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#458043 - 11/26/07 09:36 AM musical talent vs hard work..  
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STEAVEN PAIK Offline
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I have a question to pianists who come in to this forum. Which aspect is more important to be a pianist? Is it musical talent(personal ability) or hard work. For my case, I tried to major piano but I didn't have the "musical talent" and changed my major to musicology. Of course I practiced very hard but I gave up when my fellow students who prepared college piano exams with me were very gifted since it only took them like 1hour of practice, when I had to practice for 10hours. At that point, I gave up and I still don't regret the fact that I gave up to become a professional pianist and make career out of it.
How about you guys? What do you think is more important? Which aspect will you choose if you have a choice? Like the movie Amadeus,will you choose the musical talent like Mozart or a hard working sprit which is like Salieri. Which aspect will you choose if you have a choice?


Steaven paik
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#458044 - 11/26/07 09:48 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Kreisler Offline
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You're inventing an either/or situation where none exists.

The obvious answer is that it takes both, but in my experience, it's the hard work part that people need the most. Put another way, I've seen more wasted talent than wasted work.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#458045 - 11/26/07 09:52 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Monica K. Offline

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Nicely put, Kreisler.

Steven, you may want to check out the Daniel Levitin book called "Your brain on music." He has an entire chapter on the talent vs. effort debate, and he concludes that the vast amount of the variance (about 90%) in performance is accounted for by sheer practice and effort. I think you would find it interesting.


Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica
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#458046 - 11/26/07 09:54 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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sophial Offline
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Kreisler is right. When it comes to getting to the highest levels, there is no substitute for innate talent as well as tons of drive and a strong work ethic. Also, add in luck, good connections, and an ability to tolerate the competitiveness of the professional music world.

Sophia

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#458047 - 11/26/07 09:59 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Gyro Offline
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What I would suggest is that you return to
piano performance as a major. What appears
to have happened is that you've been
a victim of gamesmanship. One of your
fellow students, who may have been jealous
of your ability, told you that he only
practices for "1 hr." Since you practice
for 10, this completely disheartened you
and made you give up piano performance.
You've fallen for the oldest trick in
the book. This student probably practices
more than you do because he has less
ability than you, and he only said this
in order to get rid of you as competition
for him. You must still have your heart
in piano, since you're still in something
closely related to it, musicology. So
why not just get back into piano? Don't
ever listen to anything like this again,
or any kind of criticism about your
playing.

#458048 - 11/26/07 09:59 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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theJourney Offline
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That's right Monica, even the Harvard Business Review is saying it's mostly about hard work and dedication. The 10.000 hour / 10 year rule comes up again and again.

http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/common/item_detail.jhtml;jsessionid=GTWU00NGH5DQSAKRGWDSELQBKE0YIISW?id=R0707J&_requestid=2497
(scroll down for article synopsis)

#458049 - 11/26/07 10:05 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Monica K. Offline

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Lexington, Kentucky
Thanks for that article reference, TheJourney; I'm going to look it up.

The abstract makes the important point that it's not just sheer number of hours of practice but what they term "deliberate practice," where you push yourself beyond your comfort zone and focus on attaining specific skills.

sophial also makes the important point that to reach the highest levels of performance, you need more than effort: talent AND luck AND factors that really shouldn't be relevant but are, like connections in the industry.

Pretty discouraging when you look at it like that, huh? Think I'll stick to my comfort zone... laugh


Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica
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#458050 - 11/26/07 10:09 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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theJourney Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Gyro:
Don't ever listen to anything like this again,
or any kind of criticism about your
playing.
This is yet another contender for the top-10 worst ever advice given on the pianist corner....

I would say rather that playing the piano at a top level requires the guidance of an expert teacher to provide tough, often painful feedback complemented by effective and deliberate practice.

Look at the preparation of someone who is labelled "talented" and you will see -- not someone who can magically play -- but instead the result of hours and hours of practice and being aware and open to critique for improvement from others.

#458051 - 11/26/07 10:17 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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theJourney Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Monica K.:
Thanks for that article reference, TheJourney; I'm going to look it up.

