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#1350446 - 01/15/10 12:48 PM Is it possible to become a virtuoso...?
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 111
Loc: Vilnius
...If you're not playing from childhood...? smile Like let's say if you're starting to play at 16 instead laugh?
I have dreams of becoming a dentist and having enough money to buy an acoustic piano, at least upright if not a grand, and hiring some consvervatory professor and becoming a virtuoso who could play Volodos's transcription of Turkish March, or Rachmaninoff's Prelude in Gm, Op23 #5...
Does that sound crazy laugh?

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#1350596 - 01/15/10 04:06 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: Evaldas]
RX-Blak Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 30
Loc: Tucson, AZ
Replace "have dreams of becoming a dentist" with "am a software engineer" and you would have described me. You have a leg up on me though (and 9yrs), I didn't start playing till I was 25. 3yrs later and id say im moving nicely toward my goal. No one will stop me, though many many many people have tried to dissuade me or write off my goals as mere fantasy. Even 3yrs and a new grand piano later, they still don't believe I'm serious (my wife supports me, so that's a plus).

It will be a challenge for me to gain respect in the musical community when i switch careers here in 5-8yrs, but I've never stopped at a challenge before. Starting at the age of 16 though, that will be a lesser concern of yours.

Hell, I fully intend to audition for Juillard, Berklee etc at the age of 35ish and go back to a reputable school for an undergrad and graduate degree in piano performance. Sure it will be a bit awkward (for everyone else), that I'm 35 and taking classes with the 20-22yr olds, but what do I care. It WILL happen.

It sounds cliche, but its the truth: you are in charge of your future, not the other yahoos that try to tell you no just because you started at 16 and not 6. In the long run, what is 10yrs really?


RXB

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#1350619 - 01/15/10 04:36 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: RX-Blak]
Tiemco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 39
Loc: Connecticut
Probably not. When you are a child your brain has many neural connections that are lost if you don't use them by about age 12. Included in these connections are many of the ones that relate to music. If you didn't start playing the piano, or musical instruments by that age it will be near impossible to play at a virtuoso level later in life. That's not to say you can't become very good at it, but to be a the level of a concert pianist, especially if you aren't a prodigy is pretty much impossible.

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#1350638 - 01/15/10 05:11 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: Tiemco]
John Citron Offline
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Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Part of this is true, Tiemco, regarding the brain. The brain is a plastic organ that is constantly adapting and rebuilding it's connections. This is why older people can still learn to do things, and why some people can learn to speak and walk again after a stroke. We may take longer sometimes to achieve the end results but we can do it.

Now regarding becoming a virtuoso. There's a lot more to this than starting young. It has I think, partly to do with ones early training. By this I mean teachers, parental support, and one's natural abilities. Not everyone is a virtuoso. Having this ability is rare, and is found in the very gifted pianists.

Being a virtuoso is a lot different than just playing quickly. There is a certain level that goes beyond the "normal" level in performance. Anyone can learn to play quickly, but being able to do so while also being able to play with emotion, is something that takes a lot more work as well as natural abilities.


John
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#1350652 - 01/15/10 05:35 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: John Citron]
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
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Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
Perhaps you mean professional? There's a difference and a lot of professionals are not virtusos.



Edited by IPIBAHN - Sandy (01/15/10 05:37 PM)
Edit Reason: typos
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#1350671 - 01/15/10 05:53 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: RX-Blak]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: RX-Blak
...Sure it will be a bit awkward (for everyone else), that I'm 35 and taking classes with the 20-22yr olds, but what do I care. It WILL happen..


No I can say first hand, not awkward at all even at age 50+. Actually kind of fun to be on a college campus after not having been on one over 20 years.

