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#1065183 - 06/15/04 02:19 PM Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
After reading the responses to the two threads about performance anxiety, I started wondering how many other adult beginners are here -- roughly defining "adult beginner" as people who took up piano as adults, regardless of how long you've been playing now. How has it gone, what has been easy, what has been hard, etc.

As for me, I decided to start my kids in piano almost 5 years ago. I had always always *always* wanted to learn myself, so I started with them, initially taking lessons every other week, but soon ramping up to weekly 45-minute lessons. I played clarinet in high school, I could type fast, so I figured piano wouldn't be too hard. Puh!

Anyway, now it has been almost five years. I'm still rather frustrated that I can't just pick up a piece of music and whip through it -- progress of any sort takes a long time and is quite a grind. I have all of these books of pop songs that I can't begin to play! Grrrr! I've ramped the practice time up to 45 minutes a day, and that does seem to help, but more would be better. I struggle mightily with chords and have decided this is the year I will finally whip them.

I've done two recitals each year (the first after I played for 18 months and could manage an actual song). I have serious performance anxiety -- it's a running joke in the studio! -- even though I don't have performance anxiety in other things in life. It is getting better, though.

I tend to like things that have a strong melody, and I've been playing through "Chopin: An Introduction to His Piano Works" because it came with a CD! I can't stand to play anything that sounds childish, so my teacher has tried to find pieces that sound harder than they are and sound adult at the same time.

My recital pieces in order have been:

1. Chopin Mazurka in G Minor (Op. 67, No.2)
2. Chopin Walz in A Minor
3. Chopin Mazurka in B flat Major (Op.7, No. 1)
4. Chopin Polonaise in B flat Major
5. Bach Prelude, No. 1 from The Well-Tempered Clavier
6. Beethoven Sonatina (Sonata) in G Major, Op. 49, No. 2)
7. Chopin Polonaise in A Flat Major

Next up is a Scherzo (sp?) by Schumann. Lots of fireworks in that piece -- I like that in a song!

Anyway, that's my story!

Cindy -- Estonia 190 owner after playing an old Kimball upright for the first four years
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#1065184 - 06/15/04 02:41 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
devils4ever Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/04
Posts: 477
Loc: northwest NJ
Hmmm....I know exactly how you feel. I took 2-3 years worth of lessons back before my now 12 year old daughter was born. I was getting decent but progess seemed slow. I was just transitioning from "Easy Classics to Moderns" to "Intermediate Classics to Moderns" when I quit because of my newborn.

Now, I'm starting lessons again. I'm looking for a teacher in my area. It still takes me quite a while to get good at a piece and I still make mistakes. It's rare that I play through without some wrong notes. My teacher seemed to not mind too much about wrong notes. He seemed more interested in keeping good wrist position and getting some dynamics into the music. Unless the music is REALLY simple, I have to play it for weeks before I can get the tempo up to where it should be.
_________________________
"Applaud friends, the comedy is over." --Ludwig van Beethoven on his deathbed.
August Förster 190 Artcase

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#1065185 - 06/15/04 04:08 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
Well, I've pretty well spilled my guts on previous threads... Maybe we Adult Beginners need a forum of our own.

I started piano lessons three years ago at the tender age of 38. I played cello for a couple of years as a kid but gave it up when I got tired of schlepping the thing around...and I didn't like squeaky little violins...I was much more comfortable in a lower octave. One slight advantage it gave me was that I already knew about Bass Clef, since that's what cello music is written in. But I never learned about the Grand Staff until my piano teacher gave me a Music Theory for Adult Beginner Piano Students book.

As an adult I wanted to get back to music. I thought about trying the cello again. But at the time I got serious, I was travelling a lot for business, so I wanted something portable. I have also continued to play the recorder long after most people gave it up after suffering their year of recorder in 3rd grade. I have about a dozen recorders in all sizes from sopranino to bass.

It dawned on me that if I took up piano, I wouldn't need to carry one, because on looking around, pianos are everywhere (as we discussed in the thread Travel Pianos ).

Then I saw an ad for a used Kawai keyboard for a really good price. I bought it. I decided that instead of just diddling around on it, I would get serious...but the problem was finding a suitable teacher. I am a professional instructor myself, so I'm a very fussy student. I interviewed two or three teachers, none of whom had any experience with adult beginners. Some had experience with adults, but only advanced adults. And every one had experience with beginners, but usually in the 6- to 12-year-old range.

