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Originally Posted by Csj24
Thanks everyone! I played about as badly as I had expected, possibly worse. No amount of telling myself that it doesn't matter or pretending I'm alone works. She wanted me to play things to get a better idea of where I'm at. I performed abysmally. The classical pieces I played (and I picked easy ones that I've been playing with no problems for at least a month - Bach Minuets in G minor and major, and Handel Gavotte and Variation in G major) I messed up and then couldn't get my continuity back after that. Strangely enough the few hymns I played I played flawlessly, even though there were new ones among them also. Maybe it's just because that's what I'm used to?
...

My hands were shaking for like an hour afterwards.

Well done. Whatever doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.

Last edited by Greener; 08/25/21 08:01 AM.
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Vikendios
I understand your point, but the fact is I am an adult (and an old one at that, so presumably with quite some baggage and experience), and do not wish to be treated like a child, nor to blissfully please my teacher. In fact I want my teacher to please me.
Obviously, your situation is different as you are not an adult beginner, but it brings to mind a scene in a Tom Cruise movie (*), where he asks his partner as they were both together in a very precarious situation (i.e. very bad people want to hurt them very badly): "Do you trust me?"

If a student doesn't trust his teacher implicitly to teach him properly, he should get rid of him/her and look for another one. If he thinks he knows better than teachers, he should teach himself (it's almost always himself, never herself). There have been lots of threads in ABF about what happens when students don't trust their teachers, just because they didn't teach in the manner, or at the pace that they wanted or expected (even though to us old hands, they were teaching properly).

My old friend's personal story, which he doesn't mind me telling ad nauseam (- he tells me good tales bear repeated repeats): he started piano lessons at 60, after a lifetime of attending concerts by all the greatest pianists past & present (he lives very close to London) - he's seen Horowitz, Richter, Gilels, Rubinstein, Michelangeli.....etc, etc. And he has a huge CD collection of all the greatest pianists who ever recorded. So, you could say he knows what great piano playing is all about: he's seen the greats play up close, scrutinized their movements, their technique, their pedalling, even heard their humming/groaning/singing.

He did his research thoroughly and found a good teacher who specialized in teaching adults. After an initial hiccup (when his new teacher treated him as a "knowledgeable adult student" - after all, he knew what great piano playing is about, didn't he? - but he found himself floundering with basic concepts), he asked his teacher to teach him exactly the same way, using the same materials, as he would teach his child students. His teacher, to his relief, was happy to agree that was the best way, and started completely from scratch: counting beats aloud, getting fully acquainted with note-reading using very basic tunes with single notes on each hand, using all fingers and both hands equally at all times etc. In fact, from what I saw when I visited him, his teacher used the same books my first teacher used with me, and the same ones I use with my child students; and he was taught everything exactly the same way, with baby steps, not running before walking, lots of revision of basic concepts all the way etc.

The result, several years on, is that he is now an accomplished pianist, able to learn new pieces from Bach to Bacharach (OK, maybe not Bacharach, as he's not into pop) all by himself with no technical weaknesses and proper musicality, and he can also sight-sing (he joined a choir which performed everything from Handel to Lauridsen before the pandemic, and has recently restarted again with lifting of restrictions), as well as play by ear and improvise (though unlike me, he doesn't dabble in non-classical). His teacher is now more like a mentor and good friend to him, though he is still taking lessons.

(* Mr Cruise came to mind because in a clip on BBC TV just now, he dropped in by helicopter on a family in rural Warwickshire while filming Mission Possible XX, and as a reward for giving him permission to land on their field, took them up for the ride of their lives.....)
this is a great story. How long did it take him to get to this level?


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Originally Posted by bennevis
The result, several years on, is that he is now an accomplished pianist, able to learn new pieces from Bach to Bacharach (OK, maybe not Bacharach, as he's not into pop) all by himself with no technical weaknesses and proper musicality
What is your standard for being an accomplished pianist? Is he now a professional? If so, that is indeed a very singular story.

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Originally Posted by CodySean
this is a great story. How long did it take him to get to this level?
He's now nearly ten years into his lessons.

