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It is rare for non-beginners (but also not or not yet professionals) to initiate a post in this forum.

- Where is your destination?
- Where are you at in your journey?
- How do you plan to get there?

I'm really interested to hear your story because I have no idea where I am going. All I know are the pieces I want to learn or revisit next, go to lessons, practise, then move on to the next piece. After abandoning the idea of taking further exams, my piano life has been rather aimless. I still want to be a much better pianist than I am now but that aim is rather general and doesn't give any sense of direction.

I'm hoping that by reading your stories, I might identify/relate to some of them and perhaps get some clearer direction for myself.

Thanks in advance for sharing.


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When I sit at the piano, for however many minutes or hours I desire that day, I am there on to create music that I may enjoy or that my wife enjoys. I have no goals. I have some music in my mind that I hear, which may be my own, or inspired by notes on a music sheet or YouTube video, and I seek to create that music through my piano. The music in my mind changes over time, even with the simplest piece, and thus the music I create is always changing, and I enjoy it all.

I have been practicing and studying for about 1.5 years, on my own, with no established goals other than to create music. My friends and my wife love the simple pieces I play and replay as I develop my skills. No pressure. No time schedule. No teachers. No goals. Just me, my piano, my music. It is quite joyful.

Recently my best friend, who was visiting from the Czech Republic and my age, was listening to me and was inspired to take up piano in his retirement. I was glad that I was able to help him find something new to enjoy in his life.

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I resumed piano lessons almost 3 years ago, and I've been actually savoring the freedom--no exams (I took them for 8 years as a child in the Soviet "musical school" system), working with my amazing teacher and choosing the pieces I actually want to play (and/or those she recommends), discovering new composers, etc., etc.. I also started playing duets, which I never did before, and enjoyed this a lot. My goal is also to become a better pianist (and I can already see I've grown a lot over these 3 years), but also to develop and maintain a repertory, to overcome my performance anxiety (or at least to get better at playing for people). I hope to improve my technique in the process, too (I don't know if you saw my comment on your Mozart 331, Tubbie--I was blown away by your performance; I had tackled this piece but the technical aspect presented some difficulties to me, especially in the last variation). But I think I enjoy the process itself the most, more so than setting and achieving specific goals. Learning new pieces gives me that sense of destination--learning one, moving to another, trying different styles, etc. I don't have a big overarching goal other than those listed above.

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As far as I'm concerned, the moment I no longer consider myself a beginner is the moment I cease to make progress at the piano. At the bare minimum, I'm a beginner with respect to each new piece I start. I've been playing piano for over 30 years (and teaching for nearly 20), but some pieces and composers still make me feel as if I can barely play middle C.

Quote

- Where is your destination?


I have set the following goals for myself, which I consider imminently achievable with enough time and hard work:

  • Earn a DipABRSM diploma
  • Learn ALL of Bach's 48 to a reasonable standard, perfecting a few for exam use or performance
  • Learn ALL of Beethoven's piano sonatas except for Op. 106 to the same reasonable standard, perfecting a few for exam use or performance
  • Learn ALL of Chopin's etudes to a reasonable standard, perfecting a few for exam use or performance


Furthermore, I have set the following stretch goals:

  • Earn an LRSM diploma if my arthritic hands will let me
  • Earn an FRSM diploma if my arthritic hands and aging, addled brain will let me
  • Learn the rest of Bach's keyboard music (suites, partitas, tocattas, Goldbergs, Zoidbergs, etc.) to a reasonable standard
  • Learn ALL of Mozart's piano sonatas to a reasonable standard
  • Learn ALL of Haydn's piano sonatas to a reasonable standard
  • Learn Beethoven's sonata Op. 106 to the point where I wouldn't be embarrassed to play it in front of the cats
  • Quit my day job and teach full time (that'll be the day!)


I figure this should keep me busy for the next hundred years or so.

Quote

- Where are you at in your journey?


  • I have taken and passed the ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory exam (prerequisite for higher grades of practical).
  • I am taking the ABRSM Grade 5 Practical exam tomorrow.
  • I have mostly learned the pieces for the Grade 7 and Grade 8 practical exams; I just have to catch up with the scales (fortunately I have six months and a year, respectively).
  • I have put together a tentative recital program for the DipABRSM.
  • I am doing a prelude and fugue from the 48 for Grade 8, and another for the DipABRSM. I can sight-read many of the others (but haven't spent too much time on it).
  • I did Beethoven Op. 49 No. 2 as a recital piece as a child. As an adult, I have worked up Op. 49 No. 1 and Op. 79 to the aforementioned reasonable standard. I am currently working on Op 14 No. 1 (one movement will be for Grade 8, and I may do the whole sonata for DipABRSM). I have sight-read through Op. 2, Op. 7, Op. 10, Op. 13 (I love that fiery first movement; I may switch to Op. 13 for the DipABRSM), and Op. 14 No. 2.
  • I have started working on two of Chopin's Trois Nouvelles Etudes for the DipABRSM. I can play them SLOWLY.