I started lessons at a local storefront music school. Bad move. I could never hear the piano I was playing, I could only hear the kid in the next room abusing a saxophone.

So I went on the hunt again. I found a very nice woman in my area who also teaches harp and had two other adult beginner piano students and several adult beginner harpists.


One thing that my teacher mentioned and that I know from studying languages is that there are areas of the brain that absorb new information quickly when we are young, but sometime in our teens, those areas start to close off. A five-year-old can start speaking another language after very little exposure to it. But for an adult, every new word is a struggle. Maybe it's because we have gone from innocent absorbtion to trying to make the new information fit an existing paradigm. Anyway, it's similar with music. As adult beginners, we are trying to forge new neural pathways that for kids are forming readily, but for adults, it's like drilling through solid granite.

And, as someone mentioned on one of the other threads, as adults, we are our own worst critics. We have very high expectations of ourselves. We get frustrated easily when a piece seems like it should be simple, but it takes weeks to get it up to tempo. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance. And practicing.

I never have to tell my teacher that I haven't practiced much (or at all) in a given week. She can tell. But when I can practice an hour a day, it really shows. On the other hand, she's told me that when an 8yo comes in and hasn't practiced, she knows that hanging out at the mall or playing video games outprioritized practicing. With the adults, it's the insane boss, finishing the tax return, or cleaning the basement after the sewer backed up that ate into our practicing time that week.

Where am I now? I just played my first Scarlatti piece in a recital, the Aria L423/K32. I'm starting to work on my piece for our Christmas recital...I figure six months may be even be a little optimistic for Wachet Auf.


Funny you should mention typing. I can type at least 80 WPM...in my youth I could do 120. Three years into it, I don't think that has much bearing on one's ability to play the piano. First off, there are a lot more things going on at once. I also have a pilot's license and have several hours in large commercial jet airplane sims. While flying a 747 is complex, you never have to do more than one or two things simultaneously.

When you are playing a piano, you have to read two lines of music, find the right notes with each hand independently, maintain rhythm and tempo, pedal, add dynamics, phrasing, and even turn the page every once in a while. It must be one of the most complex tasks in all human activity.


I'm thinking about starting to work on my Masters in the field of adult learning. I have a lot of first-hand material to work with.

I would like to hear about the different experiences that absolute beginners have compared to those of us who returned to the piano after taking but quitting lessons as a kid. I think the "retreads" have a leg up on us rank beginners. I want to know more.

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#1065186 - 06/15/04 04:14 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
ycul Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/04
Posts: 1402
Loc: U.K.
Cindy,
I've just started reading My Lessons With Kumi by Michael Colgrass. It was recommended to me by a very nice lady-who's name I can't remember-from this forum There's tons of stuff in there to get your teeth into. I've only read about a quarter so far but I can imagine that if you follow a lot of the techniques they'll rub off very positively into other areas of your life aswell. I've also seen a few other books recommended in other posts that are probably worth a look.
I understand (I think) your nervousness in performing.
I've been a singer for 10 years or so now. I'd say that for the last year I've felt truly confident in what I do.
I started learning the piano exactly a year ago because I've always relied on other musicians to accompany me to get work. I saw it as a way to being independant. I started learning to accompany myself and quickly learnt to co-ordinate 2 hands and my voice. Trouble was I listened back to myself one day and it was rubbish. No touch. Since then I've been having proper lessons and started from the beginning. Really enjoyable.

It's a funny thing this performance anxiety. The thought of making a mistake/slip-up on the piano in front of people terrifies me and yet the fact that I make a few at every gig doesn't bother me in the slightest. I usually find it funny and it makes my partner laugh. And vice versa.
I read all the replies to your last post and the one that struck a chord with me was the one from Gb minor (or something like that). I'm sure that if you do keep at it, it becomes easier.
Remember, what you've done recently is a real achievement. Dwell on the positive. To perform a recital would probably have been unthinkable to you a few years ago. I think it's amazing. Well done and keep at it.
_________________________
How now, brown cow.

