Does playing come naturally to you?

Posted by: mdsdurango

Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 04:30 PM

Well, after three years of lessons and being quite studious about practice I have come to this conclusion; Playing the piano does not come naturally to me. I have to work very hard at it to be just an average player.
Now don't get the impression that I am expecting to much for only three years worth of playing. Although not studiously, I have played (on?, at?) the piano for thirty years. I'll not quit playing the piano but unless I have an epiphany, or start channeling some dead player who just happens to choose me (a bad choice on his/her part) I'll always be average at best. Yes I can fool some into believing that I play well but I can't fool myself.
I'm not complaining!!!!
This is just the way it is.
What I am interested in knowing is; does playing the piano come easily to any of you adult beginners? I mean - do you look at the keyboard and just "see" it or just "hear" it. Do your fingers just "go" to where they are supposed to go?
Yes, practice does make me better but does not make *my* playing perfect.
I do believe that there is in some a fortunate talent. I only wish it were in me.
Keep practicing!

Mike
Posted by: Dave123

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 04:50 PM

I can honestly say it does not come easy for me, everything I have to work at, I am definatly a beginner in the true sense. Nothing else has come close to learning the piano for me previously. Having said that so far I am enjoying the journey and I have to keep in front of me my reasons for wanting to play.
I have watched many play piano on the internet and in real life and the ease what I see people move around the piano amazes me, I keep saying to myself, I am never going to be able to do that. Maybe I should change my thoughts to how am I going to accomplish that.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 04:55 PM

The 'ease' comes naturally to a few. If you haven't got it, you need to look into ways to aquire it. I would start at finding where the tension is.
Posted by: Stevester

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 04:59 PM

No it does not come naturally to me but neither did walking when I first tried it.

The only thing I can say is the material I work on can make or break my progress. I like using the Celebration Series from Frederick Harris Music. They now call it Celebration Series Perspectives. I think this is very good material and I certainly see progression. I found this on my own (PW) and my teacher had not seen it before and she likes it a lot as well. I have no doubt the material I/we use influences our progress and attitude toward the piano and music in genral.

http://www.frederickharrismusic.com/fhmcUS/Frederick.jsp

If you go onto their web site, click on "piano" on the left side of the page and work your way to the series.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 05:18 PM

When I took lessons at 15 & 16 the mechanics came easily, as did going from the sheet music to the keys. But there was never any music.

The music still doesn't come easily, and at 62 the mechanics are slowing down, too \:\) As I said in another post, I spend an inordinate amount of time just to be adequate. The difference between now and when I was 15 is that now I know I want music, and I'm willing to spend the time - and love every minute of it - just to be adequate.

I've also found the music I like to play, and I don't spend time on the stuff that I don't like to play. This has helped enormously in the "making music" and not "just pressing keys" department. From the first time I played the accompaniment to fiddlers for dancing it was obvious that even if there had been only my oom-pah people would have wanted to dance to it. *That's* music. And that set of 3 32-bar tunes took me a week to learn. Over the years I've expanded the options for accompaniment, branched into playing melodies in hot/bluesy/honky-tonk ways, gotten better at hearing, a little better at phrasing, and the *music* has never gone away - no matter how I might botch something from a technical standpoint (splashy octaves, anyone? \:D ) the music is still front and center.

So I'm perfectly willing to have put in the time - I need to get back to those 3 hymns I'm playing tomorrow morning pretty soon here - because now it's about music, and the community of musicians and dancers. I'll never be Andy Imbrie, or Peter Barnes, or a Cape Breton backer to Natalie McMaster, or Marsha Ball - dance pianists all -, but I can be adequate enough to make music that makes people want to dance if I'm willing to put in the time - and I am. And I love it.

I've always meant to say hello, Mike. I spent 7 years in Durango, from '82 to '89, as the bookstore manager at Fort Lewis. The group I play with now played our first contra dance in Durango in - 2005? time flies. We've been back a couple of times. Do you know my friend Sylvia the harpist? She's playing a little button accordion with some folks playing gypsy music right now. Maybe the next we come up to play a dance I'll send you a pm and you can come by and say hello. I've always enjoyed your posts.

Cathy
Posted by: Naked Shaman

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 06:17 PM

Absolutely NOT! I am very much struggling and wonder if I'll ever get this. There seems to be something very fundamental about playing that I am just NOT getting.......

But I refuse to quit........

Naked
Posted by: Rosanna

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 07:18 PM

Rhythm comes to me fairly OK. As for being able to play fast, not only does that not come to me naturally, it has yet to come to me at all!
Posted by: jazzwee

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 07:26 PM

I've progressed quite nicely in close to 4 years now. But I'm really only blessed with good ears. Beyond that, everything was sheer hard work and focus on problems, a few at a time.

