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When to give up piano once and for all? (Read 19091 times)

Offline danhuyle

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When to give up piano once and for all?
« on: September 30, 2011, 04:54:27 AM »
I know there's a lot of topics about giving up. I have read it. One is about teachers giving up on unresponsive students and another one about giving up because you can't play your favorite pieces.

I finished my music degree back in 2007. From 2008 -2011 I took a break from piano since I had a lot of pieces that were hard to fix. Not only that, there was no reason to play it.

Obviously anyone who has studied music knows that you can't learn all the pieces you want while you're studying for an undergraduate degree in music. You get given a choice of pieces and once you pick it, you have to play it for 8 months until your end of year exam. That's the way music schools are run. 

Now I can learn any piece I want (at least learning and memorizing). Memorizing pieces isn't a problem for me. Like any piece you memorize, you have to work on phrasing, nuances and all that other stuff regardless of the difficulty. I just can't interpret music. I do the wrong things. If did something right then I'd at least make it through round 1 of a piano competition.

Why do I want to give up? I can't interpret music. Can't make it through round 1 of a competition, let alone the audition. I make excessive mistakes. Last of all, my playing is at least 3 minutes slower than a recording.

I was never taught how to play fast without losing clarity. Something like Richter playing Chopin Etude Op10 4&12 or Boris Berezovsky playing the complete Liszt Transcendental Etudes (super fast)

I've tried everything. I just suck. Plain and simple. 
Perfection itself is imperfection.

Currently practicing
Albeniz Triana
Scriabin Fantaisie Op28
Scriabin All Etudes Op8

Offline octavius_trillson

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #1 on: September 30, 2011, 09:18:33 PM »

I've tried everything. I just suck. Plain and simple. 


Don't give up

I don't know much about piano competitions or studying music at a conservatory but I think that a positive attitude is imperative when trying to overcome difficulties. You shouldn't be associating these negative emotions with your playing. Playing piano is an amazing, fun and thoroughly rewarding experience, you shouldn't need me to tell you that. I have never for one moment doubted that I will (eventually) be able to play Le Festin d'Esope like Hamelin or a TE like Berezovsky and despite what people might say I am simply unable to doubt myself like this. Now you are probably a far more capable pianist than I am so all the more reason for you to think the same way. Anyway here are some things you may not have tried:

Before you play the piece, listen to it played at speed, while reading through the sheet music, and when you do start to practice, practice to play at THAT speed. Do mostly slow practice but every now and then check if your slow practice motions can be ramped up to the speed you're looking to play at.

Avoid pedaling while practicing so you can focus all your brain power on your hands.

Isolate a climax that you like in the music and play towards it, play as if all the music is just build up to that moment. Study how all of the music relates to that moment, or suggests it and bring out these suggestions in your playing.

Listen to the music being played by a professional and picture yourself at the piano, looking at your hands playing the music you are hearing through the earphones.

Listen for the the faintest subtleties in the music, and imagine how you would change them to change the character of the piece, experiment!

Do most of your practice on a digital piano, as the action is usually softer and it makes it easier to play fast, then once you can play it almost as fast as you desire move to a real piano and build strength.

Compose music.

Push yourself, can you honestly say you've applied 100% effort?

Listen to some new music, find some inspiration, possibly start a piece way above your skill level. Once you've learnt it all the ones you struggle with now will seem like child's play.

Finally don't be such a perfectionist, there is a reckless confidence in the characters of great pianists like Berezovsky, Volodos, Horowitz and from what I read even Liszt himself, without it they wouldn't have dared to aim for the level of pianism that they eventually achieved. They would have simply said...hmm... that's impossible and left it at that.

I hope you will find some of what I've said useful :)


Offline quantum

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #2 on: September 30, 2011, 09:31:47 PM »
With regard to interpretation: I believe it is more a matter of conviction than of right or wrong.  No matter how much you play and how good you become there will always be people you love your interpretations, and those that could care less.  You have to convince your listener of your interpretation, that what you are playing is viable and makes sense in its own right, regardless if the listener agrees with it or not.  The idea is similar to which the success of a dissertation or research paper is measured: the quality and conviction of the argument is more important than the subject matter.  

You need to be decisive in your playing.  Thoughts of non-acceptance or comparatives to your peers should be nowhere in sight.  

If did something right then I'd at least make it through round 1 of a piano competition.  
This is false.  A good musician does not a competition winner make.  

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline go12_3

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #3 on: September 30, 2011, 10:58:17 PM »
To give up on something is giving up on yourself.....just take a break from the piano without the pressures or trying to learn something new, etc.  There are times when I don't want to continue to play piano, but I love it too much to totally quit.  It's not worth it to quit. 
Yesterday was the day that passed,
Today is the day I live and love,Tomorrow is day of hope and promises...

Offline lukebar

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #4 on: September 30, 2011, 11:15:24 PM »
You have to enjoy the process as much as the end product. As musicians, we (most of us, any way) spend much more time practicing than performing, so you had better enjoy the climb as much as those rare views from the summit.

I am a professional musician. My income comes from teaching and serving as a full-time church organist and pianist. The amount of my income I get from playing concerts is negligible. Of course, what this means is I am free to program whatever I like when I schedule a concert. It's very freeing in a way. I don't have to program solely A-level ridiculously difficult pieces. I'm not obligated to present a stylistically and chronologically diverse program if I don't feel like. I play only music that I love.

I can also interpret pieces however I see fit! If you are playing in competitions, you're always considering in the back of your mind what the judges are going to want to hear. It colors your choice of repertoire, interpretation, what you wear even!

