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#1185670 - 04/23/09 04:27 AM One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy
toucanjunky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/08
Posts: 95
Loc: London. UK
I just realised that I've been a member of PW for a year now and it got me thinking, what effect has that year had on my piano playing and all that goes with it?

Before I joined PW I had returned to the piano with a vague, informal approach to practicing and playing. The change in the last year could not have been more profound - I want to put down a few of the positives and negatives that have arisen over the year (some more serious than others ) and I would be very interested to hear other members views of their time on the forum.

Agony - the more I improve the further I get from attaining my pianistic goals (whatever they may be) . The mass of wonderful performances from amateur through to virtuoso on PW and Youtube makes me sometimes feel like I'm not even playing the same instrument.

Ecstasy - what I've seen and heard on PW/Youtube is awe inspiring and provides me with so much determination to keep practicing and improving.


Agony - realising that so many of my "repertoire" choices are considered overplayed and cliched. Having started trying pieces like Fantaisie Impromptu (way above my level) I selected a few "easier" pieces from my early teens - Bach 2 Part Invention No.1, Moonlight Sonata Mov.1, Mozart Sonata K545 Mov.1 and Fur Elise - only after I'd chosen them did I realise how "popular(!)" they were.

Ecstasy - being introduced to more and more wonderful music, pianists and performances - too many to list.


Agony - as the hours of practice went up my Repetitive Strain Injury, hand, wrist pain returned.

Ecstasy - the pain has reduced to a very manageable level with some manipulation and stretching.


Agony - not being eloquent, bright or quick enough to join in with some of the forum threads.

Ecstasy - so grateful for the wealth of experience, knowledge, honesty and generosity on this forum.


Agony - Selected Lows : Fantaisie Impromptu LH still not smooth, Mozart K545 Mov.1 long trill (fingered 31313131.......) still rubbish at target bpm of 115, Chopin 10/3 "con bravura" never played cleanly, Pathetique LH not good enough, Schubert Impromptu Op90 No.3 - repeated notes, agonizing progress...........too many pieces on the go at one time!

Ecstasy - Selected Highs - Chopin 10/1 Bar 31 (and a few either side ) played smoothly just once at 150bpm, Schumann, Faschingswank Intermezzo RH leaps showing good improvement, Chopin"Revolutionary" 10/12 improving in parallel with the ever helpful study group, Octave technique starting to surface using Liszt B minor sonata first few pages as a study, Chopin Sonata No.3 , Mov.4 - playing at low tempo the first delicious, melodic octave section (approx bars 28- 40). the hairs standing up on the back of my neck, tears in my eyes remembering my Dad playing this 30 years ago........many wonderful pieces on the go at one time!

.......I could go on and on but.........

Thank you to the forum for allowing me this self-indulgent, therapeutic post.

Looking forward to many more years on these forums

Chris

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#1185722 - 04/23/09 08:35 AM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: toucanjunky]
mom3gram Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/26/08
Posts: 1129
Loc: New Jersey
I've been a member here for a year and about 4 months. I started with a $99 keyboard and a Bastien Primer kids book. I've moved on to a decent digital piano and most of the way through the Alfred Adult All-in-One Book 1.

My highs would be:
Meeting all the super people on the Alfred Book 1 thread. Some of them feel almost like family.
Playing something that actually sounds like music (Cockles & Mussels, Joy to the World, & others)
Being able to play a few "easy" versions of classics I recognize

In fact, most of my experience both here and at my piano have been highs.

My lows would be:
Struggling with a few pieces way beyond the "normal" time and still not sounding musical (several of the blues pieces in particular)

Looking forward to:
Finishing Book 1 and starting Book 2
Learning some "real" easier classics
Being able to play the songs in my Greatest Hits, and Pop Songbook
Entertaining family with Christmas Carols this year

I too look forward to many more years on these forums.
_________________________
mom3gram

ALFRED'S ADULT BOOK 1 GRADUATE


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#1185830 - 04/23/09 12:45 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: mom3gram]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17699
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Great post, toucanjunky, and happy PW birthday! smile

Thank you for the touching post. The musical journey is long and difficult but there's nothing else quite like it, is there? heart
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1185836 - 04/23/09 01:00 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: Monica K.]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
The agony and ecstacy is right.

Anything that has important to us in our lives - our passion - our pursuit - has it's wonderful moments and it's horrible moments. The extremes of feelings and experiences.

I'm celebrating your presence here!

We all need our therapeutic elixirs.

Saying what we are confronting is an awareness and owning of something important to us. May you be blessed with inspiration and motivation from within that serves to comfort and sustain you in your musical journey through the good times and the challenging times. It's our inner world we are really working on in music, I think, as in recreational as in the sense of our own inner dwelling person, a "re"creation" in the happening.

Best!

Betty Patnude

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#1185946 - 04/23/09 04:00 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: toucanjunky]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: toucanjunky

Agony - realising that so many of my "repertoire" choices are considered overplayed and cliched. Having started trying pieces like Fantaisie Impromptu (way above my level) I selected a few "easier" pieces from my early teens - Bach 2 Part Invention No.1, Moonlight Sonata Mov.1, Mozart Sonata K545 Mov.1 and Fur Elise - only after I'd chosen them did I realise how "popular(!)" they were.


