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#1054753 - 01/11/09 08:00 PM Confused about my ability level
waldstein11448998 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/08
Posts: 130
Loc: Connecticut
I'm one of those adult restarters who has returned to the piano after not playing for nearly twenty years. I played the Chopin Military Polonaise at a recital when I was twelve years old. It was definitely at full speed, if I recall correctly, and I could technically play all the notes right, but I'm not sure what kind of musicality I had as a twelve year old. I was also working on the Moonlight and Pathetique Sonatas.

When I got back into the piano a few months ago, I thought that I was a lot better than I was, so I started working on Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata. I worked out everything in the 1st movement up until the recapitulation. Very slowly and meticulously for about two months. Some sections of it I can handle at close to full speed, other sections I can only play at about half speed. After deciding that the Waldstein was too hard, I started working on the Pathetique. I have the whole first and third movements competely memorized, but it's the same with the Waldstein. Some parts I can play great at almost full tempo, other parts are a mess even when I slow it way down.

I got a recommendation from somebody on the forum to start working on Schumann's Kinderszenen. I'm finding it considerably easier than the Pathetique, but some parts are still driving me crazy. It takes me forever to get the notes under my fingers even at a very slow tempo. And even when I know the music reasonably well, I still make mistakes all the time. I've also been working on the Bach Invention #13, and I'm missing notes all over the place. Probably because the whole piece is made up of broken arpeggios, and I've really never played that kind of thing before.

I'm beginning to feel kind of burnt out, but I love the piano so much. I will never stop playing it for as long as I live. Which is a good thing.

So am I on the advanced level, or have I fallen back to the intermediate level? Or maybe I never was "advanced" to begin with? Although I have retained the ability to learn the music to Grade 7 and 8 pieces, I don't have the ability to play them even reasonably well. And my mind gets tired out very quickly. Should I go back almost to the beginning and do all of my old exercises from scratch so that I can refine my technique?

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#1054754 - 01/11/09 09:06 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
waldstein11448998,

I think that you would benefit greatly from going back to basics. It would help with your technique, reading, and confidence. It's like someone said in another thread if you can play etudes like Czerny musically, it will just boost your ability to play real pieces musically.

When I started playing again, I worked through the John Thompson books 1 & 2 I had learned from as a kid. I probably was early intermediate when I had to quit as a kid, and it didn't take long for me to get the basics back. Now I'm working through the Keith Snell repertoire series slow and steady.

Here's what I think are a couple of good choices for you to follow:
- First you can pick up a set of method books. The first book or two will probably be very easy, but work through them anyways and try to make each and every piece as musical as you can. Alfred's Adult All-In-One series is popular on the forums, so you can get a lot of support if need it. Faber & Faber gets some support as well.

- Or you could pick up a set of graded repertoire books and work through them. Keith Snell is the one that I am working through. Here is a guide to the series if you want to look through it.

http://www.kjos.com/pdf/brochures/snell_reper_index.pdf

I started out in level 2 of the series and I'm now working through level 4. I like the fact that the pieces are pretty close to the same difficulty in each level and that there are plenty of pieces for you to be ready for the next level. This series also introduces you to a lot of different composers.

There are a lot of other series available as well. Alfred's has the Essential Keyboard Repertoire. FJH has the Developing Artist Series. There is Succeeding With The Masters and the Classics to Moderns series as well. Plus plenty more series to choose from. Most of them include many of the same pieces.

Rich
_________________________

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#1054755 - 01/11/09 10:20 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
waldstein11448998 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/08
Posts: 130
Loc: Connecticut
I have Books 1 and 3 of the John Thompson series. Book 2 seems to be misplaced. But I have looked through Book 3 a little bit. It's pretty easy at the beginning, but it gets a little more difficult towards the end. I might start with that. If you have Book 3, I played through a piece called "Spinning Wheel" by Albert Ellmenreich. I was able to play it nearly perfectly after practicing it for only twenty minutes. By contrast, I've been working on some pieces from the Kinderszenen for a few weeks, and they still aren't perfect.

I'm getting frustrated that I have been playing for five months and I still don't have anything that I can play reasonably well yet. Every single piece that I have been working on is still a work in progress. Which means that everything that I've been playing is too difficult for me. So I'm getting to the point where I have to have some easy pieces that I can play from beginning to end without too much trouble.