There really is something to focusing on a few problem areas, rather than conquering the world at one time. Seems to be an efficient use of time.

I realize that to get to the level of professionals require more work. But I'm plugging away...
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 07:36 PM

Ah... the ol' "innate talent" vs. "practice" debate. \:D

Mike, if you haven't already, check out Levitin's book "This is your brain on music" and read the chapter on expertise ("What makes a musician?"). He argues, very compellingly imo, that people give "talent" way too much credit and that the key to expertise is focused practice. While I do think there are individual differences in musical ability, I think those individual differences account for far much less variance in performance than does practice.

As for me, I have found that certain things come more easily than others. I had to laugh at Rosanna's post, because she could have been describing me. But there are also times when things will come easy or hard and I can't figure out why, e.g., I'll start two pieces that look and sound similar in terms of difficulty, yet one of them I will rattle off easily and the other will stump me.

I will say that when I get one of those rare occasions where everything falls together quickly, it is a wonderful feeling and I cherish the experience. \:\)
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 07:56 PM

I'm a below average player who works really hard. I hope I can play well some day in-spite of my lack of natural talent.
Posted by: Late Beginner

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 08:06 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by jotur:
I've also found the music I like to play, and I don't spend time on the stuff that I don't like to play. This has helped enormously in the "making music" and not "just pressing keys" department. From the first time I played the accompaniment to fiddlers for dancing it was obvious that even if there had been only my oom-pah people would have wanted to dance to it. *That's* music. And that set of 3 32-bar tunes took me a week to learn. Over the years I've expanded the options for accompaniment, branched into playing melodies in hot/bluesy/honky-tonk ways, gotten better at hearing, a little better at phrasing, and the *music* has never gone away - no matter how I might botch something from a technical standpoint (splashy octaves, anyone? \:D ) the music is still front and center.

Cathy [/b]
Beautiful post Cathy.

That's absolutely it for me too. Finding out what kind of music you can really put your heart into makes all the difference. I'd rather play a simple run of 10 notes that come alive, than 100 that just sound like a row of tones, no matter how accurately I'm "pressing keys" as you say, or how much further along it is in the difficulty scale.

Chris
Posted by: billyshears66

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 08:27 PM

When I play guitar, I play songs that come easy to me... if I find it too hard to begin with, I just don't play it. So, most songs I can learn after listening to them a couple times through. The later down the road, those songs I once found hard, just seem to fall into place. I never really practiced, I've alwasys just played. In the past, I could only manage to sit for about 20 minutes at a time with my guitar, alone that is. So I figured I would just join a band and learn on the fly, and it has worked for me... now don't think I'm bragging, I find it a huge issue in the long run. I've never been a strong lead guitar player, I've always been average. The piano, is coming a lot harder... sure, same thing applies... easy songs come easy... but here is where I plan to work for real... I want to play good, not just good enough. So, as time permits, I will sit and work out those hard parts for the sake of the journey. It is a bit of a humbling experenice for me, and I find it is about time for me to have some humble pie.
Posted by: Mr.Joshua

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 08:35 PM

The Piano - no...hard work every time I try to play. The Bass guitar...totally natural. No hesitation, fingers flying, totalally relaxed. I can pick up almost any song after a couple of times hearing it. But then again, the bass is a much simpler instrument.
Posted by: Mr Super-Hunky

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 08:56 PM

Playing the piano seems very natural to me. This is really the main reason I dont want to be *taught* anything. This way, everything I do and develop in terms of playing style and technique will be my own.

Since this is just a hobby, what have I got to lose by creating a new style?.

Anyway, I truly believe that you are either musically inclined or your not. I view musically inclinded people as the ones who naturally have the funk!, you know, some groove or beat about the way they listen to music. The people who just naturally start singing along with tunes, tapping their feet to the beat as well.

Non musically inclined people CAN perform a tune in any way that they are taught but the deep emotion which can sometimes be inflected into a piece may not be there!. That is something that MUST come from within as it cannot be taught.

You either belive that or you don't.

Someone who can naturally transfer their emotions into a piece can truly perform it, not just play it.
Posted by: Betty Patnude

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 09:02 PM

Do you sit on the bench feeling like you are stiffly at attention.

Let's do a little scenario to set you into motion before you play the keys.

Anticipate that you are a drummer - play on a flat table serface with both hands, just as the rhythm and tempo of your songs ask you to do.

Sitting on a chair, slightly and gradually begin small movements of your torso from side to side like ball room dancing. It doesn't matter that your feel are on the floor keeping you grounded.

It's your hands and your hips that are readying for the "dance". Do you feel your joints moving, you aren't controlling it, you are just doing it as you think about the music you will soon be playing on the keyboard. Maybe your inner humming voice comes in to define the melody.

