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#1564426 - 11/26/10 08:39 AM Difference between amateurs/pros?
mps989 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/25/09
Posts: 42
Loc: next to a keyboard
I quick google search ended up in nothing so I'll ask something that has been bothering me a bit.

I don't intend to play the piano as a professional, but I'd want to be "as good as possible". There seem to be few good level amateur recordings of some advanced pieces, I think Chopin Etudes were mentioned in another thread. My question is: can amateurs be anywhere close to pros? If not, what's the missing ingredient?
I feel stupid asking this, but hey, that's why I dont use my real name here :p

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#1564466 - 11/26/10 10:17 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
D4v3 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 501
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
I would think that the difference can be either a result of genetics or what I call distractions.

Are you willing to forgo a family? To be considered a shut-in because you spend most of your day practicing? To perform infront of large groups of people that are expecting perfection?

Do you realize the commitment it is to be a pro, the price you must pay? I think there's a reason the saying is true that says: "It's lonely at the top".

Most of the truly gifted pianists I know are in-fact shut-ins who dont know how to socialize because they are on a completely different level and have alot of oddities.


Edited by D4v3 (11/26/10 10:20 AM)
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#1564471 - 11/26/10 10:21 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
GrouchoMarx Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/10
Posts: 106
Wouldn't an amateur who has reached the same level as a pro, be considered a pro him/herself? Isn't the difference between professionals and amateurs that one does it as a pastime hobby and the other as a career?
So in that sense the closest an amateur can come to a pro is the point where he/she becomes one. I reckon the difference in sheer ability might be small in some cases. Hard question to answer.
_________________________
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#1564474 - 11/26/10 10:29 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4395
I mentioned it before on a similar thread, but a well-kmown pianist put the difference succintly: an amateur practises in order to reduce the number of mistakes, but a professional practises in order to avoid making mistakes.

I was at a concert last week where the pianist played Liszt's Sonata in B minor as part of her program. It was a totally no-holds-barred performance, no playing for safety at any point (the octaves near the end were taken at breakneck speed), yet she only made 3 miss-hits throughout the entire performance. How long had she practised the work for (- she was playing this work for the first time in public)? Would any part-time pianist have the inclination to work on one work till he/she could get it to this level (assuming that it's within his technical grasp)?

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#1564478 - 11/26/10 10:31 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: bennevis]
Dave Horne Online   content
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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I mentioned it before on a similar thread, but a well-kmown pianist put the difference succintly: an amateur practises in order to reduce the number of mistakes, but a professional practises in order to avoid making mistakes.

That sounds good to me.
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#1564485 - 11/26/10 10:40 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: bennevis]
RealPlayer Offline
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Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 2281
Loc: NYC
Originally Posted By: bennevis
I mentioned it before on a similar thread, but a well-kmown pianist put the difference succintly: an amateur practises in order to reduce the number of mistakes, but a professional practises in order to avoid making mistakes.

I wonder if you could elaborate on that. I consider myself professional but never quite made that particular distinction, at least consciously.
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www.josephkubera.com

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#1564486 - 11/26/10 10:41 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3340
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
A pro follows a path of studying music with highly qualified teachers. It is through eliminating as many technical issues as possible, having unbiased critiques of your skills and musical values, as well as putting in an enormous amount of time and effort that elevates a certain few people with the requisite inherent ability to reach professional level.

It is necessarily out of reach for all but a select few with the right combination of supportive upbringing, financial means, genetic capability and extreme work-ethic. Having said that, the level of enjoyment and satisfaction in one's musical life can operate quite independently of the level you reach. I know professionals who have a torturous relationship with music - to the point where you'd question if they even like music or whether it's just an obsession with perfection which they could have pursued in any field. I know other people who love to just bash away at the piano for an hour each night and they have a ball.

In a musical sense, pros tend to be more attuned to the finer skills within a piece. They are not only technically more skilled, they are able to manipulate sound in very subtle and precise ways.

I have an particular interest in this question because I am a professional guitarist. I studied at great conservatories around the world and with great teachers. I can relate to what it takes to be a pro on guitar. On piano though, I am just an enthusiastic amateur. I am aware that I won't be able to reach the same level of proficiency on piano. There just aren't enough hours in the day and there are too many other things which occupy my time. I honestly couldn't go through it all again anyway. It is a very tough life, believe me. It emotionally challenging and you experience a lot of self doubt. Perfection is very hard to achieve, yet that is what you are aiming for as a pro.

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#1564495 - 11/26/10 11:03 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: bennevis]
jdhampton924 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/08
Posts: 1006
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
Originally Posted By: bennevis
I mentioned it before on a similar thread, but a well-kmown pianist put the difference succintly: an amateur practises in order to reduce the number of mistakes, but a professional practises in order to avoid making mistakes.

I was at a concert last week where the pianist played Liszt's Sonata in B minor as part of her program. It was a totally no-holds-barred performance, no playing for safety at any point (the octaves near the end were taken at breakneck speed), yet she only made 3 miss-hits throughout the entire performance. How long had she practised the work for (- she was playing this work for the first time in public)? Would any part-time pianist have the inclination to work on one work till he/she could get it to this level (assuming that it's within his technical grasp)?


