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Author Topic: Becoming a professional pianist at the age of 42  (Read 7041 times)
tsachi
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« on: December 15, 2010, 10:22:26 AM »

Hi,

I started playing the piano at the age of 10. After studying for about 8 year I could no longer practice since I started studying in a University which didn't leave me much time. Recently, at the age of 42, I found myself being attracted to piano more and more. I am taking lessons with a professional teacher and practice about 4 hours a day.
I am wondering if there is any way I can make up for the lost years and become a professional concert pianist. Currently I play some of Chopin's etudes, Mozart's sonatas, and many many finger dexterity exercises. I can play the etudes with no mistakes at an acceptable speed but not as brilliantly as those that you hear on CDs.

What do you think ? Is it too late ?
Does anyone share the same story ?

Thanks,
Tsachi Rosenhouse
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thalbergmad
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2010, 12:24:59 PM »

I started lessons when I was about 5 and gave up on and off for many years. When I eventually found an excellent teacher at the age of 40, he told me that there was no reason I could not become as good as a Professional, but making a career would be considerably more difficult.

I have always had the impression (probably wrongly) that a pianist is at his most marketable when under 8 years old or over 80. When you are in your 40's, you are far too old to be a prodigy and a major competition winner & far too young to be an interesting antique.

Reading other threads on this forum seems to indicate that self promotion helps, but the competition seems to be as fierce as ever in the piano world and you are going to need some angle that makes you special.

Good luck

Thal
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richard black
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2010, 11:04:40 PM »

Professional concert pianist - no. Jobbing piano player making a living doing 'behind-the-scenes' stuff (accompanying, repetiteur work and so on) - possibly, with difficulty. Decent player who can give amateur solo performances that delight audiences - no reason why not.
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avguste
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2010, 04:18:19 AM »

Contrary to Richard, personally i believe that if one has the want, the commitment, anything is possible. Just look at the lady from the british version of "you got talent".
You want it? Then reach for the stars and don't let anybody stop you or discourage you.

Now this said, due to  your situation and the fact that you are 42 years old, your road to success will be different.

Obviously, I havent heard you play, however, I would suggest the following:

-besides your normal lessons, perform for concert pianists either in person or by Skype (Jeffrey Biegel, myself and others are offering Skype lessons)
-get yourself a website, business cards
-promote yourself in your area, including house concerts.
-participate in amateur piano competitions. The most famous is obviously the Van Cliburn one, however there are many similar ones worldwide. Also consider participating in America's Got Talent.
And don't just participate, go to WIN and to make connections.

The above are just some small suggestions. Besides the above, there are also the obvious ones: practice, grow your repertoire, get performance experience and the likes.

I hope the above helps you in this exciting venture
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slow_concert_pianist
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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2010, 01:14:53 PM »

Sadly this craft is governed by ignorance, exploited by the ignorant and manipulated by the greedy. You have no chance of "becoming" a concert pianist at age 42. You may have an idea that might possibly force a paradigm shift of thinking. Alternatively you might have or know someone with extraordinary amounts of money and marketing resources. Although.......I have a friend who is from the British aristocracy and he was invited to the Royal Albert Hall to hear a violin concerto performed by one of his buddies and the RPO. The performance was crap by his account and cost 10,000's pounds. So beware money can only buy you fame but not prestige.

Even Richter made some horror performances for the discerning ear, so there is a world of opportunity for those with vision.
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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2010, 02:40:16 PM »

Sadly this craft is governed by ignorance, exploited by the ignorant and manipulated by the greedy.

That sounds like sour grapes to me.  Even if it were true, the greed and ignorance of others is irrelevant when one lacks the chops to be a concert pianist.  Furthermore, it seems implausible that "those with vision" could find a "world of opportunity" if that world is supposedly governed, exploited and manipulated by the greedy and ignorant.
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Mayla
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« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2010, 03:19:11 PM »

Hi,

I started playing the piano at the age of 10. After studying for about 8 year I could no longer practice since I started studying in a University which didn't leave me much time. Recently, at the age of 42, I found myself being attracted to piano more and more. I am taking lessons with a professional teacher and practice about 4 hours a day.
I am wondering if there is any way I can make up for the lost years and become a professional concert pianist. Currently I play some of Chopin's etudes, Mozart's sonatas, and many many finger dexterity exercises. I can play the etudes with no mistakes at an acceptable speed but not as brilliantly as those that you hear on CDs.

