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Author Topic: Are you happy being an amateur?  (Read 2431 times)
countrymath
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« on: May 20, 2011, 01:31:19 AM »

I'm studing music a lot, because I want to be a professional (on pop music, btw). But, on my country, its too much difficult to be a professional, due the high prices of instruments, books, lessons, etc. Also, its very difficult to get good music education here.

Music is pretty much the only thing I like. I also like games, but music comes first.

I mean...I think i'll probably never be a professional (altough I'll probably never stop studing).

But I keep thinking about other people...if they don't mind that they can't do the thing they like most as their job.

Sorry, my english is worst them usual today.
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brogers70
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2011, 03:30:13 AM »

Countrymath,

What's your native language?

Anyway, it's wonderful if you are lucky enough to get paid to do what you like most. If you can do that, you are in a tiny minority of people in the world. Most people have to do what they can get paid for and hope they like it or at least don't hate it. It's perfectly possible to be happy with an uninspiring job and an inspiring hobby.

Music is great; being an amateur musician is great, too. Don't feel defeated if you cannot make it a career.

Best wishes,

Bill
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Mayla
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2011, 04:19:08 AM »

.
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perfect_pitch
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2011, 06:40:21 AM »

Honestly??/ No - I wouldn't be happy being an amateur. I look at the brilliant pieces that exist in the classical music world and I want to play every single one of them. I find the thrill of performing in front of hundreds of people exciting, exhilarating and just natural... and I want to continually become better and better and better.

I want to achieve a level of greatness in piano playing - not because of money, or fame - but just simply because I wish to be so good at something that I dedicate whatever it takes to becoming it.

When I was about to enter University - there were rumours of having to study a second instrument. I always wanted to learn the violin - but then realised I'd rather be excellent at one instrument - than mediocre at two.

Maybe I'm being melodramatic, but that's how I feel.
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nanabush
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« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2011, 06:46:46 AM »

Don't look at it as amateur/professional.  Obviously there are different calibre musicians, but there are still some amateurs out there who can probably out-improvise a professional, or who have perfect pitch while a professional doesn't.  Some people just don't get opportunities that some others get; just play your music, enjoy it, get what you want out of it.  Try not getting too focused on 'professional' being a social status in music.  There are still amateurs who can perform in front of hundreds of people, and from the amount of variance in music today, professional can be completely different than dressing in black playing in a concert hall.  Think outside the box - if you are into pop music, stick with it!


...that being said  Tongue  I teach music in a pretty small school in an outskirt of Ottawa (started as a part time job, I ended up loving it) and I'm still studying at university.  I'm not really a professional (even though I could say music is my profession) but it's not completely a hobby either.  For me, I find I get new opportunities each year shaping what I'll be doing in the future.  It's very hard to have your mind set on something year after year without being influenced at all (good influences/opportunities come more than people think, regardless of how small they may seem!).  One of my students' older brothers plays violin, and needed an accompanist for a competition... I decided to try it out; if I hadn't done that, maybe I wouldn't get such an 'in the face' chance at accompanying for something important to someone.  I'm happy I took that on, and maybe now I will do more accompanying in the future.. who knows!
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thalbergmad
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2011, 07:31:15 AM »

I love being an amateur and would never want to be anything else but.

I play what I want, when I want and how I want and if anyone don't like it, they can go an die slowly.

Thal
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2011, 07:48:39 AM »

It depends on what you do to earn money and whether it's fulfilling: for me what's important is having a fulfilling career at something. Until recently I've been an amateur musician (albeit music graduate) and my career has been arts admin. But recently I realised that I didn't study music in order to work in arts admin, and I really want to be a pianist so I'm studying again. I think I'd be happy as an amateur pianist if I had a career outside music I really loved, but arts admin was never that, it was something I ended up doing because I had a music degree.
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ted
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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2011, 07:59:21 AM »

Too complicated for me to fully put into words.  But, am I/would I be happy or satisfied or fulfilled spending this much time, thought, energy, (money), so that my music never leaves my living room and/or I forever just watch and listen to others do what I want to do?  No.  H** No.

I am supremely happy that my music never leaves my living room. Most people don't like my music and nobody else is doing what I would want to do anyway. The last piano recital I attended was in 1967. All I have ever wanted to do is create music precisely as I please, which act I do in happy  profusion almost every day of the week. My teacher, when I was young, and very many other people, wanted me to be a professional but I could see that course would have had me spending all day and night playing music which neither concerns nor interests me (classical and jazz).