Getting the idea?

Take your hands to the keyboard and go for it!

You should be completely in spirit with the music.

What a big difference in approach to the piano!

Betty
Posted by: RobM

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 09:46 PM

You mean it doesn't happen like this for all of us?? :rolleyes:
Posted by: doc123454321

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 09:48 PM

I'm not an adult (16 years old) but here's my insight :p

I have been an AVID choir member for the past 5 years and have had a somewhat easy time picking things up. This year I started playing piano and taking lessons, and apart from already knowing how to read music have had to work quite hard. My hands do not like to play at the proper time =).

As for Betty Patnude's suggestion of the Drummer Method, making music is not just playing the proper notes at the proper time, following a staccato mark properly, or keeping your hair tidy before/during a performance. Making music is putting yourself and your emotions wholeheartedly into the meaning of the song. A good musician should be able to convey the emotions the song was written for.

Most of all, HAVE FUN
Posted by: Piano World

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 10:01 PM

I LOVE to play the piano.

I can't walk by a piano without playing it (a problem when I'm in a piano store).
When I play, I become more relaxed. I play with more emotion then technique I'm afraid, but I enjoy it.

Jeffrey Biegel has nothing to worry about with my playing, but I don't care.
I never feel like it's "work", except maybe when I'm trying to play over my head and my fingers can't quite keep up.

Because I was a "rock & roll" keyboard player I tend to play everything a bit fast, but that comes naturally to me.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, for the level I play at, it comes naturally to me.

(did that make any sense?)
Posted by: 1silkyferret

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 10:07 PM

I'll not quit playing the piano but unless I have an epiphany, or start channeling some dead player who just happens to choose me (a bad choice on his/her part) I'll always be average at best. Yes I can fool some into believing that I play well but I can't fool myself.

Can I channel Jef Denyn or Liberace??????????

I'm not complaining!!!!
This is just the way it is.
What I am interested in knowing is; does playing the piano come easily to any of you adult beginners? I mean - do you look at the keyboard and just "see" it or just "hear" it. Do your fingers just "go" to where they are supposed to go?
Yes, practice does make me better but does not make *my* playing perfect.
I do believe that there is in some a fortunate talent. I only wish it were in me.
Keep practicing!

I have to bust my butt just to learn the most basic stuff in the alfreds book 1. As in a week or so for one lousy page.
I was able to memorize stuff in high school for field shows and stuff but now it takes 2 weeks. And I have to memorize at least the top line (treble)in order to play the keyboard. I also have to do the same for carillon so I sort of learned 2 pieces on bells. considering that when I am the road I get no bell time and the piano time is limited to 30 minutes a day and I learn thru ad nauseum repeittion.....



Mike [/QB][/QUOTE]
Posted by: SAnnM AB-2001

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 10:29 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Stevester:
No it does not come naturally to me but neither did walking when I first tried it.

[/b]
Well I was a late walker..nearly 2, but once I started walking it was no time before I could run... I've been taking piano lessons for 7 years...... After 7 years - at the age of 9, I was amazing at walking... however currently, I'm not quite so amazing at piano playing...
Posted by: TX-Dennis

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 05/31/08 10:59 PM

 Quote:
Well I was a late walker..nearly 2, but once I started walking it was no time before I could run... I've been taking piano lessons for 7 years...... After 7 years - at the age of 9, I was amazing at walking... however currently, I'm not quite so amazing at piano playing... [/b]
I love it.

Playing piano does NOT come naturally to me. The only musical pursuit that seems to come naturally to me is singing, and sadly, although I can sing on key and in time and can improvise and "scat," my voice is not particularly pleasant. Would that I could develop the same ease on piano.
Posted by: faucon

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/01/08 01:37 AM

I grew up in a house filled with classical music and opera, and it seems to have given me a good ear. My dexterity at the keyboard and my music reading are improving, but I wouldn't say at all that they come easily.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/01/08 01:57 AM

Guys and girls, don't just accept your lack of ease. It is not an insurmountable problem, but neither will it go away without some focus on it. The physical effort should be coming from the pit of your stomach. When you feel that you know you're at ease.
Posted by: babama

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/01/08 12:11 PM

I'm a beginner at piano and I don't think it comes naturally.
I'm terribly slow at reading notes and I don't know much about music theory.
I do think I'm a good listener and I got good memory. I don't know if this is anything special, but once I figured out the notes, I can play everything by memory fairly quick. It helps me to focus more on my hands and playing it right.
Posted by: Michael Steen