Quote

- How do you plan to get there?


  • Hard work
  • The guidance of a teacher or coach with more experience than I
  • Hard work
  • Hard work
  • Hard work


Last edited by Dr. Rogers; 05/25/18 08:09 AM. Reason: Correct list of sight-read Beethoven sonatas

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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
As far as I'm concerned, the moment I no longer consider myself a beginner is the moment I cease to make progress at the piano. At the bare minimum, I'm a beginner with respect to each new piece I start. I've been playing piano for over 30 years (and teaching for nearly 20), but some pieces and composers still make me feel as if I can barely play middle C.

Quote

- Where is your destination?


I have set the following goals for myself, which I consider imminently achievable with enough time and hard work:

  • Earn a DipABRSM diploma
  • Learn ALL of Bach's 48 to a reasonable standard, perfecting a few for exam use or performance
  • Learn ALL of Beethoven's piano sonatas except for Op. 106 to the same reasonable standard, perfecting a few for exam use or performance
  • Learn ALL of Chopin's etudes to a reasonable standard, perfecting a few for exam use or performance


Furthermore, I have set the following stretch goals:

  • Earn an LRSM diploma if my arthritic hands will let me
  • Earn an FRSM diploma if my arthritic hands and aging, addled brain will let me
  • Learn the rest of Bach's keyboard music (suites, partitas, tocattas, Goldbergs, Zoidbergs, etc.) to a reasonable standard
  • Learn ALL of Mozart's piano sonatas to a reasonable standard
  • Learn ALL of Haydn's piano sonatas to a reasonable standard
  • Learn Beethoven's sonata Op. 106 to the point where I wouldn't be embarrassed to play it in front of the cats
  • Quit my day job and teach full time (that'll be the day!)


I figure this should keep me busy for the next hundred years or so.

Quote

- Where are you at in your journey?


  • I have taken and passed the ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory exam (prerequisite for higher grades of practical).
  • I am taking the ABRSM Grade 5 Practical exam tomorrow.
  • I have mostly learned the pieces for the Grade 7 and Grade 8 practical exams; I just have to catch up with the scales (fortunately I have six months and a year, respectively).
  • I have put together a tentative recital program for the DipABRSM.
  • I am doing a prelude and fugue from the 48 for Grade 8, and another for the DipABRSM. I can sight-read many of the others (but haven't spent too much time on it).
  • I did Beethoven Op. 49 No. 2 as a recital piece as a child. As an adult, I have worked up Op. 49 No. 1 and Op. 79 to the aforementioned reasonable standard. I am currently working on Op 14 No. 1 (one movement will be for Grade 8, and I may do the whole sonata for DipABRSM). I have sight-read through Op. 2, Op. 7, Op. 10, Op. 13 (I love that fiery first movement; I may switch to Op. 13 for the DipABRSM), and Op. 14 No. 2.
  • I have started working on two of Chopin's Trois Nouvelles Etudes for the DipABRSM. I can play them SLOWLY.


Quote

- How do you plan to get there?


  • Hard work
  • The guidance of a teacher or coach with more experience than I
  • Hard work
  • Hard work
  • Hard work



My hat is off to you. Love your dedication-I truly believe you can achieve these goals!



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Originally Posted by Tubbie0075


- Where is your destination?
- Where are you at in your journey?
- How do you plan to get there?



I have no real stated destination. The reason I began to play piano are two-fold. First, I love music, always have. Second, I began this program for cognitive training (#dementiaprevention). It's well studied that learning a new skill, especially a language or an art, uses parts of the brain that may not have been accessed previously, and can help keep us cognitively healthy / sharp for a longer time. This is one aspect of my cognitive regimen, the others being active exercise (via tennis among other things) and a very healthy diet.

I feel I've come a long way in a short time; I'm playing music I never thought I'd be able to play; in fact music I had never even heard of before I began this journey. I'd say I'm halfway towards my ultimate goal in terms of skill. If the next five years bring as many advances as the previous five have, I'll be quite content in terms of accomplishment and from there just continue to enjoy playing and learn new music.

