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How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
#3042276 11/03/20 08:12 AM
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I started piano at age 20, I am now 24 and love playing piano and I wish I started earlier. I also graduated school and started my career so I have limited time to practice but I play a good bit, normally about 2 hrs per day and I have improved a lot, I consider myself an intermediate player (I consider a Henle 4 on the easier side, a 6 pretty difficult and a 5 somewhere in the middle).

I have become a little disappointed recently because I have realized how insanely deep piano is and I now see the incredible level of skill that great pianists have and I have realized I will never even come close to that. For example I look at great pianist of my generation and I see people that have been playing since age 3 and have had years and years of training at conservatories and have been taught by professional (and very expensive) teachers and play for 12 hrs a day every day for years and years. On, the other hand, I have 1, 1 hr lesson per week (my teacher is great though!) and I have to work and hang out with friends and do other things so I am so limited in my time.

So how good of a pianist can I actually get? I know I will never be an amazing concert pianist but I would never want to do that anyway. I would like to get to the point where I am pretty good, for example, be good enough to play in a band or solo at a jazz bar for fun, or record an album of something like the final fantasy piano collections or some chopin preludes or nocturnes and have it be good enough where an average listener wouldnt distinguish it from the original. Is this possible with the time I have or am I wasting my time? For example, If I have to dedicate 2hrs per day and in 5 years I will be good enough for what I am talking about then I would definitely continue, but if I have to dedicate 6hrs per day and in 20 years I will be good enough then I would consider it a waste of time (if that makes sense). Thank you!

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042290 11/03/20 09:15 AM
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Only time will tell, when you get older you get more experience and more realistic expectations.

Play to have fun, don't put to much pressure on yourself.

You have a great hobby that can last a lifetime. Don't burn yourself out by aiming for the unreachable.

As you stated all these great pianist put in many hours a day(like a full time job), take your lessons enjoy the instrument.

Live life, take a break when you want to

You will get better, how good? Only the forementioned time will tell.

Good luck

Last edited by Learux; 11/03/20 09:16 AM.

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Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042293 11/03/20 09:19 AM
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I can only speak for classical music. Once you reach an upper intermediate or early advanced level there's almost an infinite amount of very great music by the greatest composers available to play even if your technical skills don't get beyond that point. If a similar situation exists for jazz or pop, why not just try and reach that level and enjoy the music?

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042299 11/03/20 09:25 AM
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You have a long life ahead of you, and you can get better every year. Your ambitions seem to be realistic. Have fun!

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042300 11/03/20 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by amelibeli75
I started piano at age 20, I am now 24 and love playing piano and I wish I started earlier. I also graduated school and started my career so I have limited time to practice but I play a good bit, normally about 2 hrs per day and I have improved a lot, I consider myself an intermediate player (I consider a Henle 4 on the easier side, a 6 pretty difficult and a 5 somewhere in the middle).other things so I am so limited in my time.
=====================SNIP=============
So how good of a pianist can I actually get? I know I will never be an amazing concert pianist but I would never want to do that anyway. I would like to get to the point where I am pretty good, for example, be good enough to play in a band or solo at a jazz bar for fun, or record an album of something like the final fantasy piano collections or some chopin preludes or nocturnes and have it be good enough where an average listener wouldnt distinguish it from the original. Is this possible with the time I have or am I wasting my time? For example, If I have to dedicate 2hrs per day and in 5 years I will be good enough for what I am talking about then I would definitely continue===SNIP===
IMO 2 hours/day, preferably 6 days a week could get you where you want to go provided you have a good teacher. You might even be able to get there with 1 hour/day.

It's more than learning pieces, however. Unless you're working on some theory and some keyboard harmony you will be at a stage where you are reading every note rather than groups of notes, or ideas. It would be like being able to read, e.g., Cyrillic by sounding out the letters without understanding the meaning of the words.

Don't pressure yourself. If you enjoy playing (and practicing), that's what's important.

After all the years I've played, I don't even think of practicing as practice. Rather, it is time I get to play the piano, to work on difficult passages, figure out complex relationships, and then make music. I miss it when I don't have time, or an injury keeps me away, or more recently, cataract surgery that blurred my vision for several days.

Good luck, and let us know how you progress.


