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#1258550 - 08/29/09 02:17 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Gary D.]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I think each person finds their likes and dislikes over the course of piano lessons....and in my opinion, what they are talking about are the things in their inner world that bring them too much challenge, too much difficulty, too many feelings of inadequacy and feeling at a disadvantage to the music. It's a long uphill climb to make all the progress one needs to become accurate and independent in music making. That inner voice can be grumbling, impatient, critical and unforgiving. Or, it can take pleasure in the many things it is finding that need work with the goal of being able to master each and every task. It's attitude directed toward purpose that helps us keep working. It's attitude that begins to recognize that we aren't as perfect as we thought, this isn't as easy as we thought, and darn if it's not almost beyond our grasp no matter how hard we are working. If we expect that an adult already knows these things from their all around education, there is going to be an unpleasant surprise that says music making is a different set all together. Natural talents are not enough, you need to reinforce it with acquired skill. Just because you love music and can sing tunes with enthusiasm does not mean piano lessons are a walk in the park.

We spend part of the time "lessoning" to the music content, and part of the time "lessoning" about our real inner selves. Tolerances and intolerances abound.

Piano lessons can be joyful or they can be despair. What I would call the difference would be the student's ability to be authentic and realistic in what is a continually changing sitation. Piano is either bringing out the best or bringing out the beast each time we sit and play it. It's what we think and do at the that allows for the "best" or the "beast" to appear.

The piano itself is inanimate without the human. The music on the page is inanimate without the human. This is why I think all the emotions and encounters are certainly of the pianist's making.

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#1258660 - 08/29/09 05:48 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: theJourney]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
I'll try to get to the other later, but first this:
Originally Posted By: theJourney

Were you able to discuss your feelings towards the chemistry teacher with an older sibling, your parents or another adult?

NO ONE got anywhere with this woman. This was around 1964, and at that time teachers had a lot more power. (I think often they have much too little power now.)
Quote:

Was it possible that you were jumping to conclusions that she was cruel and that she might simply have been exhibiting behavior that was ambiguous but which you interpreted as being cruel behavior (and that she also had other behaviors that were not cruel)?

Was she a totally cruel person, in every area? I doubt it. But I was about 15, and every person I knew that had to take her class talked about how mean she was.
Quote:

Rather than distance yourself from the feeling, why not try to understand where the feeling is coming from?

Hold on. This was in 1964. I don't hate the woman now! That is not the point. In fact, I imagine she was probably quite lonely.
Quote:

If you did not know how to deal with it yourself, what barriers existed to prevent you from asking for help from others?

The whole weight of the school system which at that time gave almost total power to teachers and almost none to students. It was a different world.
Quote:

I agree with you that if a child is forced to take lessons and practice daily and the whole experience is really unpleasant that a child will (decide to) hate piano. That is also the point I am making: we need to dig deeper to understand what specifically is being experienced as unpleasant and see if there is anything that can be changed so that it not only is pleasant but desirable -- or to realize that not every child must do this activity and stop it.

I agree with you. As a teacher I have control over my actions. I continually ask questions: "What do you enjoy the most? How do you like this piece? How did this new idea about practicing work? Do you feel like you are getting more out of your practice time? Does that make practice more fun?"

But I'm a rebel, as I've said repeatedly, a maverick. I expect freedom. I expect to be allowed to make my own choices. "Do it because I'm telling you, and you'll be glad later…" absolutely does not work for me, and it never has, so I'm not going to use that logic with students. This gives me an immediate connection with students who are independent, even the young ones. I EXPECT to be challenged. And I expect myself to have reasonable answers for the challenging questions.


Edited by Gary D. (08/29/09 05:48 PM)
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#1258695 - 08/29/09 07:29 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: J Cortese]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12225
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
It should present us with a great deal more. And that "great deal more" should be the whole point, not "challenge" for the mere sake of doing something hard. We should not be trying to do something hard, we should be trying to do something beautiful, and if that means hard work, fine -- but the hard work is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Otherwise there is no difference between practicing piano and moving a rockpile.

When did I say that is *all* music has to offer? You are making assumptions that aren't there, nor are they fair. Did you read my next post about what inspired me in music? I seek to find these moments for my students all the time.


You aren't the only piano teacher in the world, and yes I do see people stating first that mastering the piano is a Challenge to be Overcome, Teaches Life Lessons, and Makes You a Better Person well before they ever get to the part where they start talking about the love of the music, playing around, and improvising. All the time.

