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What qualities do you think are essential to be successful at the piano as an amateur? Personally, I think the most important ones are perseverence and patience, but also a kind of obsessive stubbornness. I think the qualities that most non-musical people think of like "talent" or "musicality" don't mean anything. Talent is only meaningful for the top 0.1% (but I'm asking specifically about amateurs) and musicality can be trained.

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Seclusion and Social Insulation.

Piano is just not as (Enticing) as literally everything else. If you live in a modern busy human world, that proximity is the greatest impediment one could experience against (The Art). The Glenn Gould documentaries demonstrate this well, he lived and breathed pianism, often in seclusion, he hated the concert life which he stopped giving at only age 31. Very few people in contact. Very focused.

I'm not suggesting you become a luddite/misanthrope. But there has to be large thick walls. laugh

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How do you define success ?

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Personally, I think the most important ones are perseverence and patience, but also a kind of obsessive stubbornness.

perseverance and patience would be top of my list too. I might add resilience after those qualities, as the ability to get up after a knock down has been important for me, (although that can also be called stubbornness, I equate it more with being able to adapt to new information and changes).

Close to the top of my list has to be the ability to be well organised. I don't like to be too obsessive about it, but without my simple method of keeping on top of things, I doubt I would be using my time as efficiently as possible.


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Originally Posted by Sidokar
How do you define success ?
Good question
“Enjoyment” I would say.

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You don’t need to be a virtuoso. Being able to play a few songs is already a success. Most of us can get to an intermediate level.

We all started from 0. People from musical families have others to guide them. Otherwise we rely on our teachers or computer learning programs. Besides “talent” & “musicality”, having an interest & passion are also important. Many of us can learn an instrument. Some would take lessons for a few years and their pianos end-up as a piece of furniture. Others like myself would continue to play regularly.

Besides coming from a non-musical family, I lacked talent as a child. Once I got into playing, learning a new piece is just hard work. The last thing is having expectations the type of music you want to get into & how far you can go. Years ago someone in the family took violin lessons with a teacher. She was enthusiastic initially. With no expectations she quit after a years totally disappointed. After a while we should be able to learn a piece at the level we’re comfortable with on our own. Relying on a teacher for everything is the recipe for failure.

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Desire. That’s about it, IMHO. ❤️


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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
What qualities do you think are essential to be successful at the piano as an amateur? Personally, I think the most important ones are perseverence and patience, but also a kind of obsessive stubbornness.
I agree: perseverance, patience and stubbornness are keys to being successful at piano. As well as a great love for music (or at least, the music you want to play).

Talent doesn't come into it unless your goal is to be a concert pianist. (As I've said often enough, I had all the musical talent of a gnat, but I was stubborn, and didn't care what others thought.......).

Stubbornness is important especially if you're learning a genre of music few people care for - like classical. Depending on where you are and your own circle, you might encounter anything from incredulity to being shunned as an 'elite nerd'....... whistle


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I suspect there are different paths into becoming a good pianist, but the only path I can see goes via liking music, liking playing the piano, and having a fair bit of discipline. Also, not being tone-deaf. smile


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I guess you need to be able to flush some "time loosing habits" as watching TV. I have some friends who would like to play a keyboard or a piano... But they say they have no time. Bullsh*t. For sure they can spend lots of hours watching eternal multi-season series on TV. So it is a matter of discipline and not going the easy way to spend time.

I work at home and for myself. 10-12 hours a day is not uncommon. I play sometimes during the day, after lunch for perhaps half an hour. But then my longer playing periods are after dinner at night. The easy thing would be to think as 99% people do: I am tired for all the daily work and deserve some rest... So go to the TV and throw to trash a couple or more hours before going bed. Instead I find playing as a deserved prize for my work and a creative thing to do. And even if tired some days, for me is relaxing.


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A love of the piano repertoire, at least some portion of it, and a belief in yourself that you have something to share or communicate through your playing. I think this applies to just about all skill levels. And yes to perseverance, time management, and powering through periods when you are discouraged.



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I think talent/natural ability is very important if one wants to be able to play advanced music.

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Lots of great answers so far. I think a lot more people will continue to add to this thread. Pardon me for being partly redundant below:

Love of music
Love of musicianship
Love of piano (or other keyboard)
Love of progress
Love of commitment
Ability to hold as well as increase the quality of focus
Ability to be inspired and remain interested
Love of music theory and concepts
Ability to reach out with the Force to vary dynamics
To feel the music when you're playing
Dexterity
Ability to plan in the immediate, short term, mid term, and long term
The wisdom to value posture and technique
The willingness to practice daily or almost daily. Strong natural desire to do so is ideal
Enjoyment of playing the instrument, reading about it, watching relevant vids, lurking and interacting on this forum
Desire to improvise
Desire to compose

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
What qualities do you think are essential to be successful at the piano as an amateur? Personally, I think the most important ones are perseverence and patience, but also a kind of obsessive stubbornness. I think the qualities that most non-musical people think of like "talent" or "musicality" don't mean anything. Talent is only meaningful for the top 0.1% (but I'm asking specifically about amateurs) and musicality can be trained.