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Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042306 11/03/20 09:36 AM
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This pianist started to study piano around age 19 or 20. Of course she decided to be a professional, but for someone who did not start at age 6, she plays well enough for me !

https://youtu.be/CJuVa5_ScfE

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042307 11/03/20 09:39 AM
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I started piano at age 30, I have now been playing for 21 years. I am currently able to play music I only dreamed of back when I first started, pieces that I used think were impossible I know see as easy. I also (when we're not in a pandemic) play with a violinist and cellist. I own a fantastic grand piano, another thing I would have never thought possible back when I first started. And because I have such a nice piano, I have music parties at my house and attend music parties at the home of music-friends (again, when not pandemic-ing). The piano is a huge part of my life and brings me much joy. I have taken lessons off and on all these years, right now I'm taking virtual lessons and working on pieces that, again, years ago I would have thought would be impossible.

Separate from those details, when I started piano, I was just working a normal job, but at some point I decided I wanted to go to grad school and get a PhD (not music related). I did indeed go back to school, got a PhD and now work in academia. But through it all, I wanted to make sure I continued with piano. For maybe 6 years (the last years of my PhD and my first years in my new job after finishing grad school), I wasn't working on challenging music, I was just sort of playing lower-intermediate music and used piano as relaxation time. But doing that allowed me to continue playing, which I wanted to make sure I did because I didn't want to finish grad school and realize I hadn't played piano in years and could no longer play. Now that I'm more settled in my job, I'm back to working on more challenging music and I feel my piano skills continue to improve.

If you continue playing, practicing, and taking lessons, you will continue to improve. The difference in your piano abilities from year 6 and year 10 will probably not be as noticeable as the different from year 1 to year 4, but there is so much good music at the intermediate level, you could play at the same level for a lifetime and never run out of amazing music.

As to this question:

Quote
am I wasting my time?

I think the answer to whether you're wasting you time depends not on the outcome/goal/endpoint that you arrive at several years in the future, but rather on whether you enjoy your time at the piano right now and in the days and months to come.

Certainly, not every minute at the piano will be joyful and musical. Improving technique, learning new things, can be challenging, frustrating, and sometimes ... not boring, but a slog when you feel like you just to push through some repetitive practice etc. to get something into your fingers...

But if you can mostly enjoy piano practice most of the time, then your time is not wasted. If you have mini-goals (like, "record piece X next month and share with friends"), that will be enjoyable and motivating even if you haven't gotten close to the bigger goals (i.e., "a solo gig at a jazz bar").

Would you think your time was wasted if, in 20 years, you never got to those bigger goals but succeeded at numerous mini-goals?

Alternatively, if you give up piano right this minute, will you look back in 5 or 10 years and think "gee, I wish I was still playing piano"?

I think the answers to these questions should help you decide your path.


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Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
pianoloverus #3042309 11/03/20 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I can only speak for classical music. Once you reach an upper intermediate or early advanced level there's almost an infinite amount of very great music by the greatest composers available to play even if your technical skills don't get beyond that point. If a similar situation exists for jazz or pop, why not just try and reach that level and enjoy the music?

It's definitely the same for jazz, pop, contemporary composers like Einaudi (probably almost all of his music is early- to mid-intermediate, although music by George Winston or Michael Nyman is generally more difficult).

So, back to the OP:
The point here of course is that, if you want to play jazz, you need to be learning jazz music (techniques, theory etc.) now; if you want to play pop, you need to be learning pop now. If you want to be able to play a range of styles including popular and classical, your practice should include all these elements now. Don't wait till you reach a certain level to try "music style X."


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Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
Seeker #3042349 11/03/20 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Seeker
After all the years I've played, I don't even think of practicing as practice. Rather, it is time I get to play the piano, to work on difficult passages, figure out complex relationships, and then make music. I miss it when I don't have time, or an injury keeps me away, or more recently, cataract surgery that blurred my vision for severaldays.
Isaac Stern would always ask students if the "made music" today and not if they practiced.

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
johnstaf #3042377 11/03/20 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by amelibeli75
I started piano at age 20, I am now 24 and love playing piano ... I have limited time to practice but I play a good bit, normally about 2 hrs per day and I have improved a lot, I consider myself an intermediate player (I consider a Henle 4 on the easier side, a 6 pretty difficult and a 5 somewhere in the middle). ... I have 1, 1 hr lesson per week (my teacher is great though!) ... So how good of a pianist can I actually get? ... For example, If I have to dedicate 2hrs per day and in 5 years I will be good enough for what I am talking about then I would definitely continue ...

