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Topic: Late bird  (Read 7435 times)

Offline willcowskitz

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Late bird
on: May 22, 2002, 06:46:20 AM

I used to play piano around the ages of from 7 to 10 or so.  I got fed up with the technique teaching and how I was kind of pressured from inside the family, so I quit playing.  
Now I've just turned 19 and fell in love with Rachmaninoff's music.  It struck me lightning-like and I feel the greatest urge to play his works, but uhh wait, I don't think I'm good enough.  I'm reading a book about Horowitz and something hit my eye there - it says in there that the fatal years for piano playing technique advance and forming are from 12 to 16 years old.  
This was a punch in the face.
I've been practicing a little bit of Rachmaninoff, but, well, is it really so that I have missed something very important?

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Offline Mandy

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Re: Late bird
Reply #1 on: May 22, 2002, 03:50:33 PM
I don't think it's too late at all-I started learning the piano from scratch when I was 13-now I'm 21 and have a music degree in piano performance.   You will need to get your technique up and it will probably take you a bit longer to learn the piece, but there's absolutely no reason why you wouldn't be able to play it.  You might want to get yourself a teacher again-just to make sure that everything is working correctly-Rach's stuff is quite difficult(he had huge hands) and you wouldn't want to do any dammage.  If you don't want to spend all day playing scales, look for a teacher who wont beat you over the head with them-there are many ways of learning technique-i prefer to find it the repertoire.  There is no shortage of technique lessons in rachs music.  You might want to look at some of the easier sonatinas by clementi, kuhlau...and bach inventions as well.

Good luck and have fun-I think it's great that you want to play again-let us know how it goes!

Mandy

Offline Diabolos

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Re: Late bird
Reply #2 on: May 26, 2002, 01:25:09 PM
Hi there.

Well, I think Mandy's right: You might leanr faster as a teenager or kid, but that shouldn't stop you. Yeah, it might take you a little longer to learn the technique, but why should you care? If you have fun doing this that's all what matters and what's required.

And yeah, you should start with a few easier pieces - I had the same experience with Chopin when I was younger; I always wanted to play his Polonaises and Walzes, but wasn't good enough to play them as they are supposed to be performed (ok, I was 11 years old, but however). I reached my goal, it took some time, but that doesn't matter to me - you'll play that Rachmaninoff, and you'll have lots of fun with it; but don't jump into icecold water, you know what I mean?

Good luck, and - as Mandy said - tell us about ur progress, it'll be interesting.  8)

Offline Nana_Ama

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Re: Late bird
Reply #3 on: July 31, 2004, 05:21:37 AM
If you could find two other people to play with you I suggest that you play Romance for One Piano 6 hands by Rachmaninov.  It's a nice piece and you should be able to do it.
I scare people; people scare me; it's a mutual thing!!!

Offline jeff

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Re: Late bird
Reply #4 on: July 31, 2004, 04:02:44 PM
i definately don't think it's too late for you to develop a good technique.

here are some tips for developing technique:


focus on quality, rather than quantity (techniquely and musically). even if you master the technique of only a small section of a piece, there will be things you have learned which can be applied to the rest of the piece and everything else you play.

enjoy working on the quality of your movements, and be patient while doing so - be careful not to get caught up in thoughts like 'waaah, why can't i play this yet?? i want to be able to do this now!! it's too hard!!!!!~~!!'.

work towards the goal of how you think your movements should be/feel/look when playing correctly - and keep a mental image of this goal in your mind. feed the mental image with information you recieve from having contact with the piano

if/when you watch videos of pianists playing, or go to concerts, watch how they move to get some ideas

The 3 most important criteria in developing physical technique are: comfort, effectiveness, and efficiency. the more you increase the comfort, effectiveness and efficiency of your movements, the more you increase your "technique".

Offline Hmoll

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Re: Late bird
Reply #5 on: July 31, 2004, 04:14:56 PM
Was Horowitz, or the author of the book some sort of expert in childhood development and learning? Was Horowitz even known as a teacher? Did he even teach anyone in the 12-16 year old range?