I like your distinction as well. Another good way to think of it, A professional gets a paycheck.

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#1564513 - 11/26/10 11:40 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: Dave Horne]
motif Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 215
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I mentioned it before on a similar thread, but a well-kmown pianist put the difference succintly: an amateur practises in order to reduce the number of mistakes, but a professional practises in order to avoid making mistakes.

That sounds good to me.



don't agree, professional practices (not "practises" Dave) to be able to cover up mistakes which are inevitable anyway.

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#1564516 - 11/26/10 11:45 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: bennevis]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19099
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: bennevis
I mentioned it before on a similar thread, but a well-kmown pianist put the difference succintly: an amateur practises in order to reduce the number of mistakes, but a professional practises in order to avoid making mistakes.

I was at a concert last week where the pianist played Liszt's Sonata in B minor as part of her program. It was a totally no-holds-barred performance, no playing for safety at any point (the octaves near the end were taken at breakneck speed), yet she only made 3 miss-hits throughout the entire performance. How long had she practised the work for (- she was playing this work for the first time in public)? Would any part-time pianist have the inclination to work on one work till he/she could get it to this level (assuming that it's within his technical grasp)?
So the woman in your second paragraph wasn't a professional because she did make mistakes?

I've heard plenty of professional pianists makes mistakes. Both Rubinsteins made a lot of mistakes. Cortot wasn't a professional?

I think it goes without saying most amateurs would make more mistakes on a given technically difficult piece than a good professional since most pros have better technique. I think the distinction between practicing to reduce the number of mistakes vs. to avoid mistakes highly artificial...the aim for both is no mistakes.

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#1564522 - 11/26/10 11:49 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: pianoloverus]
motif Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 215
everybody makes mistakes, make no mistake about it laugh
the art and professionalism is to use your mistakes to your advantage.

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#1564524 - 11/26/10 11:51 AM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4491
Loc: in the past
How good you are has nothing to do with if you're a professional or amateur. I've heard some "amateurs" that play tons better than some "professionals" I"ve come across. It's just about who does what for a living.
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#1564540 - 11/26/10 12:18 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
musica71 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/08
Posts: 411
Loc: Bend, Or.
I agree absolutely with the last post...some amateurs are incredible...but do not make a living with it.
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#1564554 - 11/26/10 12:32 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
natty_dread78 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/10
Posts: 116
To me, it's pretty much like sports.
The practical difference boils down to:

- a pro practices several hours a day, it's (part of) his job
- an amateur (at least in my case) practices a few hours per week, mainly because he has a job

But a pro may have succeeded because of several reasons: his natural abilities (if that exists), his amount of work and dedication, his relationships/contacts in the music industry, chance, etc etc

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#1564582 - 11/26/10 01:35 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: motif]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: motif
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I mentioned it before on a similar thread, but a well-kmown pianist put the difference succintly: an amateur practises in order to reduce the number of mistakes, but a professional practises in order to avoid making mistakes.

That sounds good to me.



don't agree, professional practices (not "practises" Dave) to be able to cover up mistakes which are inevitable anyway.


motif, if you're going to correct someone, do it accurately.

Firstly, I didn't write everything in that quote, only what was not italicized. Secondly, practises is perfectly fine for British spelling.

It really does seem that those who make the most noise have the quietest profiles. Why is that, you think? laugh

(motif, remember, I'm not laughing with you, I'm laughing at you. smile )
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#1564588 - 11/26/10 01:51 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: Dave Horne]
PlebiousPianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/18/09
Posts: 28
Practice/practise follows the same rule as advice/advise in British English. "It is important to develop good practice habits when you practise."

End of OT grammar lesson. wink

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#1564592 - 11/26/10 01:56 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
JGonzalezGUS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/09
Posts: 191
Loc: Florida, USA
Several thoughts:
1) an amateur practices until he/she gets it right; a professional practices until there's not a chance of getting it wrong (of course, they're also human wink
2) on any given day, an amateur could play as well as a professional and a professional could have an awful day and play horribly (thoug that shouldn't happen often)
3) in addition to technique, a professional has 'control' of the sound; he/she has a good idea of what sound he wants, has learned to listen to the sound coming out of the instrument and adjust accordingly
4) any given musical passage when an amateur wants it to sound a certain way, it will sound that way more or less half of the time; a professional will make it sound THAT way literraly 100% of the time - in other words, a professional will be more consistent

Like I said, my thoughts....
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Kawai K5 - Kawai CA61

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#1564595 - 11/26/10 02:05 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: JGonzalezGUS]
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3405
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: JGonzalezGUS
Several thoughts:
1) an amateur practices until he/she gets it right; a professional practices until there's not a chance of getting it wrong (of course, they're also human wink
2) on any given day, an amateur could play as well as a professional and a professional could have an awful day and play horribly (thoug that shouldn't happen often)
3) in addition to technique, a professional has 'control' of the sound; he/she has a good idea of what sound he wants, has learned to listen to the sound coming out of the instrument and adjust accordingly
4) any given musical passage when an amateur wants it to sound a certain way, it will sound that way more or less half of the time; a professional will make it sound THAT way literraly 100% of the time - in other words, a professional will be more consistent

Like I said, my thoughts....