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/01/08 01:07 PM

Nah, it doesn't come naturally to me either, after nearly 4 years. Granted, I'm a LOT better at some things than I used to be, and pieces (still simple) that I've practiced sound pretty good. But I start each new piece only a tiny teensy bit above where I was with the last one. It's hard work.
However, sometimes I console myself by bringing out my book of simple Christmas carols and playing it right through with pleasure. Learning it, though, was a lot of work.
So, maybe bit by bit, note by note, it's getting easier. But my progress is like the hour hand on the clock. You know it moves, but it's so slow that you can't see it.
Posted by: mdsdurango

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/01/08 03:03 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by RobM:
You mean it doesn't happen like this for all of us?? :rolleyes: [/b]
That is exactly what I want! Great link RobM.
Well, seems I'm in good company and that raw natural talent (as in the clip above) is indeed rare.
Now - I am looking very forward to my next lesson tomorrow night.

Cathy, let me know next time you head for Durango. I would love to come see your band.

Mike
Posted by: IrishMak

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/01/08 04:12 PM

Naturally? Oh, no, not even a little bit. 4 years into this and I suck. There are people here who have been playing less than a year who are far, far better than I am. I have to claw, fight and kick to make the least little bit of progress. It's ok. I'm in this entirely for me, so if I never hit "good," I've not got a problem with it. The dog and cats don't seem to care.
Posted by: pastafarian

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/01/08 05:23 PM

With the piano, every new thing is a struggle, not like the blues harp, with which I can sit in with a band and play along with blues, reggae, country, folk tunes like breathing... even solo if I know the tune and find my way back if I get lost...

The piano has so many options, so many notes to co-ordinate. I can spend 30 minutes getting a 2-bar phrase right and need 60 for the next phrase, if it's not months or years away.

And yet, sometimes I'll sit down in front of the keys and something will click, and I'll be relaxed and into the groove, playing something I like the sound of, something that I'd like to hear someone play on the piano, but I'm the one playing it and it's music I love...


...and I'm reminded that it is possible for someone as hopelessly lacking in dexterity as me to make music on this instrument. Maybe not yet really, except for fleeting seconds worth, but sometime: a few years, maybe ten, maybe more.

If I don't quit.
Posted by: Piano91

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/01/08 05:43 PM

To me, it comes naturally but very very slowly, mostly because Im very lazy and because I dont know what to learn. Im four months with the piano, and, although all the people says Im doing very well, I know Im not. I know I can do it far better (if I practice more). The best I can play is a The Entertainer first part, I still cant improvise a 12 bar blues \:\(
(its impressive the huge amount of "I" used in english, this is seen for native speakers as egocentric?)
Posted by: apple*

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/01/08 06:56 PM

did she come around the mountain?
Posted by: apple*

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/01/08 06:56 PM

did she come around the mountain?
Posted by: 1silkyferret

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 02:52 AM

apple how are you doing????
Posted by: mdsdurango

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 08:49 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by 1silkyferret:
apple how are you doing???? [/b]
Yes apple*, how are you doing?
My bet is that you'll be coming round the mountain riding six white horses, head held high.
I wish you well!
So - Does playing come naturally to you apple*?

Get well soon!

Mike
Posted by: Donna R.

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 09:50 AM

Got to pay your dues if you want to play piano, and you know it don't come easy (sorry, Ringo).

No, it doesn't come naturally. But neither did learning to ride a bike at 24 years old (still have the scars to show for that one). I didn't and don't expect it to - actually I think I'd say it's the most excruciatingly difficult thing I've ever tried to do in my life. And I love every moment of it.
Posted by: AnthonyB

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 10:23 AM

Oh, I love to play...now work on the other hand...
Posted by: Mike White

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 11:25 AM

Having played by ear all of my life, It's much easier for me to learn to play a piece of music. If I know what piece is supposed to sound like, I don't have to pay too much attention to reading timing. I also tend to play the treble part by ear, once I've gone over it a few times, and only have to concentrate on the bass line. I eventually memorize the notes of the whole piece, but still play it by ear if that makes any sense. My next big challenge is to pick up a piece, "cold" and be able to figure out what it's supposed to sound like just by reading the music.
Posted by: apple*

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 11:58 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by mdsdurango:
 Quote:
Originally posted by 1silkyferret:
apple how are you doing???? [/b]
Yes apple*, how are you doing?
My bet is that you'll be coming round the mountain riding six white horses, head held high.
I wish you well!
So - Does playing come naturally to you apple*?

Get well soon!

Mike [/b]
i'm doing great.. (1/8th of the way done).. i cut my hair off and it's really cute)..

yes, playing and music both come naturally to me.. but i am also perversely hard working.
Posted by: Innominato

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 12:21 PM

Depends.