The Keith Snell series sounds interesting. And if I choose to go the with the Alfred series, I'll probably start Book 3. I listened to some of the Book 2 arrangements on YouTube, and I think I'm past that level.

Thanks for the advice.

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#1054756 - 01/12/09 01:55 AM Re: Confused about my ability level
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
The situation you describe sounds like
you're one of the many terminal advanced-
intermediate players, people who took
maybe 5-10 yrs. of lessons as a child
and progressed to some fairly difficult
pieces but then seemed to stall, with
no further progress, and then quit for
decades before starting up again.

I myself am one of these. I had nine
yrs. of classical lessons as a child, at the end
of which time I was playing the easier
preludes and nocturnes. I then quit
in frustration over not being able to
make further progress and didn't play
a note for 20 yrs. When I restarted
as an adult, instructing myself (I have
had no further instruction, because
I have seen what nine yrs. of study from
reputable teachers can do for you.),
I had big hopes of making a much better showing
the second time around, since I was
older, stronger, wiser, and more experienced
in life in general. That, together with diligent
practice, I reasoned, would enable me to break out
of the terminal advanced-intermediate
level and progress the advanced, conservatory/
concert pianist-level pieces that I could
never play as a teenager.

Initially, I seemed to make good progress.
I appeared to get right back to where I left
off 20 yrs. earlier, and I taught myself
the Fantasie Impromptu, the Butterfly
Etude, and the Trois Nouvelles Etudes no.
1--the notes, at least--pieces that
I could have never dreamed of playing
as a teen. But this was illusory,
and when I tried to advance to
even more difficult pieces, I found that
I had really not progressed at all and
that I could not play the more
advanced pieces, no matter how hard
I practiced.

This t-a-i "wall" is puzzling. The piano
seems very easy to play in principle: no
special physical skill is need to make
it sound, like with a violin or trumpet;
you just press keys and the internal
mechanism of the instrument automatically
produces the right tone, and moreover,
the physical force needed to press a key
is minimal, so that even a small child can
do it easily. Thus, it would seem that
a person, with diligent practice and/or
continuous instruction, could make steady
progress to higher and higher levels.

But this just doesn't happen. Maybe
90+% of all players will reach approximately
a-i level and then stall there--for life.
No amount of practice or instruction will
enable them to progress to the conservatory
level, where they could work up big-time pieces
routinely in a few months, like conservatory
players can.

This is why I contend that adult beginners/
restarters who sign up with high-priced
university instructors in hopes of progressing
to the advanced level are wasting their
time and money. No amount of instruction
or practice is going to turn a player
of average ability into a conservatory-level
player--just can't be done.

I began to see this after years of butting
my head up against the t-a-i wall with
not an iota of progress to show for it.
Nevertheless, I was determined to play
the big stuff, and so I simply started
to play it, note by note, one measure
a day, slowly, using brute force repetition
as a substitute for talent. And, after
years of dogged effort, I can play
three big-time pieces: the Chopin op. 14,
the mazurka in A min. op. post. (the difficult
one with the r.h. triplets), and the
Trois Nouvelles Etudes no. 1. The op.
14 is better than 3/4 speed with errors;
the mazurka is more or less up to speed;
and the etude is more or less finished
and memorized (I've been working on this
for eons). That might not be impressive
by conservatory standards, but for a
hopeless t-a-i player like myself, that's
unheard of progress. In particular, the
op. 14 is a piece that I should not
be able to play in any way shape or
form with the kind of below-average
talent that I have. And in the process
my overall playing has improved some,
just by virtue of working on such
difficult stuff. But I still remain
essentially the same t-a-i player that
I was in high school; for example, I have
trouble playing stuff in John Thompson
book 1 at sight.

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#1054757 - 01/12/09 05:13 AM Re: Confused about my ability level
TrapperJohn Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 3577
Loc: Chocolatetown, USA
Not that you won't get some helpful opinions and advice here in the ABF but, overall, I think you might get much more experienced, knowledgable and realistically critical opinions on your questions/concerns in the Pianist Corner Forum. So, you might be best served by copying your post and starting a new topic with it there.

Regards, JF
_________________________
Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.

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#1054758 - 01/12/09 05:28 AM Re: Confused about my ability level
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Try some of the other inventions. You can teach a child to do anything by rote. Maybe that's your problem.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1054759 - 01/12/09 07:04 AM Re: Confused about my ability level
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
waldstein11448998,

I have JT Book 3, although I don't practice out of it. If Spinning Song is about where you are playing right now, then I would think that you could start the Keith Snell repertoire books at about level 3 or 4.

