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#1238102 - 07/27/09 11:24 AM What advice would you give yourself ...
Astra Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/08/06
Posts: 391
Loc: Slovenia
... if you could go back?

The question is directed to non-classical (pop, rock, blues, jazz) pianists, who already have some experience.

So, if you could go back to any point in the past, what would you advise yourself and why?
ex - pian00b

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#1238114 - 07/27/09 11:52 AM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: Astra]
knotty Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 3041
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
I'd work with the right teacher right away. Save myself some time.

#1238211 - 07/27/09 01:51 PM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: knotty]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1457
I'd probably go to different school for music. I never had any problems with injury when I was in high school, and in the first semester of college I picked up a lot of bad habits and I was starting to have all sorts of injury problem within 6 months. Looking back the instruction I was getting was horrible, but I didn't know any better.. and it took me years to undo the damage.

Studying with a good teacher is important.. the problem is that it's really hard to know when you are younger. But I can tell you this much.. NEVER study with a teacher who encourages you to play with excess tension.. or even pain.

#1238430 - 07/27/09 07:35 PM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: etcetra]
dave solazzo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/09
Posts: 160
Loc: syracuse ny
that's a great question! but that's also an easy one for me to answer.

if i could do it all over again i would not have gone to music school at all. i would have gotten a law degree or some other more marketable degree.

i was lucky because my father is a good jazz bassist; he plays the piano too. he stated me off when i was very young, showing me tunes and teaching me how to improvise. he turned me on to oscar and bill evans and i was listening to their records when i was 12 years old. by the time i was 18 i could already play. in fact, i had already been playing gigs for 2 or 3 years.

i went to music school right out of high school because i didnt know what else to do with myself. i saw all my friends going and i just figured i'd go too. but i dont think it was the best decision for me. because i knew, even at that time, that i didn't want to be a high school band director or public school music teacher. i wanted to be a performer. and obviously you don't really need a performance degree to perform.

so yeah, that is the main thing that i would have done differently.

i think about that a lot, especially now, with the current state of the economy. it just seems more difficult now than ever to make a decent living as a player.

Edited by dave solazzo (07/27/09 07:39 PM)

#1238510 - 07/27/09 09:28 PM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: dave solazzo]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3962
Loc: not in Japan anymore
I would have told myself to start playing much earlier than I did! (I finally started piano at 30, when I had been dreaming of it pretty much my entire life- or at least from the time I was a teenager).
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:

#1238557 - 07/27/09 11:24 PM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: ShiroKuro]
DL33 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 27
I would have insisted on continuing to play the old piano in the basement where I felt free to express myself instead of the "piece of furniture" in the living room where no one wanted to hear anything they couldn't recognize, and I'd have found a teacher who wouldn't condemn me for playing by ear and coming up with my own versions of pieces and also who would appreciate different types of music and not insist only on Classical. And somehow, some way I would have found the money to continue lessons after my mother said I had to quit because she wasn't paying for me to learn composing or theory. I'd also set fire to every Bartok book I had!! HATED that music! It's a good thing that if you want something bad enough, the fire in your heart never really goes out and a spark remains waiting to grow if you'll just give it a chance. Of course, I'd practice more.
Time passes too quickly. Follow your dreams.

#1238584 - 07/28/09 12:28 AM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: dave solazzo]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1457

That's an interesting point. I went to music school because I started doing music late. In fact the first exposure to jazz was at a community college and I thought studying in 4 year college was the natural step to take. The teacher I had at the community college was great and I thought things would be even better at a university.

But my 4 year college experience didn't turn out to be so great. It seemed like anyone who could play at school were frustrated with school and how much time it took away from actual learning/playing. I eneded up skipping most of my classes and practiced on my own.

So yea I guess I am very skeptical about school.. but at the same time I've also met people who improved a lot because they went to school. I think it's more about being at the right place at the right time. Some schools are really happening and you can learn a lot i you go there at the right time.. otherwise school can be a complete waste of time and years of frustration.

Edited by etcetra (07/28/09 12:32 AM)

#1238617 - 07/28/09 01:51 AM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: etcetra]
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1563
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Silly as it sounds, I would tell myself to be more individual, to have more confidence in my own ideas and to ignore the advice of musicians even more than I have. At sixty-one I can now see clearly that when young I had a lot of good ideas which would have flourished better and sooner had I not felt an imperative to follow this or that musical convention, this or that piece of advice from teachers, musicians and friends.

You only get one shot at life and there's no use wasting it pursuing somebody else's dream. Then again, you can't put an old head on young shoulders. My two teachers worthy of that description actually did tell me the precise thing I needed to know very explicitly and I just didn't understand it at the time. Young people rarely recognise or value those qualities in themselves which are unique and precious. They invariably want to do something else for which they are not as well suited. Unfortunately somehow it's just human nature.

Edited by Ted (07/28/09 01:53 AM)
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

#1238799 - 07/28/09 10:48 AM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: Ted]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1457

I know exactly what you mean. I have to say that it's very difficult to believe in yourself when you are young. Nobody really knows you and it's easy to feel like what you do don't really matter at all.