I plan on getting there by continuing to play nearly every day, by adding new pieces of varying styles and levels (grades 6-10 possibly), by studying more theory (just ordered Tonal Harmony by Kostka yesterday), and by continuing to work on certain skills (adding more scales practice, improving cadences, improving comfort with all chords / inversions all over the keyboard, etc), and returning to improvisation when I think my skills are ready.


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I took grade 7 as an adult several years ago. It was the only time I got distinction but I actually really went off the idea of music exams again. I have toyed with it at times but I really like the freedom of not having exams. I didnt really enjoy the process and the outcome, which was a certificate, did not really mean much to me. I don't think you need academic direction with piano. Now often I hear music and I want to play it. Seems to be a more enjoyable way to work and I seem to play to a higher standard now and I have a lot more patience with music. Overall mindset seems to be better.

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I will always consider myself a beginner...... until I strike the last piano key. I do have goals: a bucket list of 'not yet' pieces that I want to be able to play, a bucket list of pieces I can learn ( or can relatively soon learn). My bucket list is over 200 pieces, so this is really an impossible list to complete; it is just music that makes me go 'ah, I want to play that, too). The 'not yet' list means my skills are not advanced enough to play them YET. I want to perform more frequently because sharing music is important to me.

So, I keep working on skill developing: -
- Dedicated practice: I try to always make it focused, but like everyone else, I sometimes indulge in 'let me just pay it from the beginning, because it feels good'
- Weekly lessons, and occasional lessons from other teachers (the cheating is approved by my regular teacher)
- Adult piano camp at least once per year : right now, my only really good chance to perform, as we play for each other every night. I am hunting down piano groups in my area.

Ah, if I could just quit my day-job, I would add more: like taking cello lessons again, increasing the amount of piano practice time, taking jazz piano lessons. Anyone want to share the lottery winnings you have? sigh

Will I feel deprived if I can't meet any of these goals? I no longer try to measure if I am going 'fast enough': it will be what it will be. I love what I am doing... so I keep on, keeping on. It is the joy of making music with my own two hands.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Music has always been a part of my life. I grew up in Wales and the saying goes that welsh people have music in the blood! It was in a very amateur fashion. My parents were not wealthy and we enjoyed being part of the local choirs and amateur operatics and dramatic society. I have three sisters and we all played piano and, something else. We all went to school and local orchestras. There were always several performances of Handel’s Messiah each Xmas - School,Town, and Church choirs - as a chorister or in the orchestra. There were at least two stage musical performances a year and a pantomime with the Ops and Drama crowd. You get the picture!
We followed the Trinity College exams and went through the grades as expected, it was a matter of course. We just had what the local community had to offer as teachers and we pretty much went to all of them over the years as we progressed. I eventually was auditioned by a local celebrity of sorts who had studied in our local capital Cardiff, but never heard any more. I was quite young - maybe 10 yrs old - before going to Grammar School ( High school equivalent in those days) and I think it was a question of finances that I didn’t have lessons with her. I also was sent on a summer music camp for viola when I was about 12/13. I was very intimidated at first but it was an ‘awakening’ to a whole new music world. I went on a field trip to see a big orchestra that was on tour and happened to be performing in a school auditorium fairly close by. It was my first experience of symphony. We didn’t have a record player at home and I had only heard such music in school music lessons. It had an immense effect on me and I was hooked for life. I am still totally mesmerized by live symphony, and any such musical performance.
I have been considered an ‘exceptional’ student though I was totally unaware of that as a kid, or as an adult for that matter. It meant that I was a ‘jack of all trades’ and consequently, especially to myself ‘a master of none’. However, when it came to school subject choices at the higher level at age 16, and then university applications, being that I was a compliant student, I was lead to follow my teachers choices rather than my own. On reflection I can hardly argue that they were bad choices. I have had an exceptional life and done lots of amazing things. But at a significant point in my life I was streamed into sciences, not arts. I held onto my love of music studying it all the way through school. But it was always considered an ‘extra’ subject and subject to (ha ha!) my more serious studies in the biological sciences - taught by the Deputy Head of the school and his wife, who were eager for me to try scholarships. They were delighted by my winning a place in Cambridge, getting my name on the Honours Board.. a real feather in their cap, and of course I came to realize just how significant that was later in life. Back then to me it was just another college. But I had chosen Music, English and Geography as my subject preferences.Such decisions had a life long impact on me and I have always kept music in my life somehow or another.
Now as a retiree, from a professional legal, accounting, teaching, and motherhood filled life, I am a returning piano student. It has been a long struggle to get back on track but worth every moment. I am very ‘solo’ in this passion. My husband, of 48 yrs now - tolerates! But he appreciates that it is my passion and can’t be denied! We go to symphony as often as we can and I take in any other musical events that I can find locally, which aren’t that many. I am doing my bit to increase that, sponsoring concerts, and putting them on at our facility, and running a series of opportunities for local talent to perform.
Piano World has been a wonderful resource and it’s great to know others out there share so many of the trials and tribulations of struggling with those black and white keys. I’ll be no concert pianist but I’ll have a few pieces I am proud to have learned well.
It is incredibly wonderful to find a good teacher but I’d still try on my own but it would be a much harder journey as I might more easily be discouraged.
My goal is simple - I’d like to play more! The path is also simple - keep playing! If music is in your soul then you can not deny it!


