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#2049219 - 03/16/13 04:36 PM Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
decibel101 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/28/01
Posts: 280
Loc: Manhattan
Hi All,

I just wanted to take a quick poll of the group here:

If you're a dedicated amateur/music lover out there that has a full-time day job and an hour or two to practice on weekdays and maybe three to four hours on weekends... How long do you think it would take you to learn the Goldberg Variations? I understand that everyone is different and there are a whole host of factors that may affect how quickly one learns. I just wanted to get a pulse out there for what people thought.

Thanks!
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#2049223 - 03/16/13 04:49 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
A lifetime. One is never finished learning the GBVs. Playing the notes is another thing. Much easier. Too many variables to tell how it takes to learn.

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#2049226 - 03/16/13 04:56 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7573
Loc: New York City
May I ask what is the point of this question?

And even if it were the most intelligent question ever asked, I couldn't answer it because I've never learned them and I never know how long it will take to learn a piece (well, mind you) until I try it.
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#2049234 - 03/16/13 05:10 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Without knowing your present level, I don't see how one can give an answer. Maybe 99%(or even much more)of pianists will never be able to learn the notes up to speed for the Goldberg Variations due to their extreme technical difficulty and length.

If one cannot learn a piece in a reasonable amount of time then I think it is a bad idea to attempt that piece. Even if one could theoretically learn the notes up to speed for the GV with the number of hours per day you mentioned in two years I think that is a bad use of one's time.

As great as this piece is and as much as you may love it(I assume your asking because you want to learn it), I bet you can find many other pieces(actually hundreds of them) that you would enjoy playing as much but would take a reasonable amount of time.




Edited by pianoloverus (03/16/13 05:49 PM)

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#2049243 - 03/16/13 05:24 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: pianoloverus]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Without knowing your present level, I don't see how one can give an answer. Maybe 99%(or even much less) of pianists will never be able to learn the notes up to speed for the Goldberg Variations due to their extreme technical difficulty and length.

If one cannot learn a piece in a reasonable amount of time then I think it is a bad idea to attempt that piece. Even if one could theoretically learn the notes up to speed for the GV with the number of hours per day you mentioned in two years I think that is a bad use of one's time.

As great as this piece is and as much as you may love it(I assume your asking because you want to learn it), I bet you can find many other pieces(actually hundreds of them) that you would enjoy playing as much but would take a reasonable amount of time.




I sort of disagree. If you want to perform the piece, think carefully about the commitment. If you want to lean the piece, take all the time you have. Just don't spend all your time on that single work.

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#2049244 - 03/16/13 05:24 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: pianoloverus]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7573
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Maybe 99%(or even much less) of pianists will never be able to learn the notes...


Maybe you meant or even much more? wink

Or 1% instead of 99.
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Polyphonist

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#2049252 - 03/16/13 05:49 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: Polyphonist]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Maybe 99%(or even much less) of pianists will never be able to learn the notes...


Maybe you meant or even much more? wink

Or 1% instead of 99.
Thanks, I edited my post.

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#2049434 - 03/17/13 12:21 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
MathGuy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 232
Loc: California
I once worked on the Goldbergs pretty steadily for about six months, at which point I had the Aria and 21 of the 30 variations under pretty good control. Of course, the ten that weren't up to snuff included the really tough ones like 20 and 23! Getting the whole cycle performance-ready was never my goal, but if it had been, I was maybe a quarter of the way there. So to answer the OP's question: I'd estimate two years to feel comfortable performing the cycle - with the score, I should add. And, as was mentioned, it would take forever to really learn it.

For me, the biggest technical challenge with the Goldbergs is the hand crossings. Each hand individually tends be pretty reasonable, but put them together and it can be like a game of Twister. For that reason, I'd love to try the "arabesque" variations, especially 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, and 26, on a two-manual harpsichord. If I had one of those at my disposal, I might even be able to cut a few months from that two-year estimate.