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#1065187 - 06/15/04 07:35 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18076
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
My recital pieces in order have been:

1. Chopin Mazurka in G Minor (Op. 67, No.2)
2. Chopin Walz in A Minor
3. Chopin Mazurka in B flat Major (Op.7, No. 1)
4. Chopin Polonaise in B flat Major
5. Bach Prelude, No. 1 from The Well-Tempered Clavier
6. Beethoven Sonatina (Sonata) in G Major, Op. 49, No. 2)
7. Chopin Polonaise in A Flat Major


Cindy -- Estonia 190 owner after playing an old Kimball upright for the first four years [/b]
Cindy: You're saying you went from the Bach Prelude no 1, to the Beethoven Op 49 No 2 and then to the Chopin Ab Polonaise, one of the more difficult of the Chopin larger works?

How did you manage that?

Curious ...
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1065188 - 06/15/04 07:57 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Lots of adult beginners here. I started last October at 43 and learned my first song (Silent Night) by Christmas. Unlike many adult "beginners", I've never had any previous music experience. With that excuse, I think I'm doing fairly well.

My goal is to practice an hour a day; but with work, yardwork, and completely gutting and renovating my main bathroom, I've made virtually no progress in a month. I've been lucky to practice enough to maintain the skills I've already learned.

I'm on the Alfred's Adult course. It's a good course but it tends to stick with three main chords in the left hand.

My teacher had me pick up Thompson's Hanon studies. John Thompson took the Hanon exercises and modified them to teach touch at the same time as learning the Hanon. Excellent course!

I'm using Alfred's Scales, Chords, and Arpeggios for scale work. One thing I did accomplish in the last month is the ability to "jump" through the C scale cadences without looking at the keys. That felt great when I was able to do that! I'm having a very difficult time with the arpeggios for some reason though. I think it's just a matter of time and finger memory taking effect.

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#1065189 - 06/15/04 08:01 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
PJE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/04
Posts: 28
Loc: United Kingdom
 Quote:
Originally posted by BruceD:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
My recital pieces in order have been:

1. Chopin Mazurka in G Minor (Op. 67, No.2)
2. Chopin Walz in A Minor
3. Chopin Mazurka in B flat Major (Op.7, No. 1)
4. Chopin Polonaise in B flat Major
5. Bach Prelude, No. 1 from The Well-Tempered Clavier
6. Beethoven Sonatina (Sonata) in G Major, Op. 49, No. 2)
7. Chopin Polonaise in A Flat Major


Cindy -- Estonia 190 owner after playing an old Kimball upright for the first four years [/b]
Cindy: You're saying you went from the Bach Prelude no 1, to the Beethoven Op 49 No 2 and then to the Chopin Ab Polonaise, one of the more difficult of the Chopin larger works?

How did you manage that?

Curious ... [/b]
Could it be to do with there being 3 polonaises in Ab? ;\)

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#1065190 - 06/15/04 10:31 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Oh, Bruce! You flatter me!

The polonaises I did is one Chopin wrote at the ripe old age of 11. It takes all of 5 minutes to play it.
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

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#1065191 - 06/15/04 10:36 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
devils4ever Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/04
Posts: 477
Loc: northwest NJ
There's another good point in this thread. How does I find a good teacher for adult beginners? Is there something in particular to look/ask for? I'm sure teaching adults is different than kids.
_________________________
"Applaud friends, the comedy is over." --Ludwig van Beethoven on his deathbed.
August Förster 190 Artcase

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#1065192 - 06/15/04 10:52 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
That's a good question, Devils.

As for me, I think I just got lucky. I picked up the phone and started calling the parents of my daughters' friends. One of the moms was making all of the right noises (she wasn't obnoxious or pushy with her kids, but they were sticking with it and played well). Knowing nothing about hiring a teacher, I just met my current teacher and started working with her.

She teaches a few accomplished adults and lots of kids. She seems to *love* teaching me -- probably because an adult beginner is a challenge and a change of pace. It has worked OK for a couple of reasons. I'm quite bull-headed, so if I don't like something, I just rebel, which I suspect kids don't do often. She, in turn, seemed to enjoy finding pieces for me that would work. The only major difference of opinion we have had was that I think she wanted me to wait a bit longer to play in her recitals, but I wanted to do it sooner, and I did.

Anyway, that's how it worked for me. I'd love to hear what others have to say on this.
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

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#1065193 - 06/15/04 11:00 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
Linda in PA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 767
Loc: PA - USA
Well, I'm another adult beginner - started about 18 months ago. Recently completed my Grade 2 RCM exam and am now up to my eyeballs in Grade 3 material.