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I’m on a pianistic journey that is taking me down a meandering river where I encounter treacherous rapids, rocks, overhanging branches, eddies, and calm pools. Although rivers ultimately empty into the ocean, metaphorically my piano river just keeps going. Destination means a point of arrival and the end, so I guess that would be the moment I die. For that reason, I am trying to avoid destinations.

The way I look at the piano journey is that the repertoire is so vast and filled with magical pieces that I will only learn a fraction of what is out there. My goals are to play with musicality and heart, learn new repertoire, enjoy sharing music with my piano friends, attend piano camp every year, feel more comfortable performing, continue playing duets, try playing chamber music, attend concerts, learn from others.

I don’t know how old you are, Tubbie, but people’s goals and life outlook are very different depending on where you are in your life stage. Good luck. You are very musical and my guess is that your musical journey will be filled with new adventures.



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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
As far as I'm concerned, the moment I no longer consider myself a beginner is the moment I cease to make progress[/b] at the piano.
...
  • I have taken and passed the ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory exam (prerequisite for higher grades of practical).
  • I am taking the ABRSM Grade 5 Practical exam tomorrow.
  • I have mostly learned the pieces for the Grade 7 and Grade 8 practical exams; I just have to catch up with the scales (fortunately I have six months and a year, respectively).
    ...
  • I am doing a prelude and fugue from the 48 for Grade 8, and another for the DipABRSM.


A'ight, hold on a minute.

I recognize the importance of "beginner's mind" and "emptying your cup" and all that. Never think you've arrived, always be striving. That's fine. But if you've passed the ABRSM grade 5 exam(s), if you're doing grade 7 & grade 8 pieces — YOU ARE NOT A "BEGINNER".

Some of us actually ARE beginners. I just started playing this year; in Jan-Feb I was working on "Jingle Bells" from page 30 in Alfred's Adult Book 1. It had harmonic 5ths and 4ths in the left hand, and they were hard. I had to practice a ton to be able to play that passably.

If you're playing Beethoven's piano sonata #19, and calling yourself a beginner, then —what's the right way to say this? — that makes those of us who are grappling with "When The Saints Go Marching In" (Alfred page 45) something less than beginners. "Less than the dust beneath your chariot wheels." I'm sure you didn't intend this, but it's a little insulting.

Or maybe I'm just hyper-sensitive. smile
Anyway, congratulations on your accomplishments as a player!

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I certainly didn't mean to be insulting. frown I would hope that posting my goals and progress would give other people ideas about pieces they could aspire to or goals they could set. The last thing I would want to do would be to disparage any piano student. And regardless of where we are, there will always be pieces that will make us feel like rank beginners (or at least make me feel as if I should go back to Book One). Sometimes I look at pieces like Gaspard de la Nuit and wonder why I even bother...


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It is funny how people define words like "beginner" very differently.

I could not define it by "as long as I'll have something to learn, I'll be a beginner", because we always have something to learn, in all fields! With that definition, even pro are beginners, which is a non-sense to me.

My definition of "beginner" would be something like level 1 to 5 RCM : from the point you don't know how to read music to the point it takes you 8 months to master 5 level 5 pieces.

So with my 27 months of piano playing, as a former musician, I've considered myself a beginner for the first 18 months of so. I would define myself now as an "early intermediate", but I'll be in that definition for some years I think. laugh


But I guess this thread is not about people like me. I'm not considering myself as a beginner, but I'm not sure I would say I'm "no longer a beginner", if that can make any sense, ahahah.


I've recognized myself in some posts here though.
I, too, choose sciences over music. Studies make me leave the musical world for 10 years and diving back into it was a revelation. I don't know how I could have not see that earlier : I was often saying that the best year of my life was my "secondaire 5" (last year in high school) because I was playing 3 hours of music each day at that period. And yet, when I finished university, I didn't go back to music immediately. It took me 4 more years to decide to try a new instrument and wow! I'm wondering how I could have lived without it! (Well, I was still playing a little bit, like 4 times a year...).


