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#1239816 - 07/29/09 04:49 PM piano performance degree
gale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 37
Hello--I'm new to Piano World Forums. I'm not sure where to ask this question, so I hope you are the right place. I am an adult returning to formal piano lessons after 40+ years. I am currently playing in Alfred's Masterwork Classics Level 6 along with learning Widmung by Lizst (easier version) and Romance S. 169 also by Lizst. (The Lizst pieces are my choices but are a stretch for my skills at this point). I am studying with a college professor (DMA in piano pedagogy) He's very good and I will eventually ask him this question, but not yet. I have a long way to go before I would even ask. The question: Are older adults ever admitted to university piano performance programs? I really want credentials and the push that would be involved in obtaining them.

Thanks for your comments.

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#1239825 - 07/29/09 04:58 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: gale]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
In the UK, outside of the academies, age is no barrier.
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#1239830 - 07/29/09 05:02 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: gale]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
It depends on where you are.

If your were in the UK there are plenty of university music departments who would take a mature student on their undergraduate courses as long as they meet the required standards. That's not the only way to gain qualifications and credentials either. We have a selection of exam boards which offer recognised qualifications at all levels.

Age really is no barrier.
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#1239832 - 07/29/09 05:02 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Chris H.]
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
That's uncanny that KBK used the exact same words!!!
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#1239836 - 07/29/09 05:06 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Chris H.]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Notice I only used 4!
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#1239847 - 07/29/09 05:15 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Chris H.]
gale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 37
That's really interesting and makes me wish I were there! However, I am an American, so I will have to deal with what's in place here. I have an MA in clinical psychology and have completed academic studies for my Ph.D., so I am no stranger to focused hard work. Realistically, I am not unusually gifted in piano, but I am teachable and definitely committed. (I am currently practicing about 4-5 hours a day).

Is there anyone familiar with the American universitiy program practices who could comment?

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#1239854 - 07/29/09 05:19 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: gale]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Originally Posted By: gale
Is there anyone familiar with the American universitiy program practices who could comment?


Actually us Brits are in the minority here so you should get plenty of good replies.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1239856 - 07/29/09 05:21 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: gale]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
If all you want is a teaching or performance diploma there are 3 levels of difficulty and I'm sure you can take them from either ABRSM or Trinity from where you are.
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#1239873 - 07/29/09 05:32 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: keyboardklutz]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I teach at a private liberal arts college and yes, we would take you as would most liberal arts schools. I can't speak for the bigger universities.
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#1239946 - 07/29/09 07:03 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: gale]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Gale,

There are no age barrier in the US for most universities. Anyone of any age could attend any program given the right qualifications.

In the US, you could prepare by sitting for the RCM/NMCP exams. (http://www.nationalconservatoryofmusicofamerica.org/aboutus/general.htm) At the end of all the exams is the ARCT diploma for performance or ARCT diploma for teachers.

You could apply for an university performance degree after you've completed the RCM/NMCP exams at Level 10.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#1240304 - 07/30/09 12:13 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: 4evrBeginR]
gale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 37
Thanks, Minniemay and 4evrBeginR. That's what I wanted to hear and the exams would give me tangible evidence of progress and accomplishment. The credentials are important to me, but more than anything I want to be a sensitive musician. I'm in a good place now to develop that. So I'm focusing on now, but planning for the future. Thanks for your input.

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#1240322 - 07/30/09 12:43 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: gale]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
gale, you may also want to post this in the Pianist Corner. There's at least a couple regulars there who are faculty members at American universities in music programs, and they can give you the straight scoop. My memory, based on other similar threads that have appeared there in the past, is that age is not a factor in admissions at all. What matters is your level of preparation and audition tapes and performance. thumb

p.s. Actually, search for the thread in the pianist's corner started by John Citron, titled something like "I was just accepted at UMass." John is middle-aged with a former career in computers.

