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#2080722 - 05/11/13 10:08 AM The fine line between amateur and professional
Andromaque Offline
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Registered: 08/29/08
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Loc: New York
I came across an interesting article abour Rupert Egerton-Smith, a successful amateur pianist, and thought that at least some PW folks may be interested. I never listened to the pianist so, caveat emptor. But the critic who penned this short story seems very enthusiastic. Perhaps some competition afficionados might have met him on the road?



Are amateur musicians lesser artists than professionals? Not this one

By Michael White / Last updated: May 10th, 2013
The Telegraph



Looking at the world in monochrome as people tend to, there’s a terrible temptation to suppose that, in whatever walk of life, professional means good and amateur means bad. Sometimes, of course, it’s an entirely fair assumption: would I want my triple bypass done by a self-taught enthusiast? Perhaps not. And I think I’d give a miss to any Tristan und Isolde with the leads drawn from the local Methodist chorale.
But that said, music harbours far more top-class amateurs worth listening to than most of us – especially critics – think. The Holst Singers are amateur and one of the very best choral groups in this country, more than able to hold their own against the BBC Singers or the Monteverdi Choir. A few years ago I came across a superb pianist called Will Galton who, rather than play the international circuit as he could have done, had chosen to teach maths in a Hampstead prep school – giving the odd concert on the side. And I’ve recently come into contact with someone else in that kind of position.
His name is Rupert Egerton-Smith. He works for a London law firm. But in 2009 he won both the 1st Prize and the Audience Prize at something called the International Concours des Grands Amateurs in Paris. And he’s about as Grand an Amateur as you could hope to find.
A few months ago he issued a recital CD of Chopin, Rachmaninov, Ravel and other things (see www.garatrecords.com) and it’s impressive. The sound quality you might question – I find it spongy – and the Chopin is frenetic. But the sheer technical accomplishment in Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit (one of the hardest scores in solo keyboard literature) is stunning and the real strength of the disc. By coincidence I heard it in the same week I’d been listening to a Melodya release of old, remastered tapes that have Ravel playing the Sonatine and other things quite ropily. Egerton-Smith could wipe the floor with him as a performer.
He happens to be playing the Ravel G Major concerto this weekend – May 11th, 7.30pm – at St Peter’s, Notting Hill with the Kensington Chamber Orchestra (also amateurs). And next week he goes off to America to play Carnegie Hall (or at least, the Weill Hall downstairs) as part of his prize for winning another competition: the Bradshaw & Buono International, which describes itself as for amateurs ‘seriously interested in pursuing a professional career’. So it maybe that Egerton-Smith’s status is about to change. I don’t know. All I know is that, as things stand, he has a day job. Not in music. And however you describe him, he’s worth hearing.


Edited by Andromaque (05/11/13 10:14 AM)

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#2080751 - 05/11/13 11:00 AM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
Mark_C Offline
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Yes -- met and heard him at the Boston amateur competition. He got 2nd prize there (which I thought was right). Indeed I'd say that he's one of the (relatively few) people at these events that we could say is perhaps 'as good as a professional' which in general gets said a little more than it should. smile

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#2080760 - 05/11/13 11:18 AM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
pianoloverus Offline
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I only found a little information about Egerton-Smith's background so I couldn't determine how long he studied music and how seriously until he took his 10 year break. Apparently he studied until the age of 20 so he might have the equivalent of a piano performance major background. So whether he is really an amateur is IMO open to debate but this has been discussed many times at PW.

Many, perhaps the huge majority, of the amateurs who win the biggest amateur competitions remind me of some chess grandmasters who at one point decide to give up a professional chess career for a steadier and more lucrative career outside of chess. For example, in the U.S. Grandmasters Michael Wilder and Patrick Wolf come to mind. I don't think many would think of them as "amateurs" if they decided to show up for some local weekend tournament.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/11/13 03:41 PM)

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#2080885 - 05/11/13 02:56 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I only found a little information about Egerton-Smith's background so I couldn't determine how long he studied music and how seriously until he took his 10 year break. Apparently he studied until the age of 20 so he might have the equivalent of a piano performance major background. So whether he is really an amateur is IMO open to debate but this has been discussed many times at PW....

