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#2113255 - 07/05/13 01:29 PM Interesting Article about Piano Competitions
ventil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/11
Posts: 149
Loc: TX
Here is an interesting viewpoint about piano competitions in today's Wall Street Journal. I'm sure many of you have debated these issues before.

If you have today's (July 5) hard copy of the paper, it is on page D7.
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#2113260 - 07/05/13 01:42 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ventil]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
Thanks!
And BTW here is a direct link to the article.

What they're saying isn't news to most of us here, but it's very interesting that such an article is appearing in that kind of mainstream medium. I think they're being a bit harder on competitions than is deserved -- I think the major competitions have done well at recognizing superb pianist-musicians and in importantly aiding their careers. Also I think the specific suggestion is pretty harebrained. grin
But it's a good article.

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#2113266 - 07/05/13 01:48 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ventil]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19590
Loc: New York City
I find the article exaggerated and one sided in the extreme. No one denies that winning a competition doesn't automatically produce a big a career, but saying that they never or even rarely do is also incorrect I think.

And how big is big? If the author means as big as Cliburn's was after winning the Tchaikovsky, the his view may be correct. But certainly part of Cliburn's post competition stardom was due to the political situation at that time. Very few pianists can ever reach that kind of super stardom, so the author is talking about a handful of pianists in that case.


Edited by pianoloverus (07/05/13 01:48 PM)

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#2113288 - 07/05/13 02:37 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: pianoloverus]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5423
Has the author never heard of the Tchaikovsky Competition post-Cliburn, or the Chopin? Or does he think that Van Cliburn was the only winner to have made it big?

Would Pollini, Argerich, Ashkenazy, Sokolov, Pletnev, Gavrilov, Zimerman etc have become household names in the world of classical music without those competitions? And all of them are still performing today. What burn-out?

The world of piano competitions doesn't revolve around Van Cliburn, and certainly not around the Queen Elisabeth.
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#2113299 - 07/05/13 03:27 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: bennevis]
Serge Marinkovic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/09
Posts: 344
Loc: United States
I disagree competition works in others careers, medicine, surgery, politics etc. However, writers criticism of various piano competitions never cease to never add to their argument . Its is an imperfect means to a decision yet better than the alternative of no or much less exposure. The problem with producing an abundance of Richters, Horowitz's, Sokolov's is it is meant to be a very small n. If we can recite 50 Richters off the top of our head like todays Pop or hip hop performers they would not be as prized to hear what they have to say. Remember piano competitions and piano in general are for the active intelligentsia of the world. The upper 1-2 percent who can understand and appreciate to read music and play a Chopin Etude on the piano well. They often have real difficult careers that take years to arrive. Like the Kesha, Madonna to the masses I prefer to be in the former than the latter. So lets keep piano and our favorite performers to ourselves and defend their abilities in our forums. Yes, we can quote Tolstoy, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Toni Morrison etc because we as a group love to ride our emotions and to profoundly think and make better everything we have and do. Ninety-nine percent of the rest never do any of the above, and today, feel better for not being able to do so. Our problem is our numbers are getting smaller.


Edited by Serge Marinkovic (07/05/13 03:38 PM)
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#2113466 - 07/05/13 10:36 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Originally Posted By: Serge Marinkovic
I disagree competition works in others careers, medicine, surgery, politics etc. However, writers criticism of various piano competitions never cease to never add to their argument . Its is an imperfect means to a decision yet better than the alternative of no or much less exposure. The problem with producing an abundance of Richters, Horowitz's, Sokolov's is it is meant to be a very small n. If we can recite 50 Richters off the top of our head like todays Pop or hip hop performers they would not be as prized to hear what they have to say. Remember piano competitions and piano in general are for the active intelligentsia of the world. The upper 4-5 percent who can understand and appreciate to read music and play a Chopin Etude on the piano well. They often have real difficult careers that take years to arrive. Like the Kesha, Madonna to the masses I prefer to be in the former than the latter. So lets keep piano and our favorite performers to ourselves and defend their abilities in our forums. Yes, we can quote Tolstoy, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Toni Morrison etc because we as a group love to ride our emotions and to profoundly think and make better everything we have and do. Ninety-nine percent of the rest never do any of the above, and today, feel better for not being able to do so. Our problem is our numbers are getting smaller.


The problem isn't limited to classical music. There are plenty of very talented and very hard working pop/hip hop musicians who never see the light of the day and endure a very tough career too. If you know anything about indie pop/hip hop scene, you'll know that there are a lot of really creative music out there, but very few of them really get the kind of exposure it deserves. Same thing with jazz too. I'd say only the core "4-5 percent who can understand and appreciate the music" are truly appreciative of true talents happening in any genre of music.