The answers to those questions will tell you how much you should pay attention to what you read in that book.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline bernhard

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Re: Late bird
Reply #6 on: July 31, 2004, 10:23:36 PM
There is no proper evidence to suggest that age matters. As far as I am concerned it is a superstition, and you will find the same kind of support for it (from superstitious people) that you have for Friday the 13 being a bad luck day (or a good luck day if that happens to be your superstition).

I have had plenty of adult students who I was able to bring up to the level of playing advanced repertory.

Are you still alive? Then there is hope.

Children learn with difficulty, the same as adults. However the difficulties are often of a different nature. Anyone who has had experience teaching both children and adults and who was open and alert to learn something (there are plenty of people in this world who have experience but seem to learn nothing from it) will have observed some of the below (by no means an exhaustive list):

1.      Children have very short attention spans. Adults also have short attention spans but firmly believe the opposite.

2.      Children learn mostly by imitation. Adults require intellectual understanding and lengthy explanations to be convinced that they should do something. Both will resist the work that needs to be done. Both must be encouraged and cajoled constantly. Children will usually obey you though. Adults resent having to obey. This is a major stumbling block for adults. However obedience without understanding usually results in undesirable results, which explains why children take ten years to play anything of moderate difficulty. This is a major stumbling block for children.

3.      Children have no preconceived ideas, so they just go along with whatever course they are doing, mostly unaware of what is going on. As a result, if the teacher is good and is regularly checking on the child, they eventually end up well educated. Adults believe they do not need such close supervision, but they often had far too many preconceived ideas about what is going on – and usually such preconceived ideas are completely wrong – so instead of spending their time by following the teacher’s instructions, they follow their own preconceived notions.

4.      For a child everything is equally difficult (or equally easy). For an adult, certain things are easy and they are familiar and comfortable with. Others are impossible. Both children and adults do not realise that the difference between easy and impossible is practice. So adults (and children who have reached a certain facility) resist tackling something that is unfamiliar/impossible. This is another major stumbling block, but adults are more prone to it than children.

5.      Adults believe that (because they are usually already successful in other areas of life) that they should be able to learn anything with facility. They are shocked when they discover this is not the case. Suddenly successful professional people experience the utter clumsiness of the total beginner. And it may take a sizeable amount of time (a couple of years as opposed to a couple of weeks) before they gain any semblance of control and confidence in their piano playing. Many never reach this point: After a month they may give up and  say “I have no talent”. Alternatively they may look for comfort on half-baked pedagogical superstitions like the one you mentioned: “I should have started a t 12, now I missed the window”.

6.      Both children and adults lack consistency, perseverance and endurance. However with children you expect that. So you will cajole and make them practise. Adults on the other hand resent cajoling or even the suggestion that they may be just like children in this respect. Adults will assure you that they have practised according to your directions, when in fact, they have not practised and when they did, they did according to their own ideas ignoring completely your instructions. Most do them unaware that they are doing it. Sometimes they will do it even with me at their side. I remember this guy who was having no progress for weeks on a four bar passage. I asked him to show me how he was practising it. He proceeded to play the four bars (full of hesitations and mistakes) several times – each time worse. I told him: “let us play just the first six notes of the first bar, right hand only”. He nodded and proceeded to repeat the full 4 bars hands together. I said “What exactly are you doing?” he replied “What you told me…” I said. Listen carefully. And gave him the same instruction again. He again repeated the first 4 bars hands together. We went through the same surrealist dialogue again, but this time when he started with  hands together, I actually grabbed his left hand and did not let him play with hands together. He was actually fighting me to bring the left hand on. I said “what is your problem?” he said (now laughing because he realised how unconscious was his behaviour) “I don’t know”. Eventually I got him to repeat the six notes, but I had to watch him like a hawk. Imagine what he would get away with when practising on his own.