He's among the very most polished of any of the people who've been in the amateur competitions, polished in a way that belies "amateur" in any usual sense and which I think can't happen (almost absolutely can't) without having had professional-like training, and having had it a lot and early. Still, I like the presence of some such people in these events although we could argue it doesn't make much theoretical sense smile and I agree with your chess analogy.

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#2080927 - 05/11/13 04:37 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
Overexposed Offline
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The word "amateur" means that the person is not being paid for the work. That's all. It does not mean that the person lacks superior training (although often that is the case).

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#2080947 - 05/11/13 05:11 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Overexposed]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
The word "amateur" means that the person is not being paid for the work. That's all. It does not mean that the person lacks superior training (although often that is the case).
But the real question occurs when someone is not presently getting paid but has either gotten paid in the past or received extensive training (like a piano performance degree).

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#2080951 - 05/11/13 05:18 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Overexposed]
Nikolas Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
The word "amateur" means that the person is not being paid for the work. That's all. It does not mean that the person lacks superior training (although often that is the case).
It's not only that, I'm afraid Ann!

As a professional composer I'm forced to compose what people expect me to (my clients in the computer games industry). Under THEIR deadline, THEIR thoughts, THEIR aesthetics, THEIR timing, etc. An amateur won't have to do this.

Similarly a professional pianist will get called (by his agent) to play something he doesn't truly enjoy, at a place he doesn't like, on a date that is his birthday or anything like that, and he won't be able to say no. An amateur can say no (and rightfully so, btw)...

The technique and ability is the tip of an iceberg in terms of what's different between an amateur and a pro.
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#2080969 - 05/11/13 05:50 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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I imagine that most people who do really well at these top amateur competitions have had very serious training at some point in their life, many at top conservatories and schools of music. The number of DIY pianists who succeed at these events is probably vanishingly small.
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#2080970 - 05/11/13 05:55 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: pianoloverus]
Overexposed Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
The word "amateur" means that the person is not being paid for the work. That's all. It does not mean that the person lacks superior training (although often that is the case).
But the real question occurs when someone is not presently getting paid but has either gotten paid in the past or received extensive training (like a piano performance degree).


I suppose if it's a competition, the organizers will have to define what they mean by "amateur".

I think the article is pointing out that many people with a day job outside of music, are excellent musicians. In other words, we could stand to broaden our view of what an amateur musician is.

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#2080974 - 05/11/13 06:01 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Nikolas]
Overexposed Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
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Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
The word "amateur" means that the person is not being paid for the work. That's all. It does not mean that the person lacks superior training (although often that is the case).
It's not only that, I'm afraid Ann!

As a professional composer I'm forced to compose what people expect me to (my clients in the computer games industry). Under THEIR deadline, THEIR thoughts, THEIR aesthetics, THEIR timing, etc. An amateur won't have to do this.

Similarly a professional pianist will get called (by his agent) to play something he doesn't truly enjoy, at a place he doesn't like, on a date that is his birthday or anything like that, and he won't be able to say no. An amateur can say no (and rightfully so, btw)...

The technique and ability is the tip of an iceberg in terms of what's different between an amateur and a pro.


Hi Nikolas,
I think you're describing how working as a professional differs from performing as an amateur. The amateur is performing for the love of it and has the benefit of relying on a day job outside of music, so can turn down any offer that doesn't sound like something fun. A professional generally doesn't have the freedom to do this.

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#2080976 - 05/11/13 06:04 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Mark_C]
bennevis Online   content
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According to my dictionary, 'amateur' can have two meanings: someone unskilled, or someone who "performs a sport or activity as a pastime rather than as a profession". Or, for the love of it (my definition grin).

I'm never regretted not making music my profession. A healthy dose of reality check also kept me away from making chess or photography my career, though unlike with music (- I did get offered payment for a few 'gigs', but I never accepted), I did make a little money from them. But that was also probably the reason why I never lost my interest in them, and, especially in the case of music, even increased my commitment in recent years, to what I'd call my hobbies.