I think I can echo what you say but also rephrase it. From what I have experienced, most adults who start playing the piano, get surprised by how difficult it actually is. I like to say that it is like climbing Mount Everest. The first steps on that journey are incredibly simple, anyone can do it! And then it gets tougher, and to make it from the base camp up to the top is definitely only for those who have total committment and extensive training. On the other hand, making it to the base camp is quite an achievement as well and you can be perfectly happy with that.

But again, I often read or hear comments from people who have started their piano journey and after a while they are almost shocked about how hard it is. Some give up there, thinking that they lack something essential because they work and work and not much happens, while it seems to be a child's play to certain, lucky others.

Well, what you need in order to proceed is the full insight that it is NORMAL to reach such plateaus or even "walls", and that you will overcome them in time if you just show patience and persistence. Or, should I say, if you realize that it is the journey, not the goal, that is the fun part of it. If I want to hear a splendid rendering of "Appassionata" I know where to go, I do not have to sweat over it myself to get a mediocre result. But learning this piece is great fun as such, even if the result is just mediocre or even worse ... So I can sit down with it and have the time of my life, just as many people can go out running in the woods and not bother about how they do compared to the world champion in marathon or even their neighbour.

So you need love for the practice and learning part. It is a constant challenge, but what would it be without that challenge? Like playing a computer game that is too easy, it is not fun. So in a way, you need to love making mistakes ... To me, the feeling of making progress, of realizing that I can do something today that seemed almost impossible a few weeks ago, is a major boost. Not to mention that I like the music as such.

In short: you need to understand how much work it takes, and you need to love the process. That does not mean you must be over-enthusiastic every minute - we all have our less inspired moments and that is all right for an amateur. You need to realize that this is perfectly normal too! Just leave it for a while, and come back later when it feels better.

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I vote for " obsessive stubbornness".


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think talent/natural ability is very important if one wants to be able to play advanced music.
I don't agree, unless your definition of "advanced" is conservatory level and you are talking about those who're good enough to get into them and play stuff like Gaspard and Rach 3.

Every student of my acquaintance when I was a kid got to Grade 8 ABRSM (all of them with Merit or Distinction) if they continued with lessons through their teens - which all of them did, except those in my family (because my parents cared nothing for music and were only too happy for us to stop after Grade 1: I was the sole pig-headed child who kept going) because their parents insisted on it. Their parents supervised their daily practicing - that sort of things was normal in my home country (and is still normal now).

They were all playing advanced music like Beethoven sonatas etc. Of course, not all of them continued with piano into adulthood.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think talent/natural ability is very important if one wants to be able to play advanced music.
I don't agree, unless your definition of "advanced" is conservatory level and you are talking about those who're good enough to get into them and play stuff like Gaspard and Rach 3.

Every student of my acquaintance when I was a kid got to Grade 8 ABRSM (all of them with Merit or Distinction) if they continued with lessons through their teens - which all of them did, except those in my family (because my parents cared nothing for music and were only too happy for us to stop after Grade 1: I was the sole pig-headed child who kept going) because their parents insisted on it. Their parents supervised their daily practicing - that sort of things was normal in my home country (and is still normal now).

They were all playing advanced music like Beethoven sonatas etc. Of course, not all of them continued with piano into adulthood.
I think there's a huge expanse between Grade 8 ABRSM and Gaspard. It's also possible that those who continued through the end of high school were more talented than those who didn't or that some were among those who basically spent the entire year learning the small number of pieces for the exam. Finally, checking the Beethoven Sonata level for Grade 8, the only one listed is the first movement of Op.14 #1, which although I wouldn't call it easy, is still among the easiest Beethoven Sonatas. I do think Grade 8 is impressive for any piano student.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think there's a huge expanse between Grade 8 ABRSM and Gaspard. It's also possible that those who continued through high school were more talented than those who didn't or that some were among those who basically spent the entire year learning the small number of pieces for the exam. Finally, checking the Beethoven Sonata level for Grade 8, the only one listed is the first movement of Op.14 #1
This from the list I mentioned in another thread: Beethoven sonata movements and their ABRSM grades:

Sonata in C minor Op. 13 (Pathétique): 2nd movt - 7
Sonata in C minor Op. 13 (Pathétique): 3rd movt - 8
Sonata in E flat Op. 7: 3rd movt Allegro - 7
Sonata in E minor Op. 90: 1st movt - 8
Sonata in G Op.79: 2nd movt Andante - 6
Sonata in G Op. 79: 1st movt Presto alla tedesca - 8
Sonata in A flat Op. 26: 1st movt or 4th movt - 8
Sonata in B flat Op 22: Minuet & Trio - 6
Sonata in C minor Op 10 No.1: 1st movt - 8
Sonata in C# minor Op 27 No.2 (Moonlight): 1st movt - 6
Sonata in D Op. 10 No.3: 1st movt - 8
Sonata in D Op. 10 No.3: 3rd movt Menuetto and Trio - 6
Sonata in E flat Op. 31 No.3: Minuet and Trio - 7
Sonata in D Op. 28: 1st movt - 8
Sonata in E Op. 14 No.1: 1st movt Allegro - 8
Sonata in F Op. 10 No.2: 1st movt Allegro - 8
Sonata in G Op. 1 No.2: 1st movt Allegro - 8
Sonata in G minor Op. 49 No.1: 2nd movt - 7

That's not even a comprehensive list - I'm pretty sure I played a Beethoven sonata movement not from that list for my Grade 8.

The kind of technical skill required to play stuff like the Liszt sonata, Gaspard et al is of course beyond most pianists, but you don't need to be a virtuoso to be able to play a lot of advanced music, like those on the list above.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think there's a huge expanse between Grade 8 ABRSM and Gaspard. It's also possible that those who continued through high school were more talented than those who didn't or that some were among those who basically spent the entire year learning the small number of pieces for the exam. Finally, checking the Beethoven Sonata level for Grade 8, the only one listed is the first movement of Op.14 #1
This from the list I mentioned in another thread: Beethoven sonata movements and their ABRSM grades:

Sonata in C minor Op. 13 (Pathétique): 2nd movt - 7
Sonata in C minor Op. 13 (Pathétique): 3rd movt - 8
Sonata in E flat Op. 7: 3rd movt Allegro - 7
Sonata in E minor Op. 90: 1st movt - 8
Sonata in G Op.79: 2nd movt Andante - 6
Sonata in G Op. 79: 1st movt Presto alla tedesca - 8
Sonata in A flat Op. 26: 1st movt or 4th movt - 8
Sonata in B flat Op 22: Minuet & Trio - 6
Sonata in C minor Op 10 No.1: 1st movt - 8
Sonata in C# minor Op 27 No.2 (Moonlight): 1st movt - 6
Sonata in D Op. 10 No.3: 1st movt - 8
Sonata in D Op. 10 No.3: 3rd movt Menuetto and Trio - 6
Sonata in E flat Op. 31 No.3: Minuet and Trio - 7
Sonata in D Op. 28: 1st movt - 8
Sonata in E Op. 14 No.1: 1st movt Allegro - 8
Sonata in F Op. 10 No.2: 1st movt Allegro - 8
Sonata in G Op. 1 No.2: 1st movt Allegro - 8
Sonata in G minor Op. 49 No.1: 2nd movt - 7

That's not even a comprehensive list - I'm pretty sure I played a Beethoven sonata movement not from that list for my Grade 8.

The kind of technical skill required to play stuff like the Liszt sonata, Gaspard et al is of course beyond most pianists, but you don't need to be a virtuoso to be able to play a lot of advanced music, like those on the list above.
I looked here and they only had the sonata movement I mentioned:
https://us.abrsm.org/media/64599/piano-practical-syllabus-2021-2022-online-8-july-2020.pdf

Is that listing incorrect?

Even if those movements are all Grade 8 or 7, there's still a vast expanse between the movements listed and Gaspard. I made several other points my last post including that I think the further one goes with the exams, the more the process self selects those with greater natural ability. Surely some that didn't take exams throughout high school, chose to do so because they didn't do well on earlier exams or felt they couldn't pass higher grades.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I looked here and they only had the sonata movement I mentioned:https://us.abrsm.org/media/64599/piano-practical-syllabus-2021-2022-online-8-july-2020.pdf

Is that listing incorrect?
The exam list is changed/refreshed every two years, to avoid teacher/examiner boredom etc, like all exam board lists.
The list you linked is just for those taking the exams in 2021-2022.

Quote
Even if those movements are all Grade 8 or 7, there's still a vast expanse between the movements listed and Gaspard.
Of course there is, as I've already said.

We aren't talking concert pianist material here.

At least, I'm not, but maybe you are........


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