What do you think ? Is it too late ?
Does anyone share the same story ?

Thanks,
Tsachi Rosenhouse

I understand feeling attracted to the piano.  The thing is, who, exactly, are you asking?  I mean, if you are asking "us" ... who do you think we are?  I don't exactly share the same story but I guess I share similar questions.  But, I don't think I understand how it works, exactly.  I mean, who is it that really decides whether somebody becomes a concert pianist?  As far as I can tell, there's not actually just one final guy, sitting in some throne (with a crown), who finally waves his hand yeah or nay ... is there?  If somebody else decides, maybe it's a series of people and a series of decisions.

I think that people either do now or used to think there was a kind of recipe to becoming a concert pianist, and I don't even know if that is true, exactly, but I do think there is NO exact recipe to becoming an aritist.  I also think there are double standards all over the place.  I mean, supposedly a concert is attended so we can gain insight into culture and art, and to watch/hear a person demonstrate these in their craft.  However ... there is some kind of age limit in the mind's of ... well, apparently those people who are themselves apparently so gifted in discerning this art and craft that they can decide that a person either does or does not become a concert pianist.  But, many people aren't making conscious art, exactly, until they more fully mature ... but, by then it's too late, since there is apparently an age limit by those who are discerning.  hmmmm ... (there are circular motions in my mind now).

Horowitz didn't follow a recipe.  I mean, even in an age when internet didn't exist and mass media was less, he started off playing concerts to just try to pay the bills at home with his family.  Then word got out about this young man and he kept playing concerts.  Well, I think that's interesting anyway.

So many things seem different these days.  I mean, competitions, fine and good, and great if you do win.  But, those don't make you love it and supposedly an audience actually wants to see/hear somebody love it ... but ... what the?  And, even so, if you win even a major competition it doesn't live your life for you nor does it actually make you a lifetime artist ... you still have to do that and I guess, you still have to love it.

These days though, it seems all concert pianist's bios are very similar in what they read.  There is always some young age at which they started, some kind of special event in adolescence, some sort of special teachers and/or training, and probably competitions.  Those things are good, yes.  But, society needs this kind of cookie cutter bio in order just to show up to a concert, and even still, showing up is a lot to ask these days!

But, who wants to attend a concert given by somebody whose bio reads (?):  born to a regular family.  No special training as a child.  The house cat seemed to take a special liking to her piano playing, though, and supported her practicing.  Debut was learning chariots of fire by ear at the age of 6 or so and playing it over the phone for friends who didn't believe it was her (haha).  Took formal, half an hour a week lessons for about two years in adolescence then stopped after some formal successes.

These days, who knows?  Maybe that's a great sell  Cheesy.  Anyhoo, actually, let's consider it this way ... what really matters is what the cat thinks.  I mean, c'mon, if the cat is happy, everybody's happy.  Let's just get that out in the open.  And, who doesn't want to play for a room full of cats?  I do! *raises hand*  And, if the cats want to listen, what are the other people's problem?  Especially that guy in the throne with the crown and that silly hand that waves yeah or nay?  Well, I think the answers are clear.
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countrymath
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2010, 03:31:42 PM »

Valentina Lisitsa
Valentina Lisitsa
Valentina Lisitsa
Valentina Lisitsa
And that Ukranian blonde that i forgot the name...i think its Valentina Something...
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music32
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« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2010, 04:07:38 PM »

Agree no recipe for entering the world of concert giving. And it's not clear what the exact goal is. The joy of practicing, learning growing are its own rewards. If it leads to public performing, it is just a natural, sometimes unplanned outcome. Setting a specific timetable will not make sense, as to grow, mellow takes its own natural progression.

