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#986918 - 08/29/04 10:00 AM How long a beginner?
Frank R Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 569
Loc: Anaheim Hills, CA
In reading the posts on this forum (ABF)it seems that some of the people that consider themselves beginners are playing some fairly challenging music. It's clear that many of them still consider themselves to be beginners. I know that I'm a beginner 20 months (I'm still counting like I'm an infant,in months) and have no idea when I'll graduate to being anything else. So, the question is...... at what point does one cease to be a beginner and what's the next designation.... novice, marginal player, pretty good beginner? How long have you been playing and what designation would you give yourself. Would love to hear what fellow ABF members think.
_________________________
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Frank
--------------------------
It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not!

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#986919 - 08/29/04 10:41 AM Re: How long a beginner?
Ed Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/02/01
Posts: 931
Loc: Pensacola, FL
I still consider myself a beginner after 5 years of weekly lessons, but my teacher has used the term "intermediate level." I have no idea what that really means, nor do I find it particularly relevant. I doubt I will ever have enough skill to make a living playing the piano (sort of a proxy for reaching the "really good" level).
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#986920 - 08/29/04 11:14 AM Re: How long a beginner?
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
I've been playing 11 months and I am definitely a beginner. I just finished book 10 of my ongoing music theory lesson which is considered intermediate level. So I guess I know as much theory as someone more advanced, but I play like someone would at one year. \:\(
Jon
_________________________
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

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#986921 - 08/29/04 11:15 AM Re: How long a beginner?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
I've only been playing about 10 months and I think I'll consider myself rank beginner for at least two years. After two years, I'll probably consider myself a permanent intermediate. \:\)

IMO, the difference between beginner and intermediate is Fur Elise. If you can play the first part, but not the rest, then you're still in the beginner phase. At least that's the goal for myself. Everyone else is free to define their own transition to intermediatehood.

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#986922 - 08/29/04 11:50 AM Re: How long a beginner?
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
Wow.. at three years in I feel like the Grand Old Man...lol...

Well.. old man, yes.. grand? Not according to me. But be advised that at three years you'll be able to play some pretty good stuff. And it just gets more fun. I give myself another 10+ years to get where I want to be. And I will thoroughly enjoy those years!
_________________________
Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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#986923 - 08/29/04 11:55 AM Re: How long a beginner?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
 Quote:
IMO, the difference between beginner and intermediate is Fur Elise. If you can play the first part, but not the rest, then you're still in the beginner phase.
hey, that's a good measure! i think i should get back to it and finish the rest part of Fur Elise to graduate from beginner level.

i have been on and off for more than 3 years, but i guess i need to play at least one Chopin's etude to become an intermediate player.

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#986924 - 08/29/04 12:53 PM Re: How long a beginner?
Eusebius Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 725
Loc: Maryland
I don't think it's healthy to take a stepwise view of improvement, where each step is a change in level and hence a new label, e.g. beginner, novice intermediate etc. In fact I dislike all such labels. You will never wake up one day and find yourself on a new plateau. Music is a continuous journey. Improving is akin to climbing a ramp, not stairs.
_________________________
"My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests." - Santayana

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#986925 - 08/29/04 01:52 PM Re: How long a beginner?
jazpianizt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/04
Posts: 411

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#986926 - 08/29/04 03:54 PM Re: How long a beginner?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
 Quote:
You will never wake up one day and find yourself on a new plateau.
Eusebius, like it or not, it is in fact the situation of a learning process of any kind. we will be on a new plateau every once a while, although the distance between 2 levels may be very small or even not hugely noticable. but it is there, and i would wake up one day and see my improvement if i don't stop learning and practice. i have already seen my improvement over time: over 3 years ago, i couldn't even put my hands together to play Fur Elise and now i could play Bach's 3-part invention. actually, the continuity of learning doesn't contradict the stepwise improvement.

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#986927 - 08/29/04 04:26 PM Re: How long a beginner?
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 982
Loc: Oregon
I took lessons for 3 years when I was in high school. During most of the 25 years since, I had no piano. I got a digital 3 years ago, but didn't start lessons again until December. So, I consider myself a beginner despite knowing all of my major & harmonic minor scales and being able to play all of Fur Elise (my recital piece 25 years ago). I've realized over the last 8 months how much of a beginner I am, especially with theory and with good technique!