One of my ongoing challenges is voicing. Currently, I'm working on Tchaikovsky's Morning Prayer (Op. 39, No. 1) and am really struggling to bring out the melody. I worked through the fingering to try to use my longest fingers for the S with somewhat mixed resuts and a very crampy hand. This is just not coming very naturally for me. Would really like to hear from others who have struggled and overcome this obstacle.

ycul[/b]: I, too, find Michael's book to be quite helpful. Also think that Eloise Ristad's A Soprano on Her Head is enlightening.

I hope that all of you are enjoying your music. Good luck to all with your progress!

. . . Linda

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#1065194 - 06/15/04 11:26 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i am an adult beginner too. over 3 years ago, during my job break, i picked up the keyboard i had (which had been collecting dust for a long time), and decide to play it seriously. the 1st piece i tried was 'Fur Elise', which i had never played with both hands before. it took me a long time to get used to playing it with HT. finally i was able to play the 1st part of it through, which encouraged me to continue. so, i bought a beginner's piano playing book and went through it, and then started to learn more pieces, such as Mozart's K545's 1st movement, Beethoven's sonatina in G, CPE Bach's solfeggietto, Bach's muesette and prelude 1 from WTC-I. i progressed slowly for about 2 years, and never have had a teacher. since last year, i began to focus on pieces which help with playing skills, including Beethoven's op.49's 1st movement (and 2nd movement currently), Bach's prelude 20 (WTC-I)and invention no.4 & 13, plus scarlatti's K32. currently, i am learning Scarlatti's K25, Bach's sinfonia no.2 and op.49's 2nd movement. my near future learning list will include:

Beethoven:
op.79 1 & 3 movement (learned 2nd movement already)
tempest sonata (tried little bit of 3rd movement so far)

Chopin:
prelude no.7 (rework)
prelude no.4
an etude (yet to decide)

Bach:
a fugue (yet to decide)

hopefully, i could play all those in not very distant future.

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#1065195 - 06/16/04 02:02 AM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
I'm a retread beginner a couple of times over. I played clarinet when I was like 13 or 14 for one summer, sang in choirs (so I could read music) and then took some class piano when I was 18. Other than that I could just pick out melodies to accompany myself enough to learn a song. As an adult I took three years of lessons and then made a move to Idaho and basically haven't played for the last 10 to 12 years. I just started lessons again today! I was so excited and nervous too. I have been working on Chopin Nocturne Op. 72 #1 for years and wanted to play it for the teacher. I felt I did awful, but she liked it and was able to see what I can do and what I need to learn. I'm very hard on myself and always kind of feel like I'm a "fake". I really want to overcome that feeling. I can't read very fast, but I can memorize really well so I have a tendency to memorize and then stop reading the music. I hope to never let it go again. I don't want to get to the end of my life and say "I wish I had kept playing" I just want to enjoy it and become as accomplished as I can. It's hard to find the time to practice when you are tired at night after working. I teach and so I have summers off. That's why I decided to take lessons this summer. I hope I can make enough progress to keep my going during the school year and maybe just take a couple of lessons a month. But of course we decided to remodel and now I'm trying to squeeze it all in! Along with riding my horses as well! I figure if I improve enough I will really deserve that new Grand piano I'm dying to have! I committed to performing the Chopin at the end of summer, and I have always had terrible performance anxiety! Good luck to all of us!
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1065196 - 06/16/04 02:03 AM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
I'm a retread beginner a couple of times over. I played clarinet when I was like 13 or 14 for one summer, sang in choirs (so I could read music) and then took some class piano when I was 18. Other than that I could just pick out melodies to accompany myself enough to learn a song. As an adult I took three years of lessons and then made a move to Idaho and basically haven't played for the last 10 to 12 years. I just started lessons again today! I was so excited and nervous too. I have been working on Chopin Nocturne Op. 72 #1 for years and wanted to play it for the teacher. I felt I did awful, but she liked it and was able to see what I can do and what I need to learn. I'm very hard on myself and always kind of feel like I'm a "fake". I really want to overcome that feeling. I can't read very fast, but I can memorize really well so I have a tendency to memorize and then stop reading the music. I hope to never let it go again. I don't want to get to the end of my life and say "I wish I had kept playing" I just want to enjoy it and become as accomplished as I can. It's hard to find the time to practice when you are tired at night after working. I teach and so I have summers off. That's why I decided to take lessons this summer. I hope I can make enough progress to keep my going during the school year and maybe just take a couple of lessons a month. But of course we decided to remodel and now I'm trying to squeeze it all in! Along with riding my horses as well! I figure if I improve enough I will really deserve that new Grand piano I'm dying to have! I committed to performing the Chopin at the end of summer, and I have always had terrible performance anxiety! Good luck to all of us!
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1065197 - 06/16/04 02:03 AM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
I'm a retread beginner a couple of times over. I played clarinet when I was like 13 or 14 for one summer, sang in choirs (so I could read music) and then took some class piano when I was 18. Other than that I could just pick out melodies to accompany myself enough to learn a song. As an adult I took three years of lessons and then made a move to Idaho and basically haven't played for the last 10 to 12 years. I just started lessons again today! I was so excited and nervous too. I have been working on Chopin Nocturne Op. 72 #1 for years and wanted to play it for the teacher. I felt I did awful, but she liked it and was able to see what I can do and what I need to learn. I'm very hard on myself and always kind of feel like I'm a "fake". I really want to overcome that feeling. I can't read very fast, but I can memorize really well so I have a tendency to memorize and then stop reading the music. I hope to never let it go again. I don't want to get to the end of my life and say "I wish I had kept playing" I just want to enjoy it and become as accomplished as I can. It's hard to find the time to practice when you are tired at night after working. I teach and so I have summers off. That's why I decided to take lessons this summer. I hope I can make enough progress to keep my going during the school year and maybe just take a couple of lessons a month. But of course we decided to remodel and now I'm trying to squeeze it all in! Along with riding my horses as well! I figure if I improve enough I will really deserve that new Grand piano I'm dying to have! I committed to performing the Chopin at the end of summer, and I have always had terrible performance anxiety! Good luck to all of us!
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1065198 - 06/16/04 02:26 AM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
katie_dup1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 1838
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by teachum:
I hope to never let it go again. I don't want to get to the end of my life and say "I wish I had kept playing" I just want to enjoy it and become as accomplished as I can. [/b]
Yup......I must agree with you. I'm a retread too ....returned after a 26 year absence ..... I was demoted 3 grades & am finally ascending those musical steps again. My house is a mess, the lawn has dandelions, the laundry piles up, and I regret nothing b/c I'm playing again. Best of luck to you Teachum!