Shirley K
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Mayla
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« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2010, 04:12:31 PM »

Well, that is where you and I finally, after all these years, strongly disagree.  I think that if there is one ingredient that IS actually necessary, it's that cats must be somehow involved (and probably the bigger the better).  

And, fyi, I don't wake up at two in the morning thinking about piano-related things and wanting to get up and practice in the freezing garage on my digital because I am mellow about it!
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avguste
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« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2010, 05:35:05 PM »

Mayla is right in one point.
There is no "king" deciding who can or cannot be a concert pianist. Which is where a person commitment, "want" and I would say "guts" come in. It is where a tough skin comes in.
Tough skin to face skeptics, to face strangers, friends and family who disagree with the goal/goals.
 
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Mayla
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« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2010, 07:36:27 PM »

Mayla is right in one point.
There is no "king" deciding who can or cannot be a concert pianist.

King alert!


Quote
Which is where a person commitment, "want" and I would say "guts" come in. It is where a tough skin comes in.
Tough skin to face skeptics, to face strangers, friends and family who disagree with the goal/goals.

Recipe alert!

Just joking with you, a.  Grin
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landru
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« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2010, 07:44:41 PM »

Your "success" may also be determined on what exactly you mean by "professional concert pianist". If you mean "I want to be in a situation where the concert promoter says 'Hmmm....either Kissin or this guy" and "this guy" is you...then maybe the odds are really, really poor.

However, if you want to be known in your community and region and not take bookings away from Hamelin, then maybe there is a way if you are creative. I am sick of the "star" system and would gladly pay to hear a decent pianist I hadn't heard of, playing repertoire that aren't full of war horses - but I don't get any information on them because the system is so skewed towards STARS. I know I can't be the only one out there who feels like this.

The question is how to tap this market? The alternative "indie" musicians do it by small clubs and a fervent promotion/identification to/with their fans - and bypass the whole music business which could care less about them. There has to be a way for good regional musicians to do the same thing!

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Mayla
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« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2010, 08:00:10 PM »

Okay, FINE, I'll tell you my own plan, but this is pretty much top secret, as far as somebody like *cough* (MachineMe) *cough* is concerned.  

1.  Keep studying my buns off (not all the way off) with my fab teachers.
2.  Get mind-blowingly good.
3.  Win some contests.  Continue building my bio.  
4.  Get super gorgeous and wear great clothes.
5.  Website/YouTube/etc..
6.  Local/regional (branching) concerts.
7.  Play the piano even at singing events ... hee hee.
8.  Sing the pants off of things (to get more people's attention).
9.  ooooohhhh ... magic 9 ... win my audience over one by one and love them Smiley.
10.  etc.
11.   Find people who believe in me.

If MachineMe kills me though, it's on YOUR shoulders!  I'm not going to lie to you, there's probably going to be a few more tears involved.  I'ma gonna leave the past in the dust, and I'ma gonna builds me a futuh!    

*runs to the piano*
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pianowolfi
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« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2010, 08:44:52 PM »

Okay, FINE, I'll tell you my own plan, but this is pretty much top secret, as far as somebody like *cough* (MachineMe) *cough* is concerned.  

1.  Keep studying my buns off (not all the way off) with my fab teachers.
2.  Get mind-blowingly good.
3.  Win some contests.  Continue building my bio.  
4.  Get super gorgeous and wear great clothes.
5.  Website/YouTube/etc..
6.  Local/regional (branching) concerts.
7.  Play the piano even at singing events ... hee hee.
8.  Sing the pants off of things (to get more people's attention).
9.  ooooohhhh ... magic 9 ... win my audience over one by one and love them Smiley.
10.  etc.
11.   Find people who believe in me.

If MachineMe kills me though, it's on YOUR shoulders!  I'm not going to lie to you, there's probably going to be a few more tears involved.  I'ma gonna leave the past in the dust, and I'ma gonna builds me a futuh!    