Quote:
Encouraging them to find their own voice in expression is paramount. However, there are the challenges to overcome. No one studies music because it's hard and a challenge. They do it for the love of music. In fact, if they don't love it, then they won't get very far with it. You have to want it badly enough.

So to summarize, the love of music is what drives, but perseverance is what succeeds and obtains that ultimate goal of being able to play something you love.


I agree with your last comment, but you are kidding yourself if you think a child cannot be manipulated into continuing WELL into adulthood with something they hate desperately. Humans do that all the time. "If you don't love it, you won't get very far with it" just isn't always the case.

There are many things, as Susan said, that can drive an achieving child forward -- wanting to be better than a parent or sibling, wanting to prove something to someone, needing to be the best and impress the adults around them, needing an escape from divorce or death, fear of giving up, guilt ... ALL of these things can poison even a gifted person's relationship with music, and Piano Will Teach You How To Overcome Obstacles is just not the message to send in the face of them, not even the secondary message. It makes no sense to say that my studying piano taught me how to overcome obstacles or any of that rot. Losing my father young, learning of my disabilities, moving across country, coping with unrelated difficulties in my chosen field of study -- these are my life's challenges.

Piano is the ONLY expressive art that I've ever encountered this monastic Conquer the Challenge attitude. Painting, fabric arts, writing -- nowhere are these attitudes extant there even a little bit. (The only place I've ever run into this sort of attitude is the hard sciences.) If you manage to communicate this all-encompassing love of the music itself, playing, creating, sharing, and loving it, that's wonderful. But there are a lot of people who have not had that experience, which indicates that there are an awful lot of recovering rockpile-movers out there; there is a problem with how we teach piano in this world.


Well, obviously, you've made up your mind what kind of teacher I am, even though you haven't a clue what I teach. I'm sorry you had a painful childhood. I played no part in it, I assure you. It doesn't sound as though continuing this discussion would prove useful, so I am opting out of responding to what you've said.
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#1258767 - 08/29/09 11:26 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Gary D.]
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Quick thought on the original question: how many people really hate piano...

Pianoworld may not be the best place to ask that! I imagine piano-hating folks are mightly repelled by our piano-obsessed antics here :p ! wink


Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I EXPECT to be challenged. And I expect myself to have reasonable answers for the challenging questions.


smile Gary, that just rocks! I've met people that teach, but HATE questions! (Luckily, my teacher tells me he *loves* when his students ask questions... good for me, because I apparently have plenty! wink )

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#1258785 - 08/29/09 11:55 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: saerra]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
It's FUN! When I am asked questions, it gives me a chance to show what I know! My biggest problem is that I can get so side-tracked, I feel as if I am "cheating" by "going into my own world". wink
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#1258824 - 08/30/09 02:03 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Gary D.]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Was she a totally cruel person, in every area? I doubt it. But I was about 15, and every person I knew that had to take her class talked about how mean she was.


This is a good point. And even for very young younsters I think we may underestimate the power of peer pressure and group consensus that is working against piano teachers.

There might be a very small group of nerdy boy students for whom being on the football team is not cool, but there is almost certainly a huge group in some schools, or almost a general consensus depending on the local culture, that piano is definitely not cool. There may already be a bias against it. Take that together with it being one of the few activities where kids are really asked to do something difficult and be accountable for their actions these days, exercising a significant degree of personal discipline and it is pretty obvious why there is resistance. Fighting against this resistance is futile. I believe we can only use that energy judo-style to help them turn it around themselves.

The kids I know who are 7 or 8 and are passionate about their piano practice all come from families where one or both parents are musicians and/or are attending Montessori schools. One kid who has just been admitted at age 8 into the youth program of the Conservatory of Amsterdam only was allowed to start lessons after he asked for them. Of course, without being in a musical family he would have never had the exposure to classical music to want to demand lessons for himself. I think that internal motivation can be built be exposing kids at an early age to the beauty of classical music and I am dismayed to see how music (exposure) programs are being dropped left and right from public school systems.

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#1258850 - 08/30/09 03:16 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: theJourney]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: theJourney
This is a good point. And even for very young younsters I think we may underestimate the power of peer pressure and group consensus that is working against piano teachers.