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#1065199 - 06/16/04 01:08 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 982
Loc: Oregon
I took 3 years of lessons on a rented piano while I was in high school (25 years ago!). Then life just took over with college, work, moving to another state, not having a piano, being on a budget, etc........

I've had a digital piano for 3 years and just practiced occasionally, but last December, the piano bug bit me and I met with 8 different piano teachers of all experience and teaching styles. If was difficult to choose since I know each had something to offer, but I chose one I'm happy with. I also decided to enroll in the Adult Group Piano course at the local community college. I will start the last of 3 classes next week. It has been an extremely good experience to be in this class. Although I am ahead of several in speed and knowing my scales, I am behind them in the theory, chord progressions, etc. I'm thinking of taking music theory to enhance my knowlegde and keep my brain active.

My husband encouraged me to buy an acoustic piano so I began my search........with a budget, of course. It was a lot of fun. I was going to purchase a 44" Yamaha upright, but decided on the 48" Yamaha U1 - the difference in sound was so significant. I love the U1, and love the feel of an acoustic. I still have the digital for evening practices.

I wish I had started back up sooner, but at least I'm doing it now and can't get enough of it!

Best of luck to all of you retreads like me!

sleepingcats
_________________________
"Cats make purrfect friends"

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#1065200 - 06/16/04 02:54 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
MLT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 356
I have been learning for about two years and am on my second teacher because of a move. I like my new teacher and took some time in finding somebody that felt right. With adults, the teacher you pick is really more of a partnership than when you are a kid. I also had to find a teacher that would agree to meet for 45 minutes every other week instead of weekly which can be hard. Like everybody who works and has families I just cant do more than that and still maintain a life. My wife and I alternate every other week so she does not mind. I practice around 30 to 45 minutes per day and that works OK for me.

When I took up playing, I thought the piano was kind of a solo activity, just me banging away. Its nothing like that. Playing piano is really interactive which is wonderful to introverts like myself. Whether at lessons, recitals, or just playing away with my wife or daughter, its really great interaction with people. It has also surprised me how much my family has gravitated away from the TV and towards the piano. I take that as a really good thing.

