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Joined: Aug 2008
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My teachers made all the selections, otherwise I'd have be stuck in a non-challenging rut of my own making. I also had no choice as far as scales and studies went. I just wish I'd been more serious about practicing during my lesson years.

I am also amazed that some teachers now allow recitals of non-memory work.

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Originally Posted by riley80
My teachers made all the selections, otherwise I'd have be stuck in a non-challenging rut of my own making. I also had no choice as far as scales and studies went. I just wish I'd been more serious about practicing during my lesson years.


Have you ever wondered if you had been (more serious) if you made more decisions yourself? Because I probably would have been. Don't think my personality has changed that much, but I now practice as much as I can as opposed to only practicing when I had to (the day before the lesson) as a kid.

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Originally Posted by SiFi
Originally Posted by Carey
I had my final lessons in 1976 when I started (but subsequently decided not to pursue) doctoral studies. I took a 26 year break (to change careers and earn a living) and started to practice seriously again in 2002 without the guidance of a teacher - because 1) I'm too cheap to pay for lessons, grin and 2) I believe at some point every pianist needs to learn to perfect things on their own. Plus I am primarily playing for my own enjoyment - and only occasionally playing in public (church, etc.). If I want feedback and constructive criticism, I know where to find it......(PW).
Thankfully it seems most of the criticism is constructive.
I completely sympathize, Carey, having followed a more-or-less identical career path. After some modest performance successes as a "youth", and after completing a PhD in Music Theory, I left music to pursue a "real" career as an IT engineer. I thought I'd never want or need a piano lesson again and basically just tried to teach myself the most difficult music I could find - Gaspard, Godowsky arrangements/metamorphoses, miscellaneous Moskovski, some Liszt Transcendentals, Chopin Op. 10/25, stuff like that, usually in fits and starts and with mixed success.
I was a late bloomer when it came to piano, and personally didn't enjoy any modest successes until I was well into my 20s. My lack of early performing experience ultimately caught up with me. After teaching at a small college for a few years, I transitioned into another arts related field (administration) which ultimately was quite rewarding. Just curious - how difficult it was for you to transition from Music Theory to IT ?? smile
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However, despite the cost - which is not trivial at all - and my radical disinclination to pay someone to tell me things I thought I already knew, I enrolled at the Washington Conservatory last year. I was lucky enough to be assigned to an excellent teacher, and would now recommend to anyone who asked that they do the same - though without implicitly criticizing different choices because we all seek different things.
Good to know it worked well for you. Obviously you're doing quite well. thumb
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One thing I'm particularly grateful for, in addition to learning that all my pounding away while trying to master virtuoso war horses had spoiled my sensitivity to line, counterpoint, and interpretive subtlety, was rediscovering the absolute joy of playing masterpieces that are not technically difficult and which I would never have thought to even sight-read through had my teacher not recommended them as a kind of "remedial therapy": Mozart Rondo K. 511, Haydn F minor Variations, Beethoven late Bagatelles. This has been genuinely therapeutic, both technically (difficulty != lots of notes) and, much more important, spiritually.
That was my goal as well after my 26 year hiatus. I sought to fill the gaps in my own background by selecting easier repertoire that I probably should have been exposed to as a youth - and try to play it to the best of my ability. But, I've also been able to learn several difficult works that I'd always wanted to tackle but never had the opportunity. It's been fun !!!!
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I still go rogue on a regular basis and mess with music that I'd never play for my teacher, but at least now, when I do that, I actually listen to myself in a way that I never used to. Maybe I've just been extremely lucky in finding someone who I click with - though we did not hit it off at all initially! But going this route is one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. Having said which, I do have a specific agenda, which made the decision more significant, and choosing to stay "unattached" is not something I would ever denigrate; how could I? Plus, I am sure, Carey, that you have never developed the kind of bad habits that I did during my extended sabbatical.
The funny thing about bad habits is that you usually don't know you have them. grin


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As a younger student, I always had extra music books lying around that I would read through, but I don't think I ever started suggesting pieces to play until I went to university. I remember asking to play Chopin's first ballade, which I had found in one of my books. My teacher reluctantly said yes, and then probably regretted that every lesson following. I'm not sure what I would have done if there was internet. The internet does tend to make people lazy and not think for themselves anymore.

After I returned to university for piano studies, I used PW as an additional source for discovering different music, asking for suggestions on what to play and feedback on my proposed recital programs. Most of my solo recital rep was a combination of pieces I selected myself, followed by suggestions from my professor, and some suggestions from here.

I have one funny story about card catalogs. A couple years ago I was in the music library waiting for my computer to log in and programs to start up. While I was waiting, a professor walked over to the card catalog (it was still there!), opened it, and had found what he was looking for before I had even started my search.


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Originally Posted by Arghhh
I have one funny story about card catalogs. A couple years ago I was in the music library waiting for my computer to log in and programs to start up. While I was waiting, a professor walked over to the card catalog (it was still there!), opened it, and had found what he was looking for before I had even started my search.
Love it !! thumb


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I have a terrible habit of sitting and spending hours just reading through repertoire. It doesn't often matter if the whole piece is over my head; If I like a phrase or a motif I will get the music and play it.

Only sometimes does it derail me from the things I'm actually assigned. I try not to tell my teacher but then I want to share it and usually she's the one that would totally get it so I end up sending her a recording or some such thing but of course that means I'm tacitly admitting I didn't practice what was assigned. Bit of a double-edged sword.

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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
I have a terrible habit of sitting and spending hours just reading through repertoire. It doesn't often matter if the whole piece is over my head; If I like a phrase or a motif I will get the music and play it.

Only sometimes does it derail me from the things I'm actually assigned. I try not to tell my teacher but then I want to share it and usually she's the one that would totally get it so I end up sending her a recording or some such thing but of course that means I'm tacitly admitting I didn't practice what was assigned. Bit of a double-edged sword.

For admitting that you didn't practice what was assigned, I think either Saturday detention or syncopated spanking would be the appropriate punishment.

Let me say, I like your first paragraph a hundred times more than your second. Play it all before the world ends! smile


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My guess is people asking on here about pieces probably know deep down they are a bit out of reach currently and are mainly just looking for some encouragement to give it a bash ;-)

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