+1

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#1564639 - 11/26/10 03:16 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
PaulaPiano34 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/16/10
Posts: 1217
A friend of mine and her teacher were actually discussing this the other day. The teacher was saying that although my friend is very talented, he subtly hinted it's time for her to "make the bridge" and start playing with more professionalism quote: "You don't want them to just think oh, that's a very talented young pianist; you want them to think: that person is a professional". One thing they also discussed is how professional musicians generally play broader and bolder with interpretation. They also discussed the fact that professionals don't usually make little mistakes like fingerslips, etc... because they practice their piece until it's impossible to make a mistake that way. When professionals do make a mistake (memory slip or something) they can usually patch it up and improvise around it so it looks/sounds to the ordinary ear like it never happened. Just my input...
--Milana

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#1564655 - 11/26/10 03:52 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: Dave Horne]
motif Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 215
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne

It really does seem that those who make the most noise have the quietest profiles. Why is that, you think? laugh


FYI, your profile is even more empty then mine, but you'll never understand this.


p.s.
you're not British , remember? or not...

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#1564658 - 11/26/10 04:01 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Professional by definition is that they make they're money as a musician. Amateur by definition only means that they do something ELSE for a living.

"Practice" is correct spelling in American English, but I'm pretty "practise" is fine in England, kind of like "colour"/"color".

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#1564667 - 11/26/10 04:17 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: motif]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: motif
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne

It really does seem that those who make the most noise have the quietest profiles. Why is that, you think? laugh


FYI, your profile is even more empty then mine, but you'll never understand this.


p.s.
you're not British , remember? or not...


motif, can't you read and comprehend? I didn't write what you ascribed to me.
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#1564673 - 11/26/10 04:41 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2594
Loc: Netherlands
all answers read, I miss this: am's love the music, pro's live the music.
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#1564678 - 11/26/10 04:47 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
jdhampton924 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/08
Posts: 1006
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
I think a big problem with saying Pros live the music is it brings up to many philosophical arguments.

What about composers such as Schumann who wrote a lot, does this mean he was an amatuer?

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#1564697 - 11/26/10 05:33 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
Drunk3nFist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/08
Posts: 640
Loc: London
Professionals get paid, do it for a living, so they are expected to have higher standards. What makes this even easier for professionals is that they have literally their whole lifetime to practice and improve. Amateurs mostly don't get paid, and only make their piano playing a part-time occupation,, thats why most people think they will never reach the same standards of a professional. But with a good mix of talent and hard work, I believe an amateur can also play at a 'professional' level.
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#1564698 - 11/26/10 05:33 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: dolce sfogato]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
all answers read, I miss this: am's love the music, pro's live the music.


When it comes to the arts, most people have romanticized notions.

Just like any profession, you have those who live and breathe their work, others who are equally great and devoted to their craft but treat it like a job, and everything in between.
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#1564706 - 11/26/10 05:44 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: Dave Horne]
motif Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 215
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
all answers read, I miss this: am's love the music, pro's live the music.


When it comes to the arts, most people have romanticized notions.

Just like any profession, you have those who live and breathe their work, others who are equally great and devoted to their craft but treat it like a job, and everything in between.


you cannot treat art as a job, once you do you're only craftsman not an artist, hence no better then pianola.

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#1564708 - 11/26/10 05:51 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: motif]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: motif
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
all answers read, I miss this: am's love the music, pro's live the music.


When it comes to the arts, most people have romanticized notions.

Just like any profession, you have those who live and breathe their work, others who are equally great and devoted to their craft but treat it like a job, and everything in between.


you cannot treat art as a job, once you do you're only craftsman not an artist, hence no better then pianola.


Until you provide us with your art, you're just a poser.
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#1564710 - 11/26/10 05:53 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: mps989]
Lingyis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/09
Posts: 786
Loc: New York, NY
what i'm more interested in... is whether, for a given piece, an amateur can play better than professionals.

perhaps even world-class professionals.

right now i tend to think it's possible, at least for less ambitious pieces. like, i imagine, many amateurs play "fur elise" better than professionals... i think many chopin waltzes and perhaps nocturnes are within reach for good amateurs.

gilbert kaplan, economist by trade, became the foremost authority on Mahler's 2nd symphony. the thing is, he's a one-trick pony--said symphony is the only piece he has ever conducted (at least up till a few years ago). so, at least when it comes to interpreting, "amateurs" can do better than professionals. but when there are such technical requirements at the piano, i wonder.


Edited by Lingyis (11/26/10 05:55 PM)
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#1564713 - 11/26/10 05:59 PM Re: Difference between amateurs/pros? [Re: Dave Horne]
motif Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 215
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne

Until you provide us with your art, you're just a poser.


I'd rather be poser then pianola.
whistle

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