By seven years, he was playing several movements from Mozart and Beethoven sonatas and a couple of Chopin nocturnes, waltzes, mazurkas etc, to the standard of ABRSM grade 8 (the highest). Bear in mind, he started lessons after he retired, and most of his leisure time is devoted towards classical music and the piano (he owns a Steinway upright, after a brief fling with digitals). He doesn't know how many hours he spends at the piano a day, because he goes and play something (or practice) whenever he feels like it.

And - from his lifelong job at a huge multi-national company in which he rose up the ranks to senior project manager before he retired, he knew that anything worth doing was worth doing well, and that short-cuts and rushing through basic stuff are a sure road towards long-term problems (if not disaster) later, so he was happy to start slow in order to build up his basic skills properly. Compared to almost everyone else here in ABF (based on their posts), his first few years saw him progressing far, far slower, because his teacher knew exactly what he sought: a strong grounding in basics so that he would not run into problems later on (after all, he was a self-confessed 'old man' when he started piano): I think he started learning Clementi's Sonatina in C, Op.36/1 after four years of lessons, for instance; and his first Chopin a year later.

When I watch and listen to him playing now - Chopin's Op.64/2 and various other waltzes and nocturnes, Beethoven's Op.49 sonatas, assorted late Brahms pieces (most of which he learnt entirely by himself), Bartók's Romanian Folk Dances are in his current rep - it's difficult to believe that he knew nothing about piano playing before he was 60: his finger movements are fluid and sure, there is no suggestion of any unnecessary tension, fingerwork and articulation are absolutely even and precise, he can 'voice' melodies (including in the middle of textures) and balance chords with no problems. He can use 'arm weight' etc when required to produce a full tone (he is currently learning Brahms's Rhapsody in G minor, Op.79/2 - again by himself).

Did I forget to mention: his sight-reading skills are excellent, as are his aural skills (he was originally intending to do ABRSM exams, but then decided they would be too stressful, but his teacher did continue following the syllabus grade by grade), which is why he can sight-sing and is a valuable member of his choir. He does perform - but only as a member of the choir, not as pianist. His piano playing is "for my own private pleasure" and he no longer watches those virtuoso pianists whose concerts he attends with envy, but with real appreciation of their skills, knowing what it took him to get to where he now is.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Vikendios
I understand your point, but the fact is I am an adult (and an old one at that, so presumably with quite some baggage and experience)
Obviously, your situation is different as you are not an adult beginner....

My old friend's personal story....

The result, several years on, is that he is now an accomplished pianist....

The story of your old friend is an extremely encouraging read for me, for I am in fact an adult beginner, and I started a decade later than him, at 71, four and a half years ago.

I follow in his footsteps, Clementi last year, Mozart's Facile this year and now Chopin's posthumous waltz, all to my teacher's satisfaction. Practice is two hours a day. The added complication is that I devote half an hour thrice a week to the harpsichord, currently going through Couperin's Préludes.

I certainly attended my share of concerts since a child, and can remember Rubinstein and Horowitz. But I am not nostalgic for some mythical golden age. I think the kids of today are fantastic pianists, and am lucky to meet Khatia B. in the street as she lives close to me. Sokolov is still my god, but the young Kantorow, whom I also met, is very promising.

In fact I am so pleased with the current crop of young baroque concertists that I help financially support a group of them, Jupiter, and I also regularly organize home concerts to expose all the young people I know to classical music.

This connection with talented youth is probably my higher incentive to strive at the piano.


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he is a man with a CLEAR vision and made sure he asked for what he needed to get to where he is. Humble enough to recognize what he doesn’t know. Kudos. Thanks for sharing Bennevis.


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Originally Posted by Vikendios
The story of your old friend is an extremely encouraging read for me, for I am in fact an adult beginner, and I started a decade later than him, at 71, four and a half years ago.
One is never too old to learn anything new.

I've just returned from holiday in Scotland, where, after watching some youngsters grapple with paddle-boarding on Loch Lomond, I decided to try it for myself. After all, how hard can it be to stay upright on a narrow plank of wood on the water, even for someone as ancient as me (so ancient that I can't reveal my age)?

So, I hired a paddle-board for an hour, and after a one-minute instruction ("attach your ankle to the board with this cord, so that you don't lose the board when you fall into the water"), set off out into the bonny loch - and fell straight in as soon as I stood up. Half an hour later, I was paddling confidently around the bay, even riding the waves created by those annoying noisy speedboats (which IMO should be banned from all lochs). When I watched the youngsters around me, most of them didn't attempt to paddle standing up: they paddled kneeling on the board. Some even sitting.