Don't get me wrong. It would be great to be a touring pianist, supporting myself solely by concertizing. But if this isn't the case for you, enjoy the freedom that it brings and try to get in touch with what caused to fall in love with music in the first place.
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Offline Mayla

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #5 on: October 01, 2011, 02:03:20 AM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline pianowolfi

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #6 on: October 01, 2011, 03:36:31 AM »
I know there's a lot of topics about giving up. I have read it. One is about teachers giving up on unresponsive students and another one about giving up because you can't play your favorite pieces.

I finished my music degree back in 2007. From 2008 -2011 I took a break from piano since I had a lot of pieces that were hard to fix. Not only that, there was no reason to play it.

Obviously anyone who has studied music knows that you can't learn all the pieces you want while you're studying for an undergraduate degree in music. You get given a choice of pieces and once you pick it, you have to play it for 8 months until your end of year exam. That's the way music schools are run. 

Now I can learn any piece I want (at least learning and memorizing). Memorizing pieces isn't a problem for me. Like any piece you memorize, you have to work on phrasing, nuances and all that other stuff regardless of the difficulty. I just can't interpret music. I do the wrong things. If did something right then I'd at least make it through round 1 of a piano competition.

Why do I want to give up? I can't interpret music. Can't make it through round 1 of a competition, let alone the audition. I make excessive mistakes. Last of all, my playing is at least 3 minutes slower than a recording.

I was never taught how to play fast without losing clarity. Something like Richter playing Chopin Etude Op10 4&12 or Boris Berezovsky playing the complete Liszt Transcendental Etudes (super fast)

I've tried everything. I just suck. Plain and simple. 


I think you're mesmerized with speed and you compare yourself constantly with people who "play faster" and you seem to think that speed and accuracy is all there is to music. But that's not true. You have in all probability come to a point where you realize that you should start to discover what music really is, the emotional quality and how it moves the heart. And so you are gazing into a huge gap. Instead of giving up you could start to make music apart from all competition or speed thoughts. You could start to really care about music. 

Online ted

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #7 on: October 01, 2011, 04:01:01 AM »
I shall add my weight to the clear and emphatic message in the replies from at least three members whose opinions I respect most seriously. It is an unpopular word in many quarters these days but I don't know another suitable term. Music is a thing of the soul. It comes from and is directed to the soul (if you don't like the word substitute "innermost consciousness" or some other less loaded construction). It is not about external facts or even scientific truth, but about the perception of our inner experience, and if we are lucky, about revealing and communicating it to receptive and kindred minds.

Therefore its quality cannot be measured in trivialities such as beating somebody else in a competition, tests of finger dexterity, whether or not one has absolute pitch, how much money we make from it and the like. Being able to multiply huge numbers in one's head has little to do with being a mathematician.

It might be that you really do assess yourself in these terms, unfortunately thousands of artists do these days, in which case inner progress will be difficult. But why not go with Pianowolfi, take the optimistic stance, use your misgivings as a pointer toward a new opportunity, a new way to think about your playing, and through it a revelation of what music is really all about ?
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline jaggens

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #8 on: October 05, 2011, 10:34:21 AM »
Hi,

I am sorry that you feel like this.
I can say that I have struggled a lot and thought about giving up and so on.
But I did not give up and I am extremely happy.

What I suggest - do not give up and keep searching.
Try new things. Change things. This is very common that people talk and talk about changing things and doing something in a different way with a new approach. But at the same time they just repeat same things over and over.

Search, find a new idea and really try it.
Piano playing is a deep art. There are so many secrets and skills and materials. Some things work some do not. Look it from all aspects. Read works by the genius-musicians through all times. You will discover that they do something differently than you, find that out. There are certain things that you can discover that will get you out of the hole.

My suggestion - search, find, discover, try, use intelligence etc. until you find yourself. If you do not give up I am sure you will get there.

GL
Jaak

Offline soitainly

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #9 on: October 06, 2011, 12:52:39 PM »
 If you are in music for the competition, or for how fast you can play, and don't have ideas on interpreting music, then you are in it for the wrong reasons. I am not saying that means giving up music. It means that you need to examine your motivations.

Offline DeusExMachina

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #10 on: October 06, 2011, 10:25:28 PM »
Take this test:

Can you play through, at speed, these books:

Burgmuller's Op. 100

Schumann's Scenes From Childhood

Heller's 30 Progressive Studies ?

Of course there are others, but my point is that you may need to go back and study at the intermediate level for a while. If you struggle with accuracy in the above pieces, then the issue is that somehow you were allowed to move too fast into advanced literature.  The above books focus on style, which is how one learns to interpret. The composers who wrote these books were very smart. Trust them.

You are looking at music as quantitative instead of qualitative. It is not a setback to study at the level you need. It will solve your problems and you will be better than ever. A lot better than you will be if you continue to play pieces that you are unsatisfied with, or if you give up. I would administer this test if you came to me for lessons. It works. What you need is the proper diagnosis of what is holding you back.

If the only thing that excites you is the thought of playing thrilling pieces in concert, then you either have to modify that idea, or go at it at a different way.

My feeling is that you need a new teacher who will not rush you (and you not them!). I would bet money that you were not taught at the intermediate level. You would be surprised how many concert artists have had to go back and relearn everything. You probably need to study at this level, making sure that you master every single piece (!) for at least two years. If you were my student, I would see to it that you were able to have mastery, and one step at a time only.

Today you can find recordings of anything. Learn to love the less flashy pieces. I feel very strongly that this will solve your problem far sooner than if you don't do this.

Try to cheer up, and make a plan that is doable. Don't set yourself up for failure. Enjoy fine music at every level!

Offline danhuyle

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #11 on: October 09, 2011, 12:07:26 AM »
I was doing what's called AMEB (Australian Music Examination Board), and then there are those who do ABRSM. A lot of teachers go through the exam process from Preliminary through to Grade 8, then Associate and Licentiate diplomas. You learn pieces that are prescribed depending on the level you're at.