I'm happy for now with my exams thing, but it is true that I wonder what will be my goal after that. I hope I'll find another way to share my music by this point. But I have some years ahead, so I don't have to worry about this right now! smile With one exam a year, I'll be done in 2022.


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- Mozart, K545, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
- Pozzoli, E.R. 427, etude no. 6
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At the moment I think I have arrived at something I did not maybe think of my goal as I started but feels like an important achievement now: I have made the piano a natural part of my life. I do not much remember my life without it anymore smile The obsession has mellowed to a more pieceful relationship with the instrument. I do not schedule practice, but I will sit down and study whenever I have time and when I feel like it. Sometimes I still practice because I have to (for lessons or an ABF recital or a piano gathering). But mostly it's just to enjoy my piano, the challenges in the music and to learn something new. Technically I feel secure enough about learning a lot of music without my teacher even though I certainly don't mind the extra help.

When was a beginner I was always worried about missing even a day of practice because it is in my nature to start things and then just gradually get less and less interested and finally quit. I do not worry about that anymore smile I know that even if I have not really had time to practice much this spring I will catch up as soon as my vacation starts. And I also know that the hard earned skills do not disappear in a month or two even if the pieces will.

I do have another goal but I am doubtful whether I will ever make that one: To be able to feel as comfortable with piano playing as I am with singing and even improvise myself out of those bloody memory blurbs...

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This forum probably acts as an Adult Learner Forum, rather than an Adult Beginner Forum, but I guess changing its name would be pretty much impossible by now, even if everybody agreed (which they might not).

The other main pianist forum is... actually I'm not sure what it is. smile

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Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
It is rare for non-beginners (but also not or not yet professionals) to initiate a post in this forum.

- Where is your destination?
- Where are you at in your journey?
- How do you plan to get there?


I don't have a destination, since I think it is all about the journey. I enjoy learning new things and improving my skills. I don't think I will ever get to the point where there is nothing else to learn.

Where am I at now? I restarted about 9 years ago. Started lessons about 8 years ago. When I turned 62 and retired I started back to college for piano performance (crazy, I know). I will be a junior in the fall, and will present my half recital sometime in Aug/Sept. There is another thread here where I report every now and then about my college experience.

How do I plan to get there? Keep moving...

Sam

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I don't think I will ever get to the point where there is nothing else to learn. There is another thread here where I report every now and then about my college experience.

*****How do I plan to get there? Keep moving...*****


I always enjoy your posts Sam.


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Originally Posted by outo
...obsession has mellowed to a more pieceful relationship...


My guess is that this was not intentional, but it's brilliant! A "pieceful relationship" with piano seems to imply that you are playing lots of pieces together. What could be better?!


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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by outo
...obsession has mellowed to a more pieceful relationship...


My guess is that this was not intentional, but it's brilliant! A "pieceful relationship" with piano seems to imply that you are playing lots of pieces together. What could be better?!

Oh my...I guess that happens when one spends too much time on piano forums... grin

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To answer:

I am everywhere and nowhere, at all kinds of levels. When I was a child I was given a piano, a relative's old music which was all sonatinas, so I was playing Clementi, Kuhlau, the full version of Fuer Elise. If you were going by grade levels, (for those beginners looking at that kind of thing) I'd have been at a higher grade back then. Through the sonatinas I absorbed "musical form" --- sonata allegro form, rondo form, modulating to the relative major or the dominant key, "transitioning passages" which to me as a child went "tralalala" until a new key was established - a new note to call Do. There was no name for anything. The "technique" I cobbled together let me express dynamics that I heard and imagined in my head - louder, softer etc. - and I am against advice to go unilaterally from "hear the sound, and your body will do the right thing". It won't, necessarily.

After returning to piano after 35 years of not playing it, I came back to that background. We are patching together things I don't know or don't have, replacing faulty ways of moving, better ways of seeing things or alternate ways, new ways of hearing --- and finding, in what I do instinctively from that background, what real established things may be behind it.

The focus - my preferred focus - is on missing skills, rather than pieces. As a result, you may find me playing a piece considered "beginner", but I may also be working on a Chopin Etude in a particular manner, in order to bring in some technical things I need, rather than in order to impress, or perform, or get it "up to speed". In regard to "beginner" pieces, I may also learn how to make more out of it, through rubato, agogic accents, subtle pedal choices, and that is "advanced".

There is no clear, pre-ordained map. it is both organized and seat-of-the-pants, and organized, and not.

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