The start of Alfred's Book 3 would also be a good place; however, it jumps in difficulty at the challenging section.

Rich
_________________________

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#1054760 - 01/12/09 07:42 AM Re: Confused about my ability level
waldstein11448998 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/08
Posts: 130
Loc: Connecticut
Thanks Dragon. Which Alfred's Book are we talking about exactly? I went to amazon.com and there were many of them.

Also, thanks Gyro, but your post is kind of depressing. I think that with enough determination and good instruction, I can get past the advanced intermediate level. With the trombone, I'm also at the same level, but I'm more determined to be able to progress better on the piano.

I'll discuss this with my teacher on Wednesday. It's really a case of mentally being able to play the pieces, but my hands, fingers, and arms can't execute properly yet. For example, if I play the opening to the Pathetique 3rd movement, it comes out different every time. I'm going to tell her that I just feel overwhelmed by the big-time pieces right now, and I have to go back to basics.

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#1054761 - 01/12/09 07:57 AM Re: Confused about my ability level
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
I have this copy of Alfred's Basic Adult Course book 3:

http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/store/smp_...ts+Item-_-Title

But, I think this version has the same problem:

http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/store/smp_...ts+Item-_-Title

In my book the Ambitious section is
Prelude in C Major, Bach WTC Book 1
Trumpet Tune, Clark
Toccata in D Minor, Bach
Fur Elise, Beethoven
Prelude in A Major, Chopin
Moonlight Sonata, first movement, Beethoven

This might not be that big of a jump for you.

I think discussing this with your teacher is a good idea.

Rich
_________________________

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#1054762 - 01/12/09 08:12 AM Re: Confused about my ability level
dannylux Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 1820
Loc: Connecticut
Waldstein, I think I was in the same position as you when I started playing the piano again three years ago.

All of the pieces that I used to find fairly easy, Chopin's f# minor Polonaise, the 2nd Ballade, the 3rd movement of Moonlight, had become unplayable.

My fingers just couldn't find the keys.

I could see that this would lead to tremendous frustration, if I continued with these pieces.

Instead, I decided to learn some short pieces that I had never played before, but had fallen is love with.

So I started with Levitzki's gorgeous Valse D'Amour, Op.2 and Ravel's Pavane, along with Hanon and scales.

I carefully figured out the fingering for the two pieces and worked on them section by section.

It took about two months for the Ravel and four for the Levitzki, with absolutely no frustration.

Now, three years later at 67, I can play very fast, as you can hear from my recordings of Mayer's Etude de Valse, Tomas Leon's Ilusión Y Desengaño, and Chopin's Waltz in e minor, Op. Posth. in my signature.

Accept that it will take as long as it will take, relax, and enjoy every second at the piano.


Mel
_________________________
My Recordings

"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving." Katharine Hepburn

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#1054763 - 01/12/09 01:09 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Waldstein11448998, I don't see why you see
my post as necessarily depressing. In fact,
I indended it to be inspiring, that is, I believe
anyone can play anything; it's just that
if you don't have conservatory-level talent, then
you're not going be able to work up big-time
pieces in a few months like conservatory
students can. This is what restarters who
sign up with expensive university instructors
think they're eventually going to be able
to do by virtue of the high-priced lessons, but
this is not possible.

However, all is not lost, because I contend
that anyone can play anything, no matter
how difficult, but just don't expect to do it
in a few months like Evgeny Kissin can.
A person with average talent is never going
to be able to do that. I don't see why
this is depressing; many people play basketball
recreationally even though they know that
they'll never play in the NBA.

If you want to play the Rachmaninoff Third
Concerto and you're an amateur plunker,
no problem. But you're not going to
work it up in a few months. You're going
to have to spend yrs. working it up note
by note, measure by measure. I have
below-average talent, and I've worked up
the Chopin op. 14 to better than 3/4
speed. When I first started on it, I
had to literally go at it note by note,
one measure a day, very slowly, because it
was so far above my level. But after
yrs. of finger-twisting toil I can play
it. If I can do that, then anyone can
do the same with any piece, no matter
how difficult.

If you want to play the Waldstein, that's
no problem at all. But just don't expect to
do it in a few months, regardless of
how long you take lessons or how expensive
they are. If you're one of the millions
of t-a-i players, then you're going to
have to spend yrs. on it, using repetition
as a substitute for talent.