I have got the Burgmuller Op100. I'm gonna be posting it in audition room in the coming weeks.

Perfection itself is imperfection.

Currently practicing
Albeniz Triana
Scriabin Fantaisie Op28
Scriabin All Etudes Op8

Offline megadodd

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #12 on: October 09, 2011, 12:40:24 PM »
If it gives you joy, don't stop.

If it dosn't, a break and perhaps it will come to you again?
If it's meant to be it is, and if not...
Repertoire.
2011/2012

Brahms op 118
Chopin Preludes op 28
Grieg Holberg Suite
Mendelssohn Piano trio D minor op 49
Rachmaninoff Etude Tabelaux op 33 no 3 & 4 op 39 no 2
Scriabin Preludes op 1

Offline emill

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #13 on: October 09, 2011, 03:02:30 PM »
xxxx......  I just can't interpret music. I do the wrong things. If did something right then I'd at least make it through round 1 of a piano competition.

Why do I want to give up? I can't interpret music. Can't make it through round 1 of a competition, let alone the audition. I make excessive mistakes. Last of all, my playing is at least 3 minutes slower than a recording.

I was never taught how to play fast without losing clarity. Something like Richter playing Chopin Etude Op10 4&12 or Boris Berezovsky playing the complete Liszt Transcendental Etudes (super fast)

I've tried everything. I just suck. Plain and simple.

God!!!  I never could have guessed that you felt that bad about your piano skills.... and from what you have just posted I strongly feel most of it is attitudinal on your part as the others have already clarified. Maybe a few quotes from a popular poem can help me with some points I want to tell you. I sincerely wish you the best.

"If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself........"  and this is so true in piano performance!

"Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time".

"Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself."
 
Do not feel bad about not winning or even making it through level 1 of piano competitions. Of course you know very well there are a myriad of variables one faces. among others, the training and inclinations of the jurors ... your personality - a nervous personality can easily be 50% less efficient or competent when in actual competition vs. performance during practice ..... the quality of the competition .... stage presence and showmanship etc...etc..   It is not just about skills but a lot about one's total personality.  If you freeze or have blank moments during competition because of anxiety, or you feel so bad about losing or feel incompetent when you lose ... then it is clear competitions are not for you .... plain and simple and the more you join the more you get frustrated... just let this go, life is not anchored on it anyway.

emill
member on behalf of my son, Lorenzo

Offline pianowolfi

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #14 on: October 09, 2011, 06:50:18 PM »
Take this test:

Can you play through, at speed, these books:

Burgmuller's Op. 100

Schumann's Scenes From Childhood

Heller's 30 Progressive Studies ?

Of course there are others, but my point is that you may need to go back and study at the intermediate level for a while. If you struggle with accuracy in the above pieces, then the issue is that somehow you were allowed to move too fast into advanced literature.  The above books focus on style, which is how one learns to interpret. The composers who wrote these books were very smart. Trust them.

You are looking at music as quantitative instead of qualitative. It is not a setback to study at the level you need. It will solve your problems and you will be better than ever. A lot better than you will be if you continue to play pieces that you are unsatisfied with, or if you give up. I would administer this test if you came to me for lessons. It works. What you need is the proper diagnosis of what is holding you back.

If the only thing that excites you is the thought of playing thrilling pieces in concert, then you either have to modify that idea, or go at it at a different way.

My feeling is that you need a new teacher who will not rush you (and you not them!). I would bet money that you were not taught at the intermediate level. You would be surprised how many concert artists have had to go back and relearn everything. You probably need to study at this level, making sure that you master every single piece (!) for at least two years. If you were my student, I would see to it that you were able to have mastery, and one step at a time only.

Today you can find recordings of anything. Learn to love the less flashy pieces. I feel very strongly that this will solve your problem far sooner than if you don't do this.

Try to cheer up, and make a plan that is doable. Don't set yourself up for failure. Enjoy fine music at every level!

A very good advice, I think! :) Many experienced pianists use to "go back" from time to time, and refresh everything, of course not in the sense of "starting from scratch" but in the sense of revisiting the very basic building stones of music. If somebody can't see and feel the sublimity and complexity of such a masterwork as "Scenes from Childhood", how can he/she see and feel the sublimity of repertoire that seems much more complex and difficult to play?



Offline pianoplayjl

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #15 on: October 24, 2011, 12:00:04 PM »
Mate, never quit. you have great potential. just believe in yourself. find a teacher. YOu can be a good pianist.
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Offline cjp_piano

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #16 on: October 25, 2011, 04:20:56 AM »
Try something completely different like improvising!

Offline mosis

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #17 on: October 25, 2011, 04:48:37 AM »
i gave up after i wasted a lot of money on some dumb *** teacher that got me nowhere but an injury

.... 5 years later, i'm back, with a vengeance  8)

why don't you just take a break? you'll know in a few months if it's something you'll want to return to (when i realized i was no longer able to play piano, i cried, very hard. i knew that it was a part of me and that it wasn't something that i could just leave behind.)

look within yourself. dig deep enough and you'll find the answers to all your questions.

Offline pianoplayjl

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #18 on: October 25, 2011, 05:13:03 AM »
Try composing too.
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Offline echristensen

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #19 on: November 21, 2013, 12:58:08 AM »
Do you enjoy it? I would start by answering that question.

Offline kevin69

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #20 on: November 21, 2013, 12:13:00 PM »
Reading your post, there were some thoughts about the music that competition judges liked,
and some thoughts about the music that you'd been taught,
but nothing really about the music you love.

What got you into piano originally?

Try to reconnect with that initial excitement.

Stop competing for a while.

