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#998240 - 11/29/04 07:40 AM Expectations
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
Anyone else hearing “So how many Christmas songs can you play?” or Can you play _____ or “Now that you’ve been taking lessons for 3 years I guess you can pick up a piece of music that you know and just play”!…..

My non-piano/musical friends/family, although quite impressed that I’ve kept up lessons at my age (47) for over 3 years, seem to think that it doesn’t take that long to “just play” I’m a little discouraged by this, although I’m loving learning and have come to expect the 4-6 weeks it takes me to learn a new classical piece, I feel a little pressured to be playing more contemporary or at least seasonal music. Anyone else out there experiencing this?

I spend so much time on my lesson pieces and studies that I’m not spending much time except for trying to sight read – which is discouraging – Christmas
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#998241 - 11/29/04 08:16 AM Re: Expectations
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
I sure would love to visit Nova Scotia. I've been playing off and on my whole life.. I'm 48 and have started taking lessons again after 32 yrs. My goal this year is to prepare 10 things to play ... there is not a single thing I can sit down and play perfectly.. My problem is that as soon as I start to conquer a piece I feel like I need to learn something else.

anyway... you are not alone.

I read about building a repertoire.. noting the pieces you have learned and running thru them regularly to keep them up.. I don't do that, but I should. \:D

I can play seasonal music without a problem.. the pieces are usually easy.. In November I get out my Christmas favorites and review them, just in case anyone asks me to play... they never do, but I am kind of ready, if they don't mind a few mistakes.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#998242 - 11/29/04 08:16 AM Re: Expectations
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Sandy,if you'd like to be able to play some simple contemporary music, including Christmas stuff, I recommend you get the book "How to Play Popular Piano in 10 Easy Lessons" by Howard Monath. It's really geared toward learning LH chords/RH melody and is suitable for satisfying friends and relatives who want to recognize what you're playing. Since you've been taking lessons for three years, it should be pretty easy and shouldn't take too much time away from your normal practice.

There are probably similar books, such as How to Play From a Fake Book, but I have the Monath book and found it to be pretty decent.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#998243 - 11/29/04 08:16 AM Re: Expectations
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Hi, Sandy,

Yes, yes, I know exactly what you're talking about. I've been at it for over 5 years, and people do expect you to be able to throw down a popular piece upon request. I've been pressured to sight read ("Hey, how about you play while we sing some James Taylor?") and people are surprised that I could never do that.

It's frustrating, because people don't necessarily expect you to display your skills at something else you might be learning. I'm also learning tennis, yet no one expects me to serve like Venus Williams. But they expect me to play piano like we're in a piano bar.

One thing that has helped with that is trying to have 2-3 finished pieces in my fingers and memorized to whip out upon request. I might not be playing what they expect me to play, but I am playing something that sounds like something. Alas, doing this might require you to work on "bigger" classical pieces a bit less, so it might not be worth it to you.
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

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#998244 - 11/29/04 08:33 AM Re: Expectations
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Sorry if the following is a bit rambling, but it's the best I can do this early in the morning. ;\)

"Anyone else out there experiencing this?"

I'm not. My in-laws are just amazed I can play anything at all on their POS upright in the sitting room. \:\)

"I spend so much time on my lesson pieces and studies that I’m not spending much time except for trying to sight read"

It's all a matter of priorities and what you want to be able to play and when. One of my goals is to eventually be able to play a dozen or so popular and Christmas songs from memory. Another is to be able to sight read simple block chorded pop songs.

While I enjoy playing classical, the Rach 3 is never going to be in my repertoire so my goal there is to learn only the pieces that I sincerely love that are doable.

To meet my goals, at this time of year, I'm limiting my classical work to a couple of pieces (the Fur Elise that I started in September and the Scarlatti K32). Starting in October I focus on learning two Christmas songs at a time. The first two I learned this year were "Christmas Time is Here" and "Do you Hear what I Hear"; two of my favorites. I'm now working on very, very challenging arrangements of "I Wonder as I Wander" and "Oh Holy Night".

I spend about 20 minutes on each piece a day. Sometimes I have to skip a day on a particular piece and sometimes I can spend two or three 20 minute sessions on different sections of a piece. If I had less time available for practice, I would focus on one classical piece and one Christmas carol.

If learning Christmas music isn't one of your goals and you just want to be able to sight read them, then explain that to your friends/family. In three years, you should have at least two or three solid classical pieces in your repertoire though. If you don't, then I would recommend memorizing several pieces so you have something to play at any given time.

"seem to think that it doesn’t take that long to “just play” I’m a little discouraged by this"

Don't be discouraged. Can they "just play" the music??? If not, then you're still ahead of them. If they can, then they've probably been playing since they were a child. Playing by ear or even from a fake book is NOT easy and it takes quite a while to be proficient at it. And even then, it has to be one of your goals and you have to focus time on acquiring those skills.

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#998245 - 11/29/04 12:28 PM Re: Expectations
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
Thanks! It's nice to hear that others are in the same position. I like the idea of right hand melody and left hand chords only. I'm not too bad with sightreading the right hand melody (easy stuff)and familiar enough with the chords to probably "fake" it.

Another problem I have is that I'm still nervous to play for others and so yet another challenge is to get over that!! I think I've waited too long to "show off." Now they'll expect more..... Maybe I'll take a turn with my 11 and 13 year old neices over the holidays - funny no one expects THEM to play requests "off the cuff" --- and they've been playing longer.... (I do have 4 or 5 short classical pieces in my current repertoire - I've learned dozens but 4 or 5 seems to be all that I can keep in memory - the others require a couple hours or more to "refresh."

Boy this piano stuff is much harder than I thought it was going to be 4 years ago! Still loving it though..... (currently finishing my first 4 page Minuet! - Beethoven - from Sonata Opus 42, No. 2)
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#998246 - 12/03/04 11:07 PM Re: Expectations
bachophile Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 742
apple said
 Quote:
I've been playing off and on my whole life.. I'm 48 and have started taking lessons again after 32 yrs. My goal this year is to prepare 10 things to play ... there is not a single thing I can sit down and play perfectly.. My problem is that as soon as I start to conquer a piece I feel like I need to learn something else.[/b]
the most wonderful thing about this forum is seeing how many people have the exact same sentiments...(except im 46..so i have 2 years on u...)
_________________________
"I don't know much about classical music. For years I thought the Goldberg Variations were something Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg did on their wedding night." Woody Allen

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