That was a slightly strange reaction to my chemistry teacher story. smile

I didn't dislike chemistry. I was fascinated by it. The point is that this horrible, nasty human being was unable to kill my interest in it. I hated her for two reasons: actually I disliked her for making chemistry the only thing in her universe, as if anyone who was not immensely gifted in that area was not worth her time. The hate was for her bullying. She made me come to her office and write on the blackboard, "I will not argue with the teacher." If I had had Carrie's powers, that witch would have burned. And I am NOT kidding. I had never felt such an intense hate for another human being.
Quote:

There might be a very small group of nerdy boy students for whom being on the football team is not cool, but there is almost certainly a huge group in some schools, or almost a general consensus depending on the local culture, that piano is definitely not cool.

Well, let's take a look where a lot of that comes from. Some piano teachers approach piano as if it is the most important thing in the world, and there is no room in their "universe" for other things.

I come from a family that has always been very interested in sports, and I see no conflict whatsoever between being very good at a popular sport and playing an instrument like piano well. Why not both?

I'm against making people do things, so for all the kids (especially boys) who want no part of sports, I'm on their side. Because I think playing a sport should be for the pure joy of it, never something that is forced on someone.

But I do think that for boys who are open to all sorts of experiences, being at least good at at least one sport is a huge plus. (And I suspect this may turn out to be just as true for many if not most girls.)

I have a seven year-old baseball player. I've talked about him before, in this forum. His dad is the coach, the kid is good in karate, leads his team in just about everything, and his coordination is superb. His dad has been in on the lessons from day one and gets everything. Perfect situation for me. So far this boy loves playing piano. He gets up and goes to the instrument on his own, for fun.

My job is not to screw that up. I'm not only going to teach him "fun stuff" for the single reason of impressing his friends, but I'm darn sure going to make sure that he has a few things in his "bag of tricks" that will do that job. It's not about the instrument. It's about the mindset. ANY performer has to please his audience, and that was as true for Horowitz as it was for Liberace. But a small kid needs four or five things that sound "cool" to other kids his age. He knows "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" because he loves baseball, and he wanted to learn it. I gave him a little malagueña that I wrote because of the catchy sound, a couple blues tunes because those go over well, and I'll add to that ANYTHING that he can play, that is not too hard for him, of ANY style, that will impress his friends.

None of that will stop me from covering anything much more traditional. I fit in scales, finger exercises, all the rest, but the key point is that if he has things that make him feel good about playing, things that his friends like, not only will he never have to face the "piano is not cool, you're a nerd" problem, it is likely that I will get at least one of his friends as a student.
Quote:

There may already be a bias against it. Take that together with it being one of the few activities where kids are really asked to do something difficult and be accountable for their actions these days, exercising a significant degree of personal discipline and it is pretty obvious why there is resistance.

Two different issues. And again I have to stress that sports, much more than academics, are about doing something difficult and being accountable. You can't cram hitting, throwing, shooting. You can't cram the stuff that is done in a weight room. You have to build slowly, carefully, and you have to do it right. I see more of a link between piano and individual sports, more of a link between something like band/orchestra and team sports.

Where you generally do NOT get any kind of personal discipline is in most schools, where again and again students are told what to do, when to do it, and are given the goals of passing tests and getting good grades. My high school students (girls as well as boys) agree with me 100% that school is teaching them almost nothing. I should mention that I live in South Florida, and Florida has some of the worst schools in the US. This is "W" land, where brother Jeb pushed the NCLB nonsense so that we got a double-dose of that junk. EVERY teacher I talk to does all but swear at the teaching to the tests that is going on. Teachers and parents are in agreement that education has become insane.

Which makes me wonder, even though football is one of my least favorite sports, if kids are not learning more on the field than in these blasted schools.
Quote:

The kids I know who are 7 or 8 and are passionate about their piano practice all come from families where one or both parents are musicians and/or are attending Montessori schools. One kid who has just been admitted at age 8 into the youth program of the Conservatory of Amsterdam only was allowed to start lessons after he asked for them. Of course, without being in a musical family he would have never had the exposure to classical music to want to demand lessons for himself. I think that internal motivation can be built be exposing kids at an early age to the beauty of classical music and I am dismayed to see how music (exposure) programs are being dropped left and right from public school systems.

You are assuming that it all starts with "classical music", which doesn't even exist. There IS no classical music. It's a meaningless word. If you are talking about Classical music, then Mozart, Hadyn, and so on. But the idea that it all starts with a particular style of music is where most of musical instruction goes wrong. There are a bazillion different kinds of music, styles of music, and most are notated to some degree, so curious people have a chance to play something they like in most any area. I have said all my life that the joy of reading is about reading what YOU want to read, and that may start with Shakespeare, Sports Illustrated, or Spiderman. Or magazines about how to build things. Anything. If someone is taught how to read, that person has the freedom to explore every book ever written that is readable on his level, and that can lead to anywhere.