My progress is dismally slow although it does have moments that remind me its imminently worthwhile. I know I will never be great at the piano and I can live with that, knowing that most great pianists wouldnt be very good engineers either. Some days though, I do wonder what it would be like to be on stage somewhere, in a tuxedo, with a really big piano, playing perfectly in front of tons of admiring people, solely creating a thing of such beauty that people could not help but to stand and yell bravo!! and maybe chicks would throw their undies at me or something. . I doubt great pianists have similar aspirations about maximizing the efficiency of a traffic intersection. Such is life. Anyway, Im getting off topic.

Kirk

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#1065201 - 06/16/04 04:26 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18076
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by PJE:
 Quote:
Originally posted by BruceD:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
[qb] You're saying you went from the Bach Prelude no 1, to the Beethoven Op 49 No 2 and then to the Chopin Ab Polonaise, one of the more difficult of the Chopin larger works?

How did you manage that?

Curious ... [/b]
Could it be to do with there being 3 polonaises in Ab? ;\) [/b]
Duh! Do I feel stupid? Yes, I do!! \:o

What was I (not) thinking when I posted that one! Cindy - forgive me!

In my (pretty feeble) defense, let me just say that my Pollini recording, my Rubinstein recording and my (old) Peters edition give only the Op 53 and the Polonaise-Fantasie Op 61 as being in Ab. I did not know of the earlier one.

Ah, yes. That's what we're here for: to learn!

Sheepishly!
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#1065202 - 06/16/04 05:51 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
 Quote:
After reading the responses to the two threads about performance anxiety, I started wondering how many other adult beginners are here -- roughly defining "adult beginner" as people who took up piano as adults, regardless of how long you've been playing now. How has it gone, what has been easy, what has been hard, etc.
Something I learned from my last teacher was not to try suppressing the feelings of fright (or terror!) because they are an aspect of me. The best approach according to her, albeit probably the most difficult, is to stay with the feelings while centering and focusing. That's not very easy at first and it takes practice. It's also kinda scary. That's why I liked her monthly group get-togethers. They were an opportunity to practice living with my fear. I am a little discontented that at the moment I have no outlet for practicing in front of people. (I'll get a change June 26th though... Yeah! NE Piano World party at BeeLady's!)

I don't really like to label tasks "easy" or "hard" because it's irrelevant--each task is what it is. Is climbing Mt. Everest hard? Is walking across the street easy? It doesn't matter. It's the doing and mastering that matters. That's how I like to look at it. (But some things are really hard! Oh yeah.)

Probably the most time consuming thing for me as an adult beginner has been gaining use of muscles that had remained in a state of unuse or misuse for 30 to 40 years. The process of regaining my self has been one of enormous joy and I don't know what I would do if I had to stop playing the piano.

I started lessons 13 years ago when I was 34, but I could "play" somewhat before that since I was self taught as a youngster and played around with piano until I was about 20. I could also read music when I started because I had 7 years of oboe lessons in school. (They say playing oboe makes a person crazy because of all the pressure that builds up in the head from it being a double-reed instrument!! I guess that explains it!)

Another thing I find difficult as an adult student is keeping learned pieces in memory. It seems that there's so much stuff to learn in new pieces that I let learned pieces fall by the way side. If I want to play them again, I need to spend at least a couple weeks getting them back in memory.
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

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#1065203 - 06/16/04 06:10 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
 Quote:
Originally posted by teachum:
I can't read very fast, but I can memorize really well so I have a tendency to memorize and then stop reading the music. [/b]
Teachum, out of curiosity are you in Cd'A?

I do this, too. By the time I get a piece memorized, there as many things scribbled on the page by my teacher and me as there were notes to begin with. After a while, I stop "reading" the music, and I'm paying attention only to the notes. Then I wean myself off of the notes, and the piece is completely in my head.

I don't know if this is a good thing or not. My sight-reading stinks. I try to get my teacher to do sight-reading exercises, but I wish we'd do more of them.

Everything takes time, I guess.

 Quote:
Originally posted by MLT:
...in a tuxedo, with a really big piano, playing perfectly in front of tons of admiring people, solely creating a thing of such beauty that people could not help but to stand and yell bravo!! and maybe chicks would throw their undies at me... [/b]
I had never had that image in mind when I started piano lessons... But now that you mention it...

