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Thanks for these replies guys. dogperson, bennevis - you've explained my motivation to play better than I ever could smile


Started playing piano in early 2017. My YouTube channel:
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Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by Ostinato
Originally Posted by pablobear
ANY individual (or nearly any, let's say you have like some illness preventing you probably not), can become a great musician, if they truly have the love for the music, and put in the work.

This is a delusion. It’s simply not true. Performing classical music at concert-level is one of the hardest things to learn, but it’s simply impossible if you don’t have an innate talent. And if you don’t start very young, you can forget about it. Sorry to shatter your dreams. This whole thread seems to be filled with self-delusional ramblings.

Agreed. So much of this is delusional. It takes starting young and a lifetime of work. I would define talent as say, a good memory for pitch, excellent hearing, strong cognitive abilities, fast reflexes, etc, but then, it takes decades of hard study, where at each step, you are measured against your peers and threatened with elimination.

I can find exceptions to your rule of starting young, but, what I cannot find is anyone who has became a concert pianist who doesn’t work extremely hard. Liszt would practice 8 hours a day, and when he was a child he LOVED playing exercises and scales. The more ‘talented’ a student is, the more they will enjoy these things as

Excellent hearing, cognitive abilities, and fast reflexes can all be developed. Nobody comes out of the womb a good sight reader, you must learn all this stuff from hard work.


My gods are: Cortot, Horowitz, and Sofronitsky,

Started piano during COVID, hopefully I can play Rachmaninoff, Rubinstein, and Scriabin compositions one day...
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I’m not a great musician, because I haven’t put in the work yet. I’ll come back to you when I can play all my scales in sixths, do all of bach inventions, czerny, etc. and then we will see how ‘talented’ I am.

Also, I don’t believe much in talent, but, I’ve had multiple teachers who are definitely qualified say I was— one who studied at Julliard and with Rosina L, and then one who studied with Soulima Stravinsky, and I discount what they say everytime. It’s just because I listen to a lot of music, and practice a solid amount (I can practice much more, I’ve been too busy to get 8 hour days in, but soon I will be able to over break).

If you have the heart, you will have the discipline to put in the work, it’s that simple. You can argue on piano forums all day and speculate if you can make it or not, but, like I said again. Any individual, if they are willing to put in the hard work it takes, can make it. To give a very simple metric for you on what a great musician is I will use this.

If you can play all 32 Beethoven sonata, and WTC1, at a performance standard, you are a great musician.

I believe any individual, if they spend the lifetime it takes to do this, at nearly any age can achieve this. I think you probably have to be under 25 and then, when you get past this age, your odds decrease exponentially. But, I’d say it’s even still possible. Say you retire at 35, and you play 8 hours a day everyday for 20 years, I would say this is possible. Just because you guys are lazy/don’t know how to improve at stuff, and compare yourselves to others in an unhealthy way does not mean that it’s impossible. Of course a conservatory student who is groomed from the age of 4 will be better than someone who starts late, nobody is arguing that here. But, like I said, if you have the spirit and love the music you will get to where you need to go.

If all the great pianists thought like you guys, they would not be great pianists. I’m sorry, if Richter saw that there was kids in Moscow that showed more ‘talent’ than he did, when he entered conservatory late, and started comparing his progress to them, and said that he couldn’t be a great musician he wouldn’t be one. You need the heart to do it, it’s that simple. I’m not the only one who says this either, you can say it’s self-delusional ramblings, but, I can appeal to authorities much stronger than your shallow arguments.

You legit said earlier that, someone can’t be a great musician if they don’t concertize. You had 0 counter argument for the fact that nobody knows Paul Pabst music, but tons and tons of people know Rousseau. I’d say both are great musician, but one is obviously more great than the other. Now, I’m going to practice =D.


My gods are: Cortot, Horowitz, and Sofronitsky,

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We all have our humble beginnings. Some people just get better & better at piano...


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Originally Posted by Ido
Thanks for these replies guys. dogperson, bennevis - you've explained my motivation to play better than I ever could smile
thumb Yes, they did. The rest is debating how many whorls belong on the bow that adorns the gift of learning to play the piano.