This list can go on and on. The bottom line is this: Anyone with no physical or mental impairment can master piano technique in 1 – 3 years, no matter what age they start (acquisition of repertory is another matter altogether), provided that they have a teacher that know what s/he is doing and that they follow instructions.

The most important asset in learning anything at any age is attitude.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Late bird
Reply #7 on: July 31, 2004, 11:16:05 PM
This thread was started over two years ago! It laid dormant for the same amount of time. It's hilarous how old threads sometimes are pulled back up from the dark abyss.  8) 8)

Offline willcowskitz

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Re: Late bird
Reply #8 on: August 01, 2004, 01:14:12 PM
Hahah, wow! Been a while. Thanks for the replies people. ;)

That was a funny story Bernhard, I've also discovered learning to be pretty much attitude myself. Before all, learning is curiousity (the reason why school sucks, as you implied with people who learn "with obedience" for ten years without accomplishing much). If I am really interested in something, learning it comes effortlessly - on the other hand if I'm not, I have hard time even concentrating on it for several seconds. Adults often have difficulty learning in general because they somehow think they're complete and have suppressed their natural ways to learn and try to rationalize everything in words instead of understanding the subject in it's purest forms.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Late bird
Reply #9 on: August 02, 2004, 02:54:24 AM
Quote
Hahah, wow! Been a while. Thanks for the replies people. ;)

That was a funny story Bernhard, I've also discovered learning to be pretty much attitude myself. Before all, learning is curiousity (the reason why school sucks, as you implied with people who learn "with obedience" for ten years without accomplishing much). If I am really interested in something, learning it comes effortlessly - on the other hand if I'm not, I have hard time even concentrating on it for several seconds. Adults often have difficulty learning in general because they somehow think they're complete and have suppressed their natural ways to learn and try to rationalize everything in words instead of understanding the subject in it's purest forms.


This is very true: Interest is the key to everything.

Yet most people do not realise that interest is not externally generated. One can actually get interested at will, if one puts enough effort into it.

Interest actually is far more powerful then motivation. If you are interested you do not need to be motivated.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline Bob

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Re: Late bird
Reply #10 on: August 02, 2004, 04:52:03 AM
How do you creat interest?

Can you just decide to do something and make it interesting?


As far as adults are concerned, a few drawbacks I've seen (not meaning to be pessimistic here)
- Adults have a lot going on in their lives.  not much free time or energy to spend on praciticing.  Which means they probably want to enjoy what they're doing and not make practicing work.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline rlefebvr

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Re: Late bird
Reply #11 on: August 02, 2004, 06:51:31 AM
Quote


This is very true: Interest is the key to everything.

Yet most people do not realise that interest is not externally generated. One can actually get interested at will, if one puts enough effort into it.

Interest actually is far more powerful then motivation. If you are interested you do not need to be motivated.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.


That is why motivation speeches are a complete useless waste of time. Motivation will only last a very very short time.

I started playing piano at 38, so it is possible. Hardest part is time, cause this is not our life. We already have a life and finding even a half hour a day can be hard at times. It takes  a huge love for the instrument to keep going. The hardest part is accepting that you suck and it will take time for you to learn. As an adult, as stated above, this is a very hard lesson to swallow.

I still hyperventilate when I play in front of people. I can actually practice something to perfection and the play it in front of my teacher and make a complete mess of it, because I feel the pressure to play it perfectly and fail. A child does not care if he or she makes a mistake and so feel no pressure to perform to any imagined standard.


Ron Lefebvre

 Ron Lefebvre © Copyright. Any reproduction of all or part of this post is sheer stupidity.

Offline peter_g_moll

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Re: Late bird
Reply #12 on: August 02, 2004, 03:12:39 PM
I have read this thread with great interest as I am also an adult beginner.  I suspect that Bernhard is right in asserting that it is possible for a person at *any* age to acquire advanced piano technique.   I recall, also, that he posted a report about one of his students, a woman over 60, who acquired a considerable repertoire, including Mozart's "Vous dirais-je Maman" variations, within just one year.  He has now added that he has brought several adult students to the level of the advanced repertory.  

