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Great Expectations!!! (Read 3164 times)

Offline kaveh

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Great Expectations!!!
« on: July 31, 2005, 12:10:05 PM »
Hi all,

Found this forum yesterday and have been practically glued to the screen soaking up the incredible wealth of information.  It's truly been an eye opener. :D

By way of introduction, I'm a 26 year old, played the piano obsessively (and blissfully misdirectedly ;)) for a couple of years in my teens, got to about grade 7 standard, then exams, university etc. intervened and the piano was the first victim to fall by the wayside.

Got my own flat a few months ago, and in May, became reacquainted with my Yamaha clavinova.  My passion was instantly rekindled.  Busy work schedule, long commutes and competing interests have limited my practice time, but I've been managing a consistent 45-min average per day.

Rather embarrassed to admit (after reading the posts) that I've spent the majority of that time playing the first 2 books of Hanon (religiously!), but I do have to credit the exercises for bringing my fingers back up to speed.  I've also learnt 3 pieces in the meantime:

Turkish March, Mozart
Nocturne op.9-2, Chopin
Valse op. 64-2, Chopin

And currently learning,

Arabesque I, Debussy

Deciding to step things up a gear, I just found a local teacher (Royal College student, working towards Advanced performance diploma), who's younger than me (!!) but seems to know her stuff.

From the glut of vital information (mainly courtesy of Bernhard - profuse thanks!!) I've so far decided to drop Hanon, study Chang, start learning the 2 part inventions and establish a clear plan for the next few years.

Now for the point of this well-meaning ramble...  :)

My two long term aims are:

1) To master Fantasie Impromptu (which still haunts me with every hearing)

2) Win the 2009 Outstanding Amateur Pianist competition (London)

I'm committed to delivering 100% concerted effort and 1-hour practice a day, no matter what.

My two questions are this,

1) When should I introduce Fantasie Impromptu into my 4-year plan and which pieces should I use as stepping stones towards the requisite technical difficulties?

2) How can I best work towards winning this prestigious competition?

Apologies if any of this sounds hackneyed or naive.

All input greatly appreciated.

Thank you!  8)
Kaveh

Offline lufia

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #1 on: July 31, 2005, 01:53:26 PM »
Thats the spirit !!!
to win the com u need to first master the technique in ur piece THEN play with passion.
musicality

Offline jeremyjchilds

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #2 on: July 31, 2005, 04:55:00 PM »

My two long term aims are:

1) To master Fantasie Impromptu (which still haunts me with every hearing)

2) Win the 2009 Outstanding Amateur Pianist competition (London)

I'm committed to delivering 100% concerted effort and 1-hour practice a day, no matter what.

My two questions are this,

1) When should I introduce Fantasie Impromptu into my 4-year plan and which pieces should I use as stepping stones towards the requisite technical difficulties?

2) How can I best work towards winning this prestigious competition?

Apologies if any of this sounds hackneyed or naive.

All input greatly appreciated.

Thank you!  8)
Kaveh

Well, the good news is that you are playing on your own for your own reasons, so you will be more apt to putting a concentrated effort into your practicing. Also, you have a fairly good base from before, and you will be suprised at how fast you can get back to where you were.

I am not saying that it cannot be done, but winning a competition in 4 years will take a lifestyle change to accomplish. Remember that there are pianists who have studied for 20 years and are practicing for 4-5 hours each day for this competition. Having said this, if you are not scared off yet, I have seen people do what you want to accomplish. Playing the fant-imp will be a much easier goal than winning a competition...

Here's what I would do in your position...

1) either quit your job, get less hours, or move closer to your work.
         -you are going to work your way up from one hour to about 3-6 each day 6 days a week.

2) Either buy, rent,  or arrange to practice on an acoustic piano (a church, shcool, etc)

3) Make sure your teacher is experienced and knows a lot about proper technique. and position, tension control, practice psychology, weighting the keys, etc.