Fortunately, the computer revolution gave me a pretty good living, and enabled me to do all the usual things people do, such as having a decent home and family, and it gave me more free time and considerably less pressure than many occupations would have. At twenty, I was fairly mature and objective, and thought I knew exactly what would make me happy. Time has proved me correct.

I hasten to add, however, that while I embrace the state of "amateur", I do not consider myself in the least "amateurish" because there is little of the dilettante about me. There is a subtle difference in the words. I hazard a guess that I would have spent more time listening, playing, (especially improvising), composing, and generally thinking about music than a very large proportion of professionals have.

Yes, I have always been an exceedingly happy amateur.

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countrymath
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« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2011, 11:26:23 AM »

Countrymath,

What's your native language?

Brazilian Portuguese.


Thanks all for the replies!
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iratior
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2011, 12:19:30 PM »

I consider myself a very dedicated and serious pianist, but every now and then something comes up that convinces me that I really, really knew what I was doing when I majored in math in college and became an actuary.  It's a matter of personality.  By and large, I'm a very independent person -- I'm retired and live alone, which means that I eat when I want, sleep when I want, and most importantly, play the piano when I want and as I want, except not to disturb the neighbors late at night.  The world of professional pianism seems fraught with too many authoritarians.  For example, people who insist that a certain thing must be played with a certain fingering.  I make no apologies for my fingerings, my only regret is not to have witch-like powers to use my mind to move the notes.  Nor do I have any patience with the crowd that insists that Bach and Scarlatti must be played only on the harpsichord.  I feel very alienated from the world of professional musicianship, when I sense the extent to which survival in it seems to depend on being able to navigate through minefields set out by the gatekeepers.
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Mayla
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2011, 07:10:03 PM »

.

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floydcramerfan
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2011, 11:57:28 PM »

Interesting topic.  I'm very happy being an amateur because I've seen some of the junk that goes on in the music business and I don't want all that polluting my love of music.  I've seen professional musicians who have lost their love for music because it's a job to them now, and I don't want to become that way.  College almost ruined my love for playing the piano because I was having to spend so much time playing something I didn't love.  I do share my music with people, but I'm content to keep it as a hobby. 

Hey, Country, I know this might not be appropriate for this board, but can you post some of your country stuff for me?  I would love to hear some of it.  I do have to let you know, though, that country music is not something you really need a lot of books and stuff like that to play.  You mainly need to play by ear and know the number system and maybe find some people to pick with.  If I lived closer, I would love to play with you.  Basically, what you should do is get some CD's or go on Youtube or whatever and try to play along with the music.  Oh, and they play in a lot of sharps.
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Mayla
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2011, 01:06:34 AM »

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floydcramerfan
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2011, 01:08:41 AM »

Are you a professional pianist?  Just curious.  I know you're good because I've heard you play.
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countrymath
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2011, 01:51:08 AM »


Hey, Country, I know this might not be appropriate for this board, but can you post some of your country stuff for me?  I would love to hear some of it.  I do have to let you know, though, that country music is not something you really need a lot of books and stuff like that to play.  You mainly need to play by ear and know the number system and maybe find some people to pick with.  If I lived closer, I would love to play with you.  Basically, what you should do is get some CD's or go on Youtube or whatever and try to play along with the music.  Oh, and they play in a lot of sharps.

Actualy, I can't play solo country piano yet Sad. I was playing in a country band, and now i'm playing on a Blues band. But I would love to improvise coutry songs...
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floydcramerfan
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« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2011, 02:11:18 AM »

You should google Floyd Cramer.  I'd like to hear some of your popular playing.  Just don't use a score, for country anyway.  Of course use it for classical, but if you try to play country music based on a score, it's going to sound yucky.
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Mayla
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« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2011, 05:15:53 AM »

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« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2011, 02:02:12 PM »

I love being an amateur and would never want to be anything else but.

I play what I want, when I want and how I want and if anyone don't like it, they can go an die slowly.