I do not consider myself particularly talented in any way, but when I sit at the piano it happens to me the same as when I sit on a motorbike: I feel in my element, I know it is right for me, it does me good, "it feels right to be there" even in the worst days.

Some days I need to motivate or force myself a bit, some other I don't, but still "it feels right" immediately when I sit at the bench.

Some time you want to sit at the piano but there is always this or that competing for your attention: TV, or reading, or a computer. When I then make the effort of eradicating myself from the PC and sit at the piano, I wonder why I wasted so much useful time.

I cannot tell you more than that, as I will never really "feel" what other people "feel" at the keyboard and have also never asked.
Posted by: Granny6

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 02:33 PM

I played all my long life by ear. Then I started Music ! My rhythm is great but my fingering is still RUBBISH. I keep trying............
Posted by: melissa d

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 02:57 PM

I enjoy playing it is a challenge. But it does not come naturally. I cannot sit and noodle around and make something that sounds like music. But the pieces I have learned I think I play well. At least the dog doesn't howl.
Posted by: Ted2

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 05:39 PM

Certainly not. My natural musical talents are very meagre and I have had to work very hard to get anywhere. Even now, at sixty, I do not consider I am either musician or pianist in the usually accepted senses of the words. Exactly what I am no longer interests or concerns me; other people can decide that. I just push the keys in ways which produce sounds which make me happy. Creating music makes me unconditionally happy, therefore the decades of work have richly rewarded me. That's all there is to it really.
Posted by: hotkeys

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 06:07 PM

Playing does not come naturally. The challenge for me is 1) not to look at the keys and 2) play separate parts simultaneously.

I have learned some very simple tunes. I am pleased with that progress, and I look toward improving my playing in the coming months...

- Mark
Posted by: RatMan

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/02/08 07:44 PM

What is "natural?" As was pointed out, walking may be natural, but it has to be learned. Breathing is natural, but it's an autonomic function...walking and playing a musical instrument aren't.

My opinion is that some people are gifted in such a way that learning certain things comes much more easily than it does to others. I'm not one of those people when it comes to music. I have to work at it. Maybe that's to harsh a word. I have to keep at it, and I find that I'm enjoying myself along the way.

When I first started on keyboard instruments WAY back when (January of this year \:\) ) I had a hard time playing even the simplest things on one hand. I'd been playing electric bass for about 3 years when I bought the digital piano...which soon led to a Hammond organ...that I absolutely love. I've made a lot of progress, but it's taken a lot of time and it's also taken some restraint. I've had to make myself back away from the keyboard when I hit that wall of frustration. I figure that if I keep going while frustrated, I'm really going to diminish my chances of keeping music a pleasurable thing.

I also do things in a hit-and-miss fashion. Like Mr. SH, this is a hobby for me. I have no desire to perform in front of adoring crowds. I have no desire to learn classical music or methods. Not that I don't like that type of music, but rather because I've chosen to stay with the blues, along with some rock and jazz.

I still have a lot of trouble getting both hands to work together. But I'm working on that. It's not natural. \:\) I'm not very good (ok, I'm terrible) at sight-reading. But I'm working on that, too. Again, this is anything but natural for me. The connection between those marks on the page and the sounds I hear isn't there. But when I hear the music in my head I can play it. At first this was only with the bass. But it's beginning to happen on piano and organ. Seems to come about as the result of practice, concentration and desire.

Mark stated that he wants to be able to play without looking at the keys and play two separate parts simultaneously. I'm working on these things, too. Sometimes I make myself close my eyes as I play. This worked on the bass and it's getting better on the keyboards. Natural? Absolutely not. Sometimes I play the bass line with the left hand and chords with the right, other times I make myself switch. Natural Nope. But it's easier on a 2-manual organ than on a piano. \:\)

My oldest son's flute teacher once told him that "talent" was making something very difficult look easy. Well, I know where that leaves me. But I still keep trying, even if it doesn't look effortless and even when I make a lot of mistakes. I do it because I want to. Period. And as such, I'm having a good time with it.
Posted by: SantaFe_Player

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 03:53 PM

I'm a 'returning adult' rather than a beginning adult. But I will say that some of the technical (physical/mechanical) things have come with difficulty. The musicality seemed to be there from the outset - at age five, I started teaching myself to play and teaching myself to read music, which prompted my mother to decide I should take lessons. But the really, really technical things are not easy for me. In college it took me an entire year to become competent enough at a couple of fast cadenzas to be ready for a performance of the one and only Liszt piece I've studied. A year! And that's just one piece! Now that I'm starting back at playing, I look at the Liszt and wonder whether I truly ever could have played THAT...my fingers are 20 years older now and maybe I'll never get it back up to speed again.

