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I asked a concert pianist
#2998463 07/04/20 01:37 AM
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How much time does she take to learn a piece from zero (never played or studied it) to performance level. The piece was one of the Goldberg variations.

Her answer: a couple of hours.

Don't despair my friends. Practice and patience. We'll also get there if we work hard enough.

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Re: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998470 07/04/20 02:07 AM
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No, there are not enough years to be able to learn a piece that challenging in a couple of hours. ... but that’s ok.


"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: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998474 07/04/20 02:40 AM
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Well. Even with practice and patience, I will never learn a Goldberg variations in a couple of hours. But I don't despair anyway, because there are so many very enjoyable pieces at my level, that will take me a couple of weeks to learn, and that is fine with me. cool


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Re: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998483 07/04/20 04:19 AM
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It seems we have too many concert pianists now.

Re: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998490 07/04/20 04:49 AM
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No, she's a true pianist with a long career, more than 20 years performing with orchestras, tv and recordings, and i myself watched her playing that variation.

So to be fair her complete answer was: it takes a whole life to play the pieces and polish all the nuances, but just to take them to a general level it takes 2 hours.

Re: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998492 07/04/20 05:05 AM
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Ubu
I don’t think any of us were doubting your friend could do this; only doubting your statement ‘we’ll get there if we work hard enough’. I personally believe in striving for a goal but there are limits based on time and talent. Accepting the limits is as important as having the goals.


"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: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998516 07/04/20 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Ubu
No, she's a true pianist with a long career, more than 20 years performing with orchestras, tv and recordings, and i myself watched her playing that variation.
Isn't it Lola Astanova? laugh

Originally Posted by Ubu
So to be fair her complete answer was: it takes a whole life to play the pieces and polish all the nuances, but just to take them to a general level it takes 2 hours.
Then let's correct your initital statement. Let's say it doesn't take long for an experienced pianist to learn to play right notes, but only after that the real work begins and it takes dozens or even hundreds of hours to bring a piece to performance level.

Re: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998520 07/04/20 06:55 AM
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Well, it is a lot of work. She spent more than 20 years as a professional at a high level, and before that she spent an unknown numbers of years reaching that high level. And then it only takes 2 hours to learn such a piece.

As I see it, it might take more than twenty years to reach such proficiency. On the other hand, I would settle for learning such a piece in 8 hours. Maybe that level only takes a bit more than five years to reach. smile


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Re: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998521 07/04/20 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Ubu
How much time does she take to learn a piece from zero (never played or studied it) to performance level. The piece was one of the Goldberg variations.

Her answer: a couple of hours.
Many of the variations are quite short, and not technically demanding.

Most concert pianists can sight-read them at tempo, and will have no difficulty producing a 'finished' product (one variation) in two hours, including memorizing it, if they have good memory.

But if you're talking about the whole Goldberg (lasting 80 minutes with repeats), then you're talkin'.......


"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: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998536 07/04/20 07:55 AM
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Some of the variations are relatively easy and one page long so two hours time to get then to a reasonable level makes sense for those variations. Other of the technically very difficult could easily take a concert pianist much longer. The Goldberg Variations is much more than learn 30 or so separate pieces, however. One has to have a plan/understanding for how they fit together and that take many hours of thought and practice. I think most concert pianists would practice the Goldberg Variations MUCH longer that 60 hours(30 x 2) before performing them.

The original question in the OP is kind of like asking how long would it take to learn one page of the Chopin Ballade No.1. Some pages might be learnable in two hours but the last three pages(the coda) would take MUCH longer for each page. And none of the above includes working out. thinking about, and practicing an interpretation for the entire piece.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/04/20 07:58 AM.
Re: I asked a concert pianist
bennevis #2998538 07/04/20 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Ubu
I don’t think any of us were doubting your friend could do this; only doubting your statement ‘we’ll get there if we work hard enough’. I personally believe in striving for a goal but there are limits based on time and talent. Accepting the limits is as important as having the goals.
Yes i agree. It just shows what achievements human brain can get. Not that i am going to get even close to that, but at least is encouraging to keep practicing.
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by Ubu
No, she's a true pianist with a long career, more than 20 years performing with orchestras, tv and recordings, and i myself watched her playing that variation.
Isn't it Lola Astanova? laugh

Originally Posted by Ubu
So to be fair her complete answer was: it takes a whole life to play the pieces and polish all the nuances, but just to take them to a general level it takes 2 hours.
Then let's correct your initital statement. Let's say it doesn't take long for an experienced pianist to learn to play right notes, but only after that the real work begins and it takes dozens or even hundreds of hours to bring a piece to performance level.
No it is not Astanova. But it would be my utmost delitght to meet her.
Originally Posted by QuasiUnaFantasia
Well, it is a lot of work. She spent more than 20 years as a professional at a high level, and before that she spent an unknown numbers of years reaching that high level. And then it only takes 2 hours to learn such a piece.

As I see it, it might take more than twenty years to reach such proficiency. On the other hand, I would settle for learning such a piece in 8 hours. Maybe that level only takes a bit more than five years to reach. smile
A variation in 8 hours, that would be like in 2 days of dedicated practice. Yes ,i also would settle for that and call myself a pianist



Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Ubu
How much time does she take to learn a piece from zero (never played or studied it) to performance level. The piece was one of the Goldberg variations.