I had someone ask me a few weeks ago if I was done learning the piano! She knew I started lessons in December, but obviously doesn't know much about learning an instrument! I told her "I'll never be done! It's for life!" I prefer to look at it as a continuous journey (as Euseblus said), instead of levels. It's less pressure that way. \:\)
_________________________
"Cats make purrfect friends"

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#986928 - 08/30/04 10:12 AM Re: How long a beginner?
emrys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/01
Posts: 60
Loc: Toronto
Hello folks,
I've been taking piano lessons for seven years and I still consider myself a beginner. Especially when I start a new piece of music.
New music new mistakes but...the joy of new discoveries and I actually do find myself remembering and using the tools I've learned from past music challenges, not always in a timely fashion but hey! ;\)
When I was in highschool I played the clarinet and was in the band and the choir thru-out my highschool years. Those were the "good ol' days' \:D
I've always wanted to play the piano (Liberace inspired me :rolleyes: ) and just after my daughter started lessons, and we bought a "real" piano, I decided to take lessons too.
It's been great and fun to share these experiences with her. She's just passed her Grade 10 RCM piano exam.
Oh lunchtime is over and I have to get back to work.
Thanks for reading.

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#986929 - 08/30/04 10:17 AM Re: How long a beginner?
jazpianizt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/04
Posts: 411
 Quote:
I had someone ask me a few weeks ago if I was done learning the piano![/b]
:D \:D \:D

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#986930 - 08/30/04 10:27 AM Re: How long a beginner?
Requiem Aeternam Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 1395
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Self taught for 2 and a half years and still without a doubt consider myself a beginner, and when people ask me how far along I am I always say I'm just starting out.
_________________________
"He who turns himself into a beast, gets rid of the pain of being a man."

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#986931 - 08/30/04 01:01 PM Re: How long a beginner?
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Hmmmm. I just started my sixth year of weekly lesson study, although the first year or so were only every other week.

My teacher claims that the line between beginner and intermediate is when you complete your first non-arranged piece. I like that standard, myself. It's very attainable!

I've been reflecting on the journey toward mastery of the piano quite a lot lately, largely through the prism of wondering why I don't play any better than I do after all this time. I've decided that there are lots of reasons, but I just had a hard time in the beginning. Thirty minutes of practice when you're playing hard music that sounds like something is much easier now than it was when I was playing less inspiring stuff like scales/exercises and simpler pieces.

Then again, I am still at the stage where it can take me *months* to work up a new piece. That is quite humbling.

I'm really hoping to throw it into overdrive this year and improve my handling of chords.
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#986932 - 08/30/04 08:20 PM Re: How long a beginner?
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
Hi I am new here and I know nothing about piano but planning to let my daughter learn and I pick up from there.

When you talk about beginner, some says even after 7 years you still consider as a beginner. Then how about those grading systen like grade one to eight ? Supposing if one attain grade 5, does he still consider as a beginner ?
_________________________
An apple a day keep the doctor away,
A smile a day chase your sadness away,
A chat a day drive all loneliness away,
And a prayer a day never keep our Jesus away
And let's praise our Lord, our King, our God all the way ....

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#986933 - 08/30/04 10:24 PM Re: How long a beginner?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
That's probably a question better asked on the advanced "Pianist Corner" forum. As adult beginners, labels don't mean as much. We can still consider ourselves a beginner years after we start (or restart) playing the piano.

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#986934 - 08/31/04 10:45 AM Re: How long a beginner?
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
Requiem: Have you ever considered finding a teacher? I think most would agree it might make your playing improve more quickly.
Jon
_________________________
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

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#986935 - 08/31/04 10:58 AM Re: How long a beginner?
pianno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 41
I think it's relative (like everything else in this world). If you play classical music, then you have a long way to go before hitting anything above beginner. But if it's ordinary pop/rock piano you're into it's much easier to be considered a intermediate player after 2-3 years of constant practice.

