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Stubbie, I've seen that before, but thank you for sharing it here! I love, love, love the message!!!


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I started at 40. As long as I am happy with what I hear, then it’s good enough for me. I don’t have plans to become good enough to perform in concerts/recitals. I would say that you set a goal for yourself, then work towards getting there. Don’t worry about your age.


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Did I miss it, or has the OP not posted since starting this thread?

stevealex, are you still reading? What are your thoughts after everyone's comments?


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Oh yes, I am still reading! I am very much appreciating everyone's input and I will respond comprehensively soon. This has been very illuminating even though I didn't get what I *thought* I needed.

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Originally Posted by stevealex
I am very much appreciating everyone's input

Oh good!

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This has been very illuminating even though I didn't get what I *thought* I needed.

Isn't that always the way!! grin


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65 years old, started 3 months ago. I noted in the obituary of the great Leon Fleischer that he ruined his hand (focal dystonia) because he was practicing 8 hours a day for years to keep his skills sharp, but also because there was so much still to learn & master. If he felt that way given his level & special gifts, what does that say for us normal schlubs? It means there will *always* be a skill level that we want to be at, but haven't attained: Piano is an endless pursuit.

For me, it helps to remember where I used to be, to keep in mind how far I've come. I'm resigned to the feeling of always stumbling through a piece. It will be like that for the rest of my piano life. So it's very gratifying to revisit a piece from previous times to enjoy how much easier it seems now. Recording helps too so you can hear your progress. Plateaus are normal. Patience, practice, perseverance are what it's all about.

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Originally Posted by David B
I started playing 4 years ago (just turned 47 last week) with no prior piano experience. I played drums and acoustic guitar growing up so that gave me some exposure to timing and rhythm.

I've often wondered how much I can progress as an adult with this instrument. My goal is to play praise and gospel music (I like classical, but just not interested in playing it). I finished a Piano Course by Duane Shinn (52 Week Crash Course) and I'm in the process of taking his Praise and Gospel Course. I've never taken any lessons beyond these self-paced video courses.

I'm happy with the progress I've been seeing (I try to practice 1 - 2 hours a day). However, I realize that nothing is going to come easy because my brain/body had no prior experience with piano. I also realize that I will never be able to achieve a level of proficiency with the instrument that would have been possible if I had started when I was younger. I've accepted those realities and I'm happy with what is possible at this time. The enjoyment I receive from playing and the potential to improve is what keeps me motivated. Also, playing music that I love (that's important) keeps me motivated.

Here are a couple songs from Duane's Praise and Gospel Course that I recently recorded.



God Bless,
David
It's very nice, David, thank you.

And this I think is particularly important:
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The enjoyment I receive from playing and the potential to improve is what keeps me motivated. Also, playing music that I love (that's important) keeps me motivated.

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Playing music is all about passion and finding your inner self. It's not about the number of years you have been playing / taking lessons or the technical pieces you mastered.

Many people including myself took music lessons as a child. Parents wanted kids to have some extracurricular activities and got them enrolled in a music program or with a private teacher. As a child, we don't have a lot of experience in life and don't know the different styles of music we want to get into except follow the advice of a teacher. Many kids hated music and drop out early. Later in life some of us decided to take up playing an instrument again.

Coming from a non-musical family I never feel the need to compare myself to anybody. Many people around me took music lessons but don't like to admit that they play piano or another instrument. They don't want to be embarrassed when asked to play something at a social gathering. I don't have a big repertoire but I can walk up to a public piano and play a few tunes. In my family there are a lot of family traditions we follow and music is not 1 of them. Playing music I can be myself and not have to conform to other's expectations.

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Originally Posted by David B
Here are a couple songs from Duane's Praise and Gospel Course that I recently recorded.

Your version of Amazing Grace really hits the spot for me - and I left a comment on your YouTube channel. Beautiful playing, gorgeous sound.

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ShiroKuro, your playing is absolutely beautiful. Thank you.  And yes, you started as a "youngster", but 30 is not 8 or even 20, so I do think your progress, particularly your experience of coming back to pieces that were too hard for you earlier and finding success applies to my concerns. Also it's good to hear you've encountered evidence of this in your studies of human learning. I'd be curious to read myself if you have any particular sources to share.

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Sam, your experience really puts the nail in the "you can't learn piano as an older adult" coffin. Amazing story, what an inspiration.  But I need to see that recital!!! I couldn't find it on your school FB page. Is it available online somewhere?

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Everyone's input has been tremendously helpful.  Everyone is right that I should just enjoy the journey, that I will continue to progress, and that I shouldn't compare myself to other players. I really needed those reminders because I was worried there was more to it than "piano is hard." And I just happen to have "advanced age" to falsely blame it on. For example, I can't trill to save my life. But that's not my age. And that doesn't mean I'll be able to trill well eventually (although hopefully it will come). Maybe that's just me, and I need to be ok with that because I love to play and that's not everything. Hearing this point of view was necessary and helpful.

And I'm definitely very happy with the progress I have made. I couldn't imagine playing my current pieces 3 years ago-- although to be clear, it's the fugue in C *minor* not major (big difference!)

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Originally Posted by JB_PW
I'm 43 and I started playing again about 2 1/2 years ago. I took lessons for a few years as a kid but then barely touched my piano for over 20 years.

Yes, my progress has seemed slow and it's not linear...but it's steady. Like Shiro said, I will also revisit pieces that were too hard for me and 6 months to a year later they are much easier. I've been working on Bach Inventions for 2 years now. I was able to play through all 3 pages of my current one (at a slow but reasonable tempo) within about 8 days of playing time. The first year I was spending that much time (or more) on a single page.