So, different things come with different ease to different individuals. Even being challenged technically or theoretically, an adult beginner can bring a maturity to the music itself that a child cannot. If you learn a fairly technically attainable Brahms piece, for instance, you will no doubt have far better instincts as to how it should be presented than a pre-teen who plays at your same technical skill level. This is likely true for anything with a Romantic or Impressionistic flavor, because you can bring life experience (and possibly many more years of just listening to music) to the piece that a child or teen lacks, even if they can Clemente and Czerny circles around your fingers. Be patient with the things you still want to improve, and appreciate your strengths.
Posted by: Emmery

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 04:21 PM

SantaFe, I am in the same boat as you are. Played piano from age 5-12 with lessons, struggled with it and hated it. Something happened that suddenly made it easier and more enjoyable (possibly the death of my Nazi-like piano teacher). I became very good on my own by the age of 18 and even considered pursuing it professionally. Skip ahead 25 years and here I am today trying to get these old fingers working like they used to. Progress is slow and trying but I forge ahead. I think the naturalness of playing comes when you fully enjoy and immerse yourself in the artistic beauty of it rather than doubt all the small things that may be wrong. This requires a filter on the way you see things and can be hard to implement for a beginner.
Posted by: SantaFe_Player

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 05:22 PM

Emmery - yeah, I agree to most of that, but if you really hose those cadenzas it just ain't the way Liszt intended it \:\) . I had a sequence of nice little old lady teachers as a kid who did the dutiful one-week-per-piece out of method books, with a pretty sticker on the piece after I'd learned it, and move on to the next. This bored me out of my skull and I quit lessons many times, only to find myself at the music store buying collections of Mozart sonatas and Chopin polonaises, which I would gleefully sit down and learn and memorize. It wasn't until I got into the university that I got a teacher who at least viewed repertoire and goals in a similar way that I did. I really enjoyed those years working with him but everything stopped cold turkey when I went on for my doctorate (needless to say it was NOT in music) and ..... so the story goes. Now I'm trying to resurrect old repertoire, but my new teacher is assigning more new pieces than old (this is almost certainly wise of him). I'm pleased that my memorization skills haven't completely tanked, but it will be awhile before I can get the speed back up, partly because I have so little time to practice now that I'm a working grown-up with other things I HAVE to do....

I don't suppose you'll let us know whether YOU had anything to do with the demise of your Nazi-like piano teacher \:\)
Posted by: SantaFe_Player

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 05:35 PM

p.s. what HAS tanked in the intervening years is my eyesight, not that it was great to begin with. I have yet to go to the eye doctor and invest in a new pair of piano glasses - one that is newly formulated for just the distance to the music rack from my bench. I think I'll wait until my new piano comes; it's sure to be different on a grand than it is on my spinet. Anyway, all the more motivation to get off book as quickly as possible and to be thankful I still can memorize! 'Cause I sure cant see worth diddly.
Posted by: currawong

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 05:53 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by SantaFe_Player:
I think I'll wait until my new piano comes; it's sure to be different on a grand than it is on my spinet. [/b]
Yes, it certainly will be!
(that was supposed to represent a glasses-wearing person rather than a cool person. Not to say I'm not cool ...)
Posted by: Always Wanted to Play Piano

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 06:06 PM

I bet this has already come up, but so be it. In my (admittedly limited) experience, I am starting to doubt that real talent, the way I have always thought of it, is nearly as common as I once thought.

I used to think that there was real musical talent out there. I suspected I lacked this, but it's beside the point. The point was that I thought it was pretty common, this talent, this natural gift that allows music to simply come to (and through) people without them really working at it. The rest of us, well, we had to work at it.

I have been trying to learn the piano for about five months. During that time, I have watched my daughter's progress, monitored my own, and listened to the various recital recordings many have posted here. I still think that there are those who are born to be musicians / composers... but what I used to think was innate and fairly common, I am coming to regard as exceedingly, preciously rare. The Greats probably have / had it. Think Horowitz, Van Cliburn, Listz, Chopin, Mozart (and fill in the blank). But most accomplished musicians probably lack it; rather, they got where they are by working hard, practicing intelligently, and spending lots and lots of time.

That's where I am today.

So does it come naturally to me? Heck no. But before I came to this realization, I would have admitted that with a tinge of regret. Not today. Today, I see this process as a lot like running a marathon. It takes NO (ATHLETIC) TALENT WHATSOEVER to finish a marathon. After all, Oprah did it. Rather, it takes the discipline to properly prepare yourself for the race. The talent question is relevant not for finishing a marathon, but being able to do so in under 2 and a half hours.