*runs to the piano*


 Smiley Cool Cheesy     ( Cry but only of joy) Smiley   Grin
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fleetfingers
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« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2010, 10:54:45 PM »

Your "success" may also be determined on what exactly you mean by "professional concert pianist". If you mean "I want to be in a situation where the concert promoter says 'Hmmm....either Kissin or this guy" and "this guy" is you...then maybe the odds are really, really poor.

However, if you want to be known in your community and region and not take bookings away from Hamelin, then maybe there is a way if you are creative. I am sick of the "star" system and would gladly pay to hear a decent pianist I hadn't heard of, playing repertoire that aren't full of war horses - but I don't get any information on them because the system is so skewed towards STARS. I know I can't be the only one out there who feels like this.

The question is how to tap this market? The alternative "indie" musicians do it by small clubs and a fervent promotion/identification to/with their fans - and bypass the whole music business which could care less about them. There has to be a way for good regional musicians to do the same thing!



I recently paid to see a concert in a local venue that consisted of very talented instrumentalists from around the U.S. As part of the program, there were three pianists: two who played chamber music with the strings and one who played two solo pieces. Two of the pianists were local, and I had never heard of them prior to the concert. One was just OK, but the other impressed me and I would love to hear him play again. It got me thinking...is it possible to play in local concerts and end up with a fan base and even someone to invest in you? There are many pianists who can play well, and it seems there would have to be something special and brilliant in the way one plays to make an impression. Would winning amateur competitions help start a performing career, or are those just for fun?
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2010, 12:11:09 AM »

If you have something to offer the music world that they didn't know that they needed then you surely can become a very successful concerting musician no matter what age you are.

It is fine to aim for the stars but what steps are you taking to get there? If you cannot organize a successful event in your own home town then you have little hope elsewhere to do so. Sharpen the performance sword by doing a lot of concerts no matter what size then at least you get to understand how a concert is set up and all the workings behind the scenes. Then you may gather some funds to hire good  pubic venue and promote your event.

No one really is going to hand it to you or give you the shortcut path. Winning competitions is really a losers way of trying to become a successful musician if you solely rely on that path. If we stop for a moment and think about the world economics as it stands today, concert pianists really do not earn enough money for the work they put in. Where a rock band can pull in hundreds of thousands of dollars per show (or even millions), the most successful concerting pianists would be laughing if they received a crumb of that. So what is the interest in becoming a concerting pianist? It must be to share the music, to offer your music because there is a need for you personally to do so. If it is a money or glamor perception that draws you then you are being fooled.

There are many places that need music and that doesn't always include a concert stage. The places that need music the most often cannot pay for you to play but the more you invest your time in these places the more opportunities start to arise and if you honestly love the work you do people will recognize it and support you.

If you think you can simply skip doing smaller venues and want to do the big stages, then you need a lot of money to support you. The chances are you will lose your money and the event will be a failure. This is not negative thinking but the reality of the music market these days even the most world famous professional musicians need to be very wary. I know a couple of years ago the violinist Andre Rieu came to Australia, his concerts cost a lot of money to set up and organize, it almost ruined him.

http://andrerieufan.com/2010/02/22/andre-rieu--the-year-that-almost-changed-his-life.aspx

Concerting is only one part of being a musician and in my opinion does not define who the musician is and what they contribute to the musical world. I don't know many professional musicians who want to be known for their concerts, they want something more meaningful, something that reflects what music actually means to them. Don't get me wrong there are some musicians who live for the stage and that is their life and no one can take that way from you, it is just whether you are a successful one or not that is important and this success is defined differently for everyone of us.
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tsachi
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« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2010, 06:30:04 PM »

Thank you all for sharing your views on this topic.
I was very encouraged since it helped me build realistic expectations from myself and from the "rest of the world".
My plan is to go step by step, starting by sharing my music in YouTube and here in the "Audition Room".

I would like to believe that success is eventually limitted only by tallent and hard work. I would like to believe that the audience can appreciate a good preformance even if it is given by an unknown pianist. These beliefs are maybe not so realistic but they are the force driving me to pursue my dream.