There are some things that you can make a comfortable living from, yet don't have to be much good at, but classical music isn't one of them. Unlike other kinds of music.........
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2080978 - 05/11/13 06:10 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: bennevis]
JoelW Offline
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Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4785
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: bennevis

There are some things that you can make a comfortable living from, yet don't have to be much good at [...]


You sure?

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#2080982 - 05/11/13 06:13 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: JoelW]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: bennevis

There are some things that you can make a comfortable living from, yet don't have to be much good at [...]


You sure?


Positive.

I'm a one-person proof of that...... wink
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2080992 - 05/11/13 06:38 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: pianoloverus]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
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Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
The word "amateur" means that the person is not being paid for the work. That's all. It does not mean that the person lacks superior training (although often that is the case).
But the real question occurs when someone is not presently getting paid but has either gotten paid in the past or received extensive training (like a piano performance degree).


Gotten paid for doing what exactly????? As for performance degrees, are you referring to an undergrad degree in performance from "Podunk" College, or a DMA from Eastman??? grin

If you go by the "paid in the past" and "performance degree" rationale, the performance degree and four years of piano teaching I did 40 years ago at a small liberal arts college would make me a "professional" - despite doing something else "professionally" for another 35 years and essentially playing the piano as a hobby off and on during that time. At this point in my life I don't pretend to be a professional (who am I kidding - right???) - but consider myself an amateur who took advantage of a couple of years of good early training. Most folks who hear me play today would probably agree. ha

Just saying the professional/amateur thing isn't all that black and white.





Edited by carey (05/11/13 06:39 PM)
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#2080996 - 05/11/13 06:49 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: bennevis]
patH Offline
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Registered: 03/09/13
Posts: 564
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: bennevis
According to my dictionary, 'amateur' can have two meanings: someone unskilled, or someone who "performs a sport or activity as a pastime rather than as a profession". Or, for the love of it (my definition grin).

I just checked another online dictionary, and it says the same thing.
However, I believe that the second definition (someone who performs an activity as a pastime rather than a profession) is better, because those in the first category (the unskilled ones) also fall in that category. Because if they are unskilled, probably no one asks them to perform. So if they do it, they do it because they want do. For the love of it.

And I believe that someone with a day job that has nothing to do with music, who occasionally accepts to play music on a party or wedding, possibly even for money, is still an amateur.

So to go back to the original post: If Rupert Egerton-Smith does not earn his money with music but as a lawyer, he is an amateur. He may be performing at professional level; but IMO he will only become a professional if he decides to quit his job and live from what he earns with his music.
Which personally I would not recommend for anyone.
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#2081020 - 05/11/13 07:39 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: carey]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
]But the real question occurs when someone is not presently getting paid but has either gotten paid in the past or received extensive training (like a piano performance degree).
As for performance degrees, are you referring to an undergrad degree in performance from "Podunk" College, or a DMA from Eastman???
Neither. I didn't mean to imply every degree was equal in determining amateur status or that there was even a clear cutoff about what degree would make someone non amateur in my view.
Originally Posted By: carey
Gotten paid for doing what exactly?????
Musical performance. This doesn't mean I think accompanying a high school musical is equal to playing at Carnegie Hall.

Originally Posted By: carey
If you go by the "paid in the past" and "performance degree" rationale, the performance degree and four years of piano teaching I did 40 years ago at a small liberal arts college would make me a "professional" - despite doing something else "professionally" for another 35 years and essentially playing the piano as a hobby off and on during that time.
Again I was just raising the point that some competitors in amateur competitions have relatively recent professional level training and some got that training at very prestigious institutions.

The article quoted in the OP adopts the usual amazed observation that someone who has a non music day job can be a terrific pianist. But in reality many or even most in that category who win the best amateur competitions have had relatively recent and/or extensive professional level training at one point in their life. So for many of these pianists, I'd say it's not changing our concept of what amateur means but is more the realization that these pianists are not amateurs.

Originally Posted By: carey
Just saying the professional/amateur thing isn't all that black and white.
I agree.





