in early childhood, you pronounciation will never be perfect and you will always have an accent. Some guys, due to titanic efforts, decrease their accent to such a minimum that their speech sounds like 99% native. 99, but never 100%. So, it's a mark that tells you "This guy is a foreighner. He started learning the language too late".


Learning a second language is a good analogy in this case. Three years ago, I wanted to learn a second language. I had the usual dream of becoming fluent and indistinguishable from a native speaker. But I soon realised that would be impossible, and to be able to communicate reasonably well in the new language would still be triumph. My thoughts on piano are very similar.


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Re: Mark of a late-starter.
earlofmar #2964472 04/07/20 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by earlofmar
Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
Many compare piano (as well as other instruments) playing to speaking languages. If you did not start speaking a language in early childhood, you pronounciation will never be perfect and you will always have an accent. Some guys, due to titanic efforts, decrease their accent to such a minimum that their speech sounds like 99% native. 99, but never 100%. So, it's a mark that tells you "This guy is a foreighner. He started learning the language too late".


Learning a second language is a good analogy in this case. Three years ago, I wanted to learn a second language. I had the usual dream of becoming fluent and indistinguishable from a native speaker. But I soon realised that would be impossible, and to be able to communicate reasonably well in the new language would still be triumph. My thoughts on piano are very similar.


The problem is that scientist tell there are exact area in the brain, responsible for languages learning and oral skills development. They say if a child remains silent up to 5 or 6 years old, he will never learn normal speech. Such a things happened to so-called feral children. Isolated from human speech in their early childhood, they were never able to learn speaking at normal level.
But this area is not correlated to piano or any other activities like this. An example with languages is illustrative, but not 100% correct, I guess.

Last edited by PianoStartsAt33; 04/07/20 05:20 PM.

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Re: Mark of a late-starter.
PianoStartsAt33 #2964481 04/07/20 05:47 PM
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As every person is unique, the question is impossible to answer ... After all, there are many, many people who started playing in a very early age that never "made it" either, if you define "making it" with becoming a famous concert pianist. Actually, do you know how many people who can call themselves concert pianists because they have all the exams and they play really well, but they are still not very famous? They are MANY. So what is a concert pianist?

So the only person you actually can compare yourself with is yourself, and if you started late you did not start early and so you will never know how much better you could have become if you had started earlier and vice versa.

I started at the age of 11 and I had been listening to classical music all my life and I learned to play the recorder and read music when I was 6 so I was quite experienced when I finally got piano lessons. I made quick progress at first, later on I lost my motivation and got too busy with school so I was not too proud of my progress when I had to leave music school at the age of 19 because I graduated from senior high (equivalent to), those were the rules.
I started to play again 8 years ago, at the age of 46, and now I think I play much, much better than I ever did as a teenager. I am more mature, of course. I have studied the art of studying, I have begun to understand the music itself, I have a very different perspective on life in general and piano playing in particular. I highly doubt that I would have got very far in my "first" piano life even if I had worked harder and not had been forced to quit.

Re: Mark of a late-starter.
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Accents come from difficulty hearing not difficulty with speech. There was this Russian actor who was able to speak his few French lines in a movie like a native simply by memorizing the sounds taught to him, without knowing a word of French. But see, the guy was a trained musician so he had a keen ear.

Also I am quite impressed with some British actors who can play Americans convincingly in movies. If there are speech coaches who can train an (adult) actor so well as to speak with any accent desired, why shouldn't a good piano teacher be able to train the piano student to hear better?

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