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countrymath
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« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2010, 08:34:46 PM »

Valentina Lisitsa
Valentina Lisitsa
Valentina Lisitsa
Valentina Lisitsa
And that Ukranian blonde that i forgot the name...i think its Valentina Something...

DUUUH. WRONG TOPIC
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iumonito
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« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2011, 07:04:09 AM »

tsachi, I would break your question a little differently.

42 is not a problem.  Seems to me at that point one has the maturity to make music meaningfully, and nothing else is necessary for worthwhile music-making.

There is a very broad range of what a "professional pianist" is.  If you mean "have the popularity necessary to play 100 to 300 public appearances a year, in well-attended and well publicized venues,"  then I would say your chances at 42 are nearly nil, unless you have the type of talent of a Richter, Jorge Bolet, or Rachmaninoff.  But then, your chances of having that type of career on a sustained basis are also nearly nil at age 19 or age 9.  It is only an enormously small percentage of the music makers that could maintain such schedule that actually get an opportunity to do so, and of those, even a smaller number that can and wishes to maintain such schedule.  Consider the likes of Jose Feghali and Dmitris Sgouros, just to name two prime extremes.

Making a living from the piano can take many different shapes and embodiments, but very few of them compare favorably, from a material point of view, with a less competitive career, such as trial lawyer, brain surgeon, or something else similarly easy that anyone with an ounce of dedication could pursue with very little need for special talent, recognition, or luck.  I know it may sound I am joking, but consider this:  many more people go to law school or med school than music school, yet once you graduate the very vast majority of law or medical school graduates makes a decent living.  The very vast majority of people who go to music school ends up earning a living doing something else, or making very little between teaching, a few gigs, and accompanying.

Now, back to the music making.  Trying to earn money from it will interfere both with your enjoyment of it, and with your growth.  To play 300 concerts in a year you necessarily have to play limited repertoire really well, thus severely limiting your ability to learn music you don't already know.  Assuming that (unlike Richter) you are not the type to learn concert-ready a Prokofiev sonata in a week, people who play lots of concerts and travel tend to travel with maybe one or two different recital programs and maybe 2 or 3 concertos which they play all the time.  The more adventuresome (say, someone like Andre Watts) takes on playing a large number of concertos every year, but then often will not have them as ready as he or she would otherwise, resulting in somewhat unpredictable performances (many of them wonderful, but frankly many others dreadful).  On the other hand, if you are traveling with Beethoven's third concerto for a season and play it with 40 different orchestras, you risk that time 37 may be quite stale.

This a long way of concurring with the advice you were given earlier.  Study music for your enjoyment and growth, and play it for others to share and educate, and forget about "being a professional."  Just be as good as you can be (but nothing less than that either!)

Vivi felice!
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« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2011, 08:09:56 PM »

Fifteen years ago it would have likely been impossible, but with the invention of the internet, and classical musician agencies getting more popular and less exclusive, it's doable.  However, just like with everyone else, it's not doable if you don't have the skills.  If you think you can honestly get to the technical level of other professional pianists, there really isn't much stopping you.  You just have an uphill slog of getting your name out there, and some avenues for doing such are now closed to you, so you'll have to work even harder in the mediums you can access.  Amateur piano competitions often do not have age limit requirements; many top piano competitions rotate between professional and amateur competitions.  Setting up a youtube channel and getting some *good* recording equipment is an easy way to get your name out there, and there are plenty of other websites that are geared more specifically to musicians.  You'll have to market yourself everywhere you can; set up facebook and myspace pages, make some demos, sell amateur CD's online etc.  Getting a slot for an auditorium at your local civic center or concert hall is always very easy; getting in recitals is not difficult.  The difficult, and sometimes necessary, part is getting concerto engagements.  Obviously, smaller symphonies are the way to go.  Even youth/amateur/church orchestras; just do anything to get a concerto engagement, and make sure to record it.