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#1350728 - 01/15/10 07:28 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: ChrisA]
Tiemco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 39
Loc: Connecticut
Another thing, when you say you want to hire a conservatory professor, what do you think he is going to teach you? In fact, you would be better off with a good piano teacher. By the time most students enter a conservatory they really don't need to be taught how to play the piano, i.e. how to read music, fingering, tempo, etc. They have tons of technique, can read music better than words (usually), and can play a lot of the repertoire. What they do learn is the subtle things, color, shading, voicing, overall structure, etc. I hate to be so negative, but let's face it, being a virtuoso is more natural talent than just working hard at it, but if you do work hard at it, you can become a very good pianist, which is a great thing, so don't give up, and don't get discouraged if you can't play the really hard stuff, most people can't.

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#1350760 - 01/15/10 08:31 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: Tiemco]
al-mahed Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/09
Posts: 769
Loc: Rio de Janeiro
I'm curious about this statement: "start when you are a 5 yo child is the only way to become a virtuoso".

I may never be a virtuoso, but I don't think that the major problem is not I didn't start as a child. People with no talent at all can play since 6 months of life and don't become a virtuoso, in my opinion. I think natural talent plays a big hole in every single human activity. And the other major factor is how much one dedicate himself to do whatever he or she wants to do.

Natural talent is or is not a brain structure that benefits the playing? If it is true so the better brain structure anyone can develop playing since early ages could be found in a natural talented adult begginer, why not? Be develop. And with 16 yo the brain is not totally formed.

I'm an example myself in several knowledge fields I started to "flert" with more than 20 yo, but I don't want to talk about it because people might think I want to show off instead of making my point.

If a 16 yo person has an strong desire to become a virtuoso I bet he can play pretty well all the Chopin's pieces some day if he or she have some talent and put a lot of effort on it.

Will he play like Horowitz, Zimerman, and other great virtuosi? I don't think so, because the greatest virtuosi started at early ages AND have great talent AND decidate themselves a lot for years, but why he should become like Horowitz, Zimerman, etc? Why not be pretty good, but not the best, is not ok, is not desirable, is not enough? Why people always tend to think: "be the best or stay away"?

And one thing anyone can do starting with any age is to compose. I would prefer thousand times be a talented composer like Beethoven to be the best piano performer, no doubt about it - of course this is my opinion and a matter of taste.

cheers

ps: hope my english wasn't a barrier to make myself clear


Edited by al-mahed (01/15/10 08:33 PM)
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#1350763 - 01/15/10 08:37 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: ChrisA]
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: ChrisA
Originally Posted By: RX-Blak
...Sure it will be a bit awkward (for everyone else), that I'm 35 and taking classes with the 20-22yr olds, but what do I care. It WILL happen..


No I can say first hand, not awkward at all even at age 50+. Actually kind of fun to be on a college campus after not having been on one over 20 years.


I absolutely agree, Chris. I too am an older student, returning to school after a very long time in the work world, having gone from a computer geek to now a music student at UMASS Lowell. This has been so far the most fun I've had in a very long time.

John
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#1350772 - 01/15/10 08:53 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: al-mahed]
CMohr Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 1029
Loc: Oregon
I agree with you, Al-mahed. I think the thing is that starting later in life we will NOT be concert pianists. First of all, there's so much competition between the really, really excellent pianists out there and there's only so much "room" for them in today's concert climate.

I DO think we can all become "better" pianists with practice, hard work and dedication. For me, it's just being able to play for friends, family and of course the ABF recitals! The recitals are a great motivator!

We have friends whose daughter plays flute - she is absolutely amazing! When I heard her play, it brought tears to my eyes - she has amazing tone, interpretation, and a level of emotion in her playing I had not heard for a long time. She told me (after deciding not to pursue a career in music) that the competition was SO incredibly overwhelming that maybe only one of a hundred or so flutists would ever make it to the soloist tier. She is now teaching, which she loves as much or more than performing. She started out wanting the performance music career, but found out the competition (alot of backstage drama and back-biting, too) was not how she wanted to spend the better part of her life.