Working on the Goldbergs is an incredibly rewarding project, both pianistically and spiritually. By spiritually, I don't mean it's a religious experience (although it might be, for those who are so inclined), but it just makes me feel good about the world and its potential. Many of the variations seem just like dear old friends to me, and it's a wonder to know these friends are immortal. What an incredible gift from Bach to humanity...

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#2049439 - 03/17/13 12:45 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: MathGuy]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3763
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: MathGuy
For me, the biggest technical challenge with the Goldbergs is the hand crossings. Each hand individually tends be pretty reasonable, but put them together and it can be like a game of Twister.

For what it's worth: my teacher (a much respected and beloved teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music) is a big fan of playing lots of hand-crossed passages, including a lot in the Goldbergs, with the hands switched and uncrossed.

-J
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Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#2049444 - 03/17/13 01:09 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: beet31425]
gooddog Online   content
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4793
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: beet31425
[quote=MathGuy]For what it's worth: my teacher (a much respected and beloved teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music) is a big fan of playing lots of hand-crossed passages, including a lot in the Goldbergs, with the hands switched and uncrossed. -J


Now that's interesting. I often find crossed hands difficult because of, er, two chest height anatomical obstructions. Whenever possible, I do the same thing as long as it doesn't negatively effect the sound.
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#2049445 - 03/17/13 01:13 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: gooddog]
beet31425 Online   content
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Posts: 3763
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: gooddog
Originally Posted By: beet31425
For what it's worth: my teacher (a much respected and beloved teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music) is a big fan of playing lots of hand-crossed passages, including a lot in the Goldbergs, with the hands switched and uncrossed. -J


Now that's interesting. I often find crossed hands difficult because of, er, two chest height anatomical obstructions. Whenever possible, I do the same thing.


My teacher mentioned that reason specifically for generally recommending (most of her students are female) to uncross hands at the end of the first movement of Beethoven's op.57. smile

-J
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Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#2049449 - 03/17/13 01:37 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: beet31425]
gooddog Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4793
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: gooddog
Originally Posted By: beet31425
For what it's worth: my teacher (a much respected and beloved teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music) is a big fan of playing lots of hand-crossed passages, including a lot in the Goldbergs, with the hands switched and uncrossed. -J


Now that's interesting. I often find crossed hands difficult because of, er, two chest height anatomical obstructions. Whenever possible, I do the same thing.


My teacher mentioned that reason specifically for generally recommending (most of her students are female) to uncross hands at the end of the first movement of Beethoven's op.57. smile

-J
I found the first movement of Beethoven's Pathetique to be particularly "inconvenient" because of the speed of the arms crossing and uncrossing. When "things" get in the way it's difficult to do it quickly. blush
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#2049510 - 03/17/13 06:14 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
I played the Goldbergs for my senior recital nearly 30 years ago. I'm still learning them.
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"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#2049608 - 03/17/13 11:02 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2312
Loc: San Jose, CA
You'll never finish it, probably, but don't let that stop you!

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#2049717 - 03/17/13 02:12 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13779
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Just depends on the quality of practicing and how well things stick in your brain. Could be never, could be 5-6 months.
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#2049997 - 03/18/13 01:01 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 938
Loc: California
The circumstances outlined in the first post happen to fit my case so I'll take part in the poll. If dedicating most of my practice time to the project, I'd need 6 to 8 months. That means to get the notes under my fingers, not to have the piece performance-ready.

My technique and sight reading are intermediate level. I do play a lot of Bach.

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#2050032 - 03/18/13 02:52 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
ahhsmurf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/13
Posts: 48
Loc: Banned
I never know how long it will take to learn a piece

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#2050120 - 03/18/13 08:37 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
beeboss Offline
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Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1198
Loc: uk south
One lifetime is not enough for normal mortals
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#2050135 - 03/18/13 09:02 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: Ferdinand]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19271
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
The circumstances outlined in the first post happen to fit my case so I'll take part in the poll. If dedicating most of my practice time to the project, I'd need 6 to 8 months. That means to get the notes under my fingers, not to have the piece performance-ready.