You'll also need reviews; just inform any, local papers, although you might have better luck contacting the journalism department of any local universities.  You'll want to do a bit on your own, and as soon as you have enough experience for an agent to take you, get on it.  Be sure to join the musician's union, and be sure to contact all orchestras in your travel range with your chamber music repertoire.  Piano is a very overbooked instrument, so they're always needed; 99 times out of 100 you'll be playing weddings, as opposed to real chamber music, but if you get in there and prove yourself to be reliable, that 1 in 100 slot might end up being yours.  Most middle/high schools and fine art schools will only have a couple pianists on full time staff, but then have a lot of people teaching at the actual school once or twice a week.  An easy way to get in with the local musicians and secure some gigs.  For someone in your situation, this will be where you'd have to start, pretty much, with a few recitals thrown in wherever you can get them.

Contemporary repertoire is an easy way to at least get your name associated with a label; there is just so much of it that's yet to be recorded (even fairly important stuff) a number of pianists I know who don't specialize in it did a disc or two of contemporary repertoire to land album gigs with more important labels.  As well, just like any, other business of this sort, it's a community that you have to get "accepted" into, so to speak.  Get on acquaintance level with as many producers, musicians, composers and event coordinators as possible, so they'll be there to (possibly) take notice when you do something.  There are so many pianists out there that you just can't expect something to happen overnight.  It will take a lot of small efforts, over a period of time, and in different capacities, to get to where you want to be.

I'm saying it's possible, but the situation is the same for you as it is for everyone else: not probable.  You really have to ask yourself whether or not you're so committed to the piano that you'd be willing to sink 3, 5, 10 years into trying to climb your way up to what we think of as a "professional pianist", and maybe never even get there.
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« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2011, 10:00:34 AM »

When Horowitz and Kissin etc are mentioned as "professional concert pianists", I feel it's a bit out of proportion. It's like saying "a professional composer, like Mozart for example". Well, yeah.
Two anecdotes: When Horowitz returned to Moscow in 1984, it was kept secret, and only shortly before a small poster appeared saying "Recital by Vladimir Horowitz, USA". That poster didn't have to stay up for long before people rushed to the ticket office, and all available tickets were of course sold out within minutes.
When Glenn Gould appeared for the first time in Russia, he was invited to give a recital and a lecture at the Moscow Conservatoire. For his recital he was playing Bach. He was completely unknown, due to the iron curtain etc. Now, the funny thing is that few people turned up for the recital, but those who were there used the intermission to run to all available telephones and basically order everyone they knew to "drop everything, run here, this pianist is the greatest musical sensation I've ever heard!", and consequently the hall was packed for the second half! Isn't that funny?:-)

Now, those people are extreme exceptions, and out of a population of 4 billion in the 1980's, we can count the famous pianist-stars then living and working needing no more than our ten fingers.

But what more ordinary so-called pro's share with these is that they have to have something that make audiences and/or professional institutions want to pay them money to perform, as soloists, chamber-musicians, accompanists, repetiteurs. or whatever. To be a professional musician simply means that you earn income doing it. And as with any other skilled profession, you need to be pretty good.
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oxy60
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« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2011, 04:39:16 PM »

I am a great believer in getting very good at playing the piano. Becoming a professional level pianist is a reward in its own right. The reality that very few people can recognize exceptional playing shouldn't discourage your efforts.

The real problem today is that over the last 50 years or so the general public has lost interest in classical music. Gone are the piano concert series where over a season we could hear some famous and some new concert pianists. As a matter of fact I can't recall when I last saw an advertisement for a solo piano concert.

While reading this thread I thought about where a solo piano concert could be staged in my area. I just realized that suitable venues are very scarce. Off hand I can't think of one that would work. Of course there are places where one could play a piano for paid admissions but the sound won't be good and the experience won't be memorable.