Don't know if this little story helps anyone, but it was a first-hand sneak peek into the music competition world for me. I'm assuming it's pretty much the same for pianists.
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#1350787 - 01/15/10 09:23 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: Tiemco]
CebuKid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 1174
Originally Posted By: Tiemco
Probably not. When you are a child your brain has many neural connections that are lost if you don't use them by about age 12. Included in these connections are many of the ones that relate to music. If you didn't start playing the piano, or musical instruments by that age it will be near impossible to play at a virtuoso level later in life. That's not to say you can't become very good at it, but to be a the level of a concert pianist, especially if you aren't a prodigy is pretty much impossible.


I'd have to agree with Tiemco. Scientific studies support this theory also.

I recently thanked my mom for the piano childhood piano lessons that i had (and hated) from age 9 to 12. My journey as an adult "re-beginner" would've been 10x harder, and there's no way I'd be tackling my current repertoire.

The things I retained from childhood were finger dexterity, hand independence, and most importantly RHYTHM. I have yet to buy a metronome - rhythm and timing were automatic and hard-wired during childhood. My rhythm also came from my 5-year childhood background in percussion.

However, let me say that I believe in, and celebrate the human spirit. Hard work and determination will overtake any "childhood background" any day of the week! You guys who are true adult learners are awesome - I've heard some of your playing in the piano bar this month, and subscribe to many of your YouTube channels. smile
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#1350832 - 01/16/10 12:02 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: John Citron]
Nguyen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 430
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: John Citron
Originally Posted By: ChrisA
Originally Posted By: RX-Blak
...Sure it will be a bit awkward (for everyone else), that I'm 35 and taking classes with the 20-22yr olds, but what do I care. It WILL happen..


No I can say first hand, not awkward at all even at age 50+. Actually kind of fun to be on a college campus after not having been on one over 20 years.


I absolutely agree, Chris. I too am an older student, returning to school after a very long time in the work world, having gone from a computer geek to now a music student at UMASS Lowell. This has been so far the most fun I've had in a very long time.

This discussion got me so pumped up. I’d go back go school in a heart beat. Problem is, we as adults, have so many responsibilities. Food on the table isn’t something most can avoid if having a family and children, so school is out of the picture. Children and young adults have a leg up because they don't have to worry until later in life. I honestly think if you’re still young and don’t have many life commitments yet, there’s no reason you won’t succeed. Remember though, you might have to work 10 times harder if you want to be as good as they are.
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#1350879 - 01/16/10 02:10 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: SAnnM AB-2001]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: IPIBAHN - Sandy
Perhaps you mean professional? There's a difference and a lot of professionals are not virtusos.

This is correct. It is especially important for a virtuoso to have had major exposure to music before 9 months.
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#1350885 - 01/16/10 02:42 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: keyboardklutz]
piano_primo_1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/25/09
Posts: 284
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA
UMMMMMM,,,, uhhhhhhhhh, just who or what is this thing called Virtuoso? Is he from Italy or somethin? or just a good kinda guy? (humor break)
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#1350898 - 01/16/10 03:39 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: piano_primo_1]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
There is no magical age, by which, one must have been exposed to music in order to produce a virtuoso. Of course, an early start IS much more conducive to allowing one to begin forming the technical facility required to become a virtuoso, as technical development is paralleled with muscular development. Musical development, however, is a journey that lasts a lifetime. Musicianship and virtuosity, are not one in the same and should not be confused. That said, of course, an early start that is grounded in strong musical principles allows one to much easier integrate the two (which is not always the case with those we label virtuosos) than a later start.
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#1350901 - 01/16/10 03:53 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: stores]
Nikolas Offline
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5220
Loc: Europe
A few things sprung to mind the minute I read the Original Post...

I know that these are examples, but the Rach Gm prelude, is not devilishly hard and, at least for me, not what a virtuoso would play to show off his ultimate amazing skills. Same for the march.

Maybe it depends, but it seems that the OP wants to play "what he wants" when he grows up.

It's very reasonable to assume that with the right will power it can be done. He never stated he wants to be top, or competitive, or professional, or anything.