Play music you enjoy playing, in a way you enjoy and don't worry about how how difficult it
is or how fast you play it. If its mistakes that are bothering you, go back to much simpler
pieces that you can practically sight-read and concentrate on your enjoyment and
the musicality of what you are doing. Maybe some improvisation would help: take a very simple
strongly melodic tune and add your own touches, a grace note here and there, break the chords or
combine notes into chords, just whatever seems like fun.

And if you can't play with a smile on your face, maybe it is time to walk away for while,
and come back when you hear something you really want to pley.



Offline andrewkoay

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #21 on: November 21, 2013, 03:34:05 PM »
I have been in your position too, when a competition result was blatantly unfair and biased (with the main judge heavily favouring his student who didn't even play well at all objectively speaking). These competitions are sometimes really soul crushing for those who are on the losing end, which is why I dislike them and how they are done (better left for another thread).

After that, I lost interest in piano and focused heavily on my studies and sports. I'm only starting to get back to playing this year when I got a full-time job and rekindled my passion for music. When one is no longer doing music to win competitions, to get approval from others, to show off one's skills, to impress others, music takes on a much deeper dimension. To engage your whole heart and being into playing, to pour out one's soul fully into the music, that is what a true artist is. It doesn't require you to be a commercially successful recording artist (not many can do so anyway). Nothing can stop you from truly enjoying music and experiencing the joy and satisfaction that music can give you right now in the present! 

Perhaps you need to step back a while, do something else that you enjoy, lower your expectations, and start to do what you like instead. We must always strive to better ourselves, to challenge ourselves to climb higher mountains, but do not let this striving stop you from enjoying the process and the journey!

Offline falala

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #22 on: November 22, 2013, 07:18:39 PM »
I'm not sure we're clear about the question here.

Do you mean "giving up piano" as in never playing the piano again? Or do you mean "giving up trying to be a professional concert pianist".

If it's the first question, then it really comes down to what people have said above. If you enjoy playing (whatever professional or amateur context that playing takes place within) then there's no reason to give up, ever.

If OTOH it's the second question, then the responses above are probably a lot of very misleading idealism. The sensible time to give up trying to be a professional concert pianist, is before embarking on such an idiotic quest in the first place.

Of course most of us aren't that sensible, and people will do what they have to do. But if you're sensing now that you just haven't got what it takes to become one of the tiny, MINISCULE proportion of people who have what it takes to make a career as a concert pianist work, then you're really just realising that you're like 99.999999999% of other people. There's no shame or disgrace in that. It's just a question of working out what your realistic options are and moving on with your life.

Is it worth thinking about what employment opportunities are available with the skills you have? Like teaching, most obviously, accompanying, repetiteur work etc. Or even something to do with music but not playing at all?

Or is it an all or nothing thing, and do you prefer the idea of a clean break, if you cant achieve your dream?

Do you have any other skills or qualifications, and are there any other careers that attract you?

Offline chopin2015

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #23 on: November 23, 2013, 04:07:13 AM »
clarity takes years to solidify as a mastered technique. Richter's best years technically and musically (interpretation) were when he was older, 50s and onward. He played many chopin pieces less than without mistakes but with unique technique which affected tempo and so on. I would not quit, at all. you do basic technical work, as do i, but I am not bored. Do you still study theory? Maybe try a little analyzing and composing? But more definitive of one style, rather than scattered about between jazz and classical, although...:) Maybe try to avoid listening to other people's interpretations and compositions, avoid people in general. Try the Cortot method? I will facebook you the pdf, right meow!
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Offline bernadette60614

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #24 on: March 12, 2014, 01:02:40 AM »
I am not a teacher, but do you ever just "sing" the music to yourself.  I mean really feel the mood and expression of the piece through your own singing? 

I think sometimes we can get so obsessed about comparisons and technical aspects that we forget that all music is really song. (Or, at least I see it that way.)

Offline awesom_o

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #25 on: March 12, 2014, 02:17:51 AM »
Take this test:

Can you play through, at speed, these books:

Burgmuller's Op. 100

Schumann's Scenes From Childhood

Heller's 30 Progressive Studies ?

Of course there are others, but my point is that you may need to go back and study at the intermediate level for a while. If you struggle with accuracy in the above pieces, then the issue is that somehow you were allowed to move too fast into advanced literature.  The above books focus on style, which is how one learns to interpret. The composers who wrote these books were very smart. Trust them.

You are looking at music as quantitative instead of qualitative. It is not a setback to study at the level you need. It will solve your problems and you will be better than ever. A lot better than you will be if you continue to play pieces that you are unsatisfied with, or if you give up. I would administer this test if you came to me for lessons. It works. What you need is the proper diagnosis of what is holding you back.

If the only thing that excites you is the thought of playing thrilling pieces in concert, then you either have to modify that idea, or go at it at a different way.

My feeling is that you need a new teacher who will not rush you (and you not them!). I would bet money that you were not taught at the intermediate level. You would be surprised how many concert artists have had to go back and relearn everything. You probably need to study at this level, making sure that you master every single piece (!) for at least two years. If you were my student, I would see to it that you were able to have mastery, and one step at a time only.

Today you can find recordings of anything. Learn to love the less flashy pieces. I feel very strongly that this will solve your problem far sooner than if you don't do this.

Try to cheer up, and make a plan that is doable. Don't set yourself up for failure. Enjoy fine music at every level!

Excellent, sincere, and insightful advice.

Offline brogers70

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #26 on: March 12, 2014, 11:56:41 AM »
Excellent, sincere, and insightful advice.