The abstract makes the important point that it's not just sheer number of hours of practice but what they term "deliberate practice," where you push yourself beyond your comfort zone and focus on attaining specific skills.

sophial also makes the important point that to reach the highest levels of performance, you need more than effort: talent AND luck AND factors that really shouldn't be relevant but are, like connections in the industry.

Pretty discouraging when you look at it like that, huh? Think I'll stick to my comfort zone... laugh
It is a great article and came out this last summer. It has really been an eye-opener for me and for my clients to think about whether we are really pushing ourselves or rather coasting in areas we are already good at (polishing shiny surfaces in the practicopia-speak of author Philip Johnston)....

I agree that to reach the highest level of a career as a performing artist that it is all AND, AND, AND. Where LUCK and SERENDIPITY and TIMING and CONNECTIONS are more heavily weighted than any of our egos could stand to realize.

#458052 - 11/26/07 10:25 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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dannylux Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by STEAVEN PAIK:
For my case, I tried to major piano but I didn't have the "musical talent" and changed my major to musicology. Of course I practiced very hard but I gave up when my fellow students who prepared college piano exams with me were very gifted since it only took them like 1hour of practice, when I had to practice for 10hours.
Liszt said that he never practiced less than 11 hours a day.

Do you think he was without talent?

And do you really think that Juilliard students practice only one hour a day?

Nonsense.


Mel


"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. You give because you love and cannot help giving." Katharine Hepburn
#458053 - 11/26/07 11:31 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Varcon Offline
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My teacher told me, when I first went to her, that I had talent but she didn't know if I had the capacity for hard work. She wanted me to quit school and do nothing but work on the piano with real concentration. I would have been willing but my parents were not. However, I did gain quite a bit from her anyway. I practised six to seven hours a day and made good progress.

She told me, also, that she would rather have a student who would work hard than one with talent who wouldn't really work.

Criticism--yes, one needs that very much. She would tell me NOT to listen to friends and family as they will compliment you when it really isn't deserved. You need someone to tell you that your playing is/was awful and help you correct it so that critics and audiences will appreciate your efforts rather than get bad reviews or comments. She advocated a well developed hand and mechanism, complete technical ability, VERY SLOW practice and serious concentration. Talent is undoubtedly an asset but it has to be nurtured, developed, and disciplined to achieve the higher levels to which many aspire.

#458054 - 11/26/07 12:43 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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pianist.ame Offline
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I feel that talent only helps a if the student works hard on their own as well.

Well I graduated and am/have been conertrating only on piano for these 2 years either then getting my theory requirements done.

My teacher said that I do have the talent and yes i does help me but still I have to work as hard as i can.
haha..she gives me the same advice as well but for me she does'nt want me to listen to others because it is always negative in a sense that no matter how well i do others are not pleased, still critisised me and my uncle really wants me to quit music so yeah...


Mastering:Chopin Etudes op.10 nos.8&12 and op.25 no.1, Chopin Scherzo no.4 in E major op.54, Mozart Sonata in B flat major K.333& Khachaturian Toccata
#458055 - 11/26/07 01:03 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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signa Offline
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you must have talent to succeed in the highest level of piano performance, with also hard work. but without the kind of talent, hard working can only take you so far. it's not just in piano, but in other fields as well, performing art especially. that's why they would have all that auditions to filter out some people with talent from others. but of course, talent doesn't gurantee one's success unless one works hard.

#458056 - 11/26/07 01:29 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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pianojerome Offline
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I'm reminded of a quote that my 6th/7th grade orchestra teacher posted in the front of the classroom:


Hard work without talent is a shame.
Talent without hard work is a tragedy.


Sam
#458057 - 11/26/07 01:57 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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STEAVEN PAIK Offline
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Thanks for the responses.. But can hard work can overcome the musical talent? For me I knew I could't and felt myself like blocked by the a great wall and felt like Salieri knowing that I won't able to catch up....How about you guys?
Didn't you ever felt that kind of your own limit?


Steaven paik
#458058 - 11/26/07 02:10 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Gyro Offline
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Well, you were apparently already doing it.
You say you lack great talent and had to
practice 10 hrs. a day in order to make
up for it, and you apparently were doing
okay until you heard someone say something
regarding that and then decided to quit based on
what you heard, which was complete bulls***
and something you shouldn't have even
listened to.