On what he wants though, the chosen path seems quite weird. He dreams of being a virtuoso and in order to do that, and buy a piano, he wants to be a dentist... Am I the only one who thinks that this is a tiny bit weird, but also very practical, pragmatic and realistic?

Yes, there is a matter of age, I don't think one can deny that, but not to the edge of making things impossible... at least I'd like to believe that.
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#1350902 - 01/16/10 04:00 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: stores]
Nguyen Offline
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Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 430
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: stores
There is no magical age, by which, one must have been exposed to music in order to produce a virtuoso. Of course, an early start IS much more conducive to allowing one to begin forming the technical facility required to become a virtuoso, as technical development is paralleled with muscular development. Musical development, however, is a journey that lasts a lifetime. Musicianship and virtuosity, are not one in the same and should not be confused. That said, of course, an early start that is grounded in strong musical principles allows one to much easier integrate the two (which is not always the case with those we label virtuosos) than a later start.
I agree, totally, not because I’m an experienced pianist. It just makes sense.

Evaldas, I’m wondering, why do you concern whether you’ll be a virtuoso or not? Even if one has the best teacher, the best piano, the best environment, the best school, and time at his hand, will he be good? It’s really up to him. Learn to play the Piano. Practice everyday. Push yourself to the limit (this I preach but not do lol). And let’s see where it leads us.
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#1350914 - 01/16/10 04:50 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: stores]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
There is no magical age, by which, one must have been exposed to music in order to produce a virtuoso.
We obviously have differing definitions of the word and, no doubt, it's been cheapened in our media age.
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#1350956 - 01/16/10 07:58 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: Evaldas]
F.Chopin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/03/10
Posts: 10
Yes, it IS possible.
Of course, you must practice from the very beginning, from the basics of the basics. And the problem usually is, that adults tend to skip the basic and easy parts because it will make them feel like a little kids, but skipping those parts will make the advancing very difficult...
And I'm saying it because it was the problem with me (I've started 3 years ago, at 17) and it took me some time realizing it...
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#1350975 - 01/16/10 09:13 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: F.Chopin]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: F.Chopin
Yes, it IS possible.
So, you're a virtuoso?
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#1350985 - 01/16/10 09:24 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: keyboardklutz]
F.Chopin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/03/10
Posts: 10
Hmm... I won't declare myself as a virtuoso, but I hope I'm on the right way.. XD
And I'm sure I'm not perfect, I just gave my opinion about the topic smile
Recently I've properly mastered some of Chopin's etudes and for me it is a major achievement :P
(I study by myself, without any teachers)
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#1350990 - 01/16/10 09:38 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: keyboardklutz]
keystring Online   content
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The word "virtuoso" is often used by non-musicians and relative newcomers to mean someone who plays well. It is probably a good idea to get at what they are picturing, otherwise a discussion is meaningless.

I know a couple of people who do not want to be "virtuosos", preferring to be musicians. The virtuoso, to them, is somebody who can play in an impressive manner at lightning speed or ultra slowness, have all the technical tricks at their command, and great precision. A musician, in their eyes, is someone who has technical abilities and understanding of the stuff of music, and can then use those things to produce music. It is a very particular meaning of "musician".

I imagine that what we are discussing is neither of these extremes, but rather whether a person can reach a level where they can play advanced music decently enough that others might enjoy listening to it.

F. Chopin wrote:
Quote:
Of course, you must practice from the very beginning, from the basics of the basics.

which would have to be a step in the right direction, wouldn't it? But how do we get the basics of the basics right? Can we see, hear, and feel where it isn't, and what direction to take? There the question of teacher (a decent one - not one that will plant problems) comes in, and where either lack of time or money can get in the way. Though I would think that lack of time goes more toward practising: lessons are once a week, practicing is 7 times more often.