This is something that affects a lot of us, me included. A big part of it for me is that I come from a blue collar, working class family, and my exposure to classical piano music (except for what I played on the piano myself) as a kid was limited to exactly 2 albums...one Van Cliburn 'Greatest Hits' type album that had exactly those type of 'overplayed, popular' pieces, and an 'Intro to Great Composers' album for kids that had snippets of the best-known works of Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, with a lot of talking about their lives.

Especially if you (and, if you're a kid, your family) are not all that familiar with an extensive piano repertoire, it is natural that the pieces you know, recognize and love will be exactly those 'greatest hits' type pieces. And I think all too often people heavily involved with piano discount the importance and thrill of being able to play "real", recognizable pieces from the Classical repertoire that professional pianists play. I think it's a big mile marker for a lot of students and I hate to hear people sniffing about "hackneyed, overplayed" repertoire.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

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#1186009 - 04/23/09 05:26 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: ProdigalPianist]
kennychaffin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/09
Posts: 889
Loc: Aurora, CO
Wonderful post and Happy Birthday!



I've not been here that long, but what a wonderful place. I believe in stopping at crucial points and certainly once a year and taking stock of the past and planning for the future!

Well done, and may your next year be even more ecstatic!

P.S. I may start working on learning your initial play list, hope you don't mind. smile



Edited by kennychaffin (04/23/09 05:28 PM)
_________________________
Kenny A. Chaffin
Art Gallery - Print Gallery - Poetry
"Strive on with Awareness" - Siddhartha Gautama

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#1186424 - 04/24/09 11:27 AM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: kennychaffin]
babama Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/08
Posts: 800
Loc: Netherlands
Nice post. I've been member for over a year and this is definately an inspiring forum. The knowledge and skill of other players, the love and passion for the music, the recitals..

I'm proud that I got this far within 19 months of piano playing (even though I've had many years of keyboard experience earlier in life). It was definately a struggle sometimes, taking on some pieces 'above my level' but I've learned so much from it. And it was great getting some feedback here.

This year I couldn't take lessons sadly, but still I feel I progressed a lot. I'm already excited about taking lessons again after summer with the same teacher... to play some pieces for him that I studied myself.
And the Rachmaninov prelude I'm currently studying... wow, my biggest project so far... challenging but so beautiful.. never before did I enjoy playing so much. I got the shivers while playing. I'm not finished by a long shot but I just know I am capable of it and I am going to complete it sooner or later.

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#1186722 - 04/24/09 07:46 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: babama]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
The agony - having to accept the fact that all the effort in the world can't overcome a basic lack of talent, recognizing that while I have the will to be an excellent pianist I don't have the basic wiring

The estasy - having the most absorbing, joy giving, personally fulfilling thing I've ever experienced literally at my fingertips in my home everyday at no extra charge
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#1186759 - 04/24/09 08:46 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: -Frycek]
NancyM333 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1547
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
I'm with you on the agony, Frycek. However, as a teacher who sees lots of kids with oodles of ability and no effort, I have concluded that it's much better to be blessed with the work ethic gene than the natural ability gene. Still, it can be a little frustrating not to progress as much as I think my work warrants.

Chris--Great idea for a thread. I found PW while looking for something else piano-related, and it has made a normally solitary pursuit seem almost like a team sport.

Nancy
_________________________

Estonia 168, Yamaha UX3

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#1186769 - 04/24/09 08:59 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: NancyM333]
Waltz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 707
Loc: Massachusetts
Frycek: your posts always inspire me. I tend to be highly critical of myself and feelings of "worthlessness at the keyboard" are sometimes overwhelming. What you say, however, gives me perspective and a feeling of calm. Thank you.
_________________________

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#1187019 - 04/25/09 09:51 AM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: toucanjunky]
Larry B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 377
Loc: Boston
What an outstanding post!

While not yet a year, my months at PW have been transformational.

I've played happily for thirty years, on and off (based on when I had access to a piano). I had lessons for years as a child and teenager, but none since. I enjoy playing very much and considered myself to be pretty good (some others have agreed over the years).

But....the initial agony of hanging around PW was the realization of just how limited I was/am; which turned inside-out, is the ecstasy of how much more there is to know and listen to and practice and play and enjoy.

Coming here, I've learned about loads of new music I never paid attention to before, learned how to practice, learned how to listen.

Agony - realizing that it's difficult, and feeling like something - a technique, a run, an expressive passage - will never come. Ecstasy - realizing (sometimes) that that maddeningly impossible passage is now in hand.

Agony - hearing all the terrific recordings posted to recitals and the member recordings forum, and wondering at ever being able to play the way so many can. Ecstasy - hearing all the terrific recordings posted to recitals and the member recordings forum, and wondering at ever being able to play the way so many can.