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Originally Posted by Stubbie
debating how many whorls belong on the bow...

laugh


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Originally Posted by pablobear
Excellent hearing, cognitive abilities, and fast reflexes can all be developed.

Actually, to a very limited degree only, and it is genetics that put the limit on it. Yes, you can develop your hearing, within your range of possibility, and you can to some extent develop your cognitive abilities. But however hard they work at it, most people won't be able to develop perfect pitch, or become a space telescope scientist. Reflexes are involuntary and nearly instantaneous movements in response to a stimulus, and you cannot develop them.

However, almost everybody can learn to play better piano than they do right now, if they are willing to put in the work. cool


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by pablobear
Excellent hearing, cognitive abilities, and fast reflexes can all be developed.

Actually, to a very limited degree only, and it is genetics that put the limit on it. Yes, you can develop your hearing, within your range of possibility, and you can to some extent develop your cognitive abilities. But however hard they work at it, most people won't be able to develop perfect pitch, or become a space telescope scientist. Reflexes are involuntary and nearly instantaneous movements in response to a stimulus, and you cannot develop them.

However, almost everybody can learn to play better piano than they do right now, if they are willing to put in the work. cool

Yes, there are genetic limits. You didn’t mention hand size. Of course, the sustain pedal is a third hand so there are ways to compensate for small hands but still, if you don’t want the chords rolled and your hands are small, you can only cry about it.

I wholeheartedly agree that anyone can play better than they play now. The study of the piano is on a continuum, and there is no end to the possibility of improving. It is the argument that anyone can achieve greatness that I find ridiculous. That definition of greatness appears to be that anyone can play all of the most difficult piano repertoire if their heart was in it. That’s just not realistic for most people.

Last edited by LarryK; 12/27/21 05:20 AM.
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I remember a video about a teacher auditioning young kids for entry into a music school. (I can't remember which one, but it was in Russia.)

The first test she did was to play a widely spaced 3-note chord on her piano and asked the child to replicate the same on the second piano. The child couldn't see her hands, but played the same notes instantly. The teacher played a few more, and each time, the girl played the correct notes without hesitation. She looked about 6 years old.

That was just the starting point for entry into the school.

So, how does that leave the rest of us?

As I said earlier, if you can play the piano (and have the musical skills) at a standard that enables you to enjoy the music you like, that is a measure of successful learning. How much time & effort do you want to put in to achieve your goals?

BTW, there is a PW member in Pianist Corner who used to be a prolific poster, who first started posting when he was quite young and his posts were a typical teenage mixture of bravado and insecurities plus a few inane observations. But what wasn't in doubt was that he was talented, had good teachers, made rapid progress, and he was soon playing in competitions (I think there's a YT video he posted of Tchaik 1). He kept changing his username so I don't know what name he's using these days, though lately he seems disillusioned with the competition circuit, the bane of all concert pianists trying to get established.

And I'm sure we all know of PW member Can Çakmur who's now an established concert pianist and has already made three CDs for BIS - you can trace his progress through the years (starting as a teenager) via the videos he posted here.

Why am I mentioning them? Because they have something in spades which hardly any of us here have: real musical talent. Which is why they can play anything in the classical rep they want, to concert standard: all they have to do is pick up the score and start practicing. (And they didn't learn by copying other pianists' videos.) The rest of us can strive to be the best we can be by dedicated practicing and learning from good teachers, subject to the limitations of our jobs and family life etc. Some may already be satisfied with their current level, because they can already play the music they love to their satisfaction. (For instance, there are amateur pianists who have learnt to play their favorite pieces to a reasonable standard, and have no interest in learning anything else.) Others may want to keep on striving to get better......

And let's not forget musical skills, because they are what enable us not just to enhance our listening pleasure & acumen, but also to branch out into other musical spheres - playing with others, accompanying, singing, composing, improvising, conducting.......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Your story about the entrance exam in Russia reminded me of an article I read about how Russia went through and tested every single child in Siberia to try to find the students who should study violin. I don’t know how many concert artists they produced with this system, but I know that Vadim Repin came out of that effort:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vadim_Repin

Repin started at the age of five.

