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#2255906 - 04/02/14 01:04 PM Ten year plan to become an advanced player?
JanVan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/13
Posts: 51
What repertoire and practice regimen would you suggest a highly motivated, early intermediate player for reaching an advanced level in 10 years time?

Let's assume he/she has a good grasp of music theory and will practice 2 hours a day (about 7,300 hours total).

I know there has been a lot of discussion already about the '10,000 hour to virtuosity' claim, but that's not what my question is about.

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#2255911 - 04/02/14 01:17 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
One thing I have always focused on is not setting a time limit like that. If you say, "I have to get there tomorrow," and then don't get there, you feel discouraged. Meanwhile, you may have made a lot of progress. Far better to say, "I'll get there," and then focus your drive on getting there, rather than the time frame in which you feel you need to get there. wink

As for your question of "what", I'm afraid I can't say. I know nothing about your current abilities (both technical and musical), whether you have a teacher, what kind of instrument you're using, etc. To put it another way, you're asking me to write out a curriculum you can follow, but I don't even know if you speak the language I'm writing.. wink
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#2255947 - 04/02/14 02:08 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
RonDrotos Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 77
Loc: New York City
Hi JanVan,

Here's an outline for a daily 2-hour practice routine:

20 min - sightread (anything that interests you)
20 min - technique (can be scales, arpeggios, classical pieces like Bach's Dm Invention, or Hanon/Czerny)
20 min - Learn and memorize repertoire (whatever your goals are: jazz tunes, rock songs, classical, etc.)
20 min - Improv over tunes you already know
20 min -transcribe recorded solos or play from books of transcriptions. Try to apply these to your own playing, gradually.
20 min - whatever you feel like playing or working on (can change each day - just "follow your bliss")

I had a similar goal when I was 15 years old. It can also help immensely to play with other musicians, and in public, when you can.

Good luck!!!
Ron
_________________________
Ron Drotos
rondrotos@keyboardimprov.com

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#2256028 - 04/02/14 04:05 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2611
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I have carefully worked out a ten-year-plan to become ten years older.
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#2256056 - 04/02/14 05:21 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1068
Loc: Southern California
I am only a beginner, so keep that in mind.

What does a person mean by advanced player? Is is about advance pieces for a hobbyist? If so, just about any reasonable road will get a dedicated person there. Advanced in jazz, pop, classical will take a person down different roads. For classical, sight reading gets more emphasis. For jazz and/or pop, ear training and the ability to improvise get more emphasis.

Is the goal teaching? If so, I might suggest working with a teacher and taking the exams. This will teach a person the process of what most students will experience and will fill in the gaps that most self-learners tend to have.

Is the goal making a living by playing? If yes, then is the goal to play classical concerts? Sad to say, there are a thousand new performance degree graduates with a high level of classical skill for every concert job, and they are all 10 years ahead of you already, and 99.9% are not getting these gigs.

Is it cruise ships/piano bars? If the goal is to play and sing? How much talent is there? Can a person actually carry a tune now? If not, a lot of time and effort may be needed to get to a reasonable level for singing.

If the goal is more along the lines of jazz ensemble work, start playing with other musicians as much as possible. Fit and personality, along with who you know will be at least as important as how well you play. Both will be needed, but in many groups, the piano is not the lead, so personality fit will be at least as important as chops.
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#2256081 - 04/02/14 06:00 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
I would second what Sand Tiger said. What do you mean by advanced? I suppose each person may have a different notion which piece of music is considered advance.

To answer your question, I think you would not need 10 years. Speaking for myself, I am also an intermediate player at this point, RCM Grade 5. Counting back the amount of time it took me to get here, RCM Grade 1-3 - 1.5 yrs, Grade 4 - 2 yrs, Grade 5 - 1 yr, I think I could reach Grade 9 in 5-6 years at my current average rate. Grade 9 is by definition advance. Of course, it would take years to get through Gr 9 and 10, maybe 5 years, so I guess it all depends on what you mean by "become an advance player."

I think just arriving is good enough goal. I mean just how many advance pieces you would have to know before you consider yourself advance? One or 100. I think it'll either take you 5 years or the rest of your life depending on what you mean.

I personally don't count how many years I have to go before such and such. I just take it one week at a time. All I care is what my teacher asked me to do last week and how much of that could I deliver this week.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#2256119 - 04/02/14 07:31 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
briansaddleback Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 220
Loc: Irvine CA
Although I do applaud high motivation and setting goals and ambition you got to look at your reasoning behind it and such.
It is trite but the most important thing is to enjoy the process of learning and playing piano.
Because if you don't do that now , you still won't enjoy anything even after you reach your goal.
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Cloches a travers les feuilles
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#2256159 - 04/02/14 10:09 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2397
Loc: Virginia, USA
If you want to be advanced, at some point you will need a teacher. So might as well start now. Best route in my opinion.
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#2256172 - 04/02/14 11:09 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
The Wind Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/13
Posts: 468
First of all, 10 year plans are useless. Never think that far ahead.

