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#2074287 - 04/30/13 03:13 PM I did it! I did it! I took the plunge!
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1814
I finally bought a piano, and started lessons again!!!

I could not be happier. I can't tell you how satisfying it is to sit down again and have a goal and work to do it.

The hardest thing for me was having the guts to get a teacher. I started ballet last year and the truth is that, for me, nothing really substitutes for an expert eye on your form and guiding you to acquire the proper habits and skills correctly the first time.

But my experience with ballet taught me that even at my age, I CAN assimilate complicated concepts. Of all things, I was SURE ballet was one you either learned as a child or you don't bother. But that doesn't seem to be true; there are plenty of other adult beginner ballet dancers who progress well as adults.

Which finally leads me to the point that you all care about: piano. That IS something I learned as a child, and spent a long time learning. I gave it up at around age 16, and sheesh, talk about regret... Every time I would sit back down and find more and more of my skills had eroded, I would get frustrated and that would be that. Regret on top of regret! Now, 25 years later, there are plenty of layers of regret, heh.

The problem is that one of the reasons I gave it up is that, like a lot of kids, I did not have the maturity to really drill what I needed to drill. I was quick and expressive and in this way I managed to hide a lot of flaws for a long time. But you hit a wall because after a while, you don't have anything to hide behind and you can't get further. I was lucky to be accepted by a well-regarded teacher, ultimately, but when she tried to knock me back to relearn (or learn for the first time) certain fundamentals, I fought her mightily. By age 16, I was done. I dabbled with it here and there after that, but with no purpose or plan.

Anyhoo, fast forward 25 years and nothing good has happened to my piano skills in the interim. The only thing that was true than and is true now is that I just love piano. I regret not having learned it properly, but that doesn't mean I don't pine for it. And if I can learn ballet for the first time at 40, heck if I can't learn piano at 40, considering I am not starting from scratch.

So my teacher? She's my ballet teacher, believe it or not!! She grew up in the Soviet Union and pursued ballet and piano until ballet was no longer an option. I didn't know of her piano background until I saw her name on a CD, heh. Since she is AMAZING at adapting classical pedagogy to the way adults tend to learn, I asked her if she'd be interested in being my teacher. And she was!

I was scared to death. In a way, ballet was almost easier to start because I had no prior knowledge. Everything was new, and I could fail. I had no expectations of myself, and nobody had any of me. I had no prior skill level to compare myself to, and no "crutch" go-to passages I could still play well, so as not to be confronted with the very real possibility that I was even WORSE than I thought.

Needless to say, I approached my first lesson with gripping fear. I told her my current skill level was low and while I played as a child, it wasn't something I remembered well. I was scared to death to create false expectations, in her as well as in me.

So we had a bit of a disconnect at first, because she showed up with staff note reading diagrams and how to locate middle C. So I had to suck it up and be more descriptive. I kid you not, I almost burst into tears from the fear of having to admit where I had been because if you know that, then you know how far I've fallen. Jeez, I sure worked myself up into quite a little knot over the past couple of decades! Over the years, my paralysis over it has gotten worse and worse and now I won't even play when there's someone in the house, so you can imagine my fear of playing directly in front of someone who knows what they're looking at. But of course the idiotic thing is that ultimately I was going to have to play for her anyway, I mean, she's there to teach me, so after my little internal freak-out, I felt ok just letting her assess me.

She made me play some things I had once been familiar with no matter how awful it felt to me to stumble through them, had me sight read new things. But it wasn't too bad. Of course, she immediately discovered the horrifying state of my runs and fingering on scales and arpeggios, and for me, that is really my most major dirty little secret.

I had to confront the fact that since I never really solidified all those scales and arpeggios in any formal way, I have nothing automatic to fall back on. For correct fingering, I can only do any of them one handed and not harbor a fear of running out of fingers. And while I figured "I'll always have C", the cringe-worthy realization was that I could not do two octaves of c-major while simultaneously keeping the fingering and synchronizing both hands. At any speed other than one note every four seconds. Either one hand got ahead of the other, or they both defaulted to some, ahem, "creative" fingering. Like 5, 1. Or double 5. Really, top shelf stuff.

So, I ended up with a very interesting set of assignments. It's nice she didn't feel like I had to start with Hot Cross Buns or anything. She gave me a Mozart sonata I'd not played before, and a Chopin nocturne with some interesting features to it. But my other assignment? C major scale, hahaha.