Agony (for my wife) - going from enjoying listening to me playing her favorite pop music to listening to me endlessly repeat (badly) a passage of Chopin or the like until I "get it".
Ecstasy - Her taking it in stride and enjoying listening to me improve and eventually play the new material passably well.

It's been a wild ride!

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#1187124 - 04/25/09 12:54 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: Larry B]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8077
Loc: Georgia, USA
Nice thread.

I might add that I too have experienced agony and ecstasy in regards to my piano playing adventure. However, as I progress ever so slowly, I’ve learned to stop and smell the roses, i.e., enjoy where I am currently as opposed to wishing to be something or someone I’m not.

I may well achieve my long-term musical goals, but the daily “here and now” is all we really have.

So, enjoy the “here and now” and keep up the good work!

Take care,

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1187827 - 04/26/09 05:41 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: Rickster]
toucanjunky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/08
Posts: 95
Loc: London. UK
Thanks so much for the responses to post - this is why I so enjoy and appreciate everybody on this forum, so generous of spirit and stimulating.

I realize I probably didn't make it absolutely clear that my piano ecstasy far outweighs any sweet, painful anguish along the way. Sometimes I'm aware that I'm not even sure where I'm going with my playing.....all I know is that I'm enjoying the exquisite journey. It reminds me of when I've been lucky enough to take a boat trip on vacation to some secluded nature lodge and I've just wanted the boat trip to go on for ever.

Chris

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#1187905 - 04/26/09 08:15 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: toucanjunky]
J.W. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/26/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Iowa
I am new to Piano World, and it's wonderful to get an idea of what I can expect, both from my journey with the piano and from the site. I know learning, and working towards repertoire I love, will be difficult. I'm glad there's a supportive community for it.

I have to say, I don't think there's anything at all wrong with playing popular repertoire. Someone pooh-poohing a piece for being 'overplayed' smacks of elitism. It reminds me of the hipster kids who adore a band that no one else has heard of; should that band achieve popularity, though, the hipster kids will accuse them of having sold out, and move on to the next small thing.

Well-known repertoire became well-known for a reason - it didn't start out being 'overplayed.' Rather, it had an ability to stir people and seep into their consciousnesses more easily than other repertoire.

As far as 'overplayed' goes - is it even possible? I could listen to a full recital with 8 or 10 pianists each playing Chopin's Ballade in G Minor. The varying interpretations, nuances, strengths and weaknesses of the players keep it interesting.

If certain pieces weren't played extensively, I probably wouldn't have a recording of Glenn Gould's ridiculously entertaining Apassionata - I'd never want to play it that way, but I think it's a riot to listen to!
_________________________
Revolutionary Etude aspirations, Minuet in G abilities.

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#1188151 - 04/27/09 08:02 AM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: J.W.]
NancyM333 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1547
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
Welcome to the forum, J.W. I read your intro on the other thread, and it sounds like you are really motivated. Giving up cable for piano lessons is pretty impressive!

I agree with you on the term overplayed. Probably the most overplayed piano piece of all time is "Fur Elise," and even though I played it as a child and I have a son working on it right now, I still love hearing it. I do have some sympathy for people who sell pianos and hear people come in and play a few bars of it every day, but in most cases I find it hard for something to be overplayed.

Come visit with us at the Revolutionary Etude study group--one of our very talented and generous members has recorded some of the piece in ultra-slow time, played with staccato, to show us how we might practice it so when sped it up it is fluid. That's an early post. None of us has gotten to the point of posting a recording of it yet, and we've been at it about four months.

Nancy
_________________________

Estonia 168, Yamaha UX3

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#1189097 - 04/28/09 01:35 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: NancyM333]
PianoTeacherKim Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Kailua-Kona, HI
What a great post, toucanjunky. Happy PW birthday and thank you for so openly sharing the highs and lows. It's been great to read everyone else's as well. And welcome to J.W. - you have much to look forward to!

I think Rick said it well about enjoying the here and now. There's something in us adults, and in our society, that makes it hard for us to accept being beginners at anything and enjoying each little bit of progress. We are, so often, looking ahead and saying, "Well, it will be great when I can play better." But you can already play things you couldn't play yesterday, or last week, or last month. Let's celebrate that! Let's celebrate the first 5 pages of Alfred's Book 1 and the first time you play something with both hands!

The yearning to play well that motivates practice and keeps you energized is a good thing; the comparison to others and shame over what you can't yet do is not so good. We are, all of us, on this journey to get better at playing piano - there's not an end to what can be learned and accomplished. You might think professionals are always satisfied with their playing, but you'd be surprised how often that isn't the case. We are so self-critical. It's hard to let go of, but so worth it.

Here's to many more PW birthdays and accomplishments!

Best,

Kim
_________________________
Find some help for stage fright and share what helps you -- Stage Fright Tips. Let's learn from each other!

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#1189127 - 04/28/09 02:12 PM Re: One year at Piano World-the Agony and the Ecstasy [Re: PianoTeacherKim]
Waltz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 707
Loc: Massachusetts
Well said, Kim. I like your style smile
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