I think being in a right place at the right time, and being in a supportive enviroment makes a big difference. It's important that you believe in those quality yourself but it's also important to have musicians and friends who believe in them too

When I used to be a student in US, my friends, the people I gigged with, and sometimes even people I looked up to were interested in my tune and wanted a copy. And I had friends who I can call to work on those tunes and they sounded right. they knew what to do on them. And those things really gave me a strong reason to write more and experiment more.

But ever since I moved back to my home country after my injury I've stopped composing and playing my music, mostly because they got butchered so many times that I gave up on performing them with people here. I made a post here before but I have drafts and parts of songs that I have not finished writing in over an year. I felt like I lost in touch with whatever music used to mean to me. I actually tried writing something today and nothing came out.

So I guess the important thing is to find that kind of friends and enviroment.. because most real life gig only require you to be adequeate, it doesn't really require you to develop your own voice and instinct. You don't have to learn to play in 7, 5, or dig into Bill Evan's or Brad Mehldau's style to make a living playing and teaching music. You need people who can help each other push and thrive for more.

#1238857 - 07/28/09 12:14 PM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: Ted]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Ted, you just said a mouthful.
If there is a banner ad in this post, please be advised that the owners of the company traffic in illegal drugs and have been caught in compromising positions with farm animals.

#1239335 - 07/28/09 11:50 PM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: J Cortese]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
For me, instead of going to Berklee in the 70's, I would have gone to Harvard Law School or majored in business, so I could have made enough dough to buy the $90+K Bechstein ebony concert piano I played and fell in love with at the NAMM show a few years ago in CA. That piano played itself, a piano so perfectly designed, best piano touch and action, thundering bass, exquisite mids, sparkling highs, absolute finest acoustic piano I was lucky enough to play. I was addicted to it. I still remember and think about that piano, but at almost a price tag of just under $100k, no way man, not in this lifetime. If God plays the piano, this is the one He will own and play for eternity, hehe


#1239348 - 07/29/09 12:05 AM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: etcetra]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
etcetra, I think you would have made a good fit if you had gone to Berklee. They start you out first semester with jazz improv, jazz harmony, jazz ensembles, private lessons in both jazz and classical, jazz arranging.

Other music colleges require an intensive classical curriculum and then they let you get into the jazz program, but this approach doesn't work for everyone. If I had to go that route, I wouldn't have been a jazz student, because I didn't have any traditional piano lessons or much theory. Not all of us have the desire nor the passion to be serious classical when the heart is all into jazz, me included. In fact, I had no interest, or very little passion to study classical, although I started "dabbling" with Bach Inventions and WTC Bk 1 and started some classical lessons with several teachers. Now, I love Bach and play at it almost daily, really helps my ear, technique, and helps me appreciate what Glenn Gould and Horowitz are into.


#1239350 - 07/29/09 12:11 AM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: etcetra]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
etcetra, I hear you about productivity. I'm the opposite though, I have musical ideas and potential tunes running in my brain almost 24-7, but too lazy or unmotivated to write out or record my thoughts. I can sit at my keyboard and instantly produce something, not always good, but sometimes a thing will develop that I like and others may get into it.


#1239380 - 07/29/09 01:52 AM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: nitekatt2008z]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1457

I would have been okay with the classical stuff, it wasn't for the fact that 2/3 of my music classes in my major were classical related and I had to spent half of that time on general education courses. I was so disappointed because I heard so many people with good chops but they just didn't sound very good playing jazz.

yea from what you told me about Berklee it sounds like a happening place. It must be nice having other guys who are better than you show you stuff. I met couple of people who went to Berklee here.. some are pretty good, but others not so good.. but it sounds like it's a place where you can really improve if you set your mind to it...you are surrounded by incredible amount of resource.. as in peers, teachers..etc.

#1239445 - 07/29/09 06:46 AM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: etcetra]
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1563
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
For me places such as Berklee seem like fabled oases of musical enrichment and encouragement. I do not know how I would have turned out had I had these influences. When I was ten, I had an audition with the best classical piano teacher here. The prospect of his six months of exercises and his disdain of improvisation and jazz repulsed me so decisively that I defied severe parental pressure and his repeated phone calls, actually stopping playing for four years. These "what if" questions are virtually impossible to answer. The psychologists tell us that we tend to justify our past in terms of how things turn out, whether for better or worse. Perhaps they are right, I don't really know. I do know that my music makes me unconditionally happy in a way difficult to conceive possible had I had a more conventional musical education. In the end though, what might have happened doesn't matter; the immediate imperative to play, create and enjoy here and now is all that matters.


Don't worry. Whatever you had before will still be there. If you keep working it will return - probably when you least expect it.
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

#1239736 - 07/29/09 03:18 PM Re: What advice would you give yourself ... [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Nikalette Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/08
Posts: 1082
Loc: California
People who've gone to Berklee, have you gone to the online or the brick and mortar school?


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