This is very encouraging.  Now I wonder if we could have a little more detail: how long did these adult students take, and what were the key items in the advanced repertory that they learned to play?  I ask this because this would serve as a long-term aim for those of us who are adult beginners.

Thanks, Willkowskitz, for starting the thread, and thanks again, Bernhard, for your sage advice.

Regards,

Peter Moll
Peter Moll

Offline liezly

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Re: Late bird
Reply #13 on: August 02, 2004, 03:26:10 PM
Hi!  I don't think it's too late for you to learn.  Besides, you are still young.  I remember, I had a student who started to take lessons from me at the age of 68.  Well, she wanted to learn piano for fun, just to give herself busy.  But for your age, I think you have the potential to have a lot of future opportunities in piano playing.

Just remember this:  "Nothing is impossible if you have a strong determination."
:)

Offline sharon_f

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Re: Late bird
Reply #14 on: August 03, 2004, 01:29:47 AM
Im a late bird myself. I studied from the time I was 13 to almost 18 and then stopped playing for longer than I care to think about. (Almost 35 years.)

I found an excellent teacher and started lessons again. I work full time and do some freelance work in my spare time. I don't "find" time to practice...I make the time, at least two hours every day and longer on weekends.

In about 3 months I am back to where I was 35 years except I think my technique is even stronger. The one thing I didn't have to do this time was learn to read music.

I have some specific goals, short and long-term that I have discussed with my teacher.  

I don't think you are ever too old to learn. You just need the desire.
There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats.
Albert Schweitzer

Offline bernhard

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Re: Late bird
Reply #15 on: August 03, 2004, 02:34:40 AM
Quote
I have read this thread with great interest as I am also an adult beginner.  I suspect that Bernhard is right in asserting that it is possible for a person at *any* age to acquire advanced piano technique.   I recall, also, that he posted a report about one of his students, a woman over 60, who acquired a considerable repertoire, including Mozart's "Vous dirais-je Maman" variations, within just one year.  He has now added that he has brought several adult students to the level of the advanced repertory.  

This is very encouraging.  Now I wonder if we could have a little more detail: how long did these adult students take, and what were the key items in the advanced repertory that they learned to play?  I ask this because this would serve as a long-term aim for those of us who are adult beginners.

Thanks, Willkowskitz, for starting the thread, and thanks again, Bernhard, for your sage advice.

Regards,

Peter Moll


How long?

It depends ultimately on the student: How much time and effort s/he is prepared to put into learning to play the piano (or any other subject for that matter). How willing they are to obey instructions (even when they make no sense or fly in the face of common sense). How much “talent” (by that I mean mostly intelligence/memory/co-ordination, since these things can vary quite a lot amongst individuals) they have. In my (limited) experience I hav ebeen very successful in gbringin students of all ages from no musical knowledge to playing grade 8 pieces (e.g. most Scarlatti sonatas, most Chopin’s waltzes and Nocturnes, most Mendelssonh’s songs without words) in 1 – 3 years.

Key items?

To me the most important subjects to impart to students are sight-reading, scales/chords/intervals and how they are put together and how to practise. Once the student has mastered these three subjects (which incidentally should not take more than six months to master) and can apply them to repertory, the sky is the limit. I also attribute my success in large part (99%) to the fact that my students have daily lessons. Is that what you are asking?

Also have a look at this thread where Chris repertory has asked a very interesting question.

https://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=teac;action=display;num=1091479311


Best wishes,
Bernhard.

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline MasterTuner

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Re: Late bird
Reply #16 on: August 03, 2004, 06:06:55 AM
 Thank you very much for your wise and profound words Bernhard.  I had almost succumbed to the idea that the window is closed after a certain age.  Many of my Korean counterparts believe that the hand has already beem "formed" by the late teens and that it is hopeless after that.  I believe the idea of the late bloomer never blossoming comes from the elitist and egotistical nature of classical (and in particular piano) music.  

