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#1046517 - 09/19/06 12:12 PM It's Never Too Late
Piano World Offline


Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5527
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (originally N...
It's Never Too Late[/b]
By Scott "The Piano Guy" Houston

From an article in the September/October issue of Making Music Magazine [/b]
Reprinted in its entirety, with permission from Scott Houston & Making Music Magazine

It continually shocks me the number of times we get calls and
e-mails from people older than 55 who have just finished watching an episode of my public television series
The Piano Guy and say something like this: "I'm almost ___ (fill in a seemingly advanced age here) and
I've always wanted to play the piano. I think I understand what Scott was talking about, and it seems pretty logical, but
there's no way someone my age can really do this is there? Don't you have to start when you are a kid?

I'm not making this up; these calls happen way too regulary. It makes me kind of sad, and mad, and gets me wondering
about how playing piano got to be thought of as something akin to learning to talk, or ride a two-wheeler, or any other
skill that is the domain of the youngster. It couldn't be further from the truth!

Now granted, some musical efforts such as speed drumming in a thrash band (I don't have enough hair for that anyway), or
playing all-night jam sessions might be a bit of a physical stretch for a "former youth" such as yourself.
But playing piano for your own enjoyment is absolutely not one of them.

Assuming you have fingers and a rear end to sit down on, you have what it takes to play some piano.
You don't need strong lips, or terrific breath control, or long skinny fingers, or any other skill you might remember
needing for other instruments.

From a tone production standpoint a piano is fairly unique in that it does all the hard work. You can't control
whether it is in or out of tune. It takes no more or less effort to play a note very high or very low on a piano as
all the keys take the same amount of strength to press down. Nor do you need to develop calluses on your fingers to keep
them from hurting.

Then what do you need to learn a tune at a piano or keyboard? You need a tune that you are just going crazy wanting to
learn to play. And that's it.

You see, what I've found from teaching thousands of people the easy system I use is this: Those who realy get going with
piano right from the start are the ones who have a single burning desire to get to a point of playing ___ (insert your favorite tune here).

No matter the age. No matter the previous piano experience. The biggest factor seems to be good old fashioned desire.

Because everyone, regardless of age, has the physical strength to push down a piano key, anyone can learn to play
the instrument at any age as long as they have the desire to do it.

Learning to play a tune using lead sheets and chords is a fast, musically correct way to approach playing nonclassical music,
such as show tunes, jazz, blues, and more. This method opens the door to anyone who wishes to simply learn a few tunes in
ortder to have fun and reap the benefits that playing music brings.

If you want to play the piano for enjoyment -- post 55-years-old-- then go for it! There's nothing physically or mentally
stopping you. Remember, a great place to begin is to learn a little about lead sheets and the style of playing I teach.
But much more importantly, think of a tune that you just can't imagine living another day without playing.

That's the song that will give you the desire to go where you want to go...

Learn more about Scott Houston's piano method at
www.scottthepianoguy.com

P.S.
You can get a free issue of Making Music Magazine here...


Free Issue


(And no, we aren't getting anything for this. I just liked the article, and I happen to like the magazine).

P.P.S.
Scott like our forums so much, he's decided to join...
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/32/2967.html
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#1046518 - 09/19/06 12:21 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Makes perfect sense to me. I don't understand folks who are hesitant to start doing something they want to do. It's outside my ability to comprehend.

However, my view is that the greatest reason for the failure to start is fear. Fear of doing something new, fear of looking silly or crazy, and fear of failing.

I, obviously, must be fearless. \:D

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#1046519 - 09/19/06 12:23 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Good timing, Frank. I was just about to start a thread about Making Music Magazine. I've been a subscriber for about a year, and I really enjoy it. It's a bi-monthly magazine with articles of interest particularly to adult musicians. Generally, the articles are geared toward beginning or intermediate readers.

The articles tend to be short and cover such things as profiles or explanations of instruments (how they work, how to play them), how to read music, basic theory, research on the benefits of making music and how adults *can* learn to play, stories from people in community or other bands, and places to learn (such as music camps).

Overall, it's a very upbeat and encouraging read for adult, non-professional or semi-professional musicans. Scott Houston is a fairly frequent contributor.