#458059 - 11/26/07 02:12 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Betty Patnude Offline
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The formula is Natural Talent + Acquired Skill + Enough Preparation and Practice!

These are "ingredients" you can't avoid.

When you have done "enough" you will know.

Don't stop before the miracle!

Limits? Blocks?

Whatever your brain thinks will be what happens.
1) No, can do.
2) I'm having trouble with this.
3) I'll never get this.
4) This isn't working.
This is were the cut is made:
5) I'm enjoying meeting this challenge
6) I see, feel, and hear some progress.
7) Let's see what I can accomplish today.
8) I'm doing it!
9) Wow! This is a good workout!
10) Boy, am I happy!

This is of course, assuming that you have the preparation of basic skills needed for the piece you are working on, enjoyment in your music, the right attitude toward work efforts needed, a good brain to work with. No shortage of time.

With encouragement!

Betty

#458060 - 11/26/07 03:57 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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hopinmad Offline
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I hate it when people think hard work is not such a wonder as talent is.
Someone willing to work hard is just as talented as someone with talent (or whatever is defined as that).


Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin
#458061 - 11/26/07 04:06 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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JohnEB Offline
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I agree with everyone who has said that hard work is important. Equally, no amount of hard work can make up for a lack of talent. This simply means that someone with musical talent will always sound better than someone with a lower musical talent, all other things being equal.

But as has also been pointed out, this is a completely false situation. It's not an either/or situation with musical talent - and clearly you have talent if you're majoring in any musical subject. Just 'play to your talents' and do what suits you best - sounds like you are doing this already.


John
#458062 - 11/26/07 06:03 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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LiszThalberg Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by STEAVEN PAIK:
Like the movie Amadeus,will you choose the musical talent like Mozart or a hard working sprit which is like Salieri. Which aspect will you choose if you have a choice?
It was a spectacular play first.
Mozart probably worked very hard (to please his violin playing father) too, but it's true that there was quite a bit of talent in him. Salieri, despite all he did, realized he could never be as great as Mozart. The point of Amadeus is to question whether we are okay living in our own skin and not trying to be someone we're not.

#458063 - 11/26/07 07:06 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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playadom Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
I'm reminded of a quote that my 6th/7th grade orchestra teacher posted in the front of the classroom:


[b]Hard work without talent is a shame.
Talent without hard work is a tragedy.
[/b]
Ok then, I don't fit in there.

What would you call no hard work with no talent?


Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.
#458064 - 11/26/07 07:07 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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pianojerome Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by playadom:
What would you call no hard work with no talent?
"pianojerome"


Sam
#458065 - 11/26/07 07:08 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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playadom Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
Quote
Originally posted by playadom:
[b]What would you call no hard work with no talent?
"pianojerome" [/b]
I'm a shameful tragedy then.


Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.
#458066 - 11/26/07 07:17 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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pianojerome Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by playadom:
Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
[b]
Quote
Originally posted by playadom:
[b]What would you call no hard work with no talent?
"pianojerome" [/b]
I'm a shameful tragedy then. [/b]
laugh

You're doing fine.


Sam
#458067 - 11/27/07 12:42 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Kreisler Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by STEAVEN PAIK:
Thanks for the responses.. But can hard work can overcome the musical talent? For me I knew I could't and felt myself like blocked by the a great wall and felt like Salieri knowing that I won't able to catch up....How about you guys?
Didn't you ever felt that kind of your own limit?
Um...Salieri was a very important, influential, and successful composer in his day. So what if he was a bit envious of Mozart? So am I.

Something about this strikes me a bit like Donald Trump declaring bankruptcy because Bill Gates has more money.

The music world is BIG. There is plenty of room for varying levels of talent. There is less room for those who don't want to work hard. (Although some still make it!)


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#458068 - 11/27/07 01:01 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Tenuto Offline
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Steven Paik - you must follow your passion. If music is your passion then everything will work out. Some people are late bloomers. Maybe you don't feel talented right now but it sounds like you really don't want to give up.

Just because you changed your major doesn't mean you can never play the piano again. Who knows what you will be able to accomplish some day?

#458069 - 11/27/07 03:24 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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theJourney Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
Um...Salieri was a very important, influential, and successful composer in his day. So what if he was a bit envious of Mozart? So am I.