I started playing the piano because I heard some things I wanted to play. Most of those things seem rather silly to me now, but they were important to me then. I had no rules about what composers were good and bad, what styles of music were good or bad. So it never occurred to me that playing the piano was anything else but fun, and it also never occurred to me that I needed to give up anything else fun for the sake of piano.

All the views I'm expressing now make me feel so out of step with this forum, with the views normally expressed, that I truly feel like I don't belong here. I really don't know how else to sum this all up…


Edited by Gary D. (08/30/09 03:26 AM)
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#1258860 - 08/30/09 04:49 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Gary D.]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

That was a slightly strange reaction to my chemistry teacher story. smile

Thank you. I specialize in strange.
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

Well, let's take a look where a lot of that comes from. Some piano teachers approach piano as if it is the most important thing in the world, and there is no room in their "universe" for other things.

I am not sure that is where it comes from. I think it partly comes from piano not being seen as 'manly' enough or for girls in some circles, partly from the lack of connection with popular music as you mention.
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

I'm against making people do things, so for all the kids (especially boys) who want no part of sports, I'm on their side. Because I think playing a sport should be for the pure joy of it, never something that is forced on someone.

But I do think that for boys who are open to all sorts of experiences, being at least good at at least one sport is a huge plus. (And I suspect this may turn out to be just as true for many if not most girls.)

I have a seven year-old baseball player. I've talked about him before, in this forum. His dad is the coach, the kid is good in karate, leads his team in just about everything, and his coordination is superb. His dad has been in on the lessons from day one and gets everything. Perfect situation for me. So far this boy loves playing piano. He gets up and goes to the instrument on his own, for fun.

My job is not to screw that up. I'm not only going to teach him "fun stuff" for the single reason of impressing his friends, but I'm darn sure going to make sure that he has a few things in his "bag of tricks" that will do that job. It's not about the instrument. It's about the mindset. ANY performer has to please his audience, and that was as true for Horowitz as it was for Liberace. But a small kid needs four or five things that sound "cool" to other kids his age. He knows "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" because he loves baseball, and he wanted to learn it. I gave him a little malagueña that I wrote because of the catchy sound, a couple blues tunes because those go over well, and I'll add to that ANYTHING that he can play, that is not too hard for him, of ANY style, that will impress his friends.

None of that will stop me from covering anything much more traditional. I fit in scales, finger exercises, all the rest, but the key point is that if he has things that make him feel good about playing, things that his friends like, not only will he never have to face the "piano is not cool, you're a nerd" problem, it is likely that I will get at least one of his friends as a student.

thumb Great post.
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

Two different issues. And again I have to stress that sports, much more than academics, are about doing something difficult and being accountable. You can't cram hitting, throwing, shooting. You can't cram the stuff that is done in a weight room. You have to build slowly, carefully, and you have to do it right. I see more of a link between piano and individual sports, more of a link between something like band/orchestra and team sports.

Fair enough. However, how many schools put as much emphasis on their music programs as do on their sports programs?? There are middle schools and high schools I have seen in the Midwest that to an outside observer appear to be only about sports with just enough academics to keep the state authorities out of their hair.
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

You are assuming that it all starts with "classical music"...


Touche. You are right. However, I do not only lament the lack of musical edcuation, but also the marginalization of classical piano studies in its traditional sense. This is due to my personal biases and due to the fact that I believe that there is a cultural heritage being passed on through 10 or 15 years of traditional piano lessons playing the mainstream literature that is valuable to retain. I have nothing against reaching children with that that they know and that turns them on today. I do have something against not organizing home life and school life to expose them to MORE so that classical music appreciation does not continue to die out in the Western world. I also believe that it is in the interest of the children but especially in the best interest of the adults who this children will become and our society as a whole.

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#1258862 - 08/30/09 04:53 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: theJourney]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
I also believe that although we need the internal motivation of students for them to learn, that, just as coach says you have to do blocking practice and run laps to be on the football team, and just as parents say you have to eat your vegetables and stay at the table during the entire meal conversing as a family member rather than racing to the television to eat only our ice cream, that parents, coaches and piano teachers have a duty to younger music and piano students to help them make and stick to the decisions for which their personal ability to judge is not yet fully developed. They are after all dependent children.