Yes, I think it is good advice. I've done it, once, though not for two years, and it helped a great deal. Even now I sometimes ask my teacher whether it would not be a good idea to go back to Two Part Inventions and Kuhlau Sonatinas for a long stretch and leave the harder things alone for a while. She thinks it's not necessary, but I may do it anyway, since even dropping way back for a few months was so helpful. And the guy who gave the advice you liked is absolutely correct; music does not have to be technically challenging to be beautiful and rewarding.

Offline indianajo

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #27 on: March 13, 2014, 05:53:38 PM »
I imagine DanHuyle is long gone, but I like to express myself in words as well as music.
The idea of piano as a competition strikes me as so fundamentally silly.  Whether Vladimir Horowitz or Wanda Landowski is better, why measure them? They are different and different art makes life interesting, whiles away the hours with the brain engaged.
The goal of piano study, when Mother started me age 8, was to learn to use my third finger as if it wasn't crippled.  (It wasn't, but after the injury I always helped it with the fourth finger).  I succeeded at this.  Then the art of music kicked in.  I really liked some of the pieces I was playing, and the piano teacher found me more things I liked to play.  Also a few pieces I thought were stupid, but it was a small price to pay learning those to get along. It is not like I will run out of brain cells or something.  
I got taken to some Piano Guild competetions and took home the little gold flash medals, and exhibited at a few APG recitals.  This was kind of fun and gave me a deadline when things had to be ready, but wasn't really important to me.  There was no mention of the Van Cliburn competition, only 200 miles away in Ft Worth, I never even heard of it until my late teens.  
Piano is an art, not a sport.  I play some things as fast as Willy the Lion Smith, but I use more expression on ragtime than he does. He plays louder than me on every note! That's a real man!  I play JSB Two Part inventions better than Linda Hertz-Sommer on BBCnews, but she was 110 years old and had survived a Nazi death camp!  She was the best death camp survivor still playing in 2014, and maybe the only 110 year old still playing.  Go for it, Mein Frau, it was the experience what counts, not who was better or faster.  R. Serkin played Moonlight Sonata Mov 3 way faster than me, I play four note trills where he only played two.  Serkin's Moonlight 3 reminds me of a damburst, mine reminds me of the Runaway Train ride at Disney World.   The most recent teacher's interpretation of Moonlight mov 1, reminds me of a steamboat on Lake Geneva at noon; mine reminds me of some man sculling a little boat across Lake Como like a fish in the dark .  
Some pieces grab me with passion to have that under my fingers.  I spent 29 years off and on practicing Moonlight Mov 2 & 3; I've been fooling with Pictures at an Exhibition  for 32 years. I think I play the latter better than Kieth Emerson, but he got a CD contract, not me.    I heard some Reggie Dwight songs, learned them, and wrote new words to Blue Canoe to sing/play it in church. Everybody forgot it as fast as possible. So what, popularity has never been my goal.  I wrote new words to One Fine Day, and got some 9-11 year olds to sing it in church with me while I played.  Kids are so impressionable, I suppose any adult whose kid was not in the choir would have hated that too!  I wrote new words to Seven Bridges Road , learned to play it on guitar,  handed the words out to some guys in the church choir, and they would never talk about it again to me, even when I asked.  So everybody hates my art! SO WHAT?  Life is not a Facebook page or the Heathers or any of those cliques people join to feel important.  
I'll watch major league baseball now some boring Saturday afternoons, now that HDTV lets you see what they are doing.  I never cared who won or lost, and the whole sport was lost on me live in the Astrodome or on black and white fuzzyvision.   Now with instant replay and HD, you can see what a great move it is to roll and scoop up a ground ball or lean over the concrete wall to catch a foul ball, or make a difficult double play while flying through the air.  The art of movement I can appreciate, not the competitiveness of it.  The rest of the male world can go hang.  Some guys brag about their money or their expensive toys or their style.  I don't need to brag, I just enjoy art. Some of it is mine, some of it is somebody else's, and who cares which is better.  Did you ever see a video of an eagle doing acrobatic arial tricks with a dead rabbit?  Just for the joy of movement, not particularly to see who is the best eagle!  
So if music doesn't do it for you as an art, find an art that does! If you do feel music emotionally, it is an art you can practice with joy until you are age 100 like Pinetop Smith, or 110 like Frau Hertz-Sommer.  

Offline amytsuda

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #28 on: July 05, 2014, 10:06:11 PM »
I just found this discussion, while looking for some answers to the same question. But in my case, I would never give up playing piano, but I am almost giving up on trying to be better. I am an adult hobbyist who played piano as a kid. I picked it up again 3 years ago.

I have all the same issues the person describes - can't interpret music, can't play pieces at the proper speed, lack dynamic ranges, make too many mistakes, make too many ugly sounds, lack of balance, the list goes on. My teacher is utterly frustrated with me. I also had the same problems when I was a kid, I was declared that I have no musical talent and shall not pursue music by my teacher back then (who was a composer and vocalist, not a pianist, so I wanted to believe that was the reason).

I want to believe it's because the pieces my teacher wants me to learn are just over my head. I spoke with other teachers and a friend who is a pianist, but they seem to think I am working on the right repertoires and they also agree I have a long way to go to play these pieces well.

I do know I don't sound good at all. I have an ability to tell the difference between a great pianist and not so great pianist. It's not like I can't hear myself. But I just can't make my body to work to coordinate properly to produce right touch, press pedal at the right level, use my arms, etc. I get exhausted by the end of the piece, if I'd play at the speed I am supposed to play at. I thought over time, I build my muscle, but now I wonder if I'd see any change after 10 years and 15 years.

My teacher teaches those Conservatory students and he is not quite sure why there's such a difference of playing between his other students and me. Why others can start playing beautifully very quickly, and why I keep playing so ugly lessons after lessons. My hands are not big, but I can still grab octaves. I may be practicing a lot less, because I have a job, but I do practice hours every weekend. I try to practice hands apart, no pedal, listen to good recordings, read analysis, all sorts of things he tells me to do.