It's not a piano magazine (although, of course, piano topics are often discussed) or a hard-core, technical music magazine but I highly recommend it.

I've e-mailed the editor several times with questions and suggestions, and she has always gotten back to me. She really wants to hear from her readers.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1046520 - 09/19/06 12:29 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Piano World Offline


Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5527
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (originally N...
 Quote:
Originally posted by markb:
Good timing, Frank. I was just about to start a thread about Making Music Magazine. I've been a subscriber for about a year, and I really enjoy it. It's a bi-monthly magazine with articles of interest particularly to adult musicians. Generally, the articles are geared toward beginning or intermediate readers.

The articles tend to be short and cover such things as profiles or explanations of instruments (how they work, how to play them), how to read music, basic theory, research on the benefits of making music and how adults *can* learn to play, stories from people in community or other bands, and places to learn (such as music camps).

Overall, it's a very upbeat and encouraging read for adult, non-professional or semi-professional musicans. Scott Houston is a fairly frequent contributor.

It's not a piano magazine (although, of course, piano topics are often discussed) or a hard-core, technical music magazine but I highly recommend it.

I've e-mailed the editor several times with questions and suggestions, and she has always gotten back to me. She really wants to hear from her readers. [/b]
Thanks Mark, I enjoy it myself.

Hmmmnn, maybe the editor should join our forums?
I'm sure our members would have lots of ideas and suggestions \:\)
_________________________
- Frank B.
Founder / Host
www.PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
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-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
And please invite everyone you know to join our piano forums!

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#1046521 - 09/19/06 12:29 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
IrishMak Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 1614
Loc: New Hampshire, USA
I'm a perfect example, Bob. I hesitated to learn to play because of a bad experience a number of years ago. A lot of that was due to the crappy teacher I had, but I have to take some blame as well. I *could* have found a different teacher when I quit with that one, or I could have used what I did learn and what I already knew about music (I sang for years with an adult chorale) and gone on by myself, but I was afraid that the problem was that I wasn't"good enough." So I sat and looked at the piano for years, until I finally decided that saying "someday I want to learn to play" wasn't good enough. If I never started, I'd never learn. So here I am, still not very good, but enjoying every minute of it now!

And Frank and Mark- thanks for the info on the magazine! I will have to look into it....
_________________________
-Mak

1889 Mason & Hamlin screwstringer upright
Kawai MP-4 digital

---------------------------
When life hands you lemons, throw them back and add some of your own. Stupid life.

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#1046522 - 09/19/06 03:25 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Van Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 1215
Loc: S. California
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Muir:

I, obviously, must be fearless. [/b]
Or just very good at failing... \:D
_________________________

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#1046523 - 09/19/06 03:56 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
 Quote:
Or just very good at failing
:D Yep, I fail real good! ;\)

Actually, I would say that everyone in the AB Forum is fearless.

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#1046524 - 09/19/06 06:53 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3227
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Frank, thanks for sharing that! I would have missed it otherwise.

Fear is definitely a big problem, but I think the fear itself comes from the myth of impossibility. A work acquaintence who heard me play recently just could not believe that I really started as an adult. She kept saying over and over "but I always thought it was impossible to really play if you don't start as a child." I kept trying to explain that I don't have any special talent, there was no magical blossoming of musical ability. The only thing that makes me different from anyone else is that I have been putting the time in, sitting at the piano and just doing it. I must have said the same thing about 50 times, " you can[/b] play the piano even if you start as an adult, as long as you start" but I don't think I was able to convince her, she probably walked away from our conversation thinking I was the exception and still believing the myth of impossibility. \:\(
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#1046525 - 09/19/06 08:22 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
When I'm sitting at the piano either by myself or with my teacher sitting next to me, I completely forget how old I am ..........
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#1046526 - 09/22/06 12:51 AM Re: It's Never Too Late
Sonata Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/06
Posts: 313
Loc: AK, NZ
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sandy Moore:
When I'm sitting at the piano either by myself or with my teacher sitting next to me, I completely forget how old I am .......... [/b]
I can never remember how old I am, when I play, I image I was 10, is it kind of hypnosis? \:D
maybe it works.
_________________________
In my this life, I will enjoy playing the piano
In my next life, I will become a pianist

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#1046527 - 09/22/06 04:09 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Scott The Piano Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 64
Loc: Indianapolis
ShiroKuro,

Great post... and all I can say is AMEN!!!!