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#1351000 - 01/16/10 10:07 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: keystring]
CebuKid Offline
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Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 1174
Yes, with hard work and determination, and regardless of age, one can become a "virtuoso". Here's what Wikipedia says, and what Wikipedia says, goes...LOL.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtuoso


Virtuoso
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Virtuoso (disambiguation).
Examples of well known Virtuosi over time. Top Row - From left: Frédéric Chopin, Niccolò Paganini, Franz Liszt, Luigi Boccherini. Bottom Row - From left: Arthur Rubinstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman.

A virtuoso (from Italian virtuoso, Late Latin virtuosus, Latin virtus meaning: skill, manliness, excellence) is an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability at singing or playing a musical instrument. The plural form is either virtuosi or the Anglicisation, virtuosos, and the feminine form sometimes used is virtuosa. Virtuosi are often musical composers as well. During the age of Baroque music many composers were also virtuosi on their respective instruments.[citation
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#1351019 - 01/16/10 10:31 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: CebuKid]
Evaldas Offline
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Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 111
Loc: Vilnius
Hm, well I meant not necessarily a VIRTUOSO, or a professional pianist, but just someone who can play those pieces in my first post, the initial post of this thread.
And by "conservatory proffesor" I didn't mean literally a CONSERVATORY PROFESSOR, I just meant someone good at piano teaching...
And I'm also not interested in playing at concerts, I just wanna play for myself, it would be a good way of expressing oneself... Imagine coming after a hard day of work and the jamming as hard as you can a cool, difficult piano piece smile...

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#1351031 - 01/16/10 10:40 AM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: Evaldas]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Evaldas
Hm, well I meant not necessarily a VIRTUOSO, or a professional pianist, but just someone who can play those pieces in my first post, the initial post of this thread.
That's more like it. But with discipline you'll do better than that!
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#1351105 - 01/16/10 12:53 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Larry Larson Offline
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Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 992
Loc: Carmel, Indiana
Does anyone know of there are any pianists who reached the top level ability who began later in life?
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#1351111 - 01/16/10 01:02 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: Larry Larson]
keyboardklutz Offline
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We've had that question before and the answer is no. No concert pianists started from scratch from say the age of 16.
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#1351118 - 01/16/10 01:10 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nguyen Offline
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Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 430
Loc: Massachusetts
KBK, that's an honest answer rarely seen. Sometimes I wonder why we are so afraid being straightforward and to the point? Worry we'd hurt others? I rather be hurt than keep in the dark.
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#1351155 - 01/16/10 02:01 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: Nguyen]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Just to ameliorate the other side of the argument, Rubinstein did say he could take any 70 year old off the street and turn them into a concert pianist in ten years, from scratch...but he never said virtuoso, and as far as I know there are no 'late starters' (and I mean from scratch) out there on the concert platform.
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#1351189 - 01/16/10 02:49 PM Re: Is it possible to become a virtuoso...? [Re: Evaldas]
Rachel J Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 324
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Originally Posted By: Evaldas
Hm, well I meant not necessarily a VIRTUOSO, or a professional pianist, but just someone who can play those pieces in my first post, the initial post of this thread.
And by "conservatory proffesor" I didn't mean literally a CONSERVATORY PROFESSOR, I just meant someone good at piano teaching...
And I'm also not interested in playing at concerts, I just wanna play for myself, it would be a good way of expressing oneself... Imagine coming after a hard day of work and the jamming as hard as you can a cool, difficult piano piece smile...


Evaldas... You can get as far as you want to given enough time and dedication. I'm sure you have a natural affinity for music if you are this serious about it. I'll tell you what I tell all my adult students: Do not place limits on your expectations, but do not get hung up on how advanced you feel you should be either. Revel in the *process* of learning to play the piano. That way, you will keep the good attitude that is essential for progress. Stay positive, set big goals, but do not despair if it takes longer to get there than you want. With good practice habits and a healthy attitude, you will improve at the piano every day for the rest of your life. Don't worry about how fast you are progressing, just celebrate every achievement and every improvement along the way!
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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