Originally Posted by johnstaf
You have a long life ahead of you, and you can get better every year. Your ambitions seem to be realistic. Have fun!

"amelibeli75", I have highlighted what I consider important points in your post. "johnstaf" puts it most concisely, but all the advice given above is sensible.

You take lessons with a good teacher, practice consistently and for a decent duration despite other commitments, and have progressed well. Most important, you love playing the piano. All this considered, you have realistic goals.

Keep it up and enjoy the journey!

Last edited by Lotus1; 11/03/20 01:55 PM.
Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042466 11/03/20 05:40 PM
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I think your description of your goals is too vague to predict if you can achieve it. How good is pretty good? How good is the band you want to play in? Chopin's Preludes and Nocturnes range in difficulty from intermediate to doable mostly only by conservatory level pianists. How perceptive is the average listener you mention?

Have you started studying jazz or pop yet or are the lessons classically focused?


"I would like to get to the point where I am pretty good, for example, be good enough to play in a band or solo at a jazz bar for fun, or record an album of something like the final fantasy piano collections or some chopin preludes or nocturnes and have it be good enough where an average listener wouldnt distinguish it from the original. Is this possible with the time I have or am I wasting my time? For example, If I have to dedicate 2hrs per day and in 5 years I will be good enough for what I am talking about then I would definitely continue, but if I have to dedicate 6hrs per day and in 20 years I will be good enough then I would consider it a waste of time (if that makes sense). Thank you!"

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042474 11/03/20 06:09 PM
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The likelihood of recording an album or playing a Chopin nocturne where it is indistinguishable from a recording is slim. Can you learn to play well enough to play in a small group publicly? Probably. Can you play a Chopin nocturne musically in five years? Probably.

Your best success will come if you enjoy playing/practicing without worrying about if you will get ‘there’ by xxx date or always questioning if you are progressing fast enough. Learning to play music with your own two hands should be rewarding.

Develop good practice skills. Get a teacher, see what happens.
You need to be able to accept there is no guarantee.

Last edited by dogperson; 11/03/20 06:10 PM.
Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042482 11/03/20 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by amelibeli75
I have become a little disappointed recently because I have realized how insanely deep piano is and I now see the incredible level of skill that great pianists have and I have realized I will never even come close to that. For example I look at great pianist of my generation and I see people that have been playing since age 3 and have had years and years of training at conservatories and have been taught by professional (and very expensive) teachers and play for 12 hrs a day every day for years and years. On, the other hand, I have 1, 1 hr lesson per week (my teacher is great though!) and I have to work and hang out with friends and do other things so I am so limited in my time.
I think you're looking at things through the wrong end of the telescope.

Instead of being envious of their skills, watching and hearing great pianists who can toss off the most insanely difficult music like confetti just by glancing (or without even glancing) at the score for the first time should inspire you, not make you despondent you're not on their level (yet). They should make you even more determined to practice with more discipline, more focus and more concentration on mastering the difficulties.

Then, in about six years' time, when you're able to play most of almost everything in the classical rep, you'll wonder why you ever thought you could never get so good, just because you didn't start learning piano before you could walk.

After ten years of lessons, what separates a pianist who is able to play seriously advanced rep (say, the Appassionata) from someone who's still toddling along grappling with Für Elise, if they have similar musical aptitude, is how determined they are to achieve and their attitude towards mastering difficulties, and dedicated practicing, and not least, how much enjoyment they're getting from playing piano.

Because, if you're enjoying the long journey (and it's very long, if you're talking classical - and never-ending), no technical or musical skill that gets you closer towards mastery of the piano is too time-consuming or difficult to 'bother with', and you'll relish the challenge.

Incidentally, that's how some kids get very, very good: not because they're kids, but because they just enjoy playing, and they keep plugging away at stuff until they master it even if they keep falling (e.g. riding a bicycle), under the tutelage of their teachers, and they don't begrudge the time they spend learning things their teacher want them to learn that don't provide instant gratification. Whereas most adults will only learn what they want to learn (including choosing what pieces they play), and - not surprisingly - their teachers end up teaching them what they want, rather than what they really need to make good progress towards piano mastery.