I see this as inspiring, not depressing.
The whole of the piano repertoire is
accessible to anyone, regardless of talent
level. Just don't expect to work
a difficult piece up like a concert
pianist can in a few months.

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#1054764 - 01/12/09 01:19 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
I can play ... the mazurka in A min. op. post. (the difficult
one with the r.h. triplets) ....[/b]
Gyro, I'm not aware of any posthumous mazurkas in A minor by Chopin that don't have opus numbers. Which one is this?

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1054765 - 01/12/09 02:42 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
Steven,

My edition (Alfred's) of the Chopin's Marzurkas has two posthumous Marzurkas in A Minor.

I think Gyro is talking about this one:
http://www.pianosociety.com/cms/files/re...h_mazurka_2.pdf

But my edition also has the following one:
http://www.pianosociety.com/cms/files/re...h_mazurka_1.pdf

Here's the link to a list of all the Marzurkas with recordings and scores for most of them.
http://www.pianosociety.com/cms/index.php?section=127

Rich
_________________________

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#1054766 - 01/12/09 03:05 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Hi Rich,

It occurred to me that Gyro might have meant one of those, but I didn't note an abundance of triplets or difficulty that quite rises to his description.

FWIW, neither one is posthumous (though they are persistently referred to as such). They are two of a handful of pieces that were published during Chopin's lifetime without opus numbers (like the Trois Nouvelles Etudes, also frequently and erroneously listed as posthumous).

The first one you linked to is commonly referred to as "Emile Gaillard," after Chopin's friend to whom it was dedicated. The second appeared in a publication called La France Musicale and is best known as "Notre Temps"; both were published in 1841.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1054767 - 01/12/09 10:10 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
waldstein11448998 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/08
Posts: 130
Loc: Connecticut
Thanks Gyro, for clarifying. I never intended to be able to play the Waldstein in only a few months. Heck, in only a few months I still have gotten only have of the first movement figured out note-wise. It's just at this stage, no matter how hard I practice it, it's not getting any better. So what's the point of hammering away at it right now? I figure right now it will be more enjoyable to play more simple pieces that I can actually play at performance level and build up my technique that way. If it takes four to five years to play the first movement only, so be it. I'm not necessarily in any rush.

Let's say that my goal was to run a marathon. I wouldn't run 26 miles on the first day. I would start with a half mile and gradually increase it from there. It should be the same thing with the piano, isn't that correct? In a way, playing the Waldstein at my stage is like trying to run a whole marathon right away. That's kind of foolish.

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#1054768 - 01/13/09 03:49 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I'm not familiar with the Waldstein, but
if it's like most sonatas, then it would
be approximately the length and difficulty
of a concerto movement, and this is something
you can handle right now, and in its
entirety, in my view.

My approach to playing pieces way above
my level is to look at them from another
perspective. If you look at a big sonata,
or one movement of a big concerto, and
you're an amateur of average talent, then
it's going to seem overwhelming. You don't have
the talent, experience, quality instruction,
or physical strength to work it up
routinely like a conservatory student can,
and so you soon give up on it as "too
difficult." But this is looking at
it from the wrong angle. In its entirely,
and a full tempo, it's of course
too difficult for you, but
if you change your perspective and look
at it as merely a series of one measure
compositions, then it immediately becomes
playable by any anyone, because anyone
can play one measure of it slowly,
and if you can play the first measure of
it, then you can play the second measure,
etc. And if you can play something slowly,
then with practice you can play it a little
faster, and then a little faster than that,
etc.

So instead of sitting down with the Waldstein and
trying to work it up in movements--you'll
get nowhere like that, because even a movement
of it is too big a chunk to try to
work on if you're an average player--
the way to approach it is in even smaller
bites of one measure. So, on day one, play
the first measure, then stop and work
on your regular pieces. Then on the
second day play the second measure, etc.
Proceeding like this you might take a yr.
or more to get through the whole sonata. Then
when you get through it the first time
(don't bother with splitting it up
into movements; play the whole thing through),
go right back to the beginning and proceed
in the same way. Etc.

What would be the sense in doing it in
this glacial way instead of the normal
way? You cannot do it in the
normal way, because it's much too difficult
for you; you'll burn yourself out that way.
This is the only way you're going to
be able to work up a piece like this
that is much too difficult for you.