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#986936 - 08/31/04 01:21 PM Re: How long a beginner?
5418 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/04
Posts: 29
Loc: San Diego, CA
After 13 months of weekly lessons, I'm definitely a beginner. I like the idea of having milestones of pieces you'd like to be able to play though, although not necessary a label for each "level" you've achieved. I started out with Bartok Mikrokosmos 1, which I think is really neat for measuring one's progress since the pieces get progressively more challenging, and it keeps me from doubting if something's "too hard" since I'd just successfully played the next easier one.

My somewhat achievable goals right now are probably Bach's inventions, with decent ornamentations, etc. The preludes are a lot of fun.

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#986937 - 08/31/04 06:48 PM Re: How long a beginner?
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
Ok sorry for simple questions as my daughter will be attending the first lesson next thur and I pick up from her.

Do you mean that for playing ordinary pop/rock/country songs are much more simplier than those like moonlight sonata, chopin etc etc ??? How about those music played by Richard Clayerdman ??? WOw, his music is fantastic and I like to listen very much. So at what kind of stage or roughly how long will you attain the standard to play somewhat similar ?
_________________________
An apple a day keep the doctor away,
A smile a day chase your sadness away,
A chat a day drive all loneliness away,
And a prayer a day never keep our Jesus away
And let's praise our Lord, our King, our God all the way ....

Top
#986938 - 08/31/04 07:20 PM Re: How long a beginner?
jazpianizt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/04
Posts: 411
Well, I have to take a bit of issue with the idea that popular music is necessarily easier to learn than classical.
I do think it's true that we hold classical players to a higher standard. Partly I think that is because the standard is a little easier to measure, in the sense that there are many recordings and performances of much of the well-known repertoire by the best pianists in the world. If one is going to perform a Beethoven sonata, one had better do it well because the standard is so high.
With poplular music I think we tend to accept a lower standard, maybe partially because the listeners are typically less critical. I'd guess that with a rock group, for instance, keyboard virtuosity would be about tenth on the list of things people were listening for, if indeed they were listening at all.
But, if you take "popular" as anything outside the classical repertoire, then you have to look at pianists like Michel Camillo, Chucho Valdes, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, etc., many who could be listed, who also exhibit virtuosity, and yet they are all unique and it's difficult to establish a similar standard.
I think it's a different skill set, but at the highest levels no less difficult.

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#986939 - 09/01/04 11:29 AM Re: How long a beginner?
pianno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 41
I was considering pop music in the basic rock/pop genre - anything from the Beatles to R.E.M to Coldplay where the emphasis is on chord loops. I can play most pop/rock songs on the piano relatively well even though I've only played for two years, this because they are only based on left hand chords and simple right hand melodies. Maybe it's because the genre is so heavily guitar based that there's no room for any complex piano arrangements?

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#986940 - 09/01/04 12:15 PM Re: How long a beginner?
jazpianizt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/04
Posts: 411
Agreed!
My real point was that for any piano student to reach the level of those pianists is a lifelong commitment, just as it is for those who aspire to the heights of the classical repertoire.

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#986941 - 09/01/04 12:45 PM Re: How long a beginner?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i wasn't really serious when i said about Chopin's etude to be a breakpoint divide me from a beginner to intermediate player. but there is definitely some threshold between beginner and intermediate levels, which you will know when you reach it.

i have my experience to say this. i was interested very much in ballroom dancing at one time, and started virtually from ground zero without much of prior experience. i was terrible at the beginning but determined to reach my goal "to dance like a pro". i took about 2 year lessons with a teacher to learn the basic techniques and fundamentals (not just steps or routines most people would be interested only). shortly after i quit my teacher (as i moved away), i suddenly felt one day that i was at the next level (above beginner's) because i had the technique and fundamentals in my body and in my move, where nothing seems difficult anymore. of course, it didn't mean that i didn't need any improvement anymore, which i do and so do those pro dancers. but this is the new beginning on a new level, which is totally different from the previous plateau i was standing on. this is what i call "The Threshold". as to dancing, many people take lessons year after year and never could in their life to reach such a threshold, but i did it in 2 years, not that i have much use of the skills though.

i believe the same is true with piano playing. there will be such a threshold in the process, which once you pass you become a totally different level player. obviously those talented piano students who enroll in conservatories or enter piano competitions are way beyond such a point. i wonder when or if ever i would reach such a point or threshold myself in piano playing. but when i do, i would definitely know!

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