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#1065204 - 06/16/04 07:40 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
Boy am I embarassed! My post went on three times! I'm really not that egotistical. I was having troubles with my connection and didn't think it was going through and kept hitting the button. Ooops!

Pianojuggler - I am in Spirit Lake, north of CDA.

It's fun to read about everyone's experiences learning as an adult. I think I'm going to do great with my new teacher. I plan on taking weekly for the summer and then hopefully, a couple of times/month during the fall and winter when school is in session. That should keep me focused and goal oriented.

I am really enjoying working on the Clementi Sonatinas. They are not difficult, but they sound great and fun and bouncy. I bought Czerny and Bach inventions for 2 and 3 parts. Any thoughts on those, anyone? Several of the pianist interviews in Cooke's book mention them as good for technical skills and reading practice.
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1065205 - 06/16/04 09:18 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
Balparda Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 48
Loc: Colombia
I kind of consired myself a 'kinda-adult begginer'. I started aboout 4 months ago, at the age of 18. Med school doesn't leave me that much time to practice, but I still manage to get about 1 hour a day, a bit more on the weekends.

So far, I've learned completely two of my own compositions, called 'Crypt' and 'At the End of the Rainbow' (you can check out some of my works at http://www.sibeliusmusic.com/cgi-bin/search.pl?com=advancedsearch&ComposerName="Jon%20Balparda"&Arranger="Jon%20Balparda"&or=1)

RIght now, I'm working on a piano solo arrangement of Evanescense's Bring me to Life, and a Nobuo Uematsu (sp?) song called 'Walt for the Moon'

I feel like I'm not advancing that quick, due to the fact that I'm not a kid anymore, and, as has been said before, you learn stuff easier the younger you are.

Right now, I'm trying to find a good teacher. I used to have one, but what we did in our classes was:
1st Class: Practice the C scale *for the whole 45 minutes*
2nd Class: Practice the G scale *for the whole 45 minutes*
3rd Class: I go to him with a song I would like to work on, and he said we were not gonna play anything at all until I could play ALL scales. Practice the D scale *for the whole 45 minutes*
4th Class: Ask the teacher if he's kidding when he says we won't play ANYTHING before I have memorized ALL scales; he sais he's never spoken more seriously. Practice A scale *for the whole 45 minutes*
5th Class and up: I never show up again...

Man, this teacher could kill anybody's desire to play... He wasn't really nice and polite, either...


-Jon
_________________________
Amy Lee is hot...

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#1065206 - 06/16/04 10:02 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
devils4ever Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/04
Posts: 477
Loc: northwest NJ
Back when I was taking lessons for the first time, I did scales after a couple of months. I practiced one scale for the week along with 2 other pieces, then we moved on to another scale. It only took a few months to go through all the scales and then I never did them again. Actually, I never minded doing scales. I found them to be a challenge like anything else. I agree though, doing ONLY scales, especially for beginners, will kill any enthusiasm.

BTW, my teacher never let me practice them hands together, always one hand at a time. Not sure why.
_________________________
"Applaud friends, the comedy is over." --Ludwig van Beethoven on his deathbed.
August Förster 190 Artcase

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#1065207 - 06/16/04 10:43 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
Just to share my experience. I started playing piano at 37, about 4 months ago. I feel I've gotten a fairly progressive teacher, given the posts above. We've spent the last 2 months on jazz and blues basics - 12-bar blues shuffle, reading from a fake book (just did 11 and 13 chords this evening), voice leading and chord voicing, chord inversions, and we will start some simple improvisation techniques for next lesson, and then learn about modes.

I am not fluent in any of this, of course, also the only classical pieces I can play even ok are Bach's Minuet in G and a simplified Fur Elise. We have spent less time on perfecting simple classical pieces, and more time on learning fake book reading and chord inversions (I can do triad chords and most root position 7-chords by sight, but I still have to think about most inversions.)

I asked him if I was "missing" something by not starting in the traditional way of playing classical scales and then perfecting simpler classical pieces. His response was that I probably lag behind in those classical skills, but have more skills on jazz and reading from a fake book, than someone of my experience who took a more traditional route. I said I wanted to continue with the modern stuff for a few months, and then maybe backtrack to some more traditional classical pieces and learn the technique and fingering for them. He was fine with that.

Do other adult beginners learn the way I am (a modern fake book approach, not much simple classical or scales), and are there any opinions pro or con, on the method I am describing? I will say that piano lessons are more fun than I imagined this way, and I really feel I am learning a lot of piano playing and theory, but lessons are very different from what I imagined they would be.