Edited by pianoloverus (05/11/13 07:40 PM)

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#2081031 - 05/11/13 08:22 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: pianoloverus]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
]But the real question occurs when someone is not presently getting paid but has either gotten paid in the past or received extensive training (like a piano performance degree).
As for performance degrees, are you referring to an undergrad degree in performance from "Podunk" College, or a DMA from Eastman???
Neither. I didn't mean to imply every degree was equal in determining amateur status or that there was even a clear cutoff about what degree would make someone non amateur in my view.
Originally Posted By: carey
Gotten paid for doing what exactly?????
Musical performance. This doesn't mean I think accompanying a high school musical is equal to playing at Carnegie Hall.

Originally Posted By: carey
If you go by the "paid in the past" and "performance degree" rationale, the performance degree and four years of piano teaching I did 40 years ago at a small liberal arts college would make me a "professional" - despite doing something else "professionally" for another 35 years and essentially playing the piano as a hobby off and on during that time.
Again I was just raising the point that some competitors in amateur competitions have relatively recent professional level training and some got that training at very prestigious institutions.

The article quoted in the OP adopts the usual amazed observation that someone who has a non music day job can be a terrific pianist. But in reality many or even most in that category who win the best amateur competitions have had relatively recent and/or extensive professional level training at one point in their life. So for many of these pianists, I'd say it's not changing our concept of what amateur means but is more the realization that these pianists are not amateurs.

Originally Posted By: carey
Just saying the professional/amateur thing isn't all that black and white.
I agree.

Seems we're on the same page. thumb
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#2081032 - 05/11/13 08:28 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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That depends on the size of the screen. For some people, your post could be on the next page ...

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#2081039 - 05/11/13 08:37 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Piano*Dad]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
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Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
That depends on the size of the screen. For some people, your post could be on the next page ...



Good point !! grin
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#2081062 - 05/11/13 09:40 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
Andromaque Offline
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Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
The definition discussion has been exhausted around here. How about we flip the question aorund.
The article that I posted captured my attention long enough that I read and shared it. Yet, I was not intrigued enough to check out the guy's playing, though I noticed that he has several pieces on You Tube. The honest reason is the fact that he is billed as an amateur. It is not that I never listen to amateurs or that doing so would be "beneath me". It is simply that the label implies - to me- less refined playing and with a very busy life, I frankly would not spend time or money on amateur concerts. Having said that, I have at times listened to amateurs and enjoyed their playing. but it would seem that I maintain a prejudice against them. So, how about you? excluding performance by family and friends, do you attend amateur concerts? do you check out amateur recordings on You Tube?

PS. I know that many people on PW play well. This is not a comment on anyone in particular.

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#2081097 - 05/11/13 11:24 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: bennevis]
IstvnE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/06/12
Posts: 84
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: bennevis

There are some things that you can make a comfortable living from, yet don't have to be much good at [...]


You sure?


Positive.

I'm a one-person proof of that...... wink


Sample size too small, invalid conclusion.

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#2081122 - 05/12/13 12:34 AM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: pianoloverus]
Damon Offline
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Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6149
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
But in reality many or even most in that category who win the best amateur competitions have had relatively recent and/or extensive professional level training at one point in their life. So for many of these pianists, I'd say it's not changing our concept of what amateur means but is more the realization that these pianists are not amateurs.


Being professionally trained doesn't make you a professional. That would make any college grad a professional in whatever field they studied. Technically, it would make a high school algebra student, a professional mathematician, since his instructor is a professional. It seems you would like to arbitrarily define the word professional as anyone that you can't tell apart from an expert.
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#2081211 - 05/12/13 06:15 AM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
Hakki Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
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I am listening to Rachmaninoff 2 first movement on his site (http://www.rupertegertonsmith.com) as I type this and I really enjoy listening to it. Not bad, not bad at all. Very fine playing indeed.
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#2081219 - 05/12/13 07:01 AM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Damon]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
But in reality many or even most in that category who win the best amateur competitions have had relatively recent and/or extensive professional level training at one point in their life. So for many of these pianists, I'd say it's not changing our concept of what amateur means but is more the realization that these pianists are not amateurs.