My technique and sight reading are intermediate level. I do play a lot of Bach.
I think that's like a golfer with a 25 handicap saying I'll play two rounds of golf every day and take a lesson every day and in 8 months I'll be shooting par.

I find the idea that some people think that anyone, no matter what their present level of skill, can learn the GV in some finite amount of time completely wrong.


Edited by pianoloverus (03/18/13 09:04 AM)

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#2050155 - 03/18/13 10:01 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: pianoloverus]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2728
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
The circumstances outlined in the first post happen to fit my case so I'll take part in the poll. If dedicating most of my practice time to the project, I'd need 6 to 8 months. That means to get the notes under my fingers, not to have the piece performance-ready.

My technique and sight reading are intermediate level. I do play a lot of Bach.
I think that's like a golfer with a 25 handicap saying I'll play two rounds of golf every day and take a lesson every day and in 8 months I'll be shooting par.

It seems the major issue with life is time. I'm a total hack as a golfer, but if I put in that much time and effort I'd be pretty darn good. I understand your criticism of this post but your example is quite extreme and would in fact lead to extreme results (or extreme injury).
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

I find the idea that some people think that anyone, no matter what their present level of skill, can learn the GV in some finite amount of time completely wrong.
Did you miss the comment that the time frame was simply to get the notes down? You're right a lifetime isn't enough to learn the piece for most mere mortals, and for me personally 6-8 months would not be sufficient to even get the notes down. It might also be helpful to define what "getting the notes down" means. I do think that some here have an almost reflexive contrariness that keeps up the entertainment level of this site. Thank you for that.

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#2050165 - 03/18/13 10:27 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
pianoloverus Online   content
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I think those that think just given enough time to practice and study they could:

1. shoot par golf
2. become a chess grandmaster or even just an international master
3. Acquire a forehand like Roger Federer
4. learn to play the Goldberg Variations notes at tempo

are being very unrealistic.


Edited by pianoloverus (03/18/13 10:29 AM)

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#2050176 - 03/18/13 10:51 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Back in my university days, many eons ago, I found that it took me 120 minutes of practice, on average, for each minute of music to reach performance level. All that meant though,was that I could play the pieces up to tempo with some musicality. I am still learning those pieces, as well as new rep 40 years later.

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#2050198 - 03/18/13 11:40 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: pianoloverus]
beet31425 Online   content
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3763
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think those that think just given enough time to practice and study they could:

...
4. learn to play the Goldberg Variations notes at tempo

are being very unrealistic.

I'm fortunate enough to have grown up with a father who is a fearless amateur pianist. His technique is below concert level, but that never stopped him from spending the time (whatever it took) to learn what he wanted. Whether it's a Brahms intermezzo or a simple Bach prelude, or else the Goldberg Variations, the Diabelli Variations, Beethoven op.106, or the Prokofiev 8th, he always does his pieces musical justice. (Only the Rach 3rd rebuffed his efforts.) I'm lucky to feel that the Goldberg Variations are not out of my reach, if I want them.

My answer to the OP's original question is: probably about a year.


-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#2050205 - 03/18/13 11:59 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: pianoloverus]
riley80 Offline
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Registered: 08/03/08
Posts: 381
Loc: Florida
Me learning the Goldberg brings to mind those chimps eventually typing every word in the British Museum, or however that goes. In other words, nigh onto forever.

