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I really appreciate everyone’s responses, they help me put things in perspective, and open new doors. I am glad that I stumbled across this forum.

@earlofmar: I suspected BWV 919 might be a stretch, but I liked it so much that I thought I would give it a try. The ’10 years is an apprenticeship’ comment resonates with me!

@benevis: sorry if I misled you, I pasted a link to one of the scores I was able to find for BWV 919, but I am not playing this one, rather the “normal” one. I do scale and arpeggios, maybe 5mn a day, this may need more time?

@KevinM: this is an insightful point, and I can somehow relate to it. My 17 y.o. nephew who has been playing for about 10 years can play K545-1 and said he had zero issue with the speed side of it, but when I shared the Bon Iver score he did not find it this easy with the off-beats

@malkin: I am not in a hurry and I think I see your point (perhaps) about the journey being more important than the destination. My feeling was that taking six months to master a piece, hence learning two pieces a year, was a bit frustrating. It boils down to the difficulty of the Bach and Mozart pieces in the end, as others have also said I should probably pick easier ones for more enjoyable and efficient progress

@Fidel: :-), if and when I retire I may be able to put in more hours, at least certainly the aspiration is there!

@ebonyk: thank you so much for your support, and for the syllabus as well. This is all well noted, the gradual notion in particular

@thepianoplayer416: great link, makes a lot of sense and the guy shows contagious enthusiasm, thanks!

@EinLudov: thanks for the tips, I will definitely check them out

@CharlesXX: I will look at Haydn’s #31 and the other musicians, thank you. I like playing slow pieces but would like to be able to play faster ones also. I am happy overall with my practice and enjoy playing, but felt I that perhaps I was doing something wrong not being able to learn those pieces to a good point. It looks like these are maybe just too hard for now, patience and practice (especially of technique) are in order :-)

@Iaroslav Vasiliev: thank you very much for the exercise

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Originally Posted by Lecoff
@earlofmar: I suspected BWV 919 might be a stretch, but I liked it so much that I thought I would give it a try. The ’10 years is an apprenticeship’ comment resonates with me!

I used to be very poor at judging my ability and selected stretch pieces way to hard for me. I think a valuable lesson to to learn is to selected pieces just right for your progress.


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grin grin....well, take BWV 918.....may be better..... grin
Bach, BWV 918

Have a nice day.....kind regards,
Johan B


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So if working on hard pieces for a long time is frustrating, why not work on some easier pieces?
You could have one of each going at a time or you could bail on the hard pieces altogether if you want.


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Originally Posted by malkin
So if working on hard pieces for a long time is frustrating, why not work on some easier pieces?
You could have one of each going at a time or you could bail on the hard pieces altogether if you want.

That is what I think. And do! smile

I also agree with Lisa (Ebonyk). Try to add fifteen minutes of practice time every day. Personally, when practising on days when I don't have much time, I always use my time to practise my pieces and no scales or technique, in order to prevent memory decay on these pieces. Scales don't deteriorate particularly when you skip them one day.


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Yeah- I have harder and easy pieces. I think if it’s difficult pieces all the time it can become soul destroying.

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IMHO you should be able to play fast after 5 years.

My first guess is that you are buying into the "practice slow." hype.

If you only practice slow, all you learn is playing slow.


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BTW slow practice has its use, but you need to know how and when to use it

Last edited by wouter79; 04/06/21 06:12 AM.

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Originally Posted by Wayne2467
Yeah- I have harder and easy pieces. I think if it’s difficult pieces all the time it can become soul destroying.
YES!!! I switched to choosing 3 pieces: easy/my level/harder and it’s made a huge difference in my motivation. 😊👍


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When I was a student, I used to have several pieces on the go at any one time: my level/slightly harder (mostly given to me by my teacher), hard and 'impossible'.

The hard ones could be managed very slowly but took another year or two to sound OK; the impossible ones were years beyond my grasp (but as a kid, one year is the same as the next, except that the ground looks further away), so once I'd determined that they really were impossible, I left them and returned to have another go every three to six months. In every case, the impossible became possible, when enough years had passed - anything from two to eight years.

Patience is key, as is learning everything the right way.......


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Originally Posted by Animisha
....I also agree with Lisa (Ebonyk). Try to add fifteen minutes of practice time every day. Personally, when practising on days when I don't have much time, I always use my time to practise my pieces and no scales or technique, in order to prevent memory decay on these pieces. Scales don't deteriorate particularly when you skip them one day.
I third this.

The time to learn a piece can get longer as you progress from beginner to intermediate, providing you are learning longer and more complex pieces. As for playing speed, that's a higher level skill that takes time to internalize and be able to call it up on demand.


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I think you are doing great for five years. I could not even play Fur Elise until 7th year as a child. Mozart K545 will get easier over time. As Bennevis mentioned constant practice of scales and arpeggios should help.

I came back to piano after 20 years break since I stopped piano at the 7th year as a child. I quit again in about 3 years. I got a job and was also impatient. K545 was one of the pieces frustrated me as well.

Then I returned to piano again in 2008 after another 10 plus years. I have not looked back since. I realized that I cannot give up music in spite of my clear lack f talent. Anyway, K545 became suddenly easier about 5 years ago. At that time I was no longer infatuated with the piece any more. This is just as an example.
How long it takes for an average non-talented amateur pianist to develop skills. I think you are very talented and hard worker. Keep up with the good work. I believe the tenth year is a good mark for any one. That’s when things suddenly get easier. Be patient.

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Thanks all!

@Johan B: thanks for the tip!

@malin: yes, that’s the useful feedback I got here. There was an underlying question to my post, which was whether it was sort of expected that BWV919 and K545-1 at speed would be hard after 5 years. I was looking to understand if my practice and training were not optimal. It looks like these are not easy pieces.