Something about this strikes me a bit like Donald Trump declaring bankruptcy because Bill Gates has more money.

The music world is BIG. There is plenty of room for varying levels of talent. There is less room for those who don't want to work hard. (Although some still make it!)
Another very, very wise statement from Kreisler!

#458070 - 11/27/07 09:33 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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John Pels Offline
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Sophia's post is the most accurate. It depends REALLY on what expectations you have. I have a solid core of friends that majored in piano performance. We spent the 12 hour practice days. We performed concertos with orchestra in college. We studied with big name teachers/recording artists in grad school.

The bottom line is that it is relatively easy to be in the 1% of the population that can throw together a program of difficult classical piano music and perform it to a decent standard. BUT...to be in the .01 percentile, the Andre Watts, Garrick Ohlsson, Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel, Maurizio Pollini gang simply is not going to happen for the college gang.To even have a shot at stardom, assume that you will already have won some contests by the age of twelve and likely appeared with a major symphony halfway through your teen years.

If you are saying that you might want to be a professor at a 4 year college that's another thing, as is some sort of gig at a community college. Otherwise you will likely diversify into some other activities as have many of my friends. I teach privately and got into piano rebuilding as a sideline. My friends have gotten out of music entirely. My wife majored in vocal performance and soloed with the Houston Symphony. She had her name on the marquee with Yo Yo Ma. She is now doing VERY well in Information Systems, though she had no formal training in that field. Sooner or later it is nice to have the trappings of a middle-class existence. A music degree will not guarantee that. I recommend to my more talented students to double major. That way you can continue to progress musically, but you can still end up affording some of the better pianos that are discussed on the "Piano Forum". You have to be practical with yourself. Passion and hard work are wonderful assets, but they won't necessarily buy you a house, car and quality piano at some point in your life.

My music pals and I have discussed this topic ad nauseum and feel that it is REALLY a disservice to keep cranking out kids with music degrees in a field that is really glutted. Generating credit hours is fine, but these days anyway, I think that you really have to ponder how you are spending money vis a vis a college education. I was VERY lucky to have attended college here in Texas at a time when the cost of a credit was $4. Yes, you are reading that correctly. It was four dollars a credit. AND both my wife and myself were awarded scholarships besides, so the total cost was really the room and board thing. We just finished educating our two kids and I believe that the cost was in the neighborhood of $125 per credit hour. The cost per year is near $13K all things considered. This does not even approach the cost at private colleges. This is not chump change and for that investment I think that there should be more of a guaranteed outcome. I would advise everyone to be PRACTICAL as regards music as a career. It's a tough world out there gang!!

#458071 - 11/27/07 09:34 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Arabesque Offline
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I don't believe in talent. But when a child is praised at a young age and discovers something, he or she will go back to it. All of us can harness musicality or other ability if we have the confidence. When we see some guy playing the piano and it is good, we remark he has talent. But he already built up his skills through constant practice and he has already got the attitude to succeed. Furthermore we consolidate that person's success by praising him.

I don't believe anyone sits down at a piano and plays instant performances. You want to justify your decision to drop classical piano because you were insecure. But it all in the mind. You have enough innate ability as anyone else but you yourself made the decision that you didn't have enough talent. And you now confirm your satisfaction with a normal career. That's also O.K. But you know it depends on your inner conviction about who you really are.


It don't mean a ting if it don't have dat swing
#458072 - 11/27/07 11:17 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..  
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Varcon Offline
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John Pels is right about many aspiring vocal/piano/instrumental majors who hope to be the sought after artists for big engagements and venues need to re-think that. Do have a 'back-up plan' as the successful ones are very few and the others are left trying to find something that will support them and families.

If the object is to teach in public schools or colleges and the prospect is good for that, then a degree(s) is necessary. Margolies once remarked that 'the woods are full of them' meaning aspiring and competent pianists but without real hope of a musical career. Teaching privately in a good location can be rewarding but suffers the whims of interest and trends.

A double major, with the second one being something practical and with earning power, is a great suggestion.

I double majored in English so taught that in a junior college until moving to a university. Playing for services was an additional income source and some do go into piano tuning/repair which is also good income!

This is off the topic of talent and hard work but still pertinent to those who might spend long hours practising only to find that success and the limelight eludes them.

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