You just distilled the entire mission of what I have been so aggressively shouting from the mountaintop for the last few years.

The "secret" is sitting your "arse" (can I say that here...) down at a piano or keyboard and taking a jump off the cliff with a tune you REALLY want to play.

Doesn't sound like much of a secret does it?

"Myth of Impossibility" is a terrific way to say that...
_________________________
Host and Co-Executive Producer of the 7 time Emmy award winning public television series: The Piano Guy
www.scotthouston.com www.playpianoinaflash.com

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#1046528 - 09/22/06 11:46 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
tolovemoon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/06
Posts: 152
Loc: South Carolina
Growing up, I had taught myself on a little one finger kid toy piano's. Even my yamaha was like a kids toy with the small keys that I had gotten when I was in high school. I was in band for about 5 years playing trumpet and percussion..then I was lucky my school offered piano class right before I graduated, so I took it for one year.. I didnt get my old classic, piano until 5 years ago. It took me no time at all to remember the beginning pieces I learned and for the last almost two years, I have been playing everyday... I see myself improving lots.. I am 30 years not older so there was a good bit of time that I missed playing from when I was in school. I bet my piano teacher would be proud..
I remember her talking about lots of adults start out playing with never having prior expeirence and they turn out playing really well.. She even told my class that its easy to teach yourself to play if you want to play bad enough..
It must be just a myth then about starting when you are a kid to become good though the statement is true nothing is impossible...
_________________________
Peace!

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#1046529 - 09/28/06 08:02 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Dear Frank B...Piano World... Thank you so very much for the article by Scott Houston...I emailed this to a friend who has a teaching studio, piano... Scott Houston is one of my very favorite people,a piano teacher, on TV...He is excellent...A+...Sandy B
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1046530 - 10/05/06 06:50 AM Re: It's Never Too Late
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3001
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sandy Moore:
When I'm sitting at the piano either by myself or with my teacher sitting next to me, I completely forget how old I am .......... [/b]
That's funny, I forget the piece, even if I just learned it that morning.

Comes with being an oldtimer, I guess. At 53, I am making progress, and I can even memorize for a short time, but not retain it.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1046531 - 10/09/06 05:08 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
FormerlyFlute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 232
Loc: Maryland
I'm going to be 54 in December and started piano lessons at the end of February of this year. I played flute for many years so I could read the treble clef when I started. But it was hard to even look a the bass clef let alone play it with the treble clef after so many years of only using the treble clef. After practicing 30-60 min nearly every day I am passing up many young students and having a great time. If I go away for a weekend I miss my piano.

Would you not ride a bike because you aren't as good as Lance Armstrong, or not play golf 'cause you're no Tiger Woods?

Of course not. So if you want to play the piano, do it!
_________________________
Brodmann PE 187 Strauss

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#1046532 - 10/10/06 08:47 AM Re: It's Never Too Late
Karyn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/09/06
Posts: 89
Loc: Ireland
I always had that 'It'd be nice to play the piano' feeling but figured I would have to have started in childhood. (Believe me, if my parents had even suggested music lessons then I'd have kicked up murder!)
Then I decided to hell with this, I don't have a time machine, I want to learn.. so I got a piano for my 21st birthday.

I've now been learning two years, only know about 7 or 8 decent pieces and my sight reading is RUBBISH but I'm still slogging away, making definite progress and loving every minute...

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#1046533 - 10/10/06 04:29 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Shey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 302
Loc: Greater Manchester, England
Just begun at 54, because someone I know said, they had a serious disease and felt they should begin something they had wanted to do for a long time. So I thought why wait, go for it and see what happenes.
Well, enjoyment, learning, confidence, a new digital piano, music of all kinds to enjoy and chatting to people of like mind who want to help and encourage as on this site.
I am totally made up.
Shey
_________________________
Alfreds All In One Level 1
Alfreds Masterworks Classics Level 1-2
Adult returner

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#1046534 - 10/12/06 04:48 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Karyn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/09/06
Posts: 89
Loc: Ireland
Yeah, this site is great for adults just venturing out into the scary world of the piano. I didn't know there were so many adult learners out there! Keep up the good work Shey!