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#2050276 - 03/18/13 02:30 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13779
Loc: Iowa City, IA
FWIW,

I think the Goldberg Variations are a lot easier than people think. There's a certain mystique surrounding them that's based mostly on their length, ingenuity, and Glenn Gould's recording of them, but when you get right down to it, none of the variations (taken by themselves) are any more difficult than most of the material in the WTC or Partitas.
_________________________
"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)

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www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2050369 - 03/18/13 05:40 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: Kreisler]
MathGuy Offline
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Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 232
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I think the Goldberg Variations are a lot easier than people think. There's a certain mystique surrounding them that's based mostly on their length, ingenuity, and Glenn Gould's recording of them, but when you get right down to it, none of the variations (taken by themselves) are any more difficult than most of the material in the WTC or Partitas.
If you had said "only a few" instead of "none", I'd agree. However, some of the GVs, such as 20 and 23, strike me as being on a level all their own, at least when compared with the Partitas. (I don't know the WTC well enough to judge how they compare with it.) But quite a few of them - particularly the ones whose numbers give a remainder of 0 or 1 when divided by 3 (!) - are not bad at all, taken individually.

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#2050429 - 03/18/13 07:34 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: Kreisler]
Lemon Pledge Offline
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Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 350
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I think the Goldberg Variations are a lot easier than people think. There's a certain mystique surrounding them that's based mostly on their length, ingenuity, and Glenn Gould's recording of them, but when you get right down to it, none of the variations (taken by themselves) are any more difficult than most of the material in the WTC or Partitas.


I had similar thoughts, before I learned the piece. smile "It's just a collection of 2- and 3-part inventions. How hard can it be?" Harder than I suspected, it turned out. The Goldbergs and the Partitas challenge in very different ways, imo. For one, many of the Goldbergs are about virtuoso display, even if played at sub-Gouldian tempi. The Partitas contain some occasional brilliant passagework and some very lively dances, but that's not the same thing. And if I say that the strictly independent and linear 3-part writing in the Goldberg canons has few parallels within the Partitas, someone will retort to cite the exceptions, or to point out the contrapuntal complexity of the Partitas in general, but that's not the same thing either.

The Goldbergs are more work than 2.5 - 3 partitas. (I'm trying for timelength-equivalence here). They are perhaps less work than 12-15 P&Fs, but very few people would perform the latter all at once.

The mystique that you mention does certainly exist, and it probably explains why so many young pianists feel that they absolutely need to play the Goldbergs, ready or not, as if no other Bach would be an adequate substitute. To the OP: this is not a healthy impulse. With so much wonderful Bach to choose from, why chase the mystique instead? A genuine attempt at the entire Goldbergs doesn't make a lot of sense until you have enough experience and technique to, say, prepare a French Suite in a week.

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#2050431 - 03/18/13 07:34 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: MathGuy]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3763
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: MathGuy
But quite a few of them - particularly the ones whose numbers give a remainder of 0 or 1 when divided by 3 (!) - are not bad at all, taken individually.


Yep, a lot of the 2 mod 3's are killers! smile

On Kreisler's point, it's quite possible that most of the individual Goldbergs are indeed on the level of the partitas, *and* that working up all 30 of them is just as hard as people think.

-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#2052279 - 03/22/13 05:30 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
Julien Pierre Offline
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Registered: 04/05/10
Posts: 44
Loc: Silicon Valley
As an adult student, I have been working on them for 12 years, and I still can't get the notes down on most of them. I hope to live to play them all.

I will likely never perform them. I have recorded a few, after many, many takes.

My youtube channel

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#2053229 - 03/24/13 12:15 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: pianoloverus]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 938
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think those that think just given enough time to practice and study they could:

1. shoot par golf
2. become a chess grandmaster or even just an international master
3. Acquire a forehand like Roger Federer
4. learn to play the Goldberg Variations notes at tempo

are being very unrealistic.

No argument. I said I thought I could learn the notes. Not play them up to tempo.

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#2053385 - 03/24/13 10:20 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: Ferdinand]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think those that think just given enough time to practice and study they could:

1. shoot par golf
2. become a chess grandmaster or even just an international master
3. Acquire a forehand like Roger Federer
4. learn to play the Goldberg Variations notes at tempo

are being very unrealistic.

No argument. I said I thought I could learn the notes. Not play them up to tempo.
OK, but I don't see the point in learning the notes to a piece if one will not expect to play the piece at some reasonably close to normal tempo. When people discuss learning the notes to a piece, I think it's assumed this means at some reasonably close to appropriate tempo.