Thal

I agree with you. Music is a hobby for me and a time to relax and enjoy.
John
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Derek
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« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2011, 06:32:48 PM »

Yes...though I will admit I went through several years where I hadn't completely shut the door of switching career paths to music. My piano teacher had the wisdom to dissuade me from doing so, probably from a combination of having seen another computer engineer switch to music, get deeply in debt and then never return to the country =D but probably also combined with the fact that my traditional piano playing was, well, nothing special. I'm sure I could have done alright if I worked at it. But the truth is, I love playing the piano as an amateur. There are many other things in life I enjoy, such as computer programming. As I write this I have a screen up where I'm working on a video game I've been developing these past 3 years. So yes...I'm happy being an amateur, because I like many things. It would be silly not to be happy with it.  I thought at one point I could BOTH become a virtuosic player AND maintain other hobbies and relationships and career, but now I realize this is not possible with the modest amount of talent I have. I'm ok with that because what I do brings me great joy.
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carl_h
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« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2011, 10:19:04 AM »

I love being an amateur and would never want to be anything else but.

I play what I want, when I want and how I want and if anyone don't like it, they can go an die slowly.

Thal

Amen.
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mousekowski
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« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2011, 10:44:16 PM »

If you spend 10,000 hours doing something, then you will become expert at it. It could be anything, stamp collecting, skateboarding or playing the piano.

I'm a middle-aged amateur pianist. I'm serious about my practice. I average about one hour per day, and I don't allow myself to try to learn to many pieces at a time. I have lessons every other week with a good teacher.

I don't think I've clocked up 10,000 hours of piano playing yet. I'm probably about half way.

I am happy being an amateur.

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« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2011, 11:35:10 PM »

I'm with Thal, I like being able to choose what I play when I play it and how I play it, I don't enjoy public performance though, so that is a big factor in my decision, although I do work quite a bit in theatre orchestras/bands and although I do get paid for that I'm still a happy amateur.
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« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2011, 12:15:08 AM »

I personally feel sorry for professional musicians who feel pressurised into learning pretentious contemporary classical trash.
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thalbergmad
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« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2011, 11:15:10 AM »

I personally feel sorry for professional musicians who feel pressurised into learning pretentious contemporary classical trash.

I am with you on this one. Having to learn something that is only going to be enjoyed by bearded intellectuals and acne ridden American students must be horrific.

Thal
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« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2011, 11:19:56 AM »

Having to learn something that is only going to be enjoyed by bearded intellectuals and acne ridden American students must be horrific.
Were such a thing ever to happen - and indeed were it even possible at all - it may well be horrific, although I've never yet encountered an instance of it; that said, who would ever actually "have" to do any such thing in the first place?

Best,

Alistair
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thalbergmad
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« Reply #25 on: June 22, 2011, 11:23:04 AM »

Is it not possible for a pianist to be contracted to play a piece that they would rather use as bog paper??

Thal
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« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2011, 11:58:34 AM »

Is it not possible for a pianist to be contracted to play a piece that they would rather use as bog paper??

Thal

Perfectly possible, but why bother hiring someone to play repertoire they don't like? There are plenty of players, both amateur and professional, who enjoy playing contemporary music, and plenty of audience members willing to pay to hear it. They don't all have beards, either, or wear socks with sandals. I don't.
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pianoplayjl
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« Reply #27 on: November 11, 2011, 02:02:56 AM »

I wish I were made of conservatory material. Because then I would be able to learn harder pieces and pieces that I'd want to learn. But then, learning in a conservatory would be hard for me because it is going to be really demanding in any consevatory.

So therefore I am content with being an amateur, but I'd like ot be in the 'upper' end of the amateurs.
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« Reply #28 on: November 11, 2011, 02:41:12 AM »

I absolutely love being an amateur. I would never want anyone telling me what to play or how to play something. I play music to enjoy it, end of story.
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starlady
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« Reply #29 on: November 11, 2011, 10:05:04 AM »


I'm not even an amateur. I'm a student!  Maybe not a beginning student--I am feeling quite ridiculously proud of myself because I have started the WTC--but definitely a student.  Serious question: When do become an an amateur rather than a student? 

--s.
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« Reply #30 on: November 11, 2011, 11:06:15 AM »

I've started the WTC and proud of it too. Learning some Beethoven too. I consider myself an amateur and a student( yes yes I'm a crazy guy). Amateur because in my opinion there are only two types of pianists that exists: amateurs and professionals. I don't fit in the latter so therefor I belong in the former. I consider myself a student because I'm receiving instruction from a fully qualified teacher. So therefore I think you are both.
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« Reply #31 on: November 11, 2011, 08:00:18 PM »

the most i like about beeing an amateur is I can decide when and what i practise. i have no datelines, no money, but lots of fun playing the most gorgous insturment for me.
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opium_64
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« Reply #32 on: November 16, 2011, 12:10:29 PM »

I'm studing music a lot, because I want to be a professional (on pop music, btw). But, on my country, its too much difficult to be a professional, due the high prices of instruments, books, lessons, etc. Also, its very difficult to get good music education here.