Another notable "late starter" on the forum is John Anthony (I believe he posted most often as USA Piano Trucker), who drove trucks for many years but started as a music major two years ago. You might want to try sending either or both of them a PM and asking about their experience.
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#1240414 - 07/30/09 03:10 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Monica K.]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I personally would have strong objections
if you were applying to a state school.
If you were accepted, you'd be displacing a young
person who might not be able afford going out of state.
You're apparently doing this essentially on a lark, and so
I think that denying a young person the opportunity
to major in piano would be very questionable
behavior. In fact, I think you'd get a chilly
reception from administrators at a state school
for this very reason, more so because you have
multiple degrees already.

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#1240422 - 07/30/09 03:22 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Gyro]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Gyro
I personally would have strong objections
if you were applying to a state school.
If you were accepted, you'd be displacing a young
person who might not be able afford going out of state.
You're apparently doing this essentially on a lark, and so
I think that denying a young person the opportunity
to major in piano would be very questionable
behavior. In fact, I think you'd get a chilly
reception from administrators at a state school
for this very reason, more so because you have
multiple degrees already.


confused I attend a state uni for my masters degree and we have a *wide* variety of ages. As far as I know universities are not allowed to discriminate on *any* level.

ETA: They just hiked the state fees again so with a 30% increase over the last year going to a state university is far from cheap anymore!


Edited by Jennifer Eklund (07/30/09 03:24 PM)
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#1240424 - 07/30/09 03:24 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Gyro]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Yes...there are American colleges and universities who will admit non-traditional students to music degrees.

However, you will be expected to audition along with everyone else, and repertoire on the level of Alfred Book 6 is not likely to make you competitive with other entering students.

You are welcome to apply, and should your audition warrant admittance, then they will admit you. (I don't know of any school who would turn down a qualified student, regardless of age - especially at smaller schools, there is tremendous pressure to recruit students.)

That being said, I'd also suggest a Bachelor of Arts program. Although it's not a performance degree, a BA would still provide you with a credential, and BA programs are often very flexible - the performance expectation is not as high on the audition, but you can still tailor the degree to include most of the same coursework as a performance degree. Add in a couple of elective recitals, and the only difference between the two is the letters on the diploma.

One of the universities where I've taught admitted a 45 year-old who had driven a truck for 20 years and wanted to change careers. He completed a music education degree and was a wonderful student. (And no, it's not USA Piano Trucker, but I always thought it was neat that two retired truckers would find second careers in music.)
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
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#1240443 - 07/30/09 04:00 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Kreisler]
spatial Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 96
Loc: USA
I admire you for wanting to pursue something you love that seriously. Out of curiosity, why do you want a formal credential?

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#1240450 - 07/30/09 04:09 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Kreisler]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I personally wouldn't recommend doing a performance degree unless you are willing to make a major time commitment to practice. In my school, classical pianists were required to practice 3 hrs a day minimum.. and when students were preparing for a recital, they practiced anywhere between 5-7 hrs a day, maybe even more.

like Kriesler said I think Bachelor of arts might be a better option. I think its probably best not to think about all that right now and enjoy your progress. Besides, you don't need to go to school to be able to play piano at a high level. There are plenty of people who can play very well but never went to college


Edited by etcetra (07/30/09 04:12 PM)

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#1240453 - 07/30/09 04:14 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: etcetra]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
Also, a degree in performance doesn't mean all that much as far as "credentials" go. You would be better off with the BA taking all the same curriculum as performance majors but it will also allow you some breathing room to take pedagogy, or more musicology courses, etc. Plus, you can still do a recital and get credits for it, and you'll have more freedom with your repertoire selection.

For instance my senior recital was a "Scandinavian" smorgasbord recital. I only performed works by Nordic composers and was permitted to do so because the BA is more flexible.

~Jennifer Eklund
_________________________
FREE 90-page eBook of sheet music: www.pianopronto.com/specialoffer

Piano Pronto Music Books: www.pianopronto.com

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#1240520 - 07/30/09 06:49 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
gale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 37
Well, there are a lot of interesting thoughts here. I think a bit of research on my part about various degree options would help me to sort out my needs and the various requirements.