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#1046535 - 10/13/06 02:37 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Mr.Joshua Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/06
Posts: 86
Loc: Plano, TX
Hmm...I'll throw an contrarian observation into this thread.

I do agree that anyone can start[/b] to play the piano, and get the instrument to make the odd pleasing noise, but actually playing[/b] the piano at a decent level really does take years of practice. There's just no simple way of getting around this fact. Playing the piano is hard work; that's why people quit. If if were easy, everybody would be doing it already.

Let's face the facts, while older beginners may have the desire to play piano, they also have all of the problems of older adults, including joint and finger pain, back pain, flexibility issues, stamina problems, coordination problems, and the list goes on and on.

Additionally, learning to sight read causes the vast majority of people to quit (I know this first hand ) and without learning to read, you're going to be trapped musically (unlike TAB for the guitar) playing songs by ear or lead sheets, (and probably playing the song in a simplified way or even incorrectly.)

Let's face it Scott, you make your living by getting people to start playing piano, so you have a rather extreme viewpoint that's overly optimistic. For most people, playing the piano in the manner they image is beyond their physical capabilities, their talent level, their motivation level and their pocket books.

With that said, I would never dissuade anyone from starting to play the piano. I'm a beginner, and I enjoy it, but its not without its frustrations.

Mr. J
_________________________
Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.

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#1046536 - 10/13/06 02:47 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
mahlzeit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/06
Posts: 1910
Loc: Netherlands
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mr.Joshua:
...and without learning to read, you're going to be trapped musically ... playing songs by ear[/b]
Heh, I've never had more freedom musically than since I learned to play by ear. Reading sheet music is fine, and mandatory for certain types of music (classical), but definitely not the only way to play... or even play well.
_________________________
No idea what chords you are playing? Reverse Chord Finder Pro will tell you!

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#1046537 - 10/13/06 04:12 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
Actually .. using lead sheets isn't hard for me but basically most of the time I just use my ear..I've been playing 2 yrs(age 54)bought a couple of chord books..and taught myself..do I think it is "hard work" not really..but pop/jazz
standards wouldn't be..since thats what Scotts
method is all about..nonclassical..and no I don't have his course! if a someone wants to go the classical route..that's hard I'll grant that..
I'm 54..why would I play to begin with?..just because I enjoy it..
pure and simple..maybe I'll make it to cocktail pianist..which would be fine by me.." Hey buddy play Melancholy Baby " sure no problem.. Bob

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#1046538 - 10/13/06 04:28 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Additionally, learning to sight read causes the vast majority of people to quit (I know this first hand ) and without learning to read, you're going to be trapped musically (unlike TAB for the guitar) playing songs by ear or lead sheets, (and probably playing the song in a simplified way or even incorrectly.)
I respectfully disagree. I can read music from having taken piano lessons sporadically, playing clarinet for about eight years, and drum lessons for probably around five years. I'm finding that my reliance on reading has actually trapped me. Playing by ear or with lead sheets lets you create. Here are some chords and a melody--make it your own. Embellish and improvise. I think this is a very productive and practical approach to playing popular music. In the case of playing by ear, reading skills are not required. In the case of lead sheets, the shorthand of chord symbols replaces the need for some reading, but it does help to be able to read the melody.

I'll agree that reading skills are essentially required to play classical music if you're trying to play it as originally written.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1046539 - 10/13/06 04:36 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
w_scott_iv@yahoo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 1120
Loc: West Virginia
Mr. Joshua,
You've missed the point. All of the 'late starters' who have posted here ARE playing piano. They were playing from the moment they started! Walt

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#1046540 - 10/13/06 04:43 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Mr.Joshua Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/06
Posts: 86
Loc: Plano, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by markb:
Playing by ear or with lead sheets lets you create.
You raise a very good point Mark. I had equated sight reading with music theory, but I guess it is possible to have a solid music theory background but not be able to sight read (we guitar players are famous for this \:D ).