Likewise, I no longer think it takes any talent whatsoever to play the piano in a way that is truly satisfying for the overwhelming majority of us. Discipline, proper practice, and time is necessary and sufficient.
Posted by: SantaFe_Player

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 07:33 PM

Always Wanted:

I think to a large extent you are correct. Achievement is 99% perspiration and 1% talent. Those of us who aren't particularly talented can thoroughly enjoy music, can communicate via playing (sometimes when the stars are all properly aligned) and can - once in a rare while (rare for me anyway) - get that flash of whateveritis that keeps us working so hard. I think it takes a certain level of technical competence and knowing how to speak the language to be able effectively to communicate that emotion or viscerality that is within the music, and when we can, it is perceived as talent.

Wild and perhaps bogus speculation to follow:
In my rather limited experience with brilliant artists (I mean the real top-drawer ones who are outside the box and sometimes only recognized as brilliant in hindsight), I have truly begun to wonder whether the ones who are just wildly capable of tugging at our gut the way music or art in its highest form can do, aren't just a little crazy. Think of Emily Dickenson, Sylvia Plath. Some have suggested Mozart was perhaps bipolar. Happily, most of us are rather well-centered and sane, but we are also in large part the ones who admire and appreciate the efforts of the truly gifted....but I wonder if I'd really want to BE one of them. I think they live with a lot of mental discomfort.

Just ruminating here. I've known a few people like this and some ended up as suicides....but their contributions were truly inspired when they were in one of their functional periods. I think I'd rather be functional and in need of lots of hard work (not that the truly gifted don't also have to put in a lot of hard work....talent by itself won't cut it without the education, training, skills and time in the practice room).
Posted by: SantaFe_Player

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 07:38 PM

Hey, Currawong!

Love the cool dude, glasses or shades. And I like your taste in pianos. Yammy c3 en route to my house next month \:\)
Posted by: currawong

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 08:00 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by SantaFe_Player:
Hey, Currawong!
Love the cool dude, glasses or shades. And I like your taste in pianos. Yammy c3 en route to my house next month \:\) [/b]
Great piano - enjoy!
Posted by: agraffe

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 09:36 PM

Parts of piano playing seem to come naturally, and more so on certain days. There is much struggle involved, and I agree with the author of a book I recently read (_Note by Note: A Celebration of the Piano Lesson_ by Tricia Tunstall) that we must learn how to practice and that this is a process that is individual and that it is a process that must evolve at its own pace and in the privacy of our daily interactions with our pianos. As such, this process is not natural; we must in the beginning force ourselves to play again and again, slowly and separately, the same old measures until comprehension slowly dawns. Tunstall remarks that unless students at a certain stage in their development learn how to practice, progress will be "elusive," even for the best of students. So there is much to be said for the willingness to grapple, on a daily basis, week after week, with fragments of music which are boring in themselves, mere motions of the hand. It is out of such preparation that artistry is born. Without the hard work and commitment, it is hard--or perhaps impossible--to move forward.

So, no, I don't think playing piano comes naturally to me. I am a dedicated amateur. It will always be hard. I love it.
Posted by: Always Wanted to Play Piano

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 09:42 PM

SantaFe, there was a discussion on one of these forums a month or two ago. A parent came here saying that his child's teacher believed the child to be a young prodigy, a star in the making. The parent wanted to know what path he should take to make sure that the child grows up simultaneously well-adjusted, and yet also in an environment that would sufficiently allow the child's genius to flourish.

The answer was pretty unanimous: pick one or the other. Musical genius or well-adjusted adult. History suggests you can't have it both ways.

I had never thought about it before, but I can think of many more examples supporting your wild and bogus speculation than counterexamples (Mendelssohn maybe).
Posted by: agraffe

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/04/08 10:21 PM

Slightly off-topic, but please indulge me--

SantaFe_Player, Dickinson is a hero of mine, perhaps my #1 hero. I think she led an unconventional life but that she was no freak. You might be interested in a wonderful biography of her titled _My Wars Are Laid Away in Books_. Her life was full.
Posted by: 1silkyferret

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/05/08 08:13 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by SantaFe_Player:
p.s. what HAS tanked in the intervening years is my eyesight, not that it was great to begin with. I have yet to go to the eye doctor and invest in a new pair of piano glasses - one that is newly formulated for just the distance to the music rack from my bench. I think I'll wait until my new piano comes; it's sure to be different on a grand than it is on my spinet. Anyway, all the more motivation to get off book as quickly as possible and to be thankful I still can memorize! 'Cause I sure cant see worth diddly. [/b]
Sante Fe _player
there are print shops that can enlarge the music for you. Kinkos seems to be the best for that. Office depot can do about 10% bigger off thier self serve copiers.
The Alfred's stuff is big print compared to other music books.
I did not realize that until I realized that some of my stuff is a lot more than 18 bars on a page!
Posted by: Tony.S

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/05/08 11:19 PM

I guess easy is relative … I play about 2 hours per day … I take lessons … workshops … and I think about how to learn and about the pieces I’m working on while away from the piano … and with that in place … I have to say yes it does come easy … maybe I’m just an optimist though.
\:\)
Posted by: Laurel Jean

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/07/08 10:20 AM

Although I earn my living in music and ministry with the piano and voice being my main instruments, I pray that I will never stop learning and feeling challenged to do better. I love the piano and give thanks every day for my natural abilities to play and to learn. But, I personally worry when my practice sessions seem too "easy".