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#1065208 - 06/16/04 10:53 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
devils4ever Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/04
Posts: 477
Loc: northwest NJ
Jeffrey,

My first teacher only taught classical. So, I never learned jazz, blues, or pop. I can't read from a fake book, I need to see every single note to play. There is no improvising in classical. You play what you see and that's it. (Well, maybe in the cadenzas.) I'm not sure which is better. I'm looking now for an teacher to start again. I might look for one that can teach blues or jazz as well as classical.
_________________________
"Applaud friends, the comedy is over." --Ludwig van Beethoven on his deathbed.
August Förster 190 Artcase

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#1065209 - 06/16/04 11:49 PM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
 Quote:
I am really enjoying working on the Clementi Sonatinas. They are not difficult, but they sound great and fun and bouncy. I bought Czerny and Bach inventions for 2 and 3 parts. Any thoughts on those, anyone? Several of the pianist interviews in Cooke's book mention them as good for technical skills and reading practice.
Bach's 2/3-part inventions are definite for improving skills, especially finger work. most of them look simple on notes, but it is not easy to play well. they are meant to be study pieces (mainly for composition), but yet some of them sound extremly beautiful. among what i have learned, 2-part invention no.4 is easier than no.13. currently i am learning sinfonia no.2 (3 part), which is not quite difficult except a few bars with RH trill and melody together. anyway, it is a good learning experience if you try to play any of them.

I never played Czerny, but as i read somewhere it is not recommended by a lot of people, and it is solely for improving skills on playing Beethoven's sonatas.

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#1065210 - 06/17/04 10:30 AM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
Going the fake book route is fine if that's what you want out of your playing. Not everyone wants to play classical music. That's the cool thing about being an adult. You get to make choices about what and how you want to play.

After four weeks of nothing but scales, I would have quit, too. I hope I would have quit and found another teather, not just quit.


If you're looking for me, I'll be out on the web looking for a Scarlatti fake book.

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#1065211 - 06/17/04 10:36 AM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
Alexbp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/03
Posts: 40
Loc: Boston
Great to hear everyone's experiences, I see that many people started piano as adults. Its very inspirational. I started last October at age 23 with no previous music playing experience. I took a month or so of lessons at around 18, but with college life and all didnt have possibility to practice. Although i have been extensively listening to alot of the piano repoertoire since about 16.

From the fist lesson I started learning with the traditional classical approach of scales, arpeggios along with the pieces. Everything that I learn and my teacher gives me is from the classical repertoire. As far as scales go, since I started, practiced 1 scale a week in the circle of fifths Cmaj,Amin,Gmaj,Emin.. etc., majors and minors and did all the arpeggios of main and 7th cords with their inverstions for each scale. I also play each scale in third, tenth and sixths interval, hands together in common and opposite directions. I am on my second round of scales, but this time we do it chromatically, Cmaj,Cmin,C#majC#min..etc. I also recently started to play thirds and Octaves for each scale. I find that scales and arpeggios help alot with learning just about any repertoire.

I try to practice at least 1.5 hours a day to advance as I would like, and try to practice sightreading for at least 10 minutes a day. I have learned up to now the following pieces, but, some of the earlier pieces I don;t remember all the notes anymore \:\)

Chopin Prelude #7 A maj.
Fur Elise (regular version)
Bach 2 part Invention #8 Fmaj
Mozart Rondo a la Turca
Chopin Nocturne #20 C#min
Czerny Etude #13 for Velocity from op. 740
Beethoven Sonata Op. 14 #2 Gmaj Movement 1
Right now learning Bach Prelude & Fugue Book 1 in Emaj.
When i finish learning the P&F my teacher would like to start me on Liszt's Gnomenreigen etude, she says I am technically ready for it.

We work alot on the quality tone and my teacher pays alot of attention to details and not just notes. Learning the notes is just the fist step in all the pieces, then we work alot on the quality and make sure the pieces sound as they should.

Alex.

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#1065212 - 06/17/04 11:17 AM Re: Adult Beginners -- How's It Going?
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I have a question, Alex. Are these arrangements or are you doing the original works? I ask because Mozart's Turkish Rondo is screamin' hard, and I can't imagine playing it after 5 years, let alone after 5 months.

Dang. You guys are inspiring me. I'm going to have to really get after it!
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