Having a solid music theory knowledge will allow you to play freely, and improvise with the best of them. That is true.

Thanks

Mr. J
_________________________
Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.

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#1046541 - 10/13/06 04:49 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Mr.Joshua Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/06
Posts: 86
Loc: Plano, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by w_scott@verizon.net:
Mr. Joshua, All of the 'late starters' who have posted here ARE playing piano. They were playing from the moment they started! Walt [/b]
Hmm...what's the definition of Playing ? If my cats stands on the piano he's pressing the keys down and making sounds...is that playing ? Most people would say not...would the same be true for a person ?
_________________________
Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.

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#1046542 - 10/13/06 04:58 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
w_scott_iv@yahoo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 1120
Loc: West Virginia
I have had a cat that I believe willfully walked on the keyboard for the enjoyment of creating the sounds. While this might not be satisfying for you or me, I believe it was satisfying for the cat and I would consider the cat to have been playing piano.

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#1046543 - 10/13/06 06:07 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Karyn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/09/06
Posts: 89
Loc: Ireland
Good old cat! Although mine sat on my piano stool and punctured the leather with one of his claws so I have respectfully ended his musical career.

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#1046544 - 10/13/06 06:13 PM Re: It's Never Too Late
Karyn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/09/06
Posts: 89
Loc: Ireland
Also, this playing thing is one thing that's puzzled me. I guess the only judge of what counts as 'playing' is based on individual opinion. But if someone is even just playing scales, then surely they are playing the piano.

I've only been learning a couple of years though and I will still always say "I'm learning the piano", not "I play the piano" because I don't feel worthy of that yet at all. Maybe it's because I'm worried someone might produce a piano and demand I play for them, which would lead me to run screaming into the night for want of any sheet music. \:\(

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#1046545 - 10/16/06 03:50 AM Re: It's Never Too Late
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Sandy,
Thanks for sharing your MP3 clips. I only tried one so far 'Prelude in D flat by 'Gliene' I have never heard of that composer (I'm jazz man really)such beautiful music though and the melody exquisite.

Will listen to more as it's so inspiring.

Alan

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#1046546 - 10/16/06 04:39 AM Re: It's Never Too Late
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Mr Joshua,

With great respect, I do not agree with your opinion. Age is a statistic not a limit to ability as a standard fact. Yes, joints can become stiff and reaction time (sometimes) slower. The finest thing in life is the ability to look forward to new challenges and always have a positive mind.

I have always had a young at heart syndrome and do not act my age and never tried to.

Of course we all have to recognise arthritus as a factor but diet can greatly help that and many pianists have played competently and professionally at high levels into their 90's.

I am only 78 and have had periods of lapse from the piano due to domestic and workload stress.
Not to mention amateur sports activity.

Since about 1995 I have been largely relieved from my business workload so have found more time to improve the piano playing. Not to say I ever stopped except for top priority tasks away from
leisure.

With more time at the piano I have found my playing ability increases pro-rata to the time spent practicing. For practice I mean playing and bettering my improvisations. I only play by ear and not the classics.

I have recently graduated from a rather tired Steinway Model A to a Bosendoerfer 170 as new!

That in itself has given me a whole new experience of what a top tier instrument can do to one's confidence and sheer pleasure.

Therefore, I would completely dismiss any factors of age in anything you do in life. Do not be age conscious as it will be a simple negative.

Someone wrote a book once called; "The Power of Positive Thinking". Someone in the States, yes?

Good luck to all that play the piano.

Alan

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Casio AP range advice please
by thamajor7
04/17/14 01:38 PM
Installing plain wire: no twists involved
by A443
04/17/14 01:12 PM
Disney - Mulan - Reflection (arr. by K. Landry)
by Gi Dy
04/17/14 12:32 PM
A good introduction to history of French classical music?
by BWV 846
04/17/14 10:50 AM
Piano Composition + a Drawing
by leandrobrunapiano
04/17/14 10:50 AM
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