Her answer: a couple of hours.
Many of the variations are quite short, and not technically demanding.

Most concert pianists can sight-read them at tempo, and will have no difficulty producing a 'finished' product (one variation) in two hours, including memorizing it, if they have good memory.

But if you're talking about the whole Goldberg (lasting 80 minutes with repeats), then you're talkin'.......
It was just one variation, not the whole set. Regarding learning all of them in 2 hours, i don't know if that is possible. There was this young pianist who won an important piano competition in Spain in the 80s and then his plane crash and he died, i don't remember his name, maybe some of you do, i guess i read about him in this forum and his astonishing ability for memorizing fugues.

Re: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998558 07/04/20 08:38 AM
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Maybe after playing for 50 years. I'm coming up on 5. All I can say is that it is definitely easier to learn pieces faster than before.

I remember one time in a master class a teacher sight read effortlessly through a piece. I remarked how amazing that was. She sort of chuckled and said, "I've been playing for 50 years"

I guess you can't fast track experience.


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Re: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998561 07/04/20 08:51 AM
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If you had to estimate, roughly how many hours do you spend to learn and polish an advance piece? Just curious, do people spend hundreds of hours on challenging pieces?

Re: I asked a concert pianist
Sebs #2998568 07/04/20 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Sebs
If you had to estimate, roughly how many hours do you spend to learn and polish an advanced piece? Just curious, do people spend hundreds of hours on challenging pieces?
How advanced/challenging? Isn't challenging for one person possibly easy for another person? How long? I'm afraid without specific examples questions like this are meaningless.

Besides all the above isn't it clear that even for one specific piece each person could have a different answer including "I could never learn it no matter how long I practiced'.

Re: I asked a concert pianist
pianoloverus #2998573 07/04/20 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Sebs
If you had to estimate, roughly how many hours do you spend to learn and polish an advanced piece? Just curious, do people spend hundreds of hours on challenging pieces?
How advanced/challenging? Isn't challenging for one person possibly easy for another person? How long? I'm afraid without specific examples questions like this are meaningless.

Besides all the above isn't it clear that even for one specific piece each person could have a different answer including "I could never learn it no matter how long I practiced'.

This.
Additionally, if learning is slow, the learner may tire of a piece in the time it takes to "learn" it.
A problem for intermediate players is that a limited mastery of technical skills means that the piece won't sound good no matter how much time they spend grinding through it. Both of these may lead to frustration.

Another way to look at it is to say that a beginner working out "Blow the Man Down" is actually working on the Goldberg variations.


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Re: I asked a concert pianist
Ubu #2998594 07/04/20 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Ubu
How much time does she take to learn a piece from zero (never played or studied it) to performance level. The piece was one of the Goldberg variations.

Her answer: a couple of hours.

Don't despair my friends. Practice and patience. We'll also get there if we work hard enough.

'Fraid not! Some of us don't have the required intellect or indeed, the patience. Others will be too busy for a variety of reasons.
A few will get there.
Too, it would help enormously imo if one starts learning very early in life.


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Re: I asked a concert pianist
pianoloverus #2998612 07/04/20 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Sebs
If you had to estimate, roughly how many hours do you spend to learn and polish an advanced piece? Just curious, do people spend hundreds of hours on challenging pieces?
How advanced/challenging? Isn't challenging for one person possibly easy for another person? How long? I'm afraid without specific examples questions like this are meaningless.

Besides all the above isn't it clear that even for one specific piece each person could have a different answer including "I could never learn it no matter how long I practiced'.

Let me rephrase the question: Is it common for very advanced pianists to spend hundreds of hours on their pieces? I know there are tons of variables I'm just curious if very advanced players spend lots of time on pieces or they just crank them out?

Re: I asked a concert pianist
Sebs #2998615 07/04/20 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Sebs
Is it common for very advanced pianists to spend hundreds of hours on their pieces? I know there are tons of variables I'm just curious if very advanced players spend lots of time on pieces or they just crank them out?
Both.

They can easily crank out short familiar pieces, and they also spend a lot of time learning and perfecting big stuff - 50-minute concertos and the like - over years, which they'll probably return to again and again.


"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: I asked a concert pianist
Sebs #2998656 07/04/20 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Sebs
Let me rephrase the question: Is it common for very advanced pianists to spend hundreds of hours on their pieces? I know there are tons of variables I'm just curious if very advanced players spend lots of time on pieces or they just crank them out?
Don't you think a technically easy two page piece would be different from a technically/musically challenging 15 or 50 page piece? The only thing that's true is that the best pros can learn music at a rate that would seem almost impossible to the average amateur.

Re: I asked a concert pianist
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I saw this great YouTube interview with a chap who's reputed to be one of the best sight readers in the session business (sax, not piano). I can't find it again! But one of the takeaways (amongst many) was:
the more music you learn the more patterns you become familiar with - even classical music becomes mostly familiar patterns in new combinations, rhythms etc. Then a pro's job is to find places in a piece which aren't familiar patterns. A two page piece may be all new, whereas a 15 pages piece might as easily be straightforward in these terms.

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