An old dog can learn new tricks - sometimes even better than a puppy...... thumb


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Well done Bennevis. Totally agree, age shouldn’t stop you, but wise enough to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. During this lock down… I am doing things I thought I wasn’t good at or didn’t think I would enjoy. Not ancient yet, but definitely ‘late summer’ phase of life. As they say…it’s all in the mind.


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Originally Posted by Pianoperformance
As they say…it’s all in the mind.

It is a nice thought, but sooner or later, once you have reached the autumn or the winter of your life, you'll find that this thought is denial. Things will start to deteriorate. It maybe your knees, your eyesight, your memory... And you will need to find your way around it, or accept your loss.


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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Pianoperformance
As they say…it’s all in the mind.

It is a nice thought, but sooner or later, once you have reached the autumn or the winter of your life, you'll find that this thought is denial. Things will start to deteriorate. It maybe your knees, your eyesight, your memory... And you will need to find your way around it, or accept your loss.

But infirmities can happen at any stage of your life.

Chaque âge a ses plaisirs. For my winter, as you say, I chose the piano precisely because it does not task the body too much, as mountaineering that is Bennevis' activity of choice. My great passion was sailing (ocean racing actually) and I can tell you it can be rather dangerous in old age. I think pianists are in a better position to postpone decrepitude, look at the masters. In my case I am a follower of Zeno and Epictetus.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by CodySean
this is a great story. How long did it take him to get to this level?
He's now nearly ten years into his lessons.

By seven years, he was playing several movements from Mozart and Beethoven sonatas and a couple of Chopin nocturnes, waltzes, mazurkas etc, to the standard of ABRSM grade 8 (the highest). Bear in mind, he started lessons after he retired, and most of his leisure time is devoted towards classical music and the piano (he owns a Steinway upright, after a brief fling with digitals). He doesn't know how many hours he spends at the piano a day, because he goes and play something (or practice) whenever he feels like it.

And - from his lifelong job at a huge multi-national company in which he rose up the ranks to senior project manager before he retired, he knew that anything worth doing was worth doing well, and that short-cuts and rushing through basic stuff are a sure road towards long-term problems (if not disaster) later, so he was happy to start slow in order to build up his basic skills properly. Compared to almost everyone else here in ABF (based on their posts), his first few years saw him progressing far, far slower, because his teacher knew exactly what he sought: a strong grounding in basics so that he would not run into problems later on (after all, he was a self-confessed 'old man' when he started piano): I think he started learning Clementi's Sonatina in C, Op.36/1 after four years of lessons, for instance; and his first Chopin a year later.

When I watch and listen to him playing now - Chopin's Op.64/2 and various other waltzes and nocturnes, Beethoven's Op.49 sonatas, assorted late Brahms pieces (most of which he learnt entirely by himself), Bartók's Romanian Folk Dances are in his current rep - it's difficult to believe that he knew nothing about piano playing before he was 60: his finger movements are fluid and sure, there is no suggestion of any unnecessary tension, fingerwork and articulation are absolutely even and precise, he can 'voice' melodies (including in the middle of textures) and balance chords with no problems. He can use 'arm weight' etc when required to produce a full tone (he is currently learning Brahms's Rhapsody in G minor, Op.79/2 - again by himself).

Did I forget to mention: his sight-reading skills are excellent, as are his aural skills (he was originally intending to do ABRSM exams, but then decided they would be too stressful, but his teacher did continue following the syllabus grade by grade), which is why he can sight-sing and is a valuable member of his choir. He does perform - but only as a member of the choir, not as pianist. His piano playing is "for my own private pleasure" and he no longer watches those virtuoso pianists whose concerts he attends with envy, but with real appreciation of their skills, knowing what it took him to get to where he now is.
Man this is so awesome. Do you know what books his teacher had him learn from? My piano instructor seems to use Faber almost exclusively.