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phillip21
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« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2011, 11:24:48 PM »

To become a 'professional pianist' you need to be able to 'do' piano playing just as you would any other job (accountant, bond dealer etc.) and have the technical equipment and attitude to play difficult music day to day without become fazed.  The sort of people to take as benchmarks are not the global stars (who probably all showed some phenomenal ability at age 5 or younger) but the sort of faculty pianists you see on YouTube accompanying difficult pieces in diploma and doctoral recitals at US or Russian music schools, or accompaning piano concerto performances at second pianos.  You may never have heard of them - even though they may be in their 40s or older - but if they are identified on the videos and you Google them, you will often be surprised at the awesome CVs and breadth of experience they offer.  You have to think - if you are starting a career at 42 such people living in your locality will be your competitors.
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bleicher
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« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2011, 11:06:12 AM »

Hello Tsachi,
I have no words of wisdom to add, only that I'm in the same position. I started playing the piano when I was 6, and I studied music at university (not music college). I got to DipABRSM level but have worked as an administrator in music since then. About a year ago decided that what I really want to do play the piano professionally. I have a good teacher and I've gone down to working part time to enable me to do 3 hours practice a day. It's very early days yet and I have a lot of study ahead of me, but it's nice to know I'm not the only person in the world doing this as it's quite different studying on your own with a teacher than at college where you can talk to other people who are doing the same thing.
It would be nice to know how you get on.
Natalie
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nearenough
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« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2011, 03:51:11 AM »

I didn't read all the comments is detail but some should have mentioned You Tube. All you have to do is play some spectacular show-pieces (or even delicate masterpieces like Bach or Scarlatti), have the camera record them and see what people say on the internet. You Tube, Check it out.
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becky8898
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« Reply #26 on: February 04, 2011, 12:14:53 AM »

Hi -  professional concert pianist. What does that mean.  I am assuming you mean someone who makes a living performing what is known as our classical music repertoire giving concerts and getting paid..  Based on that.  Think about this.   

Lets start at the top.  Internationally  renowned concert artist - who can literally set there own agenda as they choose.  ex - Martha Agerich.  Typically  play with the worlds major symphony orchestra's .

Next, second tier concert pianist - Great talent, often the choice when the biggest names are not avaliable.  Generally will play with smaller less known orchestra's . May augment there income with some teaching , etc. 

Now name one person even one, Who made category one starting that late in life.  Ok now go to category two and think of someone who made it to that level that late in life. 

I dont say you cant do it, just that its never been done as far as I know.  Of course I dont know everything. Maybe it has been done. If so I would like to hear who.

With all that said, doesnt mean you cant become a fine pianist.  After all there are a ton of fine pianists floating around.  Why couldnt you be one?

Best of luck on your progress -

Cheers, Becky
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phillip21
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« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2011, 12:56:49 AM »

I didn't read all the comments is detail but some should have mentioned You Tube. All you have to do is play some spectacular show-pieces (or even delicate masterpieces like Bach or Scarlatti), have the camera record them and see what people say on the internet. You Tube, Check it out.

Using YouTube is an excellent suggestion - I have a channel there myself.  But beware: in my experience. on the basis of comments viewed,  the (wonderful) YouTube audience is currently largely made up of teenage learners and adult enthusiasts, and not concert pianists, conservatory professors etc, and I have seen some very flattering comments made on some (to me) very ordinary performances.  There are some amazing piano videos on YT - particularly of difficult contemporary repertoire - that have received absurdly low numbers of views.  The problem is with the search system; failure of uploaders to give proper descriptions, tags etc.; and the bias (through view-based recommendations) towards people who have been 'resident' there since the early days.
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albertus_magnus
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« Reply #28 on: June 09, 2012, 03:13:16 AM »

I am wondering if there were any well known concert pianist(s) that started their professional career after the age of 35?
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philb
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« Reply #29 on: June 09, 2012, 03:56:32 AM »

I am wondering if there were any well known concert pianist(s) that started their professional career after the age of 35?