Being professionally trained doesn't make you a professional. That would make any college grad a professional in whatever field they studied. Technically, it would make a high school algebra student, a professional mathematician, since his instructor is a professional. It seems you would like to arbitrarily define the word professional as anyone that you can't tell apart from an expert.
By professional level training I mean the type of training a professional would have received. e.g., the same training as a piano performance major.

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#2081266 - 05/12/13 09:05 AM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
patH Offline
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Registered: 03/09/13
Posts: 564
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
The definition discussion has been exhausted around here. How about we flip the question aorund.
The article that I posted captured my attention long enough that I read and shared it. Yet, I was not intrigued enough to check out the guy's playing, though I noticed that he has several pieces on You Tube. The honest reason is the fact that he is billed as an amateur. It is not that I never listen to amateurs or that doing so would be "beneath me". It is simply that the label implies - to me- less refined playing

But this means that definition of "amateur" is important. Because you are apparently using a definition in the sense that amateur is less skilled; not in the sense that amateur means: Not professional full-time performer.

Originally Posted By: Andromaque
So, how about you? excluding performance by family and friends, do you attend amateur concerts? do you check out amateur recordings on You Tube?

Sometimes I attend amateur concerts. Rarely; but then I also attend professional concerts rarely.
When I watch a piece of music on YouTube, it's mostly because of the composition, not because of the interpretation. So whether it's an amateur or professional performing is not that important to me.
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#2081394 - 05/12/13 01:39 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: patH]
Hakki Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2608
Originally Posted By: patH
But this means that definition of "amateur" is important. Because you are apparently using a definition in the sense that amateur is less skilled; not in the sense that amateur means: Not professional full-time performer.



Of course it is meant to be that way. An amateur is an amateur. Both skill wise and performance wise.
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#2081401 - 05/12/13 02:00 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Hakki]
Mwm Offline
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Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Originally Posted By: patH
But this means that definition of "amateur" is important. Because you are apparently using a definition in the sense that amateur is less skilled; not in the sense that amateur means: Not professional full-time performer.



Of course it is meant to be that way. An amateur is an amateur. Both skill wise and performance wise.


Using skill as a quantifier regarding amatuer or professional status is not possible. Skill is not digital - you have skill, you don't have skill. It is described by a continuum, and there can be no clear cut transition from amateur to professional by that measure. Try another definition.

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#2081405 - 05/12/13 02:06 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
Mwm Offline
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Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
I prefer the terms 'avocation' and 'vocation' to describe my interests/jobs. It eliminates the slightly pejorative quality of the terms amateur and professional.

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#2081412 - 05/12/13 02:27 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Mwm]
Hakki Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2608
Originally Posted By: Mwm
I prefer the terms 'avocation' and 'vocation' to describe my interests/jobs. It eliminates the slightly pejorative quality of the terms amateur and professional.


No you don't understand. There is a hidden disdainful meaning too when the term amateur is used in the field of performing arts. That is why these competitions are using words such as outstanding, etc. for their competition names or when defining an amateur in their rules. It is simply to attract those who had a professional training in the past and who would be offended by the term amateur otherwise.
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#2081413 - 05/12/13 02:31 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3588
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Brendel became a "professional" - despite his amateurish origins.

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#2081419 - 05/12/13 02:39 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6149
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
The definition discussion has been exhausted around here. How about we flip the question aorund.
The article that I posted captured my attention long enough that I read and shared it. Yet, I was not intrigued enough to check out the guy's playing, though I noticed that he has several pieces on You Tube. The honest reason is the fact that he is billed as an amateur. It is not that I never listen to amateurs or that doing so would be "beneath me". It is simply that the label implies - to me- less refined playing and with a very busy life, I frankly would not spend time or money on amateur concerts. Having said that, I have at times listened to amateurs and enjoyed their playing. but it would seem that I maintain a prejudice against them. So, how about you? excluding performance by family and friends, do you attend amateur concerts? do you check out amateur recordings on You Tube?

PS. I know that many people on PW play well. This is not a comment on anyone in particular.