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Originally Posted by CodySean
Man this is so awesome. Do you know what books his teacher had him learn from?
These ones:
https://www.amazon.com/John-Thompsons-Easiest-Piano-Course/dp/1423468228

They are specifically designed for kids, which are exactly why they are so good for beginners of all ages. Everything explained clearly and simply, and everything is taught properly from the very basics onwards. Never mind the colorful cartoon characters: their speech balloons give good advice and reminders thumb.


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OP, you can play hymns? What for yourself?
You can only play hymns?
Or you play them in a church?
On an organ?
How is a hymn different?
It has musical notes, maybe some spiritual la-la-la but it's still musical notes?
Four line melodies no problem, fugue's no problem, but you fall apart playing a Bach Minuet.
I'm confused.
Just listening to a Fugue melts my brain, let alone play it. If I could play a Bach Fugue then I fail to see how I could fall apart playing a Minuet.
Hmmm it smells like something to me. Smells like you're frustrated about not getting from your teacher what you want. It's very simple really. Find another teacher. It's up to you to find a teacher that works for you. It's not up to a teacher to give you something you need, since you're the only one who's in charge of your satisfaction. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you're doing something wrong. I'm saying it sounds like you're having an issue with one thing and focussing on another thing. If a teacher is pleasing you, then you're likely not learning anything. Learning tends to suck, it's frustrating, it's well hard w*o*r*k hence it's also called practice.

All that blah blah about ... you're never too old to learn something is horse doo-doo.
It's just smoke that's been blown up your behind.
The kind of smoke old people tell themselves because they have too many regrets of rubbish they were doing when they were younger. When they really should have spent it doing something else. Regret is a bastard.
Fact is, no you're not too old to learn, but yes you're probably too old to get really good at it. Your body especially fingers, knees, eyes are simply not able to do certain things anywhere near well enough to be better than mediocre. It's a fact. I don't care if you agree or not, it's still a fact.
I'm not on the young side anymore, but even at my age after sitting playing for about 3 hours I can really start to feel it, everywhere.

Learning and playing piano, is all about what YOU want. You create your reality. Every minute of it. If you're already frustrated, you won't get anywhere.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and do what you gotta do, within realistic boundaries.
Or stick to what you're good at, like Fugue's (apparently)

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Originally Posted by JohnnyIssieBangie
All that blah blah about ... you're never too old to learn something is horse doo-doo.
It's just smoke that's been blown up your behind.
...
Fact is, no you're not too old to learn, but yes you're probably too old to get really good at it.

Your body especially fingers, knees, eyes are simply not able to do certain things anywhere near well enough to be better than mediocre. It's a fact. I don't care if you agree or not, it's still a fact.

There is no probably in facts.

5 years of intense desire for something followed up with the right action can amaze not only yourself, but all your critics too.

Don't ever let other people tell you what you can or can't do. That's the doo-doo.

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Originally Posted by JohnnyIssieBangie
OP, you can play hymns? What for yourself?
You can only play hymns?
Or you play them in a church?
On an organ?
How is a hymn different?
It has musical notes, maybe some spiritual la-la-la but it's still musical notes?
Four line melodies no problem, fugue's no problem, but you fall apart playing a Bach Minuet.
I'm confused.
Just listening to a Fugue melts my brain, let alone play it. If I could play a Bach Fugue then I fail to see how I could fall apart playing a Minuet.
Hmmm it smells like something to me. Smells like you're frustrated about not getting from your teacher what you want. It's very simple really. Find another teacher. It's up to you to find a teacher that works for you. It's not up to a teacher to give you something you need, since you're the only one who's in charge of your satisfaction. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you're doing something wrong. I'm saying it sounds like you're having an issue with one thing and focussing on another thing. If a teacher is pleasing you, then you're likely not learning anything. Learning tends to suck, it's frustrating, it's well hard w*o*r*k hence it's also called practice.

All that blah blah about ... you're never too old to learn something is horse doo-doo.
It's just smoke that's been blown up your behind.
The kind of smoke old people tell themselves because they have too many regrets of rubbish they were doing when they were younger. When they really should have spent it doing something else. Regret is a bastard.
Fact is, no you're not too old to learn, but yes you're probably too old to get really good at it. Your body especially fingers, knees, eyes are simply not able to do certain things anywhere near well enough to be better than mediocre. It's a fact. I don't care if you agree or not, it's still a fact.
I'm not on the young side anymore, but even at my age after sitting playing for about 3 hours I can really start to feel it, everywhere.