I am finally starting to admit that there's something about in-born talent / gift - and I just don't have it. I am sure the person who wrote the original post "can" interpret music, if we were to analyze music scores and talk about composer's intentions, etc. But actually playing is a different story.

I will never stop playing piano, and I will never dream of playing in front of anyone. It's more about giving up and accepting that this is as much as I can get. 

I wonder if people agree that certain students are just not going to go any further beyond a certain level. Or is there a way those students can somehow break out of their limit?

Offline outin

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #29 on: July 06, 2014, 04:36:21 AM »
I just found this discussion, while looking for some answers to the same question. But in my case, I would never give up playing piano, but I am almost giving up on trying to be better. I am an adult hobbyist who played piano as a kid. I picked it up again 3 years ago.

What you write sounds just like me...poor learning as a kid and now 3 years of more serious practicing and lessons. I also have wondered the same things many times.

Why is it so difficult for me to learn the pieces? Why does my playing sound so bad?

Objectively it probably does not sound quite as bad as I feel. I am too much of a perfectionist, I always focus on the things that are not right.

But it's not all that, since I can easily hear the difference between my playing 1 year ago and now. It used to sound much worse. My progress tends to not be gradual, but happens in sudden steps. So it often seems like nothing happens and then one day I just realize things are much better. This spring I was told by a visiting teacher that I have good touch and nice finger technique...something I never imagined to hear...Maybe I could not play my pieces through properly, but at least I did something right...

I have tried to separate the two issues I have:
The sound quality in the playing
The inability to play correctly/consistently

The first one has improved more than the second one, so the second one is my main focus at the moment.

I have all the same issues the person describes - can't interpret music, can't play pieces at the proper speed, lack dynamic ranges, make too many mistakes, make too many ugly sounds, lack of balance, the list goes on. My teacher is utterly frustrated with me. I also had the same problems when I was a kid, I was declared that I have no musical talent and shall not pursue music by my teacher back then (who was a composer and vocalist, not a pianist, so I wanted to believe that was the reason).

I want to believe it's because the pieces my teacher wants me to learn are just over my head. I spoke with other teachers and a friend who is a pianist, but they seem to think I am working on the right repertoires and they also agree I have a long way to go to play these pieces well.

I do know I don't sound good at all. I have an ability to tell the difference between a great pianist and not so great pianist. It's not like I can't hear myself. But I just can't make my body to work to coordinate properly to produce right touch, press pedal at the right level, use my arms, etc. I get exhausted by the end of the piece, if I'd play at the speed I am supposed to play at. I thought over time, I build my muscle, but now I wonder if I'd see any change after 10 years and 15 years.

My teacher teaches those Conservatory students and he is not quite sure why there's such a difference of playing between his other students and me. Why others can start playing beautifully very quickly, and why I keep playing so ugly lessons after lessons. My hands are not big, but I can still grab octaves. I may be practicing a lot less, because I have a job, but I do practice hours every weekend. I try to practice hands apart, no pedal, listen to good recordings, read analysis, all sorts of things he tells me to do.

I am finally starting to admit that there's something about in-born talent / gift - and I just don't have it. I am sure the person who wrote the original post "can" interpret music, if we were to analyze music scores and talk about composer's intentions, etc. But actually playing is a different story.

I will never stop playing piano, and I will never dream of playing in front of anyone. It's more about giving up and accepting that this is as much as I can get.  

I wonder if people agree that certain students are just not going to go any further beyond a certain level. Or is there a way those students can somehow break out of their limit?

While I agree that it's much easier for those who have the natural aptitude for the exact things that are important in playing the piano, I think it's still worth to keep trying.

It is possible though, that your teacher and you have not been able to isolate the things that should be worked or the methods used just are not suitable for you.

To make the playing sound better overall, you need to have the basic technique right. Even if my teacher has patiently gone over the basics of playing with me, it took me over 2 years to start developing a good touch, due to the numerous problems with my physique. It was never about not knowing or hearing what is wrong, simply about how to learn to actually do it better and get my neglected and overly tensed upper body to function better. If your teacher is not persistent enough or not used to train someone who has weak hand, tensions and trouble relating to the piano keys and using the right muscle groups, that might be part of the problem. Sometimes one has to start with exaggerated movements, which sounds bad and gradually finetune and diminish the movements to what is really needed. So for a while in the learning process you might sound worse than before, even though you are actually progressing.

To learn to play consistently and with less mistakes takes a lot of experimenting with learning, concentration and memory techniques. You need to figure out what works for you. We might never be as good and consistent as many others, but we should be able to learn to play though occasional mistakes and develope more feeling of certainty in playing. Playing easier pieces only helps if they really interest you, if you find them boring it's useless (at least for me).

At this point taking on shorter (but still interesting) pieces works better for me than trying to learn longer works that take months just to get in to the hands. Like you I also work and tend to overpractice on weekends. But that won't make me learn the pieces any faster. I try hard to concentrate less on how much work there is ahead and just focus on the pieces/passages at hand. It's much easier now when there are no lessons during the summer. I clearly try too much during lesson year to always get something ready for the next lesson, not allowing myself enough time. Trying to learn too fast often leads to inconsistency and poor quality.

If you feel your teacher is frustrated with you, you might also consider the possibility that a fresh start with a new teacher more used to teaching beginners might help.

Don't give up trying to be better! In the end 3 years is really not that long. Some people develope skills much slower than others and piano playing is a very complicated skill. Maybe for you the big break is going to be at 4 years :)

Edit:
Just read your post about your piano...I also have had issues with mine and I think that could contribute to the quality of playing as well. It's hard not to get tensions, when you practice daily on something that is not responsive enough.