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#2054059 - 03/25/13 02:44 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: pianoloverus]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think those that think just given enough time to practice and study they could:

1. shoot par golf
2. become a chess grandmaster or even just an international master
3. Acquire a forehand like Roger Federer
4. learn to play the Goldberg Variations notes at tempo

are being very unrealistic.

Those who practice correctly can do any one of those things. I've only ever bothered to do #1, but I bet I could do #4 in a relatively short amount of time. wink
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2054738 - 03/26/13 06:48 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: decibel101]
dolce sfogato Offline
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Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2630
Loc: Netherlands
it took me a few weeks to learn them, a few years to think that I knew them, a few decades to learn that I didn't, and half a life to just have the guts to perform them, still not sure about it.
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#2054824 - 03/26/13 09:32 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: Derulux]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19271
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think those that think just given enough time to practice and study they could:

1. shoot par golf
2. become a chess grandmaster or even just an international master
3. Acquire a forehand like Roger Federer
4. learn to play the Goldberg Variations notes at tempo

are being very unrealistic.

Those who practice correctly can do any one of those things. I've only ever bothered to do #1, but I bet I could do #4 in a relatively short amount of time. wink
Very few professional tennis players in the history of the sport ever had a forehand the equal of Federer. These the most talented people playing tennis and if they don't know how to practice who would? Now how could a person with average or below average athletic ability ever hope to have a forehand like Federer?

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#2054839 - 03/26/13 10:08 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: pianoloverus]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think those that think just given enough time to practice and study they could:

1. shoot par golf
2. become a chess grandmaster or even just an international master
3. Acquire a forehand like Roger Federer
4. learn to play the Goldberg Variations notes at tempo

are being very unrealistic.

Those who practice correctly can do any one of those things. I've only ever bothered to do #1, but I bet I could do #4 in a relatively short amount of time. wink
Very few professional tennis players in the history of the sport ever had a forehand the equal of Federer. These the most talented people playing tennis and if they don't know how to practice who would? Now how could a person with average or below average athletic ability ever hope to have a forehand like Federer?

He's lost 202 times, so there are certainly days when he's not the best. But if you want to take something so marginally small that one person can be "the best" at it, and then say no one else can match it, then yes. You have a point. But it is just as well to say that, eventually, someone will come along and beat him. Nobody stays "the best" forever.

Of the four you listed, that is the only one that is specific to one individual, and that individual's greatest strength. It would be like saying, "Nobody can drive a ball farther than John Daly." You're right, but Daly was never considered the world's greatest golfer. Tiger Woods is.

So, if we back #3 down to the more generic levels of the other three items on the list, we may find it to be quite possible, even probable, that it might occur. smile
_________________________
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#2055018 - 03/27/13 09:15 AM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: Derulux]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19271
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Those who practice correctly can do any one of those things. I've only ever bothered to do #1, but I bet I could do #4 in a relatively short amount of time. wink
Originally Posted By: Pianoloverus
Very few professional tennis players in the history of the sport ever had a forehand the equal of Federer. These the most talented people playing tennis and if they don't know how to practice who would? Now how could a person with average or below average athletic ability ever hope to have a forehand like Federer?
Originally Posted By: Derulux

He's lost 202 times, so there are certainly days when he's not the best. But if you want to take something so marginally small that one person can be "the best" at it, and then say no one else can match it, then yes. You have a point. But it is just as well to say that, eventually, someone will come along and beat him. Nobody stays "the best" forever.

Of the four you listed, that is the only one that is specific to one individual, and that individual's greatest strength. It would be like saying, "Nobody can drive a ball farther than John Daly." You're right, but Daly was never considered the world's greatest golfer. Tiger Woods is.

So, if we back #3 down to the more generic levels of the other three items on the list, we may find it to be quite possible, even probable, that it might occur. smile
So you really think that talent isn't a huge factor in reaching the levels required to do any of the above?