Learning and playing piano, is all about what YOU want. You create your reality. Every minute of it. If you're already frustrated, you won't get anywhere.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and do what you gotta do, within realistic boundaries.
Or stick to what you're good at, like Fugue's (apparently)
I think large parts of this are flat out wrong or at least highly opinionated. The way it comes across could mislead a beginner.

The OP says he has experience with hymns, not fugues.

Telling someone to get another teacher without giving them any idea as to how you pursue that goal is pointless. Also, it's certainly not just practice. You can practice the wrong things and never improve. And at some level, most people practice more wrong things than right. Most people have no idea about the level to which practice method can be refined, and several are determined to give beginners frankly bs advice such as to keep spending months practicing technical/interpretive skills daily in a mechanical fashion, and that improvement will just come with time since the brain needs time to make mental connections etc. Advice which sounds correct, but isn't. If you are very perceptive and/or have a good teacher, you will often see immediate improvement when you correct certain movements or fingering choices. You will not be doing the same thing for weeks, but will be constantly working on new things within the same thing.

Learning tends to suck and is hard work: it is hard work, but the improvement you see makes it worth it. If you don't experience improvement on a weekly or at least monthly basis, there's plenty of scope for improvement.

I find it hilarious to say simultaneously that being too old to learn something is BS, and saying that you can't get very good. It's also very demoralizing. I've had so many people tell me, sure, you can learn as an adult! Anyone can play etc etc. And once they all hype you up, they add... but you know, you're still an adult, so don't expect to progress much beyond Fur Elise. I don't think it's true in general and it certainly hasn't held true in my case, so here's a warning from my side to the OP that they will come across these arguments over and over, and that most of them don't know what they're talking about. Sorry for being so direct, but I feel it's needed in this case. However, you need to be extremely perceptive and a great teacher who actually knows to consciously teach technique (such as Denis Zhdanov for example), and those are quite rare to find. Now, of course, very good is subjective, and if you mean playing like Yuja Wang it's likely impossible. There are layers upon layers of refinement in that level of playing and 99.9% of pianists won't get near that level. However, the reason isn't simply age in that case, it also has to do with talent. You don't go to a random 6-year old kid and promise them that they'll reach the Olympics, simply because age is on their side. It's pretty much the same thing with concert-level piano playing.

As for playing for 3 hours giving someone pain, unless they are at a point where sitting for that duration itself gives you pain, it's very likely a technical issue. Look at Argerich playing at 80, she seems just fine. There's no reason why a healthy adult in their 40s and 50s should experience pain if they have optimal technique. If you argue that you aren't relaxed enough, then no [censored] you're going to experience pain even if you're in your 20s.

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Generally, we all think too small.

If you've not read about the 2 worlds, the spiritual world and the material world, you should. Here is a teaser for you ... Nothing exists in the material world that did not first exist in the spiritual world ( sub-consciousness ). So like, you didn't get that speed boat in your driveway without imaging having the speedboat first.

If we believe we have already achieved something in our sub-conscience, it will be manifested.

I believe in the continuity of life, so to me it doesn't really matter when you start something.

For myself, it has never been about how good I could become. More about wanting that next piece and experiencing the beautiful ride it has become.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Telling someone to get another teacher without giving them any idea as to how you pursue that goal is pointless.

Also, this advice completely misses the point of the original post. The OP posted before they had their first lesson! And has given an update only about the very first lesson. This is way too early to make any judgment about the teacher.
The OP’s post was ultimately about dealing with the anxiety that comes with playing before others.

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[quote=Greener] . . .
If we believe we have already achieved something in our sub-conscience, it will be manifested. . . .

/quote]

This is very close to the "Prosperity Gospel" -- and IMHO just as wrong. But it's a religious argument (on either side), and I won't have it on this Forum.

Back to piano lessons . . .


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Originally Posted by Greener
. . .
If we believe we have already achieved something in our sub-conscience, it will be manifested. . . .

This is very close to the "Prosperity Gospel" -- and IMHO just as wrong. But it's a religious argument (on either side), and I won't have it on this Forum.

Back to piano lessons . . .


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Of all people Charles, I never would have figured. But the Wagon train keeps rolling and the dogs keep barking.

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