2nd, what kind of music are you playing and what is your goal? "Advanced" level can mean anything.

Are you playing classical, jazz, pop, rock?

3rd, progress is never a linear line. What if you get seriously sick, or some major life event happens in those 10 years that prevent you from practising. Even some prodigies and masters like Keith Jarrett, Gabriela Montero stopped playing for a few years.

And 4th, number of hours is never a good indication of how fast you will learn.

Give a more specific goal and background about yourself, like how old you are, how long have you been playing, what type of music, what you play now, are you in a band or just solo...

or better yet if you have some video or audio of your playing than we can give a much more accurate assessment of your level.

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#2256199 - 04/03/14 03:05 AM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
JanVan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/13
Posts: 51
Thank you all for your comments.

An advanced level to me means being able to play classical pieces like Bach's Well-tempered Clavier and sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert confidently and with musicality.

I enjoy the process of practicing the piano and I do not set myself a time limit or even a specific goal like being one day able to play Chopin's Op. 10 No. 1.

Still, I would like to get some sort of an idea of what I could hope to accomplish in 10 years time by continuing to practice for 2 hours a day.

As for an indication of my current level, I am working on Bach's Inventions and Czerny's Op. 849 which I can play reasonably well at a slow to moderate tempo.

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#2256207 - 04/03/14 04:24 AM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 988
Loc: Italy
I think your goal is very reasonable, given the level you're at now and the time you are willing to devote. You will probably get there in less than 10 years, if all goes well. Since you're returning to the piano, your progress could very well be quite fast, depending on the foundation you had before.
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#2256217 - 04/03/14 05:36 AM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
Ganddalf Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 642
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: JanVan
Thank you all for your comments.

An advanced level to me means being able to play classical pieces like Bach's Well-tempered Clavier and sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert confidently and with musicality.

I enjoy the process of practicing the piano and I do not set myself a time limit or even a specific goal like being one day able to play Chopin's Op. 10 No. 1.

Still, I would like to get some sort of an idea of what I could hope to accomplish in 10 years time by continuing to practice for 2 hours a day.

As for an indication of my current level, I am working on Bach's Inventions and Czerny's Op. 849 which I can play reasonably well at a slow to moderate tempo.


It seems to me that you have chosen an approach that will work. It is an absolutely good idea to play a lot of Bach music in the beginning, and the two-part inventions are an excellent starting point. I also recommend looking at the three-part intentions (or sinfonias) before stepping up to longer works like the suites and the Well-tempered Clavier.

On your way to the Mozart and Beethoven sonatas I also suggest that you look at some of the Haydn sonatas. I think they are simpler than the Mozart sonatas, but many of them are very effective and really fine pieces.

If you are interested in later (e.g. romantic) pieces I suggest the lyric pieces of Grieg. Some of them are quite difficult, but many are technically easier than e.g. the Bach inventions.

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#2256233 - 04/03/14 07:33 AM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2107
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Originally Posted By: JanVan
Still, I would like to get some sort of an idea of what I could hope to accomplish in 10 years time by continuing to practice for 2 hours a day.


Someone has in their signature something about: "someone who's been there" ....
There are plenty of teachers who have been there. Some were concert pianists. etc.
_________________________
Ron
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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#2256615 - 04/04/14 01:22 AM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
What Ron provided is nice, but it's simply a routine - not a plan. Also, "advanced" is vague - what that subjectively means to me and what it means to you are undoubtedly far different things. Dreams need to be specific - at least should you wish to achieve them. The good thing is that they can - and should - still be as seemingly wishful or impossible as you desire so long as they're specific. Next, you need to set several more short-term goals that together add up to make your long-term, or ten year, goal. When you're getting into these deeper and deeper levels of specificity is where a teacher or experienced professional's input and advice is absolutely invaluable.

Read on here:

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#2256634 - 04/04/14 03:17 AM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: Bobpickle]
pwl Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 05/31/13
Posts: 202
Loc: Bay Area CA
Bobpickle -

That is a seriously nice version of Georgia - thanks for posting the link!

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#2256662 - 04/04/14 07:16 AM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: Bobpickle]
JanVan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/13
Posts: 51
Thank you, Bob, for the excellent links.