Quote
So how good of a pianist can I actually get? I know I will never be an amazing concert pianist but I would never want to do that anyway. I would like to get to the point where I am pretty good, for example, be good enough to play in a band or solo at a jazz bar for fun, or record an album of something like the final fantasy piano collections or some chopin preludes or nocturnes and have it be good enough where an average listener wouldnt distinguish it from the original. Is this possible with the time I have or am I wasting my time? For example, If I have to dedicate 2hrs per day and in 5 years I will be good enough for what I am talking about then I would definitely continue, but if I have to dedicate 6hrs per day and in 20 years I will be good enough then I would consider it a waste of time (if that makes sense). Thank you!
Learning piano is never time wasted - even if you "only" get to intermediate standard (if you don't have the drive & dedication to do what I outlined earlier): the vast majority of pianists play no higher than that level, yet they're able to enjoy playing lots of stuff, especially if classical isn't their main interest.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
bennevis #3042493 11/03/20 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Instead of being envious of their skills, watching and hearing great pianists who can toss off the most insanely difficult music like confetti just by glancing (or without even glancing) at the score for the first time should inspire you, not make you despondent you're not on their level (yet). They should make you even more determined to practice with more discipline, more focus and more concentration on mastering the difficulties.

Then, in about six years' time, when you're able to play most of almost everything in the classical rep, you'll wonder why you ever thought you could never get so good, just because you didn't start learning piano before you could walk.
The first paragraph is good advice but the second is IMO way overstated. The overwhelming percentage of pianists with far more than 10 years of study never get even close to being able to play most of the classical rep. Among those who studied for 10 years, I'd guess only 1% at most are good enough to be admitted to a conservatory and play at a level at which they might be able to play the most advanced pieces. And many of those people have practiced a lot more than two hours/day starting in their mid teens.

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042514 11/03/20 09:20 PM
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If you want to be a concert pianist you certainly can be. A concert pianist doesn’t just mean super complex classical. And if that’s what you want to strive for go for it. If you want to play jazz or with a band that’s still concert level. I’m still a beginner but I would say make sure you focus on want your goals are. I let my teacher drive my goals too long. I wanted to learn pop but for some reason stayed with a classical teacher as I didn’t know better. I eventually quit comparing and saying I want to be that p]good and now I appreciate other pianist more but could care less if they’re far beyond me (sometimes still jealous) but I also remind myself I’m further along than before. What I always hear is ‘trust the process’ so I go by that.

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042538 11/04/20 12:16 AM
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I don't like to measure my playing against other people. I've seen young virtuosos like Ryan Wang from Vancouver Canada who can play an entire 40m recital from memory.

You need to enjoy your playing instead of treating music as an academic exercise. Some people like myself would take piano classes as a hobby with no plan to take conservatory exams. Other people aimed to become a piano teacher.

A lot of people who started as an adult later in life already passed the chance of becoming a Classical concert pianist. Doesn't mean someone can't be performing Jazz or Pop tunes in a night club.

Coming from a non-musical family, everybody around had music lessons but nobody picked up music as a career. I'm in a music group where everybody can play a few tunes off their heads. The last thing I wanted as an adult learner is to be able to play a few songs at a social gathering. I don't get into technical Classical pieces. I would learn a few pop tunes like Paul McCartney "Yesterday", Abba "Mama Mia" or "Linus & Lucy" from "Merry Christmas Charlie Brown" by Vince Guaraldi.

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042540 11/04/20 12:29 AM
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I would like to get to the point where I am pretty good, for example, be good enough to play in a band or solo at a jazz bar for fun, or record an album of something like the final fantasy piano collections or some chopin preludes or nocturnes and have it be good enough where an average listener wouldnt distinguish it from the original.

I personally think that your goal is very achievable. Maybe not prelude 16 or 24, but the mid-range preludes should be doable. An average listener won't be able to distinguish your playing from that of a world-class player unless they compare them side-by-side. However, that is true even for concert pianists. An average listener (well, many of them) will be able to distinguish who played it better if you ask them to compare them one after another.

I've found that online advice seems to be overly pessimistic. You say that you can play Henle 4-6 pieces. Based off that, it sounds like you would be able to tackle the pieces you want, technically speaking. There are a number of ways to improve the playing aspect to it.

Listen to recordings, and try and imitate what they are doing and get a feel for why it works.