The latest I'm aware of is, of course, Arcadi Volodos who began serious musical studies at a ripe old age of 22.
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pianoplunker
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« Reply #30 on: June 09, 2012, 06:18:33 AM »

Hi,

I started playing the piano at the age of 10. After studying for about 8 year I could no longer practice since I started studying in a University which didn't leave me much time. Recently, at the age of 42, I found myself being attracted to piano more and more. I am taking lessons with a professional teacher and practice about 4 hours a day.
I am wondering if there is any way I can make up for the lost years and become a professional concert pianist. Currently I play some of Chopin's etudes, Mozart's sonatas, and many many finger dexterity exercises. I can play the etudes with no mistakes at an acceptable speed but not as brilliantly as those that you hear on CDs.

What do you think ? Is it too late ?
Does anyone share the same story ?

Thanks,
Tsachi Rosenhouse

What you think is professional and what someone else thinks is professional might be different things. If you are talking about making money, then versatility and diversity is what you need in addition to the correct expectations from yourself. I am not trying to be silly when I say you can probably make more money playing "Happy Birthday" than you would playing Etudes.  Or better yet the big dollars can be had by playing the Wedding March by Mendelshonn. I remember once when I was scheduled for a paid performance at a restaurant. I showed up ready with a repertoire and started playing. The owner told me something interesting. "People are not here to hear you perform. I am paying you to add flavor to their food"  And thus I made $500.00 playing random improvisations for one hour - if you can get gigs like that every night then you could pay the rent
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hfmadopter
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« Reply #31 on: June 09, 2012, 10:12:23 AM »

Well, that is where you and I finally, after all these years, strongly disagree.  I think that if there is one ingredient that IS actually necessary, it's that cats must be somehow involved (and probably the bigger the better).  

And, fyi, I don't wake up at two in the morning thinking about piano-related things and wanting to get up and practice in the freezing garage on my digital because I am mellow about it!

The cats importance in this can't be underspoken ( we have 5 cats), all you need is one unhappy cat and at 2 in the morning you aren't going to be sleeping as the cat prowls the house yawling. And allas, 2 in the morning is when my revelations stike ( we all have these great revelations after all, we don't need the cat disturbing that should one awake natually with that revelation) !

On the public front, if you are good, the right people in the right places may just end up clicking for you. Age 42 may not be the norm but it's not to say it can't happen. And then there is professional at what degree ? Professional doesn't have to mean world recognition.  I knew a lawyer who played out professionally, as in for pay, in one of the nicer beach front hotels in our area. He was doing that at age 70 and until he passed away I might add. He loved piano, played at home, played out.
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thorn
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« Reply #32 on: June 09, 2012, 11:25:37 AM »

Firstly, I haven't read the entire thread, so forgive me if I'm repeating what has been said.

I don't think it's impossible at all if you have the talent + the right connections (which people have already discussed here).

You get concert pianists who are not that amazing at all but got where they are through a mix of creative thinking and knowing the right people. Equally, from time to time you come across pianists on youtube who knock the spots off some of these professionals, but you've never head of them before (and they're not beautiful slim golden haired women so let's face it they're less marketable).

I will agree that younger people are more marketable, there's no mistake about that. So if you want to compete with them, you need to make yourself marketable, you need to get your face out there as something different. Change your name to something that would look good on an album cover or a concert program (I'd put money on that getting Lang Lang noticed before people even heard him play).

The biggest thing about young people is they have had someone to nurture their talent from day one. It's a luck thing if nothing else. If any late starters/older aspiring pianists want to compete with them, they have to work their asses off to catch up and have the time and the money to put into doing so. Another thing with young people is that they listen when you try to teach them something and if they have the musical intelligence, they will patiently get on with what they are told to do to refine their playing. With adults, they tend to question everything and want to get there quicker and are quicker to blame their teachers for their shortcomings.

This ended up longer than I expected, but that's the essence of my view.
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p2u_
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« Reply #33 on: June 09, 2012, 12:23:10 PM »

What do you think ? Is it too late ?
No, it's not too late if you are ready to deliver and meet the right people at the right time, or if you are able to attract their attention through resources like, for example, YouTube.

Paul
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