4) You will need to focus at least half of your time on developing a technique that is confident, smooth, and even. There are a number of mediums to develop this technique-start with your basics, (scales, chords, arpeggios, etc,) then when these are mastered at about MM 130, with good tone... (This will take you reougly 6-9 months if you practice 3 hours each day on tech.) You can also start working on studies suited to appropriate techniques (your teacher will know what will challenge you in the area of your weakness)
       -Do not ignore this stage, even if you spend two years out of your four  only on tech, your ability to play well will depend on choosing and executing  a proper technique(s)  for the song.
       -Within the realm of technique, don't be afraid to spend a lot of initial time working through the ideas of hand positioning, arm-weight, and tension control. (Especially because you will get injured for sure if you ignore them and practice 3-6 hours)

5) Learn to practice as a means to an end, not an end to itself.
Your payoff comes when you play beautifully. If you expect your practicing to be the payoff, then you will indulge yourself in premature fast playing, premature H.T. playing, among many other things. You need to be cold, calm, and collected...we have big goals.

6)Learn to drum (hand drums)
Get a beginner Djimbe book, and learn to drum. This is really the best way to develop a  concept of rythm vs. beat, and make sure that you practice all cross-rythms (2-on-3) ect. (you will need this for the fant imp.)  If you cannot afford a drum, then play on your knees (Remember to move only your wrists, not your arm when drumming)

7) Most importantly, do not fear your weaknesses, Don't avoid the "dirty dishes" in the sink, get on that F# dom-7 arpeggio (3rd inversion) and don't just practice it, make a plan for how you will systematically root out this problem.  (I will stop what I am doing every 15 minutes and play my arpeggio 3x) one of a million examples.
         
8) As for stepping stones, learn a bunch of easier songs taht will allow you to master them...Learn what it feels like to play something exactly the way you want. you will become addicted to that feeling. Start with the 2 part inventions, play some haydn sonatas (For now) Grieg Lyric pieces, songs without words...and some 20th centure stuff. (of course, there is a million other choices, so don't listen to me...)

I need to go, so that's all I will say for now,

THere is no reason that you cannot become great as long as your priorities are suitable, and you are not afraid of hard work.

Just remember...Do not chase sucess in your piano practice....it will lead you places that you will hate...

If you chase excellence, then success will chase you!


"He who answers without listening...that is his folly and his shame"    (A very wise person)

Offline kaveh

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #3 on: August 01, 2005, 10:26:28 AM »
Wow, thanks for that very comprehensive reply jeremyjchilds.  :)

Now, I agree that it would be extremely ambitious to enter a regular piano competition with a view to winning after just 4 years of serious play.

(And I wish that quitting my job was a practical option  ;))

But - and this is a big but - this is a competition with a difference.

In it's inaugural year, it has been designed for those for whom the piano is a passionate hobby.

Professional pianists are therefore excluded.  Also, anyone who derives their principal income from piano-related activities is also ineligible.

Oh, and the minimum age is 30 (hence 2009  ;))

That's pretty big exclusion criteria in my book!!

So while I don't expect to be the next big thing, I'd like to think that this is a realistic albeit very challenging goal.

Finals this year are in November.

I'll be sitting in the front row!!  8)

(P.S. While I realise that an hour a day probably doesn't qualify as what many would consider serious play, I mean to say that every minute of every practice session will be pre-planned and accounted for.  Well that's the idea anyway... :P)

Offline sharon_f

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #4 on: August 01, 2005, 11:08:33 AM »
I am in no way trying to discourage you from your goal of competing in 2009, but just be aware that the definition of amatuer means they do not derive their primary source of income from performing or teaching. Many of the pianists winning these amateur competitions are prfessional world class musicians. They are performing repertoire that includes pieces like Liszt's B minor Sonata, Ravel's Gaspard de Nuit and Rachmaninoff's B-flat minor.

Henri Delbeau, this year's winner of the Bostom Amatuer started playing around 8 years old,  took private lessons and then chamber music lessons and played in chamber and symphony performances. He got a BA in Music at the University of Texas and a Masters in Music at the University of North Texas. Only after this did he turn to medicine and became a doctor. He went back to serious practice in 1999 and has studied with teachers like Jerome Lowenthal and John Perry of University of California.

The 2004 winner of the Van Cliburn amateur, Paul Anthony Romero taught himself to play the piano at the age of three and began formal music lessons at the age of nine. At sixteen he accepted a full scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied composition with Ned Rorem.