I know two of the most talented pianists at PW and they were both playing extremely advanced works(the kind most people never have the ability to play) relatively soon after they started. To me, this means that there was more involved than just having an excellent teacher and practicing a lot.

I think if one took the tennis player ranked only 1000th in the world and asked about the chances of a person with average or less than average athletic ability being able to reach that level with enough practice and the best coaching, I think their chances would be close to 0.

Similarly, if you can shoot par golf, I think you must have extremely high natural ability in the particular physical skills needed to do this, and it wasn't achieved just by excellent instruction and many hours of practice. How would you rate you athletic ability?


Edited by pianoloverus (03/27/13 09:21 AM)

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#2055120 - 03/27/13 02:01 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: pianoloverus]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Those who practice correctly can do any one of those things. I've only ever bothered to do #1, but I bet I could do #4 in a relatively short amount of time. wink
Originally Posted By: Pianoloverus
Very few professional tennis players in the history of the sport ever had a forehand the equal of Federer. These the most talented people playing tennis and if they don't know how to practice who would? Now how could a person with average or below average athletic ability ever hope to have a forehand like Federer?
Originally Posted By: Derulux

He's lost 202 times, so there are certainly days when he's not the best. But if you want to take something so marginally small that one person can be "the best" at it, and then say no one else can match it, then yes. You have a point. But it is just as well to say that, eventually, someone will come along and beat him. Nobody stays "the best" forever.

Of the four you listed, that is the only one that is specific to one individual, and that individual's greatest strength. It would be like saying, "Nobody can drive a ball farther than John Daly." You're right, but Daly was never considered the world's greatest golfer. Tiger Woods is.

So, if we back #3 down to the more generic levels of the other three items on the list, we may find it to be quite possible, even probable, that it might occur. smile
So you really think that talent isn't a huge factor in reaching the levels required to do any of the above?

I know two of the most talented pianists at PW and they were both playing extremely advanced works(the kind most people never have the ability to play) relatively soon after they started. To me, this means that there was more involved than just having an excellent teacher and practicing a lot.

I think if one took the tennis player ranked only 1000th in the world and asked about the chances of a person with average or less than average athletic ability being able to reach that level with enough practice and the best coaching, I think their chances would be close to 0.

Similarly, if you can shoot par golf, I think you must have extremely high natural ability in the particular physical skills needed to do this, and it wasn't achieved just by excellent instruction and many hours of practice. How would you rate you athletic ability?

I don't think talent is a non-factor, but I do think it's overvalued. In terms of achieving such a high level of success and ability, I rank work ethic first. You can have the most talented kid in the world, but if they sit on their ass all day watching TV, they won't get anywhere. Similarly, you can have someone with average ability work their tail off every day, all day, and become the next greatest "anything" in the world. There are far more examples of "average" people working their tails off than there are of so-called "talented" people doing nothing.

The single smartest person I've ever heard of (IQ over 240) works at a gas station. A very good friend of mine with an above-average intelligence (IQ of 123) is doing top-level cancer research at Jefferson and making some pretty big breakthroughs.

I knew a kid who could run a 4:15 mile in 6th grade. You've never heard of him because he stopped running shortly thereafter. Another kid I grew up with couldn't break 8:00, but he worked his tail off, and later broke the national collegiate record in the 5k.

Final story, I taught a kid in martial arts who, growing up, was absolutely horrible. Couldn't hit a target with a laser sight, and didn't have the power to knock over a blow-up doll. He spent 6 hours a day on the floor, worked his butt off for 8 more years, and went on to win two world championships.

I think your example of the tennis player makes assumptions that you may not have considered. If you take someone 22 years old, with average athletic ability, and try to turn them into Roger Federer, you've got a few things going against you. One is the choices that person made during the previous 20 years that caused them to be in the condition they're in. The second is the amount of "peak physical conditioning" time they have left before age catches up. I believe, however, if you were to take a 30 year old with average athletic ability, go back to when they were 2 years old, and train them correctly from the start, that you would be talking about a "talented prodigy" and not an "average Joe".