So, as nice as it was to have the pieces, I actually got the most satisfaction out of finally taking the first step to correct the gap in fundamentals. In other words, you're looking at someone who actually ENJOYED playing c-major over and over again. Starting at speeds slower than her daughter, who just started playing piano in September.

But two weeks later? BOO YA! Done. Fixed. Two octaves? Pshaw. Four octaves. Can do it parallel, contrary, right hand up a third, or left hand down a sixth. Two octaves, 220bpm, two notes per click. Four octaves, around 200bpm, two notes per click. Chromatics, same. It's nice that I don't have to abandon the fingering once the speed goes up. It's in there correctly now and each day it's a little more automatic. I tried it in G, and damn it works there, too. I presume I can just deploy this to D, A, and E, if my hazy memory of the circle of fifths serves me correctly.

Arpeggios are slower, but I lock up my wrists and elbows, so I'm working on getting some fluidity there. I had a vague muscle memory of a fluid circular rotation from the elbow and shoulder that helped propel them up and down the keyboard, and my teacher told me "think 'rond de jambe, en dedans'" and heck if that's not exactly it. Go ballet.

Double thirds coming along.

Anyway, it's on. And maybe it won't take as long as I thought to get back to something I'm proud of, and this time with the satisfaction of knowing I'm not cutting corners. We shall see!
Scales. Scales and arpeggios. Scales, arpeggios and chords.
Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. post. 66
Mozart, Sonata in A minor, K310
Anything that works for ballet accompaniment

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#2074312 - 04/30/13 03:41 PM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1234
Loc: Southern California
Congratulations on the piano and the teacher TwoSnowflakes. Your enthusiasm is contagious. It appears that you were quite the young pianist, considering that after all that time off, you can still do four octave scales, and already have been assigned a Mozart Sonata after one lesson. There are plenty of highly skilled folks on the ABF (though I am not one of them), so you are certainly welcome here.

I'm sure all of us would love to hear some of your music. The next forum recital opens up tomorrow (May 14th closing deadline). There is also the monthly piano bar, the Ecco Fatto Cafe for first time uploads, and there will be another recital in three months.
my piano uploads

#2074324 - 04/30/13 03:57 PM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
EdwardianPiano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/11
Posts: 788
Loc: Rainy England
TwoSnowflakes glad you are doing so well with your teacher! Hope to hear one of your recordings soon.

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.
Ludwig van Beethoven.

#2074365 - 04/30/13 04:38 PM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
heathermphotog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/12
Posts: 90
Loc: Georgia
Welcome and congratulations on your piano and lessons! Enjoy smile
~ Heather smile

Knabe WMV247
“When you play, never mind who listens to you.” ― Robert Schumann
“The piano ain't got no wrong notes.” ― Thelonious Monk

#2074368 - 04/30/13 04:42 PM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 5877
Loc: Italy
Wow, what happiness and excitement!

Congratulations on your new piano, the lessons, and the joy that is shining through!

Follow your teacher's instructions and practice wisely/much, and you'll soon wonder how you ever found it hard. BobPickle
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

#2074393 - 04/30/13 05:16 PM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
earlofmar Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 2426
Loc: Australia
Snowflakes, what a great post. Wishing you all the best with your speedy return to playing piano.
If this life is a simulation can I not be in the easy version where Bach was a drummer


#2074518 - 04/30/13 09:10 PM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17948
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Congratulations, Snowflakes! I agree with Sand Tiger that your enthusiasm is contagious. smile Enjoy your journey!
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

#2074564 - 04/30/13 10:47 PM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
JazzyMac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/13
Posts: 92
I wish I understood the foreign language (parallel, contrary). Oye! smile

Congratulations on getting back in the game.
Hobby 1: Photography. Bucket List 1: Learning Piano

#2074730 - 05/01/13 04:32 AM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 958
Loc: Bulgaria
What a nice post to read. You will be back in shape in no time. Skills you acquired are not lost completely. Now you can also lay down the proper foundations for them and you'll be better than you were when you stopped after a while.

Please feel free to come and share a recording of your playing once you "complete" some pieces. The Piano bar thread is a perfect place for that smile
Music Pedagogy Student


#2074739 - 05/01/13 04:53 AM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
CarlosCC Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1751
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
Welcome to PW and congratulations TwoSnowflakes! Enjoy your journey.