Music is pretty much the only thing I like. I also like games, but music comes first.

I mean...I think i'll probably never be a professional (altough I'll probably never stop studing).

But I keep thinking about other people...if they don't mind that they can't do the thing they like most as their job.

Sorry, my english is worst them usual today.
No, because it means I've got to come on here and look at that Super Mario thing at the top of the page.
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« Reply #33 on: November 16, 2011, 12:46:59 PM »

You don't actually have to come on here at all.

Nobody to my knoweldge is forcing you to do this.

Thal
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« Reply #34 on: November 17, 2011, 05:40:56 PM »

I am from Mexico and I am 27 years old. I have been playing piano for 11 years.

I have been studying a Major in Engineering and I have been working for around 1 year.

There are sometimes when I want to study a Major for Piano because I want to improve in my piano technique. Similar to your situation, many things, mostly economical and because of my age, are against this idea.

Also, part of my personality is learning in a slow and steady way, if I do the things I love under pressure, by force and in an environment where lowing self-steem is praised, I stop doing them for a time (at least after finishing the period-term).

I like to be an amateur because I can move to my own pace and play what I like and I want to be a professional so I can improve my piano.

The problem is that we are used to a system where grades, diplomas, certificates, competitions, and the praise and opinion of people "who know" are defining our value.

I know it's difficult to overcome both the system and your defects, but life teaches many things.  BTW, the mangas Piano no Mori and Nodame Cantabile are my inspiration to deal with those issues.

Countrymath, no matter what you decide, as long as God gives you the chance to live, it is still not late to decide and/or change your mind.
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« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2011, 06:34:18 PM »

 Smiley  Interesting thread this one. 

I don't have the choice whether to be an amateur or a pro - I didn't take the piano seriously until I began at 15!  It's already too late then.   This doesn't mean I can't have a professional attitude to learning a piece.  What kind of pianist really enjoys playing a piece badly anyway?
Given that I had the technical and artistic skill  and the right temperament to be a concert pianist, then I would probably jump at it.  I can think of nothing I would rather do. 

At the moment I am without a piano, because the action is in the shop - I was not given a courtesy Bluthner, sadly!  Grin

It is like part of me is missing, despite the fact my poor old piano had become unbearable to play. Being a successful pro also means you can afford to have whatever piano your heart desires. That must be a real joy.
 
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countrymath
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« Reply #36 on: November 20, 2011, 03:54:34 PM »

thanks everyone for all the replies. I think I had cool my mind about this a lot. I'm thinking more slowly now, without anxiety. In fact, I haven't practice this week because the lack of time (working by the morning, driving lessons at night). And i'm not freaking out! I don't want to study something I don't like just to earn more money (with a work that I don't like). Maybe I will try to find another thing that I like, or just work with something that doenst require studies and make some music for fun.
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« Reply #37 on: March 14, 2013, 04:13:57 PM »

Hello countrymath,

There is something I want to tell, excuse me if I use your post for this, buy I think it is not going to help me clear my mind, but also make us reflex in what is really important in a personal way.

This year I am going to take a propadaeutic admission exam in my country. The aim of the propadaeutic is to prepare the possible aspirants for the real admission exam which will be taken in around 3 years.

Yesterday, there was a vocacional presentation about the area, besides the areas for clavichord, organ, accordeon and musical education.  The first three areas didn't have enough aspirants, (maximum 30 I think) and their presentations were quite tranquil and inspiring in order to enter.

Now here comes the main course: Piano and Musical Education.

When the topic for Piano came, many of us (around 1000 aspirants) raised our hands.  The teacher made an elaborate presentation, pointing out that the jury will check many points (memorizing, notes, pedal, speed, rythym, following exactly the scores, posture, etc) and this year there will only be 27 who can get a place because piano is a very demanding area, both in study and work.

I became anxious, because there are many points which I haven't covered yet, and also because they mentioned that it will not only consist in playing, it will have also to cover many issues: social work, get many jobs, be updated in many topics, etc. Shocked

It was as if they were talking us as if we are going to start to take the major even though this will be in 3 years. (and maybe not all the 27 people who are going to be chosen will make it)

In other words, the teacher said many things that can discourage so you won't take the area if you are not going to take it "seriously" in the future.