Then why not build up "foundation" for
it with easier pieces so that you can
tackle it more easily? I contend that
you won't be able to do this if you have
average talent. You're essentially
saying that you can reach conservatory-level
after a time, but I say that's not
going to be possible for an averge player.
You couldn't reach conservatory level
as a teen, so how are you figuring you
can do it now? Moreover, so-called
"foundation" pieces are not really foundation
for anything, since all pieces are essentially
unique in their technical demands. So
if you spend several yrs. on "foundation"
work, you're wasting your time, because
they're not going to prepare you for the
Waldstein, which is essentially unique
in its technical demands.

By digging into the W and simply
playing it now, you get right into it,
which is the only way to learn it.
Note that after going through
it the first time at one measure per day,
you will have "played" it, which is what
you're aspiring to do.

Another advantage to this approach is
that you can never overstress youself
and you have ample time for your other
work.

After you've gotten through it the first
time and start again on it for the second
time you'll begin to see the point of
it all. The second time around you might
be able to do two measures a day instead
of one, which cuts the time to cycle through
it a second time in half, a 100% improvement.
A 100% improvement is nothing to sneeze
at in anyone's book. And so forth.

What you're aiming for it to get to
the point where you can play it through
in one sitting, although slowly and with
errors. When you get to that point,
you'll know that you can play it, because
from then on it's just like any other
piece and you can play it over and over
until it's up to tempo.

I know this approach can work because
I used it to work up the Chopin op. 14
to better than 3/4 speed. This was what
I aspired to play more than anything.
But no teacher in the world would teach
it to a hopeless case like me. And it
was light-years above my level and I
could never hope to play it. But I
simply dug in and started to play it.
I literally had to take it note by note,
one measure a day, very slowly, initially.
And I had to write in all the letter
names of notes and all the accidentals.
After years of toil I was finally able
to play the whole thing through in
one sitting slowly and with errors.
When I got to that point, I knew that
playing it was within the realm of possiblilty,
and after years of further work I can now
play it at better than 3/4 speed and
it continues to become better although
glacially. I am pretty confident that
I can eventually get it up to full
speed. I will be satisfied with nothing
less that a commercial recording-level
performance of it.

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#1054769 - 01/13/09 03:56 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
But what about that mazurka? \:\)

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1054770 - 01/13/09 03:58 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
I
think
I
am
going
to
throw
up

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#1054771 - 01/13/09 06:15 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
verania5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/08
Posts: 386
Loc: Michigan
Hi Waldstein,

I revisited the piano after a long absence as well. Interestingly I also thought I'd start off with a Beethoven Sonata but my teacher wisely had me back off and start with much shorter and more digestible pieces that emphasized phrasing and fingering techniques. Think Inventions. In the 2 years I've been with him he revamped my playing completely. I now play far more relaxed, fluidly and with better control than I ever did before. I think you would benefit greatly by hiring a good instructor who can guide you "up to speed". I'm now tackling some of the more advanced pieces and with much more success. The teachers from my youth never told me about all the nuances in playing I am learning now. They were too busy just trying to get me to practice!

According to my instructor I'm at late intermediate, early advanced. My repertoire consists of some Rach preludes, Brahms intermezzi and rhapsodies, Mozart sonatas, Debussy impression pieces etc. I suspect you are at the same level. Don't worry too much about classification - it doesn't make any difference in the enjoyment of the music!

Also, don't take Gyro too seriously. I find that his claim that people cannot advance beyond some kind of pre-determined level in piano as the most absurd. Anyone with gumption and hard work can eventually play advanced pieces. Not perhaps at Carnegie Hall concert level, but certainly well enough to be very satisfying.

Good luck.
_________________________
Steinway M & Yamaha P120

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#1054772 - 01/14/09 12:44 AM Re: Confused about my ability level
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
 Quote:
Originally posted by theJourney:
I
think
I
am
going
to
throw
up

[/b]
Fixed.



\:D

;\)
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1054773 - 01/14/09 12:30 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Verania5, you and several other players on
these forums have claimed major improvement
with a high-priced teacher, but I'm very
skeptical. I've been at playing too long to
believe that.