As an aside, I spent ten years studying the violin, when I was in my twenties, with a good Russian teacher. At one point he said to me, maybe I could have done something with you if I had taught you when you were child.

At no point did I ever delude myself into thinking I would play the great masterworks, but still, I labored on. At one point, my teacher brought me to play in the back of second violins at a rehearsal of a Mahler symphony in a community orchestra. I was seated two feet from the timpani player. Every time he hit that thing, I wanted to kill him. I never went back.

Eventually, life got in the way, I moved to New York, and I stopped playing the violin.

After a few years, I took up the classical guitar, and spent ten years studying that, with an excellent teacher who graduated from Juilliard. I suppose the results were similar to the violin, without that horrible screeching sound under the ear.

I eventually wearied of the classical guitar, could see that I would never become a great soloist, but enjoyed playing in a little trio at one teacher’s apartment.

Life happened again, I moved again, after having started piano with a wonderful Russian teacher who attended the Gnessin school at five. She is an encouraging teacher, who believes that adults can achieve great things on the piano, but I’m pretty sure she would not promise me that I would play all of the piano repertoire, but would probably say, we’ll see.

I encourage everyone to keep playing. Music is a great gift and a great comfort in difficult times. Even the simplest of pieces can lift our hearts.

Last edited by LarryK; 12/27/21 09:36 AM.
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Originally Posted by LarryK
I eventually wearied of the classical guitar, could see that I would never become a great soloist, but enjoyed playing in a little trio at one teacher’s apartment.

Life happened again, I moved again, after having started piano with a wonderful Russian teacher who attended the Gnessin school at five. She is an encouraging teacher, who believes that adults can achieve great things on the piano, but I’m pretty sure she would not promise me that I would play all of the piano repertoire, but would probably say, we’ll see.

I encourage everyone to keep playing. Music is a great gift and a great comfort in difficult times. Even the simplest of pieces can lift our hearts.

Very interesting, thank you for sharing. If you'd care to share more I'd be happy to know what was the draw to the piano after having played these instruments. AFAIR you still play the guitar, right?


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Originally Posted by Ido
Originally Posted by LarryK
I eventually wearied of the classical guitar, could see that I would never become a great soloist, but enjoyed playing in a little trio at one teacher’s apartment.

Life happened again, I moved again, after having started piano with a wonderful Russian teacher who attended the Gnessin school at five. She is an encouraging teacher, who believes that adults can achieve great things on the piano, but I’m pretty sure she would not promise me that I would play all of the piano repertoire, but would probably say, we’ll see.

I encourage everyone to keep playing. Music is a great gift and a great comfort in difficult times. Even the simplest of pieces can lift our hearts.

Very interesting, thank you for sharing. If you'd care to share more I'd be happy to know what was the draw to the piano after having played these instruments. AFAIR you still play the guitar, right?

When I was packing for a one week trip to Pittsburgh for work orientation for a new job, with my wife, in March of 2020, I was going to bring along my beloved Antonio Marin Montero classical guitar.

My wife told me that I did not need to carry a full-sized guitar and so I brought a Soloette, an annoying little practice instrument. We wound up staying five months in Pittsburgh because of the pandemic. I could not stand to play the Soloette and so I stopped playing and no longer play the classical guitar.

Before that, I had started piano lessons back in New York. The main reason was the realization that the works of Bach do not work that well on the classical guitar, well, some do and some do not. I had ordered an arrangement of the Goldberg Variations for the classical guitar. It is beyond ridiculous, and is something that I would never be able to play on the classical guitar.

Most likely, I’ll never play the Goldbergs on the piano either.

Anyway, Bach wrote for all of the extant keyboard instruments of his time so I decided that it was about time I made a serious attempt to learn a keyboard instrument. I had tried once before in my 20s, but my violin practice won out back then.

I have restarted piano lessons in Pittsburgh, with a wonderful teacher, Juilliard-trained, and I hope to be able to continue for many years.

Last edited by LarryK; 12/27/21 12:49 PM.
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I agree with Ido, very interesting Larry!

Originally Posted by LarryK
I encourage everyone to keep playing. Music is a great gift and a great comfort in difficult times. Even the simplest of pieces can lift our hearts.

Heartwarming, and truly the reason why I play.


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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