Like others who have posted here, I do try to challenge myself just one step at a time, not taking on all of my limitations at once.

Keep on playing!
Posted by: SantaFe_Player

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/11/08 03:20 PM

Agraffe - I never said Dickenson was a freak. But she definitely had some severe mood swings, that no doubt contributed to her artistry. I wouldn't classify any artistic genious as a "freak"
oh - wait - let me qualify that.....I wouldn't presume to assume that most artistic greats/prodigies are 'freaks' but there seems to have been an anomalously high number of them who were manic-depressive. This isn't freakism, it's just an extreme extension of mood swings, but one that tends to get away from these people and sometimes dominate their lives (based on those I have known personally). Worst case scenario it can be crippling and/or deadly. But the really highly gifted seem to have a dose of it above and beyond how most functional 'regular' folks experience. Never called them freaks. Just suggested that exceptionally gifted seem also to experience a lot more emotional pain than I'd want. I prefer to be ordinary, myself.
Posted by: SantaFe_Player

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/11/08 03:26 PM

Thanks, Silkyferret. I don't know what "Alfred's" is. Most of what I'm playing is Bach WTC and Beethoven sonatas, plus some Chopin polonaises (and a Brahms I'm leaning that my teacher doesn't know I'm learning yet, but I've heard it on several of my CD's and want to play it). I suppose I could enlarge these, but size is not the only issue \:\) There's an astygmatism (sp?) and two eyes that don't work together when I"m tired as well (although all my other eyes do, HAR). This has been an issue since childhood, but size is starting to come into it now!
Posted by: Theowne

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/11/08 07:43 PM

My teacher tells me that expression comes naturally to me but I have a problem with actually hitting every note. The sound and tone sounds like what I want in my head, but I can never get through a performance having hit every note, accuracy, in other words.
Posted by: Lisztener

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/11/08 09:10 PM

Theowne,

There may be a few things you don't do...just like the rest of us, but the things you do right are outta sight! That's why I am a subscriber to your YouTube videos. Your Debussy is excellent!

Keep up the good work!

Regards,

Lisztener
Posted by: 1silkyferret

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/11/08 09:43 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by SantaFe_Player:
Thanks, Silkyferret. I don't know what "Alfred's" is. Most of what I'm playing is Bach WTC and Beethoven sonatas, plus some Chopin polonaises (and a Brahms I'm leaning that my teacher doesn't know I'm learning yet, but I've heard it on several of my CD's and want to play it). I suppose I could enlarge these, but size is not the only issue \:\) There's an astygmatism (sp?) and two eyes that don't work together when I"m tired as well (although all my other eyes do, HAR). This has been an issue since childhood, but size is starting to come into it now! [/b]
Your past the Alfred's crud. Be very glad, Alfreds is a 3 part beginner piano course. The tunes (such as they are)are very very short and chord heavy for the left hand so there are a lot of 3/4 time sigs and oom pah pah stuff.
I have serious dyslexia so I often confuse stuff. I had a piece where I learned the right hand stuff on the left hand and vice verse.........eyesight for me is not an excuse,but maybe I will use that one for a kick butt reason why i can't sightread worth a darn...
My last lesson was a total waste of time and since furball is still here I havent gone to practice today either. So its pracice like crazy tomorrow and hope the nieghbors dont complain.
I envy people who can play easiely. Takes me weeks to learn a simple alfreds piece
Posted by: 1RC

Re: Does playing come naturally to you? - 06/12/08 11:18 AM

12 years of playing guitar might have helped when I started piano, just in being able to think in that spatiotemporal way of getting the fingers to where they need to be.

It takes work for me, fortunately I can be pretty compulsive, that helps with practicing. Also I can be obsessive, that helps in tailoring most of the rest of my life to learning music and also going through books and videos for ideas and guidance.

Unfortunately I also feel the pull to lead a balanced life

I have to challenge Mr.SH's idea that some people have the groove and others don't. I think anyone who's learning an instrument MUST be able to feel the groove or else they wouldn't have got into it in the first place... It may be that some are nervous, clam up and have troubles putting that groove into the open air, and that would be their particular challenge to overcome.