I think that kind elitist mentality (thinking only few of "us" are intellegent enough to understand) only serves to alienate classical music(or any other music for that matter) to the mainstream crowd. I used to have the same kind of gripe about jazz musicians not getting recognition too, but then again once I started meeting and talking to different kinds of musicians, I realized most artists do struggle regardless of the level of talent, and very few people are lucky enough to "make it". In some ways we are all in this struggle together, and I think the sooner we realize that, the better.

I've also met plenty of very intelligent pop/hiphop artists who can quote Dostoevsky and Tolstoy too smile

EDIT: Going back to the article, it does sound very similar to what Mitsuko Uchida said about young artists in this article. And I also remember similar things being said about young opera singers too. I can't say this about all competition, but is there a tendency within the industry to push young artists too fast for commercial success without full developing them, and does piano competition help to fuel that problem?

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entert...st-8605137.html


Edited by etcetra (07/06/13 07:40 AM)

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#2113526 - 07/06/13 01:42 AM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ventil]
SBP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/12/12
Posts: 258
What classical piano desperately needs is to pull away from exactly that philosophy: saying "only a few can comprehend the genius of Rachmaninov/Mozart/Lizst". That snooty, out of touch, erudite atmosphere is exactly what has killed classical music for the masses. We need showmanship, personalities (and not just insane people), marketing, and exposure to really survive. Get rid of the silent performer who does little to explain what piece they're playing and make the atmosphere more inviting and casual for everyone. Allow room for mistakes and improvisation, instead of focusing on machinistic authenticity and precision.


Edited by SBP (07/06/13 01:44 AM)
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#2113584 - 07/06/13 06:35 AM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ventil]
Serge Marinkovic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/09
Posts: 344
Loc: United States
Richter, Horowitz etc were not mechanistic in any manner. The younger generation the last twenty years simply doesn't pay attention to detail and few work as hard to understand. Look at Lang Lang just ornate, unnecessary showmanship to convey his thoughts while Sokolov overwhelms you with his thoughts at every recital with every piece. What hip hop artist overwhelms you with their perfect performance? Beyonce better dancer than singer. Brittany Spears is neither. Mariah Carrey has been doing the same style of everything for 20 plus years and has never made me stop and feel and think. But classical piano is very deep and detailed while requiring all your soul to make a statement.
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#2113601 - 07/06/13 07:21 AM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ventil]
Numerian Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 1075
Mr. Teachout's thought experiment for a new type of competition sounds a bit like the Gilmore - done in secret by a secret jury with only one winner announced. That has been a pretty successful format.

I've written about this before, but to repeat - piano competitions are not just about finding the next superstar performing artist. They are for the benefit of the teaching profession, as a reward and challenge to their most prominent students. The winners might get a performing career, but most go on to a prominent teaching or academic career, with performance locally or at 2nd tier orchestras and venues as a way to keep their playing skills honed. These are the people who keep the piano playing business going, by developing new students and a new generation that loves the instrument.

Also, the internet has dramatically changed in the past ten years the reach and power of competitions. Even being in the preliminaries (and the Cliburn is to be commended for now granting each participant two preliminary recitals) allows a pianist a global audience of informed amateurs and professionals to get to know them. The Cliburn's video archive from this year's competition is now an important asset of the competition. This gives these artists a chance to be heard long after the competition is over, and may even produce a surprise performing career for someone who didn't each reach the semi-finals.

Mr. Teachout's article has come at a time when serious change is affecting the competition business, and he seems to have missed that change as well as the fundamental purpose of these events.

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#2113602 - 07/06/13 07:21 AM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Originally Posted By: Serge Marinkovic
Richter, Horowitz etc were not mechanistic in any manner. The younger generation the last twenty years simply doesn't pay attention to detail and few work as hard to understand. Look at Lang Lang just ornate, unnecessary showmanship to convey his thoughts while Sokolov overwhelms you with his thoughts at every recital with every piece. What hip hop artist overwhelms you with their perfect performance? Beyonce better dancer than singer. Brittany Spears is neither. Mariah Carrey has been doing the same style of everything for 20 plus years and has never made me stop and feel and think. But classical piano is very deep and detailed while requiring all your soul to make a statement.


See this is exactly the kind of attitude that's turning off younger people from classical music. You complain about how most young people don't appreciate the depth of the music you are into, but have you actually even tried to really learn about what's going on in the pop music world beyond your cursory understanding of those few household name stars?

Here's a very interesting article on NPR about many of the prominent musicians recognizing the importance and influence of J Dilla's music to modern jazz. His music is very deep but in a very different ways, and his sheer amount of knowledge and craft that goes into producing his beats is quite overwhelming.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/ablogsupreme/20...great-innovator

There are plenty of young people out there who listens to Horowitz, Pollini, Geroge Crumb and the like, but they also like listening to Brad Mehldau, J Dilla.. and they just don't want to be told classical music is the only deep, moving music worth listening to.