The presentation of musical education was moreless the same, but it was more relaxed than
piano.

Now when I think of it, I started to think why I decided to enter to the exam: I decided to enter because I want to use is as something to encourage me to go on and improve in my musical abilities.  Unfortunately I got accostumed since school to be evaluated with exams, numbers and letters and I am usually looking for approval of those whom I think they will know.

My aim of doing the exam is to know where should I improve. 

Thinking that I must be perfect makes me anxious, impatient, depressive and makes me make more mistakes, so I think that I cannot become a professional (or maybe I can but in another school).

The issues arrive when I start to think seriously in the things and I forget that the most important thing is to improve, accept all the critics like water off a duck's back and don't forget to have fun.
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« Reply #38 on: March 15, 2013, 09:10:58 AM »

Sorry, my english is worst them usual today.

Haha! I love that line! Thanks for the laugh.

I would kill to be playing at a professional skill-level but not performing in front of people and getting paid for it. As someone above said - who likes to play something terribly anyway?

I'd love to be able to just play any Beethoven Sonata or virtuosic Liszt pieces... but I can't.

I started playing the piano when I was 10 and for about 5 years and got to grade 9 with the RCM in Canada, took a looooooooong break, and now wanting to take up piano again. For one thing, I started too late. Secondly, my looooooooong break just set me back a few grades.

There are plenty of pieces I can play that's within my ability and that gives me total satisfaction, but I just wish............
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birba
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« Reply #39 on: March 15, 2013, 10:14:55 AM »

It took time, but, finally, YES!
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bronnestam
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« Reply #40 on: March 16, 2013, 04:32:49 PM »

Yes, I am happy being an amateur.


To make it short: I have been educating myself enough. I have had my professional careers, several of them. I don't want to educate myself to a professional pianist and start all over again as a professional musician. I am a civil engineer and a novelist, a technical writer and a translator; that is enough for me.

I want to play because I love to play, and I also love to play because I can play whatever I want, whenever I want. This is how I relax and entertain myself.
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hfmadopter
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« Reply #41 on: March 16, 2013, 09:31:52 PM »

I'm a firm believer that if something big in your life is meant to be then with a lot of work somehow it seems to all fall in place. If it's not meant to be it doesn't matter how much work you put into it, it probably isn't going to happen. However it starts with the right attitude. It takes years, even decades to find out the rest !

That said, I'm not going to be a professional pianist, I knew that years ago. I just play the best I can and can please a small gathering of friends and relatives and of course myself. Good enough. While not a professional certainly, I have played out a long time ago and I know that while it is thrilling it also is very taxing. If I were good enough to play professionally the stress of that carrer may have killed me by now ( I'm 63).
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Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.
wnlqxod
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« Reply #42 on: March 17, 2013, 05:16:32 AM »

HELL YES.
1. As much as I love music and everything about it, making music is a grueling physical labour.
Thus, if I am a pro, then the ability to sustain my career will be largely based on maintaining my physical facility. As fun as it is, practicing is as physically taxing as it is. There are less physically grueling jobs that are just as fun and pay way more too Wink

2. My more-than-adequate salary can fund my passion, and... things in music can get costly Wink
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countrymath
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« Reply #43 on: June 18, 2016, 05:26:01 PM »

Sorry for the bump, but I felt the need to answer this :p

So, after 5 years, I discovered that I'm way happier as an amateur then as a professional. I've been making a living of music for 3 years and I hate it. It's basically what Thal said: I have to play what I dont like, with people I dont like, when I dont like.

Being an amateur rules

 Grin
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  • Mozart-Sonata KV310 - A minor
indianajo
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« Reply #44 on: June 19, 2016, 11:18:22 AM »

Glad to hear the punchline of the story.
Like you, some of the great masters of painting had to paint protraits for a living, and hated it.
When you do your skill for money, it becomes work instead of art.
I have been fortunate enough to do annoying things for a living, like unplugging sump pumps full of potato peels. Finding parts for obsolete equipment from bankrupt manufacturers.   
Which leaves plenty of time for art:  Like playing music. 
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briansaddleback
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« Reply #45 on: June 19, 2016, 04:47:49 PM »

I don't even see it that way. Anyone who asks questions like these has not experienced a plethora of  maturity in life yet. I am happy to share whatever music I listen to and enjoy. Or music I learn and perform.  I enjoy the final destination of California as much as the process and journey there.
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