There is a wealth of information there that directly relates to my question and offers much needed advice and perspective.

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#2256690 - 04/04/14 08:36 AM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12056
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I would greatly encourage you to focus more on the process of learning to play piano and progressing in that manner rather than be on a time table. Some people can do it in 10, others it will take much longer, and others still may only be able to progress to a certain level. So it is possible to set a goal that is unreachable in terms of time and ability. And if that is the case, or whether you have set a goal you can reach, there is so much to enjoy along the way that if you are constantly dissatisfied with the now, I'm afraid you will get discouraged and give up because it's not happening fast enough for you.

I've seen this many times, especially in recent years. People do not know the kind of investment a discipline like piano is, and that there really is never an end to what you can learn if you are an artist. There is always more, and so we walk that fine line where we strive to get better, but also know that we will never know it all, or there won't ever be a place where it's "enough", and yet we still can enjoy where we are in the moment, loving every piece we play.
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#2256692 - 04/04/14 08:43 AM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
hreichgott Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 1103
Loc: western MA, USA
One great thing about having a skilled teacher is that the teacher saves you time. Hours, weeks or sometimes even months of beating your head against the wall about a stubborn problem (or building up bad habits that must be unlearned later) can be avoided in much briefer sessions with a teacher. The cost of a teacher is always much less than the cost to you in lost time without a teacher. Especially if you have a time-related goal.
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Sometimes a bagatelle is just a bagatelle. Beethoven Op. 33
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#2256694 - 04/04/14 08:46 AM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: hreichgott]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12056
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: hreichgott
One great thing about having a skilled teacher is that the teacher saves you time. Hours, weeks or sometimes even months of beating your head against the wall about a stubborn problem (or building up bad habits that must be unlearned later) can be avoided in much briefer sessions with a teacher. The cost of a teacher is always much less than the cost to you in lost time without a teacher. Especially if you have a time-related goal.


I agree. I know a teacher saying that you need a teacher sounds very self-serving, but some professions actually exist for a reason and teaching is one of them. Even as a teacher there are times I need to consult with a teacher to help me continue to advance. If you want to get somewhere fast, consult with someone who has been there and can relate that information to you in a manner that makes sense to you.
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#2256758 - 04/04/14 12:22 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 632
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
I would caution you, also, against defining what an "advanced" player is, solely based on the pieces he/she can play.

A teacher on here said, not too long ago, that the level one can sight-read at is the actual level of one's pianistic ability -- not the level of the pieces one can learn with practice.

Based on my own experience, I tend to agree with that. I can learn anything, if you give me enough time. At my next live recital, I'm to play Chopin's Nocturne n° 19, which is ... well, let's go with "somewhat above" the level my teacher would expect from someone (even an adult with prior musical experience) who's had two-odd years of piano lessons. I play it musically, and after much practice, I now play it confidently, which were your criteria. It is still way above my level, as defined above. If I were to limit myself to music that is at my level or slightly above it by that definition, I should be playing Clementi Sonatinas. Not Chopin Nocturnes.

I am not an advanced player. But occasionally, when I really want to, I can play "advanced" (or something like it) repertoire.

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#2256771 - 04/04/14 01:13 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: Saranoya]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
I would like to nit-pick with this just a little. I agree completely that just playing something advance does not make someone advance. That's a really long discussion that deserves its own thread.

On the other hand, requiring someone to sight-read something before he is considered at that level is too strict. If you give me music at my level, it would take me a few days to learn all the notes, then a few weeks to polish off the piece and move on. I would imagine for an advanced player, he would also need a few days to learn all the notes of an advanced piece. It would not be reasonable to require that he be able to sight-read an advance piece say the Hammerklavier.
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hammerklavier
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Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#2256796 - 04/04/14 02:53 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: Saranoya]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1227
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: Saranoya
A teacher on here said, not too long ago, that the level one can sight-read at is the actual level of one's pianistic ability ...

Perhaps for slotting someone at a particular grade level, their site reading ability would weigh heavily. But surely, one can not then directly correlate this to pianistic ability without consideration of anything else.

What about the great pianists (including blind pianists) of the world that do not read?

Following on this philosophy, all would have ZERO pianistic ability ...

I don't buy it.
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#2256807 - 04/04/14 03:34 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: Greener]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 632
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Originally Posted By: Greener
What about the great pianists (including blind pianists) of the world that do not read?


For someone who doesn't read but still plays other people's music, I think their level is what they can copy by ear. By which I mean: hear it once, or at most a few times, and then play it.