Edited by etcetra (07/06/13 07:57 AM)

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#2113642 - 07/06/13 09:00 AM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: etcetra]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7978
Originally Posted By: etcetra

See this is exactly the kind of attitude that's turning off younger people from classical music.


Well, this attitude didn't turn me off to classical music when I was a young person, and I don't see why it should be such a huge issue for any young person today, either.

It was quite obvious to me when I was young that classical music was a highly specialized area, and that it didn't much resemble the worlds of the pop and rock and jazz and folk that I also liked. It was clear to me there was no reason to expect the classical music cognoscenti to act as if classical music was pretty much the same thing as pop, when it was clear that it wasn't.

I don't remember that anybody had to pander to me to get me to like classical music - and I don't see why the situation is any different now. And when I sometimes ran into people who were insufferable about their musical preferences, it never occurred to me that they represented anything other than themselves. And, I might add, that type isn't limited to classical music, by any means.

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#2113671 - 07/06/13 10:07 AM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: wr]
wower Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 244
Loc: Calgary
Originally Posted By: wr
it never occurred to me that they represented anything other than themselves.


This is true for me as well (but I might take a different route to get there). I guess etcetra's point is sort of lost on me for that reason - and I like hiphop music!
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#2113688 - 07/06/13 10:56 AM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ventil]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1813
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
I consider myself quite snobbish about music, and I'm damned proud of it.

The thing is, though, that to me snobbishness has nothing to do with genre and everything to do with dedication, expressiveness, creativity, and quality of execution.

Glen Gould delivered on those counts. So did Duke Ellington. And Laura Nyro, and Steve Goodman, and Marvin Hamlisch, and -- I am sure -- lots of artists I haven't yet listened to.

It's not about genre. It's about the pursuit and delivery of real quality, and that exists in almost any musical genre.
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"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2113891 - 07/06/13 06:33 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ventil]
Serge Marinkovic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/09
Posts: 344
Loc: United States
Richter, Horowitz etc were not mechanistic in any manner. The younger generation the last twenty years simply doesn't pay attention to detail and few work as hard to understand. Look at Lang Lang just ornate, unnecessary showmanship to convey his thoughts while Sokolov overwhelms you with his thoughts at every recital with every piece. What hip hop artist overwhelms you with their perfect performance? Beyonce better dancer than singer. Brittany Spears is neither. Mariah Carrey has been doing the same style of everything for 20 plus years and has never made me stop and feel and think. But classical piano is very deep and detailed while requiring all your soul to make a statement.
_________________________
Serge P. Marinkovic, MD


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#2113905 - 07/06/13 07:05 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
newport Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/27/05
Posts: 492
Originally Posted By: Serge Marinkovic
Look at Lang Lang just ornate, unnecessary showmanship to convey his thoughts while


Don't know what you are talking about.
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Chopin Op.51
John

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#2113911 - 07/06/13 07:18 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: newport]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: newport
Originally Posted By: Serge Marinkovic
Look at Lang Lang just ornate, unnecessary showmanship to convey his thoughts while


Don't know what you are talking about.


I do.

Well, he does convey musical ideas, but it's incredibly bad taste, in my opinion.

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#2113942 - 07/06/13 08:36 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ventil]
SBP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/12/12
Posts: 258
Let's face it: Music is art, and art is subjective. Thusly, it's hard to judge because everyone has different criteria for what makes something good or great. Some regard Lang Lang as the next big thing for classical music, others regard him as an ape who makes funny faces and moves around too much.


Edited by SBP (07/06/13 08:37 PM)
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#2113945 - 07/06/13 08:47 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: SBP]
newport Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/27/05
Posts: 492
Originally Posted By: SBP
Let's face it: Music is art, and art is subjective. Thusly, it's hard to judge because everyone has different criteria for what makes something good or great. Some regard Lang Lang as the next big thing for classical music, others regard him as an ape who makes funny faces and moves around too much.

That's your opinion, which is very negative nothing new. There are lots of people who enjoy Lang Lang's playing and appreciate his contribution.

Also I think the language you used already crossed the line.


Edited by newport (07/06/13 08:54 PM)
_________________________
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John

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#2113993 - 07/06/13 10:25 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: SBP]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: SBP
Let's face it: Music is art, and art is subjective. Thusly, it's hard to judge because everyone has different criteria for what makes something good or great. Some regard Lang Lang as the next big thing for classical music, others regard him as an ape who makes funny faces and moves around too much.

....and I thought the post was more than fine, with nothing whatsoever resembling negativity. (And I'm even someone who tends to defend Lang Lang on here.)