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#1258864 - 08/30/09 05:09 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: theJourney]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Let me pose a question, how many guitarists have you ever heard say they hate the guitar? I've heard of NONE. Most pro guitar players have a similar story to how they started. They heard some great guitarist, was blown away by the sound of it, and couldn't wait to practice and emulate their musical heroes. They would play hours on end in the basement dreaming of becoming good. How many piano players say that?

Jimi Hendrix was a guitar god to so many people. Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton have talked fondly of his influence on them. BB King once said his guitars are like his wives, and he gives them names like "Lucille".

There isn't the structured approach to guitar lessons as there is to piano. Heck, alot of the pros can barely manage 5 chords and play the same licks over and over. Granted rock and pop music is far less challenging than classical or jazz.

Kids are attracted to the guitar because they heard some cool songs and want to learn. Shouldn't that be the way with piano? Personally I love the sound of the piano and seek out music that I enjoy. Practice is seldom a chore because it gives me much pleasure to just sit and play. And I definitely will be doing so until the day I die.

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#1259115 - 08/30/09 05:14 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
The_Linux_Crew Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 53
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz

Kids are attracted to the guitar because they heard some cool songs and want to learn. Shouldn't that be the way with piano? Personally I love the sound of the piano and seek out music that I enjoy. Practice is seldom a chore because it gives me much pleasure to just sit and play. And I definitely will be doing so until the day I die.


It's not what they hear, but what they see. Most popular music has piano or keyboard parts, but the person up front singing and showing off usually is waving a guitar around. It is the image, not the sound. The keyboard player or pianist is usually off to the side, with the exception of Coldplay, Norah Jones, and a few others. Even Nine Inch Nails uses keyboard extensively, probably more than guitar.

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#1259117 - 08/30/09 05:17 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: The_Linux_Crew]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Good observation. We are more and more dominated by visual media and visual impressions.
Even when there is a classical pianist that gives the audience a little bit of visual stimulus and finds a following with young people he is criticized as some kind of apostate.

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#1259504 - 08/31/09 09:11 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: saerra]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12225
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: saerra
Quick thought on the original question: how many people really hate piano...

Pianoworld may not be the best place to ask that! I imagine piano-hating folks are mightly repelled by our piano-obsessed antics here :p ! wink





I asked "how many people hate piano," not "do *you* hate piano". I did not want this to be a piano or piano -teacher bashing session, but to gain insight as to the things that cause someone to hate piano. smile
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#1259507 - 08/31/09 09:20 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12225
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Let me pose a question, how many guitarists have you ever heard say they hate the guitar? I've heard of NONE. Most pro guitar players have a similar story to how they started. They heard some great guitarist, was blown away by the sound of it, and couldn't wait to practice and emulate their musical heroes. They would play hours on end in the basement dreaming of becoming good. How many piano players say that?

Jimi Hendrix was a guitar god to so many people. Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton have talked fondly of his influence on them. BB King once said his guitars are like his wives, and he gives them names like "Lucille".

There isn't the structured approach to guitar lessons as there is to piano. Heck, alot of the pros can barely manage 5 chords and play the same licks over and over. Granted rock and pop music is far less challenging than classical or jazz.

Kids are attracted to the guitar because they heard some cool songs and want to learn. Shouldn't that be the way with piano? Personally I love the sound of the piano and seek out music that I enjoy. Practice is seldom a chore because it gives me much pleasure to just sit and play. And I definitely will be doing so until the day I die.

I tried to learn guitar and hated it. It just did not suit my personality. But you are right, if we're talking Pop and rock piano vs. pop and rock jazz, they are taught pretty much the same way usually (if that is the only thing the teacher knows how to play) -- very unstructured -- and that works, because it's not that hard to do. But if we're talking classical guitar or jazz, I think you'll find a much more structured lesson with much more difficult assignments. Of course, this is a grand generalization and I know there are exceptions to everything.
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#1260848 - 09/02/09 05:08 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Morodiene]
NocturneLover Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/01/09
Posts: 149
Loc: Dantooine
You only HATE piano when you're forced to against your will because your mind associates vehement scoldings and threats of abuse with the piano so you start not to like it. This happened to Lang Lang, sorry I have to mention him smile , which was a reason he hated the piano and wanted to quit since his father was very, at least we know, verbally abusive to him telling him to commit suicide at one point.

However, I can't speak for the pros, but all adult amateurs love piano, DON"T WE??? wink
_________________________
"...music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." -Ludwig van Beethoven

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