 Classical is a very rigid genre full of traiditions.  According to tradition, geniuses are the best.  Geniuses were child prodigies who displayed extraordinary ability i.e Mozart.  These days, conservatories manufacture virtuosos and the supply of concert level pianists keeps growing and growing.  According to the law of supply and demand, the supply side far outweighs the demand side, thus we have what is called a surplus.

 There are and will always be people out there who can match and possible exceed the levels of our most well know artists.  Some of them have even started very "late" in life.  You never hear the many inspiring stories about those who have started late because 1. They are not famous 2. Once they have acquired the requisite technique, they are now at par with those who started "on time".

Offline bernhard

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Re: Late bird
Reply #17 on: August 03, 2004, 01:59:08 PM
I very much agree with mastertuner.

Here is some more discussion on the importance of age:

https://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=stud;action=display;num=1079968821;start=5

And here is some interesting discussion on how long it will all take:

https://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=stud;action=display;num=1080166013;start=6

Best wishes
Bernhard
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline peter_g_moll

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Re: Late bird
Reply #18 on: August 03, 2004, 06:13:14 PM
Quote


How long?

It depends ultimately on the student: How much time and effort s/he is prepared to put into learning to play the piano (or any other subject for that matter). How willing they are to obey instructions (even when they make no sense or fly in the face of common sense). How much “talent” (by that I mean mostly intelligence/memory/co-ordination, since these things can vary quite a lot amongst individuals) they have. In my (limited) experience I hav ebeen very successful in gbringin students of all ages from no musical knowledge to playing grade 8 pieces (e.g. most Scarlatti sonatas, most Chopin’s waltzes and Nocturnes, most Mendelssonh’s songs without words) in 1 – 3 years.

Key items?

To me the most important subjects to impart to students are sight-reading, scales/chords/intervals and how they are put together and how to practise. Once the student has mastered these three subjects (which incidentally should not take more than six months to master) and can apply them to repertory, the sky is the limit. I also attribute my success in large part (99%) to the fact that my students have daily lessons. Is that what you are asking?

Also have a look at this thread where Chris repertory has asked a very interesting question.

https://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=teac;action=display;num=1091479311


Best wishes,
Bernhard.



Thanks, Bernhard, for these further indications.  I would also like to know something about what it takes to master some of the more advanced repertory, going well beyond the Grade 8 level.  Have you have adult beginners who have played the last 5 Beethoven sonatas, Brahms' Handel variations, Liszt's Transcendental Etudes, Bach's Italian Concerto, Chopin's Etudes, or works of a similar level of difficulty?  Or to put it in another way, what is the highest point you, or other instructor like you, have had an adult beginner reach after, say, 5 or 10 years' consistent work?

Many thanks in anticipation.

Peter Moll
Peter Moll

Offline jbmajor

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Re: Late bird
Reply #19 on: August 04, 2004, 03:47:56 AM
The only advantage one has when learning at an early age(<10 yrs old) is the time they spend growing up with it; it becomes embedded in their conscience, and a part of them no different than walking down the street.  

However, this in no way means that you can't learn technique now at your age.  In fact, I think that there is an advantage you have in learning later, since your cognitive skills are exponentially greater than they were when you were a kid.  You can learn much faster because you are more aware of what you are trying to accomplish and have a greater understanding of your skills and how to apply what you are learning.  

For instance, this is off topic but the idea remains the same:

When most kids learn how to ice skate, what do they do?  They fall over and over and over and over again.  
However, I ice skated for the first time when I was 24.  I was judicious about it, much more than I would've been if I was a kid; I fell a couple times, mentally understood and tried to correct what I was doing wrong, then after an hour or so I could make it across the rink and stop like someone who could actually pass for a skater.  

Like I said; learning young only means that you had the advantage of time on your side, and embedding that knowledge into your mind while developing you mind.  
Second nature if you will.

However, there is no reason that you can't learn to play now at your age.  
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