I don't really attend concerts at all anymore, mostly due to a lack of programmed material that interests me. However, it's the program that would entice me to attend, not the perceived level of the performer. When I find a performance I like of something familiar, on youtube, I'll listen to the other postings by that performer without regard to their pay-grade. You are right that the definition discussion has been discussed to definite disgust, but I've heard plenty of crappy "professional" performances, so sticking with the definition that "pros are paid", makes sense to me. IMO, it would be best if some folks would just stop using the word.
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#2081421 - 05/12/13 02:50 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Damon]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2608
Originally Posted By: Damon
IMO, it would be best if some folks would just stop using the word.


That is a good idea. It might be better to use the term "Non-Professional".
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#2081424 - 05/12/13 03:00 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Hakki]
patH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/13
Posts: 564
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Originally Posted By: Damon
IMO, it would be best if some folks would just stop using the word.


That is a good idea. It might be better to use the term "Non-Professional".


Maybe it's people who don't have English as first language (like me) who will continue to use "amateur". In German, when talking about non-professionals without good skills, you usually say "Laie" (layman). "Amateur" is e.g. used in sports and does not have a negative connotation, when used in a specific context.

And last year, I found a French piano dealer online that allows you to filter pianos according to size and according to level. The levels being "Loisir" (leisure), "Etude" (study), "Amateur", "Professionnel" and "Prestige".

Some pianos fall in more than one category. In fact, there are quite a few pianos that fall both in the "Amateur" and "Professionnel" category. So "Amateur" obviously does not have a negative connotation there.


Edited by patH (05/12/13 03:01 PM)
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#2081430 - 05/12/13 03:30 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
1RC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 501
Loc: Alberta

Originally Posted By: Damon
You are right that the definition discussion has been discussed to definite disgust, but I've heard plenty of crappy "professional" performances, so sticking with the definition that "pros are paid", makes sense to me. IMO, it would be best if some folks would just stop using the word.


laugh
Communication conundrums. If there's one thing internet forums has taught me it's a fine sense of whether someone is looking for the idea behind the words or not. Ever talk to people offline? It can be sloppy business!

Anyways, I will say that I do at times check out amateur recordings on youtube. That indulgence of curiousity isn't too demanding. Would an amateur performance really have much more of an audience than friends and family in any case?

A former piano teacher used to tell me I had moments of world class playing, and I don't think he was always exaggerating to be a nice guy. But I also think we both knew the impractical amount of time it took me to bring a piece to that level, and the inconsistency (the hope was to expand those moments into the standard). I can understand how somebody would choose to spend their time and attention on an established name.

The same teacher also would say that some people could become professional simply by deciding one day to act like one.

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#2081491 - 05/12/13 05:44 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1491
For those who had followed amateur competitions, they should know that there are many levels of participants. I personally categorize them into 4 classes:

1. Winners and finalists (ex-prodigies, graduates from top conservatories).
2. Strong Seminalists (people with piano degrees from pretty good schools, and non degree people who are really into playing piano with pretty high level of talent. These people are pretty consistent in getting into semifinal, and in rare occasion they got into final)
3. Weak semifinalists ( they are basically the bottom of the semifinal people. They are pretty good for a real amateur, but their odds to get into semifinal is low, not like the strong semifinalists category. Many people who graduated from small music schools are usually in this categories).
4. Real amateurs (Most of them have no music degree. Many of them join the competition just to have fun and to help the organizers to fund the event. Majority will never advance to the semifinal, but they enjoy the activities. By the way, I am one of these people).

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#2081512 - 05/12/13 06:20 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13792
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I'd also flip the question around another way and suggest that many "professionals" do not exhibit the kind of refined playing many expect from that label.

And there's the question of what "pianist" means. Many people would consider me a professional at certain kinds of playing - I'm a decent chamber music player, can do great work in a pit orchestra, have been an orchestral pianist, am a great rehearsal pianist for choral or theater groups, and can do any kind of background/incidental music someone might need. I can transpose parts, read open score fairly well, realize figured bass/continuo, and comp/improvise jazz from chord charts in a big band or combo setting.

But many people would not consider me a "professional" solo recitalist or concerto soloist. I've done both of those things, but I don't find myself motivated to prepare and pursue those things. Partly because I'm not as good as a lot of the people who do that kind of work, partly because of the time commitment, and partly because classical performance is not lucrative at all, seeing as how there are so many students and academic faculty members who will play for free just to get another line on their resumes.