Offline iancollett6

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #30 on: July 06, 2014, 05:13:34 AM »
 I sometimes wonder if it would be possible to have a graph that shows the difference between actual ability of a student over time vs students ability to recognize what good playing is over time.
 I would imagine that the graph showing the students actual ability would be a slow steady rise with the the other graph showing students appreciation of music being a steady STEEPER rise.
 The result is that even though the student is actually constantly improving so is their ability to pick faults in their own playing.
 This could possibly explain my Auntie thinking that I should play professionally!!
"War is terrorism by the rich and terrorism is war by the poor." Peter Ustinov

Offline iancollett6

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #31 on: July 06, 2014, 07:28:33 AM »
I just found this discussion, while looking for some answers to the same question. But in my case, I would never give up playing piano, but I am almost giving up on trying to be better. I am an adult hobbyist who played piano as a kid. I picked it up again 3 years ago.

I have all the same issues the person describes - can't interpret music, can't play pieces at the proper speed, lack dynamic ranges, make too many mistakes, make too many ugly sounds, lack of balance, the list goes on. My teacher is utterly frustrated with me. I also had the same problems when I was a kid, I was declared that I have no musical talent and shall not pursue music by my teacher back then (who was a composer and vocalist, not a pianist, so I wanted to believe that was the reason).

I want to believe it's because the pieces my teacher wants me to learn are just over my head. I spoke with other teachers and a friend who is a pianist, but they seem to think I am working on the right repertoires and they also agree I have a long way to go to play these pieces well.

I do know I don't sound good at all. I have an ability to tell the difference between a great pianist and not so great pianist. It's not like I can't hear myself. But I just can't make my body to work to coordinate properly to produce right touch, press pedal at the right level, use my arms, etc. I get exhausted by the end of the piece, if I'd play at the speed I am supposed to play at. I thought over time, I build my muscle, but now I wonder if I'd see any change after 10 years and 15 years.

My teacher teaches those Conservatory students and he is not quite sure why there's such a difference of playing between his other students and me. Why others can start playing beautifully very quickly, and why I keep playing so ugly lessons after lessons. My hands are not big, but I can still grab octaves. I may be practicing a lot less, because I have a job, but I do practice hours every weekend. I try to practice hands apart, no pedal, listen to good recordings, read analysis, all sorts of things he tells me to do.

I am finally starting to admit that there's something about in-born talent / gift - and I just don't have it. I am sure the person who wrote the original post "can" interpret music, if we were to analyze music scores and talk about composer's intentions, etc. But actually playing is a different story.

I will never stop playing piano, and I will never dream of playing in front of anyone. It's more about giving up and accepting that this is as much as I can get. 

I wonder if people agree that certain students are just not going to go any further beyond a certain level. Or is there a way those students can somehow break out of their limit?

 Why dont you post something in the audition room, you may be surprised at what people say.
I just checked out  DanHuyle's post in the audition room and I thought he was pretty freakin' good, even though he considered he "sucked"!
"War is terrorism by the rich and terrorism is war by the poor." Peter Ustinov

Offline amytsuda

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #32 on: July 06, 2014, 08:58:20 AM »
I really appreciate the feedback from Outin, and feel better that I am not alone.

------------
To make the playing sound better overall, you need to have the basic technique right. Even if my teacher has patiently gone over the basics of playing with me, it took me over 2 years to start developing a good touch, due to the numerous problems with my physique. It was never about not knowing or hearing what is wrong, simply about how to learn to actually do it better and get my neglected and overly tensed upper body to function better. If your teacher is not persistent enough or not used to train someone who has weak hand, tensions and trouble relating to the piano keys and using the right muscle groups, that might be part of the problem. Sometimes one has to start with exaggerated movements, which sounds bad and gradually finetune and diminish the movements to what is really needed. So for a while in the learning process you might sound worse than before, even though you are actually progressing.
------------

This is exactly the issue - - overly tensed upper body, tensions and trouble relating to the piano keys - poor habits I developed overtime. I may indeed need a different teacher who knows how to fix these students. I am intrigued by what you describe - intentionally try exaggerated movements. There's one fault I must admit about myself, my teacher has been suggesting that I may go to a gym and get my upper arm and core in shape as well as my left leg to support my body better. Having a job, I definitely neglected this advice... I probably should.

I won't stop playing piano of course. How did you find your teacher? When I was looking for a teacher, I reached out to teachers who teach beginners and they felt I am too advanced. So I reached out to teachers at conservatory, and they didn't want to teach those dreaded adult students. My teacher was so kind to take me, though he normally doesn't teach people like myself. Did you go to an audition at a school and they assigned the right one for you? Maybe, I should have done that.

Offline outin

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #33 on: July 06, 2014, 10:09:44 AM »
This is exactly the issue - - overly tensed upper body, tensions and trouble relating to the piano keys - poor habits I developed overtime. I may indeed need a different teacher who knows how to fix these students. I am intrigued by what you describe - intentionally try exaggerated movements. There's one fault I must admit about myself, my teacher has been suggesting that I may go to a gym and get my upper arm and core in shape as well as my left leg to support my body better. Having a job, I definitely neglected this advice... I probably should.

I hate all kinds of exercise, but working on my posture and permanently tensed muscles just became a necessity if I ever wanted to get anyway with my playing. This spring I started playing badmington every week after many many years of no such activities. It's good for tensions (as long as one does not overdo it). I have much more control over myself now on the piano as well, although there's still quite a lot to do...I used to move a lot in the wrong ways while playing simply because I was too tense to move my arms from the shoulders...so I think you might need to look beyond the things you can do at the piano as well...