Without further context, I would say you're
one of the millions of advanced-intermediate-
players-for-life. Under the guidance of
a high-priced teacher you might polish up
your playing to a significant degree and tackle
some seemingly advanced pieces, but an
experienced teacher will know what pieces
fall under the hands easily and are playable
by anyone with a lot of coaching. I suspect
you're being spoonfed quasi-advanced pieces
that are not really as difficult as they
seem to be, not easy by any means, but not
finger-dislocatingly difficult either.

And you've only been at it two years now.
Typically, teachers are not going to
have adult students for long (What
teacher would want an adult student hanging
around for ten years?), and by about the
fifth year, if you're not actually shown
the door, you'll be encouraged to go it
on your own from then on, because "you're
now good enough." This will be just before
you would logically be tackling the really
big pieces, the concert pianist-level
sonatas, concertos, concert etudes,
and other vituosic pieces that really
put finger-dislocating demands on your
technique. If you were to try to work
such pieces up in a few months, like
you can with your present "advanced" repertoire,
you wouldn't be able to, which would be
embarassing for the teacher, because
he has supposedly been preparing you
with the "foundation" to do just
that.

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#1054774 - 01/14/09 12:58 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
And still no mazurka. \:\(

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1054775 - 01/14/09 02:03 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
verania5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/08
Posts: 386
Loc: Michigan
Well Gyro, I think you are overly presumptuous if you think my instructor is embarrassed of me. It is very ironic that you are putting words in a piano instructors mouth when you yourself don't actually work with one.

I am sure my teacher really will want to send me packing because he can't stand the fact I am a motivated student who pays her teacher promptly but more importantly invests her time and energy to play pieces well and strives to improve every week. My instructor is probably vastly underpaid for his expertise, if anything!

I am sorry you haven't had the benefit of instruction from a collaborative teacher - my teacher has completely retooled my playing in the 2 years I've been with him. I am much more relaxed (I used to have neck and shoulder pains from being far too rigid in my posture). For the first time in my life I actually have a strategy for fingering. I know how to string together phrases and think about an attack for the piece and how to create proper dynamics. While I will never be a concert level player I am improving remarkably for being an amateur player and I don't see why it should stop. It is a wonderful relationship and I know he enjoys seeing the development as much as I.

Why does a pianist have to tackle onerous multi-hour repertoire to be considered serious?
If all piano teachers taught only future concert pianists there would be very few in the world who can pay their bills. I love the short and beautiful pieces I play and see no point in abandoning what I have enjoyed so far. They are colorful and delightful. What you consider big time pieces is your own opinion and you needn't talk down to me. I do not harbor false illusions of grandeur about my abilities. I just really enjoy the music I am able to play.

Frankly your argument is incoherent. I am not sure what you're arguing for other than I am not a concert pianist and so should quit piano altogether - which is patently ridiculous.
_________________________
Steinway M & Yamaha P120

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#1054776 - 01/14/09 03:27 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
Opus45 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 920
Loc: North Carolina
I am probably missing a lot by only scanning through many of these posts. I'm often amused by Gyro's posts and some of the ardent responses to them.

I think Gyro is essentially saying the following:

Many, many years of traditional piano training are required for most piano professionals (concert pianists, musicians, etc..), and most all of those start before reaching adulthood.

Those adults who are not interested in such a career would not require years and years of the same traditional training. You can learn to play difficult and advanced piano repertoire without such rigorous training.

I agree with the above, but I think Gyro takes it one step further by suggesting it is a waste of time for those who are not planning on becoming concert pianist to pursue the same traditional classical piano training as those who are.

(Gyro, if I'm wrong I apologize)
_________________________
Jeff

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#1054777 - 01/14/09 03:44 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/08
Posts: 1348
Loc: MA
You might want to go back only to where it is slightly challenging. If you go back to far you might get bored b/c it will be too easy. If you jump in where you left off, you might get overwhelmed.

I think its like exercising or sports. Maybe at one time one could run three miles but then took a few years off. There is a certain amount of retraining that needs to be done to get back to where you once where.
_________________________
“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee

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#1054778 - 01/14/09 04:07 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
Devane Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 403
Loc: Ireland
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Frank:
Not that you won't get some helpful opinions and advice here in the ABF but, overall, I think you might get much more experienced, knowledgable and realistically critical opinions on your questions/concerns in the Pianist Corner Forum. So, you might be best served by copying your post and starting a new topic with it there.

Regards, JF [/b]
Yes John Frank, I agree. I value experience over confidence .