Isolate difficult technical/musical passages and focus a lot of effort on them.

Play a wide range of similar pieces -- every Chopin waltz, mazurka, or etude you attempt will improve your interpretation of other Chopin pieces.

Try and improvise or compose. Improvising in the style of a composer is a great way to try and get into the same mindset as them.

Learn music theory. It will help systematize your understanding of harmony and form and give you a better sense of what tools composers were working with.

Listen back to your recordings, preferably with high quality audio equipment, and try to assess it honestly. Compare it with other professional recordings. Very often, you can figure out where you need to improve.

Listen to a lot of pieces by the composer, and by their contemporaries, and predecessors, and try and relate the musical decisions of the composers in a historical context.

Attempt random passages from the composer's oeuvre which strike your fancy. Liking or appreciating something is closely tied to understanding it, so if you play snippets of pieces you like, it's quite likely that you will be able to play them musically. You can then transfer your understanding of the movements required to generate a certain kind of musical expression to other pieces which have similar requirements.

You want to be mindful while you practice, and keep iterating while improving. You should also listen very carefully, not just about whether you have conveyed everything which is there on the sheet, because that is very limited in nature, but also to your own instinct of whether something sounds musical or not. Think of yourself as a quasi-composer, stealing glimpses of ideas from everything you read or hear.

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042561 11/04/20 03:53 AM
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Since you can play until you are 80 and past that, you still have the option to learn the piano for 60 years, give or take. Lot's of time to get pretty good.

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042562 11/04/20 03:56 AM
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I am a year younger than you, been playing for 2 years.
Becoming a concert pianist (whatever that is) never even crossed my mind but this is because I would not even want to be a one.
I guess if you really want to and your dream is performing for others, you can definitely do that by playing in an amateur band, playing at bars, hosting piano recitals for other piano players in your city etc. No one there would expect a phenomenal, note-perfect performance as in a concert held by a well-known, prodigy professional concert pianist like Trifonov, or Lisitsa...

I too have a good teacher and practice between 1 - 2 hours every day. Fortunately, I don´t have a fulltime job yet (college) but even if I had, I´d still find time if this is what truly matters to me.
Anyway, when I started I was inspired mainly by pop and jazz covers so that was what I wanted to do. Only later did I found the beauty of classical music and so that is what I am pursuing now. The time spent playing has been extremely enjoyable and I love every second of playing. I think my musicality improved a lot since I started (also because I started listening to a lot of classical music which I´d never done before) and the overall dexterity in my hands/fingers improved massively as well. I never thought I could things with my fingers this fast, it seemed impossible at the beginning. And it´s been just 2 years.

I guess the best thing we can do is just go with the flow, enjoy the journey and see how far we can get.

Re: How good can an amateur adult pianist like me actually get?
amelibeli75 #3042573 11/04/20 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by amelibeli75
I started piano at age 20, I am now 24 and love playing piano and I wish I started earlier. I also graduated school and started my career so I have limited time to practice but I play a good bit, normally about 2 hrs per day and I have improved a lot, I consider myself an intermediate player (I consider a Henle 4 on the easier side, a 6 pretty difficult and a 5 somewhere in the middle).

I have become a little disappointed recently because I have realized how insanely deep piano is and I now see the incredible level of skill that great pianists have and I have realized I will never even come close to that. For example I look at great pianist of my generation and I see people that have been playing since age 3 and have had years and years of training at conservatories and have been taught by professional (and very expensive) teachers and play for 12 hrs a day every day for years and years. On, the other hand, I have 1, 1 hr lesson per week (my teacher is great though!) and I have to work and hang out with friends and do other things so I am so limited in my time.

So how good of a pianist can I actually get? I know I will never be an amazing concert pianist but I would never want to do that anyway. I would like to get to the point where I am pretty good, for example, be good enough to play in a band or solo at a jazz bar for fun, or record an album of something like the final fantasy piano co https://100001.onl/ https://1921681254.mx/
ections or some chopin preludes or nocturnes and have it be good enough where an average listener wouldnt distinguish it from the original. Is this possible with the time I have or am I wasting my time? For example, If I have to dedicate 2hrs per day and in 5 years I will be good enough for what I am talking about then I would definitely continue, but if I have to dedicate 6hrs per day and in 20 years I will be good enough then I would consider it a waste of time (if that makes sense). Thank you!
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