My teacher has told me on several occasions that my so-called limitations are more mental than anything else. I think "I'll never be able to play that fast" and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes (for me) it just takes attacking something from multiple different angles, forcing myself to be patient, and not being too hard on myself for not improving as fast as I'd like. That part of my journey will be an ongoing struggle I predict!

This is exactly what I was hoping to hear, thank. you. I may or may not be able to play any of Bach's Inventions within 8 days (the latter for sure) but it's not because i'm over 40.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Have you been working only on those two pieces, other than your technical exercises, for the last 6 months? If so, they may be somewhat too difficult for you at this point and maybe that's part of the source of your frustration. Do you feel you can work on those pieces that long without losing interest? Have you discussed your concerns about what you feel is lack of progress with your teacher? About how long do you practice each day and what part of the time is devoted to repertoire?

To be clear i'm not really frustrated with my progress, I was really more concerned about my future. And everyone's comments really helped. It doesn't bother me that I've worked on these pieces so long because I have (slow) steady progress and I love that. I practice 15-90 minutes depending on. the day and most of that is repertoire. Perhaps 5-10 minutes is Hanon/scales and another 10 may be Clementi preludes. Clearly my practice could be much more efficient and I'm in the process of reading through the forums for lots of information about that.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by stevealex
I'm looking for some encouragement from other "older adult" learners. I started playing at 40, which is 4 years ago. I've seen a lot of progress and I'm so glad I started: playing piano is very important to me now. But I also feel like my progress has been relatively slow and I wonder if I'm hitting a wall or going to hit a wall that the plasticity of my brain just won't allow me to get past. Some day I'd love to be able to play things like the easier Beethoven sonatas. If that's in 10 more years, that's fine, but i want to know it's possible.
I started learning piano at ten, so why am I in this thread at all? smirk

Because of the line I highlighted in your post: I didn't attempt Rondo alla turca after four years of lessons (I certainly couldn't have played it properly then) - it was another two years before I played it, and I certainly never attempted any Bach P&F until my seventh year.

After ten years into lessons, I was playing the Pathétique, Appassionata and Waldstein - properly.

What I'm saying is: like most adults, you're expecting far too much too soon, and discouraging yourself based on what you perceive as "slow progress", which in reality is faster than most kids' (normal kids that is): the average student would be playing the Mozart & Bach after seven years of lessons, not four. You should be congratulating yourself on your remarkable progress.


This entire response is pure gold. You're so right. Thank you for sharing your experience and for the encouragement.

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
If you are good at sports you will probably have no problems at the piano.


<Collar tug>

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Originally Posted by David B
I started playing 4 years ago (just turned 47 last week) with no prior piano experience. I played drums and acoustic guitar growing up so that gave me some exposure to timing and rhythm.

I've often wondered how much I can progress as an adult with this instrument. My goal is to play praise and gospel music (I like classical, but just not interested in playing it). I finished a Piano Course by Duane Shinn (52 Week Crash Course) and I'm in the process of taking his Praise and Gospel Course. I've never taken any lessons beyond these self-paced video courses.

I'm happy with the progress I've been seeing (I try to practice 1 - 2 hours a day). However, I realize that nothing is going to come easy because my brain/body had no prior experience with piano. I also realize that I will never be able to achieve a level of proficiency with the instrument that would have been possible if I had started when I was younger. I've accepted those realities and I'm happy with what is possible at this time. The enjoyment I receive from playing and the potential to improve is what keeps me motivated. Also, playing music that I love (that's important) keeps me motivated.

Here are a couple songs from Duane's Praise and Gospel Course that I recently recorded.



God Bless,
David

Gorgeous. Thank you, David.

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Originally Posted by JimF
IMO, the big breakthrough in learning to play comes when we finally put aside all the self talk about levels, progress and comparisons to others. For me, that point didn't come until I realized that there really isn't anything you can do to speed up the process of becoming a better player..... its going to take however long it takes....and then its still going to take however long it takes to progress from that point..... etc...ad infinitum. It never stops. There is no "there" to get to. Relax. Enjoy the present. You'll get where you're going when you get there. Your path is yours. Nothing else matters.

You may be amazed at how good it feels to remove the burden of self-doubt.

Great advice, thank you.

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Like many others, I took lessons as a child and while I loved being able to play the piano, I hated practicing when I could be watching TV or playing video games. So after many arguments with my parents, I stopped around middle school.

Now as an 30 something adult, I'm much more open to the idea of simply enjoying a piano. I think part of that is simply because I would be practicing for my own personal interest rather than to meet someone else's expectations. Piano now would be like picking up a new hobby rather than homework. So I don't really care too much about the future. The whole point for me to play piano is to enjoy it as a hobby, not out of any pressure to be at a certain skill level within a certain amount of time. If/when I get to a point where I'm no longer making enough progress to enjoy practicing more difficult pieces, I can still just enjoy the pieces I can play within my skill level.

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Originally Posted by stevealex
ShiroKuro, your playing is absolutely beautiful.

You're kind to say that! smile

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it's good to hear you've encountered evidence of this in your studies of human learning. I'd be curious to read myself if you have any particular sources to share.

I can't give you an off the top of my head recommendation... just more that I've been reading both academic and "popular press" articles on learning and neural plasticity etc. whenever I come across them (I did a lot more reading on these topics during graduate school, now my reading tends to be more narrowly focused unfortunately). But basically, there's a lot more hope for "teaching old dogs new tricks" than people realize. smile


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