For someone who'd rather not copy anyone else's music, their level is what they can come up with in their minds, sit down and play -- regardless of whether they choose to write it down first.

For an improviser who preferably plays in interaction with other musicians, their level is what they can come up with on the spot in a jam session.

Etcetera, etcetera.

I'm not saying nobody should ever play anything above their level, as defined in this strictest sense. I do it all the time, because I have a LOT more fun that way. But that was not the issue. The issue is that the OP seems to be basing their definition of an "advanced" player" solely on the pieces that person can play.

I say being an advanced player has very little to do with the music you play (though there's an element of that, too), and a *lot* to do with how quickly you learn it (which requires the development of other skills such as sight-reading, a strong ear, etc.), and how you play it once you have.

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#2256821 - 04/04/14 04:08 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: Saranoya]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 639
Loc: Chicago
Man, you classical players are always talking about "levels" and "grades." We jazz players just try to keep getting better. One should always be able to enjoy playing at whatever "level" you are at, but always keep trying to get better. There are no goals, only a wonderful journey.

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#2256844 - 04/04/14 05:18 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1227
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: jjo
Man, you classical players are always talking about "levels" and "grades." We jazz players just try to keep getting better. One should always be able to enjoy playing at whatever "level" you are at, but always keep trying to get better. There are no goals, only a wonderful journey.


Classical players learning via a structured "conservatory of music" approach, are already in a graded system. Thus, they have a clear understanding of what grade they are at in the system.

I can't tell you how many posts I have seen from players that are not within a graded system asking ... "I can play ______, what grade am I? Most, if not all of these are from non classical players, as the classical players are in a graded system and already know the answer.

I agree it is about the journey. But people are curious of where they are in the journey, which is fine. What is not fine though (IMO), is this over generalization between styles.
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#2256856 - 04/04/14 05:52 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: JanVan]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2409
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Regarding levels, if you heard me play, you'd know what level I was at. If you heard me sight reading, chances are good that you'd recover laugh

This is developing into an interesting thread.

The OP has already qualified his definition of advanced and he's wanting to know how far he can go with a diligent practise regime.

There's a lot of myths out there that late starters won't make it on piano and rubbish like not teaching old dogs new tricks. It's very reasonable that some one would want to know and it's nice to dispense a little truth.

Bach's Well Tempered Clavier and the sonatas of Mozart and Beethoven, the mightiest aside, are all about grade eight (ABRSM) and that's within the realm of anyone starting from scratch at any age. People take up the piano in their retirement, or return to it, and many make grade 8 within ten years.

To the OP, it's not the time you spend that will determine your progress but what you do with it.

One of the main things is to spend more time trying to play what you can't yet and less time playing what you already can.

Read something new every day. I wouldn't want to put a time on it. My sight reading varies day by day from a couple of difficult lines to a couple of easy pages. It varies from keeping up with a drum machine at tempo, wrong and missing notes aplenty, which gradually get sorted over a few repeats, to a slow and meticulous exploration of the music.

I have taken to the Australian/Hal Leonard initiative of forty pieces a year and I pick a new piece more or less every week. Some pieces are done in a couple of days, the odd one might take another week. They're easy pieces, mind, that I CAN do in a week to a reasonable level of competence.

Memorise something new every day. It doesn't have to be more than few bars or even just a few notes. But doing it every day makes it easier over time.

Learn new pieces but don't neglect past repertoire. I believe it's only the pieces that mature over many years that enable the push to higher technical levels.

Whether you want to target technical skills for their own sake or develop the techniques you need from and for your repertory pieces is personal (unless you're doing exams). I think I'd go nuts if I had to do 20 minutes a day on scales and arpeggios but if they are part of a sonata I'm happy to spend 30 minutes a day for a few weeks. I never spent a lot of time on scales and arpeggios but I've devoted hours to the scale passages in the recapitulation of Mozart's K.545, for example.

Bob's already pointed the way to Bernhard and Chang. Add Graham Fitch and Dr Brent Hugh to the mix and there really isn't much more to learn about how to go about practising. Try stuff, record what you've done. Then try something else. If it works add it in. If it doesn't work you've learnt something about yourself.
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#2256894 - 04/04/14 07:13 PM Re: Ten year plan to become an advanced player? [Re: zrtf90]
earlofmar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1644
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: zrtf90



I have taken to the Australian/Hal Leonard initiative of forty pieces a year and I pick a new piece more or less every week. Some pieces are done in a couple of days, the odd one might take another week. They're easy pieces, mind, that I CAN do in a week to a reasonable level of competence.




I read about this and thought it impossible, but two minutes later I could see the sense in this. I started in January and so glad I did.
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