I guess that means this is subjective too. smile

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#2113995 - 07/06/13 10:36 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: Mark_C]
jazzyprof Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2642
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: SBP
Let's face it: Music is art, and art is subjective. Thusly, it's hard to judge because everyone has different criteria for what makes something good or great. Some regard Lang Lang as the next big thing for classical music, others regard him as an ape who makes funny faces and moves around too much.

....and I thought the post was more than fine, with nothing whatsoever resembling negativity. (And I'm even someone who tends to defend Lang Lang on here.)

I guess that means this is subjective too. smile

Ah, so referring to someone as an ape counts as a positive affirmation these days, eh?
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#2113998 - 07/06/13 10:39 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: jazzyprof]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
I thought it was a funny way to refer to the common criticisms of him. Honest. And BTW the post talked about the positive and negative views of him -- both, equally.

BTW if people used that kind of phraseology to refer to some of the criticisms of me, I'd laugh. smile

In any event, to me the post wasn't mainly about him at all; it was about this whole thing being subjective.

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#2114082 - 07/07/13 05:56 AM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: SBP]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7978
Originally Posted By: SBP
Let's face it: Music is art, and art is subjective. Thusly, it's hard to judge because everyone has different criteria for what makes something good or great. Some regard Lang Lang as the next big thing for classical music, others regard him as an ape who makes funny faces and moves around too much.


Actually, art is only partly subjective, and many of the reasons why people do or don't like LL aren't necessarily completely subjective.

If, for example, a person has heard many performances and recordings of a piece (and perhaps has learned to play it themselves), their opinion of LL's performance of that piece is informed by real-world data about it and how others play it. That's not a purely "subjective" process at all, but involves all kinds of comparative measures about how the piece can be played. Sure, there's a subjective element involved, but there's far more to it than just being subjective.

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#2114167 - 07/07/13 11:56 AM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ventil]
3times2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/01/13
Posts: 51
I have been lurking since discovering this forum during the Cliburn. I am a musically inept mother raising three very musical kids. I feel compelled to share how competitions have impacted our family thus far on our journey. We were able to attend one day of the screening auditions and I honestly feel that I will look back at that one event as a turning point in my sons life. Unfortunately he was too young to attend the actual competition, much to his dismay. He will improvise for hours and after his exposure to the competion, his playing took on an amazing new quality as he determined to teach himself how to have the big sound he heard.

We have done very few competitions thus far. Two of my three are incredibly motivated by competion. Just typing that causes me anxiety as I don't have a competitive bone in my body. I don't know what my ultimate opinion and experience will be with competitions, but reading these type threads is helping stretch me in a world I feel completely lost in!

Quote:
Increasingly, savvy artists of all kinds are self-marketing


I felt this comment in the article was so true. Maybe it's the business major in me, but I have been teaching my kids this concept in regards to their many artistic talents. Hard concept for this very introverted family to latch on to, but I hope by starting young they will have a well rounded vision that being successful in life requires much more than playing well or winning competitions.

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#2114180 - 07/07/13 12:27 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: 3times2]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1813
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: 3times2
I have been lurking since discovering this forum during the Cliburn. I am a musically inept mother raising three very musical kids. I feel compelled to share how competitions have impacted our family thus far on our journey. We were able to attend one day of the screening auditions and I honestly feel that I will look back at that one event as a turning point in my sons life. Unfortunately he was too young to attend the actual competition, much to his dismay. He will improvise for hours and after his exposure to the competion, his playing took on an amazing new quality as he determined to teach himself how to have the big sound he heard.

We have done very few competitions thus far. Two of my three are incredibly motivated by competion. Just typing that causes me anxiety as I don't have a competitive bone in my body. I don't know what my ultimate opinion and experience will be with competitions, but reading these type threads is helping stretch me in a world I feel completely lost in!

Quote:
Increasingly, savvy artists of all kinds are self-marketing


I felt this comment in the article was so true. Maybe it's the business major in me, but I have been teaching my kids this concept in regards to their many artistic talents. Hard concept for this very introverted family to latch on to, but I hope by starting young they will have a well rounded vision that being successful in life requires much more than playing well or winning competitions.


Welcome to Piano World, 3Times2!

It gets a little rough and tumble in here sometimes, but there are a great many good people in this group who are very encouraging and supportive. I particularly suggest you look at the Adult Beginner's Forum (ABF). I know your interests may be towards the younger players, but the ABF may have a lot of interesting info for you.
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"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2114196 - 07/07/13 12:49 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ClsscLib]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
....actually, considering what she said about her kids, I think right here might be better for her than ABF, but maybe the best thing to say is: both. smile

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#2114659 - 07/08/13 12:47 PM Re: Interesting Article about Piano Competitions [Re: ventil]
3times2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/01/13
Posts: 51
Thanks for the welcome. I enjoyed the mega Cliburn thread, though much of it was over my head. I am always looking to grow and stretch my understanding and knowledge to best support my kids.

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