Originally Posted By: Andromaque
The definition discussion has been exhausted around here. How about we flip the question aorund.
The article that I posted captured my attention long enough that I read and shared it. Yet, I was not intrigued enough to check out the guy's playing, though I noticed that he has several pieces on You Tube. The honest reason is the fact that he is billed as an amateur. It is not that I never listen to amateurs or that doing so would be "beneath me". It is simply that the label implies - to me- less refined playing and with a very busy life, I frankly would not spend time or money on amateur concerts. Having said that, I have at times listened to amateurs and enjoyed their playing. but it would seem that I maintain a prejudice against them. So, how about you? excluding performance by family and friends, do you attend amateur concerts? do you check out amateur recordings on You Tube?

PS. I know that many people on PW play well. This is not a comment on anyone in particular.
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#2081551 - 05/12/13 07:49 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1491
Kreisler,

Is it fair to say that people who play piano at your level are not the Djokovic or Nadal level in a tennis world, but they are also not pianists who should compete against people who did not go to a music school (formal piano trainings)? I think people at your level may be like rank 200 or even 400 of professional tennis players, but these people are still too good for regular people who never had a formal tennis training in the past and who play for fun on a community tennis court. To me, you are still a professional, you are just not the top ones.

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#2081583 - 05/12/13 08:58 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
1RC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 501
Loc: Alberta
I would agree that the field of music is much wider than often gets discussed in the pianist corner or academic circles. There have been many careers founded on an instrumental skillset of a handful of guitar chords. There are likely people who turn their noses up at anyone who would spend hours daily learning to play 200 yr old music.

Where does this desire to rank and compare come from? What is it for?

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#2081589 - 05/12/13 09:21 PM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: Andromaque]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7859
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
excluding performance by family and friends, do you attend amateur concerts? do you check out amateur recordings on You Tube?


I don't actually know of any amateur concerts by people who are not friends and acquaintances.

Yes, I do listen to some amateurs on YouTube at times. Sometimes it's because they are playing music that is otherwise not available. And other times maybe it is because I empathize with them enough so that I simply enjoy the music along with them. Or maybe I just don't have any standards. grin

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#2081683 - 05/13/13 03:06 AM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: 1RC]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5151
Originally Posted By: 1RC
There have been many careers founded on an instrumental skillset of a handful of guitar chords.


You're exactly right. mad

Mediocrity works, as long as there are people are prepared to pay for it (and others are prepared to promote it - not that I'm referring to a couple of TV shows....).
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#2081690 - 05/13/13 03:19 AM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: wr]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5151
Originally Posted By: wr
Sometimes it's because they are playing music that is otherwise not available. And other times maybe it is because I empathize with them enough so that I simply enjoy the music along with them. Or maybe I just don't have any standards. grin


I've heard music played by amateur pianists in free concerts that I've never heard from professionals, nor seen on any concert program. Occasionally it is contemporary, and unpublished; but often, it's music that wouldn't have sounded out of place (or lacking in quality) in a program alongside the great composers - if only the composer had a greater profile.

There's just so much fine piano music around, and not enough time to hear it all.
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"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2081781 - 05/13/13 09:25 AM Re: The fine line between amateur and professional [Re: wr]
Piano*Dad Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10371
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
excluding performance by family and friends, do you attend amateur concerts? do you check out amateur recordings on You Tube?


I don't actually know of any amateur concerts by people who are not friends and acquaintances.


I go to student and faculty performances once in a while (college campus).

And in our area we have many performances monthly given by people who fall into the vast middle area between professional traveling concertizers and the dabbling amateurs who have little or no professional-level training. That group would include church music directors who are clearly excellent (and well-trained) musicians, but who are not going to threaten the income of Pollini or Lang Lang. It would also include "real amateurs," people with day jobs, who form groups to play a type of music they love. Heck, one of my friends is a physician who plays in a really good local Klezmer band! I know another group that plays great Celtic music, but most of the members also have day jobs.
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