Youtube channel | SoundCloud records

Self-taught since Dec2009
Don't play what's there, play what's not there.

#2074777 - 05/01/13 06:54 AM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
peterws Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 4683
Loc: Northern England.
40 is a good age to start anything. Marathon running, biking, piano playing, smoking . . . .heh heh can`t afford to smoke . .
"I'm playing all the right notes � but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe


#2074920 - 05/01/13 10:37 AM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1814
Thanks for the encouragement, folks! I hope to have something to show for it soon. Right now I think the only thing I'd be comfortable demonstrating would be the scales and I don't think anybody wants to see that, hah. But once I kept everything low and small, with nice springy and flexible wrists and elbows, the speed came up.

I really do hope to overcome my utter panic at having someone else hear me, so this might be a great semi-anonymous way to do it. But not yet.

The scales still takes about 5 minutes or so of warmup before I can speed up into them without fingering mistakes. And then it takes another 2-3 minutes or so to transition to thirds or sixths at speed. I hope at some point they become more automatic.

I also used to have a really bad time coordinating odd numbers of notes between hands. The sort of thing Chopin likes to throw in there. Like a slur of nine over a left hand four beat count. Five notes in the right two over two notes on the left. So the nocturne is making me confront that one, too, fortunately at a pretty slow speed. Adulthood sure gives more patience, that's pretty obvious.

Youth is wasted on the young. smile

Edited by TwoSnowflakes (05/01/13 10:38 AM)
Scales. Scales and arpeggios. Scales, arpeggios and chords.
Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. post. 66
Mozart, Sonata in A minor, K310
Anything that works for ballet accompaniment

#2074936 - 05/01/13 10:48 AM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: peterws]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1814
Originally Posted By: peterws
40 is a good age to start anything. Marathon running, biking, piano playing, smoking . . . .heh heh can`t afford to smoke . .

I tried marathon running. Two stress fractures later, and I realized...I hate running, lol! Biking, for me, WAS a youth thing (I did a lot of road racing in college). Smoking? Never really tried that one, heh! I think I'll let that one remain just one of several options for me in the future, haha.

No, I think my 40s are going to be all about ballet and piano, and the truth is you can't pick two more beautiful things to get to do. Well, provided you do them well, haha!

My oldest daughter plays violin and was lucky enough to progress to a teacher who plays first violin in the Philadelphia Orchestra. So once a week, I get to sit there and listen to an AMAZING player demonstrate some beautiful music. It almost takes away the sting of the price of the lesson. Almost. wink

There's a lot of great music in my life these days. I really hope to be one of the makers of it soon! And my daughter could probably use a competent accompanist.
Scales. Scales and arpeggios. Scales, arpeggios and chords.
Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. post. 66
Mozart, Sonata in A minor, K310
Anything that works for ballet accompaniment

#2079312 - 05/08/13 01:16 PM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
KBS1607 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/10
Posts: 60
Loc: Illinois
Congratulations Two! I have all scales memorized and am working on arpeggios and I find I really enjoy it also, after being stubborn about it before.
Alfred Adult Level One graduated 2010
I've been taking lessons since 2005

#2079532 - 05/08/13 10:11 PM Re: I did it! I did it! I took the plunge! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014

Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2197
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Welcome...I wish you the best.
I learn physical training from a guy who learned much in Russia. He was invited as part of Perestroika. (hope I spelled that right) Involved in experimental training. Things like mobility from there have done a ton for me.
The mobility and more in movement training are actually the basis of Break Dancing. They don't want to admit it. Guys I learn from shy away from that. Even though they will study things like different African Tribal dances simply for the different moves. Whey they "dance" (move) it is to save themselves.
I was actually interested in participating in dance, even ballet, a couple years ago. Simply for the more difficult moves in ballet. Dance in general just for fun. I remember a Russian term I learned: Movement is life and life is movement and dance is a celebration of life.
All the mobility, range of motion training, and yoga have made me feel like doing things. Made me literally young again. Can't explain it to people. Can only ask them to give it a chance and see for themselves.
Piano is something very serious to me. To compose one day. Otherwise have always enjoyed music. Wish to play the best for myself. The above has made this possible for me.

EDIT: Wanted to add. We figured out that Cossack dancing... They were the original break (brake?) dancers.

Edited by rnaple (05/09/13 05:37 AM)
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon


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