My teacher hasn't actually offered me all the solutions, but she has been so persistent on not letting me do the wrong things, that I have had to work on these problems on my own. But I think she has a quite practical approach to playing: Good playing comes from good movements and good interpretation is only possible if the physical side is in order. I used to be quite drained physically after the lessons on my first year, simply from trying to sit properly and have proper support to my arms. What we do is she tells me what is wrong/should be better and shows me what I should do. I then try to actually internalize that at home, sometimes I get it at once, but sometimes it requires a lot of conscious trial and error on the keyboard to just get a couple of finger/wrist movements right. And of course the right way to play often feels completely wrong to me at first  :(

I won't stop playing piano of course. How did you find your teacher? When I was looking for a teacher, I reached out to teachers who teach beginners and they felt I am too advanced. So I reached out to teachers at conservatory, and they didn't want to teach those dreaded adult students. My teacher was so kind to take me, though he normally doesn't teach people like myself. Did you go to an audition at a school and they assigned the right one for you? Maybe, I should have done that.

When I started playing again I had not touched a piano for about 25 years. So it was easy for me to pass as a beginner. I found my teachers from the net. I tried one other before my current one. I guess I was just lucky that she likes to teach adults and is comfortable with the advanced music as well although most of her students are kids. She does have a degree in teaching, but runs a private school. Of course I am in a different place, I don't tknow what the options are for you. I didn't really have that many.

What music do you play now? You wrote "they seem to think I am working on the right repertoires and they also agree I have a long way to go to play these pieces well." It's ok to have challenges, but if everything you play is like that, it's quite easy to get overwhelmed.

I started from very basic stuff 3 years ago, now most of my pieces are intermediate. I only studied by myself for 3 months before getting back to lessons, but that was enough to get back to basic reading and interpreting scores.

EDIT
Forgot to mention that for about 6 months now I have been adding magnesium supplement to my diet and that also was helpful in relieving some of the tensions and made my fingers feel more flexible.


Offline gyzzzmo

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #34 on: July 06, 2014, 11:15:59 AM »
If you play piano for competing instead of because you like playing the piano, maybe you should indeed just quit.

You should do it for your own enjoyment, not for somebody else's or for whatever for ridiculous reason. And if you dont enjoy it, then stop doing it. Maybe you'll like doing it later, maybe not, its not like the world will explode if you stop playing the piano for a while.

Gyzzzmo
1+1=11

Offline amytsuda

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #35 on: July 06, 2014, 11:32:51 AM »
Badminton! And magnesium supplements!!!

I guess, so it is the case that playing a piano is like sports. I also had 25 years of hiatus, then, picked it up 3 years ago. What's a coincidence! Only difference may be that my husband is a semi-professional opera singer, so I started playing piano just to help him practice last 10 years (but those are like just playing one hand of accompaniments to help him). But 3 years ago, after leaving my office job and becoming independent, I decided to practice actual pieces again.  

Thank you so much for your advice, I feel much better now, I guess I'd follow my teacher's suggestion to push some weight and climb hills. Maybe, that'd help me finally change my playing.

I don't know what is considered intermediate and what is considered advanced. I did Mozart Sonatas, Chopin Nocturnes, Polonaises, Bach French Suites, selections from Brahms Op 118 and he just puts me on selections from Years of Pilgrimage, Switzerland. Brahms and Liszt kill me. Back at age 16 the last piece was Brahms Rhapsody that shuttered me. But my friend pianist (and my husband) says I can't improve if I am just playing Mozart and Chopin.

Offline outin

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #36 on: July 06, 2014, 12:09:29 PM »
Badminton! And magnesium supplements!!!

I guess, so it is the case that playing a piano is like sports.

When I used to complain to my teacher that I just wanted to play the piano, not to train my body, she just said playing the piano is like ballet, you have to have such body control...I never imagined doing ballet at my age   :o

[/quote]
 
I also had 25 years of hiatus, then, picked it up 3 years ago. What's a coincidence!

So it seems :)



I don't know what is considered intermediate and what is considered advanced. I did Mozart Sonatas, Chopin Nocturnes, Polonaises, Bach French Suites, selections from Brahms Op 118 and he just puts me on selections from Years of Pilgrimage, Switzerland. Brahms and Liszt kill me. Back at age 16 the last piece was Brahms Rhapsody that shuttered me. But my friend pianist (and my husband) says I can't improve if I am just playing Mozart and Chopin.

You can improve the quality of your playing with any repertoire. People just seem to be quite obsessed about progressing to more difficult music.

You are/were playing quite advanced music and you probably don't even play that bad... I quit piano lessons much earlier at 11, transfered to another instrument. Even the easier Chopin Nocturnes take me so long now that I prefer to postpone such works. I much prefer to work on my technique by learning things like Scarlatti sonatas and romantic piano miniatures, I feel much less pressure from trying to learn the notes of a longer piece. Smaller pieces I can actually get to a decent level of playing with the time I have available.

If you are in an environment where you can compare yourself to serious young piano students and professional musicians and play the same kind of repertoire they do, it's no surprise you feel the way you do... But I'm glad if you are feeling better already :)
 

Offline amytsuda

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #37 on: July 06, 2014, 02:15:39 PM »
Thank you, Outin! I am glad to find this forum! (This is my first time in this forum) It's good to have others who can share the same struggles. 

Offline outin

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Re: When to give up piano once and for all?
«Reply #38 on: July 06, 2014, 03:08:57 PM »
Thank you, Outin! I am glad to find this forum! (This is my first time in this forum) It's good to have others who can share the same struggles. 

This is a very nice place and you can get lots of support and good advice. There are quite a lot of young people here as well and some of them may not possess such mature manners that us older folks are used to, but I'm sure they try their best  ;)