To answer your last question, I am fortunate enough to be extremely athletic. Whether this is a product of the way I grew up, or some "natural" ability, I don't know. Both of my parents coached multiple sports, and ever since I was able to walk, I trained my tail off. My nine world titles in the martial arts didn't come because I was "so talented I didn't have to do anything." They came because I spent 6-7 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 10 years training to win those titles. Similarly, I didn't shoot par golf because I watched TV. Since I was 2 years old, I swung a club. It took until I was in my late teens to shoot par. That's another 15 years of working my butt off.

See, what I see is this: people pick up an activity to "try it out," or to "have fun with it." I've never done that. I can't do it--my brain isn't built that way. (Sometimes I wish I could, but it just doesn't happen.) I do things to be good at them, and I bust my tail to get there. Some people may enjoy playing a round of golf and breaking 120 for this first time. I'd rather go to a driving range and hit 1500 balls with a 7 iron. Why? I need to excel. I need to compete. I need to win.

It is that mentality, more than talent, that creates a Roger Federer. That's what creates a Dan Gable, a Tiger Woods, a Michael Phelps. It's not desire--desire isn't strong enough. It's a need. He needs to compete. Needs to win. Needs to beat everyone else and be the best in the world. And he works longer and harder than anyone else to make sure it happens.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2055130 - 03/27/13 02:20 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: Derulux]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19271
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Derulux

I don't think talent is a non-factor, but I do think it's overvalued. In terms of achieving such a high level of success and ability, I rank work ethic first. You can have the most talented kid in the world, but if they sit on their ass all day watching TV, they won't get anywhere. Similarly, you can have someone with average ability work their tail off every day, all day, and become the next greatest "anything" in the world. There are far more examples of "average" people working their tails off than there are of so-called "talented" people doing nothing.
I think the roles of talent vs. work ethic are virtually impossible to evaluate. Most agree that to achieve some incredibly high level of performance at something a very high work ethic is necessary. Few think that talent alone is sufficient to perform at the highest level. But the disagreement, of course, occurs about whether or not work ethic is sufficient.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples are the Polgar sisters in chess where the father, if I understand things correctly, was trying to show that the work ethic was sufficient and using his daughters as kind of an experiment. But even though all three of his daughters became great chess players(Judith being by far the strongest female chess player in history and Susan being one of the strongest female players in history), I don't think his experiment proved much.


Edited by pianoloverus (03/27/13 02:22 PM)

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#2055175 - 03/27/13 03:48 PM Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn [Re: pianoloverus]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux

I don't think talent is a non-factor, but I do think it's overvalued. In terms of achieving such a high level of success and ability, I rank work ethic first. You can have the most talented kid in the world, but if they sit on their ass all day watching TV, they won't get anywhere. Similarly, you can have someone with average ability work their tail off every day, all day, and become the next greatest "anything" in the world. There are far more examples of "average" people working their tails off than there are of so-called "talented" people doing nothing.
I think the roles of talent vs. work ethic are virtually impossible to evaluate. Most agree that to achieve some incredibly high level of performance at something a very high work ethic is necessary. Few think that talent alone is sufficient to perform at the highest level. But the disagreement, of course, occurs about whether or not work ethic is sufficient.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples are the Polgar sisters in chess where the father, if I understand things correctly, was trying to show that the work ethic was sufficient and using his daughters as kind of an experiment. But even though all three of his daughters became great chess players(Judith being by far the strongest female chess player in history and Susan being one of the strongest female players in history), I don't think his experiment proved much.

I believe (not scientific fact, obviously) that as long as you're not deprived of some critical component (in the case of piano, not having hands, for example) that work ethic is at least 95% of the equation. I base my belief on this fact: without talent, work ethic can get you near the top; without work ethic, talent can take you nowhere. But you're absolutely right-- it's a heavily-contended idea with little definitive evidence one way or the other.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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