I think I'm just a credential kind of gal, spatial. It allows me to be part of a professional community of pianists which is something I would enjoy. I have enjoyed teaching other things and I might want to to teach piano, too.

My practice time runs about 4-5 hours a day 7 days a week. I don't think committment is the issue here. I'm a lot more worried about developing proper technique so that I avoid injuries. :))

Thanks to everyone for your input.

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#1240536 - 07/30/09 07:15 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: gale]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
gale,

Please stick around and let us know how it goes. I have a feeling we have a LOT of lurkers watching behind the scenes who would be fascinated to hear your story over the next year or two.

I'd love to know how things work out!
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1240661 - 07/30/09 10:59 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Kreisler]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
gale,

wow, I am surprised to hear that you practice that much.. if that's the case you'll probably fit right in. A lot of people don't go far with the music degree because of time commitment.. not only do you have to practice, you have to do ensembles classes.. etc. I think it's do-able as long as you are patient.

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#1241046 - 07/31/09 03:08 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Kreisler]
gale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 37
Could you tell me how the performance expectations might differ in a B.A. program? Do you mean less technical skill or less demanding repertoire (maybe that's really the same thing??) I'm new to how this all works. Thanks.

[quote=Kreisler]
That being said, I'd also suggest a Bachelor of Arts program. Although it's not a performance degree, a BA would still provide you with a credential, and BA programs are often very flexible - the performance expectation is not as high on the audition, but you can still tailor the degree to include most of the same coursework as a performance degree. Add in a couple of elective recitals, and the only difference between the two is the letters on the diploma.

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#1241152 - 07/31/09 05:47 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: gale]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
I did a BA in Piano at a state uni. Typically your "group ensemble" requirements are a bit less than for the BM performance degree. Also, your "senior project" can be a recital or a thesis project on paper, you get to pick.

Also, when you audition (atleast at state schools) you are usually auditioning to get accepted and to receive "state paid lessons." Otherwise you pay for your lessons outside of your tuition costs. For us, the BA majors only got 30 min lessons per week, whereas the BM majors got an hour.

~Jennifer Eklund
_________________________
FREE 90-page eBook of sheet music: www.pianopronto.com/specialoffer

Piano Pronto Music Books: www.pianopronto.com

BA in Piano/MA Musicology



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#1241222 - 07/31/09 08:06 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I think it depends on the school. I went to a small liberal arts college and got my BA. It didn't make any difference if you were a major or a minor, you got the same length of lesson. Every music major had the same ensemble requirement and, while there was an option for a senior project, only the "lazy" people took it.
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#1241560 - 08/01/09 01:47 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Minniemay]
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1177
At my university, BA students also normally get 1/2 hour lessons, which I found ridiculous. You can barely get started the lesson before it's over, and my piano instruction is more important to me than the other coursework. I only got hour lessons after fighting for them. The BA degree also only requires 2 years of lessons.

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#1241851 - 08/01/09 11:46 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Arghhh]
gale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 37
Thanks for the info. I am several years away from being skilled enough to qualify for admission, but it's really motivating to think about the possibilities!

Gale

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#1241880 - 08/02/09 01:31 AM Re: piano performance degree [Re: gale]
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I say go for it! When I did my Masters in piano performance, I was the youngest and I was 31!...ages ranged up to 50 in my Masters group.

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#1243334 - 08/04/09 02:16 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Gyro]
Susan K. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/03/09
Posts: 192
Loc: Central California
gale ~ I've always been curious, so I'm glad that you asked this question! I've always wondered about Julliard (fascination only) and this is what I found:

"The Juilliard School seeks students whose talent and commitment to excellence promise future achievement in their chosen areas of major study. The Committee on Admissions selects students primarily on the basis of their performance at competitive auditions held at The Juilliard School and in selected cities around the country. All auditions are evaluated by members of the faculty.