There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats.
Albert Schweitzer

Offline kaveh

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #5 on: August 06, 2005, 05:49:43 PM »
Can anyone suggest a progressive repertory building towards Fantasie Impromptu?


Offline pseudopianist

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #6 on: August 06, 2005, 07:39:45 PM »
You are not that far away from it. If you can play Debussys Arabuesidfhsdkpjfd you could give it a try. :)
Whisky and Messiaen

Offline twinkletoesfaery

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #7 on: August 06, 2005, 08:10:21 PM »
You're giving me ideas - am 21 at the moment.  I think a very good teacher is necessary, most definitely.  There is no way one can try to win a competition if you're self-taught.  45 minutes a day is also terribly little time spared for the piano in order to achieve your goal.  Just my opinion. To win anything you have to be quite amazing. 

Offline grazioso

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #8 on: August 06, 2005, 08:17:33 PM »
Yeh unfortunately i agree, such is the standard now that performances and technique have to be pretty much perfect and the London competition will be very tough!

Offline kaveh

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #9 on: November 05, 2005, 10:25:34 PM »
An update and a question-

So I found myself a brilliant teacher (very well known in the forum) just over two months ago, upped my practice time to about 10-12 hours a week and have made very satisfying progress.

We started with simple repertory with which to undo the wealth of bad habits I had accumulated  (some of which are proving more stubborn than others!), but we've recently moved onto the likes of Chopin Etudes, 3-part inventions and Schubert impromptus.

My irreplaceable teacher is leaving shortly so suggested I continue with a particular, very high-profile teacher (teaches masterclasses, hosts international competitions, is on first name terms with Marta Argerich).

I informally auditioned with him last week, pedalling abysmally, playing fistfuls of wrong notes etc, but (to my complete and utter astonishment!!) he has agreed to take me on.

Now, is it standard practice for the piano illuminati to insist on weekly lessons (priced at $140) and a practice schedule of at least 3-4 hours a day?

All comments appreciated.



Offline palika dunno

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #10 on: November 06, 2005, 02:43:30 PM »
check out this topic if you didn't yet:
http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,9318.0.html
(recordings of the winner of the 16th Competition for outstanding Amateurs)

Quote
So I found myself a brilliant teacher (very well known in the forum)
bernhard?  :o  ;D

mh, I would suggest you to buy those 2 books:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0486228673/qid=1131287453/sr=8-4/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i4_xgl14/103-2203468-8155864?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0893417564/qid=1131287853/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-2203468-8155864?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

And I suggest you to practice Alfred Cortots Exercises (Rational Principles Of Pianoforte Technique).

And...read trough the forum  ;D.

Palika  :)

Offline zheer

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #11 on: November 06, 2005, 05:17:07 PM »
Please dont tell me you are paying a spotty R college of music student  $140 for one piano lesson, i thought you were going to say you are having lessons with the guy that tought ASHKANAZY and HOROWITZ haw to play the piano.
Finally if you have problems wit playing Chopins Fant Imp, i doubt very much that you are going to win any competitions in the near future. Chill out man, first of all try buying a piano, electric pianos is not great place to start learning the piano with, sheesh.
" Nothing ends nicely, that's why it ends" - Tom Cruise -

Offline kaveh

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Re: Great Expectations!!!
«Reply #12 on: November 06, 2005, 09:53:50 PM »
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bernhard?   

Maybe.  ;)

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Please dont tell me you are paying a spotty R college of music student  $140 for one piano lesson

Well, they could well have been a spotty music student decades ago, but certainly a bit older these days.  And it's $140 per piano lesson.

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i thought you were going to say you are having lessons with the guy that tought ASHKANAZY and HOROWITZ haw to play the piano.

I don't think he can claim to have taught Horowitz, but won international competitions in his youth and has coached many young pianists towards repeating the feat.

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Finally if you have problems wit playing Chopins Fant Imp, i doubt very much that you are going to win any competitions in the near future.

Decided to leave Fant Imp for a while, but have made good headway with the Revolutionary.  Starting 25-12 soon.

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Chill out man, first of all try buying a piano, electric pianos is not great place to start learning the piano with, sheesh.

Will invest in a concert grand just as soon as I can afford that castle on the hill  ;)