@Animisha: I will try to squeeze in a bit more time, this forum’s support may help with the motivation smile

@Wayne2467: it is more or less what happened I think, the 6 months of Bach were a bit draining !

@wouter79: interesting point of view! So speed is not necessarily out of reach for middle age starters?

@FarmGirl: thanks! I actually think I am not very talented (my touch is notably poor, and my ear is very poor), but I do enjoy playing/learning very much for some reason, and despite the lack of affinity I would like to keep going. I think I read once that it was useful to do something in life that you are not good at, I was not sure why somebody would say this but upon second thought perhaps it keeps us humble and sharpens our tenacity :-)

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Originally Posted by Lecoff
@wouter79: interesting point of view! So speed is not necessarily out of reach for middle age starters?

I hope I never gave the impression that speed is out of reach, I just think it will take longer to gain speed than your younger self would have gained making similar effort. On the other side your life experience should have hopefully taught you some problem solving skills that children won't have which will allow you to make progress faster in other ways.

I believe I'll get the speed I need to play the pieces I want, and that you will too. It just takes discipline and patience.

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Hi, Lecoff! Welcome to our forum!

I think you should consider initiating a conversation with your teacher about your dissatisfaction with your inability to play at greater speed. 5 years is not a long time at piano, yet, 5 years is a long time at piano, especially with a teacher helping you. From my perspective, there is a possibility that your teacher is underserving you in the area of speed.

I would express your disappointment with your inability to play at greater speed, and ask the teacher how you can achieve better playing speed. If he/she has a plan for you, maybe the plan will be explained to you and you can decide whether you think it appropriate. If no such plan has been formulated, perhaps the conversation will stimulate the development of such a plan. If, for some reason, your teacher is uncomfortable addressing your playing speed, that may become apparent in the response you get. In any event, you will be better off than in your current state of not knowing.

I am in my sixth year of piano, self taught, a faithful 20 hour/week practicer, and have suffered all the usual pitfalls that accompany proceeding without the guidance of a teacher. I worked my way through RCM levels 1,2, and into 3, making some nice progress and nice music along the way. However, it was not until level 3 that I encountered speed requirements that were sufficiently elevated to expose the deficiencies in my technique. Specifically, the Clementi Op. 36 No.1 Sonatina demanded more speed than my defective technique could deliver, and revealed to me the next frontier I needed to cross.

Slow pieces can mask deficiencies in technique and relaxation. I was able to play everything up to the Clementi, despite having poor technique. I wonder if you are experiencing the same thing. You can nicely play slow pieces, but, when precision is demanded at speed, your technique cannot deliver.

For me, I discovered that I was leaving far too much weight of the arm and hands on my fingertips. I tended to “run”, using my fingers, from one key to the next, with the most recently played finger propelling my hand to the next key. All this weight on the fingers was killing my ability to move at the speeds called for. Yet, all the slow repertoire I had played had not revealed this weakness.

Simply increasing your practice hours, without having proper technique, will not likely get you to your goal. You may have weaknesses in your technique that prohibit you from playing at greater speeds. I encourage you to express your concern to your teacher and see what the teacher proposes as a plan to increase your speed.


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For me at the moment- some of my more difficult pieces are “arietta” - “petit jeu” and “ chanson de matin”
Easier pieces - “swinging sevenths” - “ la Donna e mobile” and “ introduction and dance”

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Originally Posted by Lecoff
Thanks all!

@Johan B: thanks for the tip!

@malin: yes, that’s the useful feedback I got here. There was an underlying question to my post, which was whether it was sort of expected that BWV919 and K545-1 at speed would be hard after 5 years. I was looking to understand if my practice and training were not optimal. It looks like these are not easy pieces.

I think your question can not be answered without considering the amount of time you practice every week. If you do lets say an average of 4 hours per week that is about 200 hours per year, so after 5 years you have done 1000 hours (and it seems like it is probably less). Now let say someone is practising 1.5 hours per day, that would be about 2 500 hours in 5 years. So obviously all things equal the second person will be much more advanced.

In addition some people learn faster and some slower, some have more affinity with music and the instrument and some others less. The teacher plays a role too. So all in all it is difficult to compare.

That being said, with one lesson per week plus only 2 or max 3 hours per week (ie 20 to 30 mns per day), I just have to be realistic with you and say that it seems rather normal that you cant play BWV919 and K545 at speed. BWV 919 is not an easy piece (most Bach arent anyway). K545 is not difficult but to play it comfortably at speed with the trills would require much more practice that what you are doing.

Playing fast requires dedicated practice time just for that. It does not come by itself playing slow pieces. Of course with practice, one gets better and more fluent but to play really fast, you need to train to play fast on simple pieces, even simplier than K545.

My guess is that you are probably around grade 4 (RCM). K545 first mouvement is grade 8.

I would suggest you take a look at the RCM sylalbus and try to play some pieces around grade 4/5 and see how that works for you. That will give you a sense of where you are. The Clementi opus 36/1 is a grade 3 but to play it at a fast tempo is much higher than that. So that could be a good training piece.

And in terms of time commitment, I think that to make more progress you do need to bump up your practice time. Take care.

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Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by Wayne2467
Yeah- I have harder and easy pieces. I think if it’s difficult pieces all the time it can become soul destroying.
YES!!! I switched to choosing 3 pieces: easy/my level/harder and it’s made a huge difference in my motivation. 😊👍

In addition to the little mix of degrees of difficulty, it is important for me to have a mix of degrees of mastery. If I have "finished" all my pieces and have to start from scratch on all new music, I will not be happy. It is better to have something new, something almost ready, and something in between.


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@Ralphiano and @Sidokar, thank you very much for your wise words and advice, these are helpful.

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