The School does not set a minimum or maximum age limit. In general, however, the faculty and the Committee on Admissions will give preference to students in the formative stages of their artistic development who will benefit most from the type of training available at Juilliard."


So they'll favor the youngsters but wouldn't rule out an exceptionally talented older person. And some of us are late bloomers. Also, we're all living so much longer, so say you started playing at 40, put in the requisite 15,000 hours of practice to reach competency (say 7.5 years practicing 5.5 hours a day, less years if you're not a beginner) -- you'd be 48 when applying for programs. If you die at 88, you'll have played competitively for 40 years!

Keep those dreams alive!

Susan

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#1243497 - 08/04/09 05:14 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Susan K.]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: Susan K.
...so say you started playing at 40, put in the requisite 15,000 hours of practice to reach competency (say 7.5 years practicing 5.5 hours a day, less years if you're not a beginner)


Except the brain works a lot differently at 40 than it does at 8.

I've been on internet forums for over a decade, and I still haven't found anyone who's gone from scratch to mastery as an adult. (Nor have I found anyone who will actually admit it's not possible.)

I haven't read Gladwell's study, but I'd be very interested in what he has to say about when those 10,000 hours happen. (Can anyone who's read it comment?)
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1243644 - 08/04/09 09:26 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Kreisler]
bluespianofan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/09
Posts: 102
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
What about the guy (NY surgeon?) who was struck by lightning via a pay phone and became obsessed by classical piano. I believe he went from scratch to mastery as an adult.
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#1243654 - 08/04/09 09:38 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Susan K.]
gale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 37
That's quite interesting about Julliard. My dream cetainly doesn't extend THAT far, but a small, local college would be a wonderful place for me to grow.

And I would like to say that I wholeheartedly agree that an adult brain works much differently that a child's brain. All those neural pathways take longer to develop, but many of them can develop with persistance. I don't really think the sky is the limit anymore, but it doesn't stop me from working and dreaming about reality-based (I hope) possibilities.

I spent the last hour listening to Anne-Marie McDermott's CD titled Bach. I love the Menuet I from Partita No. 1 in B flat BWV825. It's on youtube if you want to see a sample. Oh my goodness--the joy, depth and inspiration of her playing will fuel me for days!

Gale Welden
a very adult student

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#1243663 - 08/04/09 09:53 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: gale]
Susan K. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/03/09
Posts: 192
Loc: Central California
Wouldn't that be a cool reality show for PBS? 40 or 50 or 60-something auditions for Julliard? And wouldn't it be cool and if he or she was selected and to watch the freshman year with all the brilliant youngsters? I'd watch it.

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#1243681 - 08/04/09 10:17 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: bluespianofan]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
There was a guy I knew in college. As a freshman, he took the beginning piano class. By the time he graduated (with a chemistry/pre-med major), he was playing good literature (Mozart sonatas, Debussy preludes). I thought that was incredible.
_________________________
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M.M., Piano

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#1243695 - 08/04/09 10:52 PM Re: piano performance degree [Re: Minniemay]
Piano Again Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Washington metro
This is something I also keep wondering about.

I am 51 years old and have a DMA in cello from a good conservatory. I've also played the piano on and off most of my life. My current working situation (not in music) is not very rewarding, but I don't really want to delve back into playing the cello professionally again (talk about a youth-oriented world ... string playing is it). I do like playing the cello, but the piano is musically more interesting for various reasons. I've wondered if I could possibly teach piano.

I've had glimmers of that feeling of fluency you have when things are working, but they are hard-won and fleeting. I haven't even been taking lessons and know I need to make more of a commitment if I ever want to get better.

Sigh.

gale, I know what you mean about wanting a structured situation. I've thought about applying to get into the local community college just to give it a try. But there are so many -- well, mean (for lack of a better word) teachers out there who will belittle anyone who is not a 10-year-old prodigy. It sounds like you have found someone who inspires you. I hope you continue to find joy in the process and meet encouraging people.
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