Unfortunately it doesn't stop people who are indeed confused about their ability or understanding to spew bullcrap all over the forum and are often to first to answer (well more like preach) with great detail in the teachers forum[/b].

Very vocal on the qwerty keyboard but pretty silent on the Piano keyboard.

Which I why I value experience over confidence ;\)


 Quote:
Originally posted by sotto voce:
And still no mazurka. \:\(

Steven [/b]
You'll have to settle for a recording of Gyro typing.
_________________________
Say it to my face! wink
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0b9rOji_PWY

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#1054779 - 01/14/09 04:14 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
tickler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 376
Loc: Chicagoland
Opus45 wrote:
 Quote:
Those adults who are not interested in such a career would not require years and years of the same traditional training. You can learn to play difficult and advanced piano repertoire without such rigorous training.
No one requires[/b] a piano teacher. I imagine that just about anyone can learn to play the piano by themselves.

However, a piano teacher makes the learning process easier and faster. Just a couple important things that a traditional piano teacher does:

-- Point out behaviors the student is doing wrong and correct them before they become ingrained habits.

-- Helps the student identify the best way to play the piece, e.g., fingering, wrist movements.

-- Provide an independent ear that listens to your playing, and identifies problems with tone, phrasing, timing, or any multitude of things.


Sure, you can do all this on your own. But having a teacher helps you improve faster. Why fumble around re-discovering things on your own, when you can learn them more quickly with a teacher?

Even concert pianists continue to learn and take lessons.


Mary
_________________________
Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman. -- Beethoven
1911 Steinway A-II (2007 Rebuild)

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#1054780 - 01/14/09 04:30 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
Opus45 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 920
Loc: North Carolina
 Quote:
Why fumble around re-discovering things on your own..?
There are many reasons Mary.

cost considerations
time/scheduling considerations
self discovery
pleasure
challenge
satisfaction
because i can

(I'm sure there are many more)

Learning to play the piano on my own has been an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. I have also had limited instruction from time to time, and I'm always open to learning. I can truthfully say that I enjoy learning the piano on my own more than I do with a teacher. That is not to say that I would not appreciate the benefit of a teacher from time to time.
_________________________
Jeff

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#1054781 - 01/15/09 10:52 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
waldstein11448998 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/08
Posts: 130
Loc: Connecticut
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kymber:
You might want to go back only to where it is slightly challenging. If you go back to far you might get bored b/c it will be too easy. If you jump in where you left off, you might get overwhelmed.

I think its like exercising or sports. Maybe at one time one could run three miles but then took a few years off. There is a certain amount of retraining that needs to be done to get back to where you once where. [/b]
I found the John Thompson Book 3 boring after two days of using it. At the advice of my new teacher, one of the pieces that I will be studying at first is the Beethoven Sonata Op. 49-2. It's a simple piece, but complicated enough for me in that there will be plenty to work on in each practice session so that I won't get bored. After I can play that reasonably well, I'll probably start on the Mozart K. 283 Sonata. At this time I will also be playing Bach Invention #8 and Chopin Nocturne Op. 9-2. Finally, I will also be practicing some scales, the first two Hanon exercises, and a Czerny exercise. So I've got my plate pretty full right now!

EDIT: I just listened to the 1st minute of the Mozart 283 Sonata on YouTube. I'm not sure if I'll be able to play this after the Beethoven 49-2. It is very fast and sounds difficult to my ears. But I'm sure that my teacher will guide me through it the the best that she can. She heard me play some of the Pathetique Sonata, and I guess she feels that I will be able to handle the Mozart. Maybe the Mozart just sounds harder than it actually is?

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#1054782 - 01/15/09 11:36 PM Re: Confused about my ability level
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
It took me 3 years to get back to where I was before I quit piano, and I'm still not sure I have my technique all the way back (it's almost there). I played fairly serious stuff before I quit - Chopin's piano concerti, the 2nd Ballade, a few etudes, and so forth (I really liked Chopin as a teenager; still do).

In a way, I was lucky to find ragtime - when I first came back to the piano, my level was at best intermediate. I had no idea how to learn a piece or how to practice. I'd forgotten a lot of what I used to know. I had a lot of tension in my arms and shoulders. It was a lot easier to work through all that using ragtime than it would have been with the difficult classical repertoire that I used to play.

3 years later, I think I'm back to where I used to be. And 5 months from now, I'm giving a classical recital, playing some of the pieces I used to play before I quit piano.

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