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Topic: I know this topic has probably been beaten to death, but any encouragement for..  (Read 2669 times)

Offline piano_luvr

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Any encouragement for those piano students that started later in life? 

I know the general statement about how you can learn to play music at virtually any age...blah blah blah...and I TOTALLY believe this (or else I wouldn't be playing) but I don't know....I just feel so inadequate compared to some people who have been taking piano lessons for years since they were about 6 or 7 years old!  I think this has been a bit of a hinderance for me.

You see, even though my family had a piano in our home ever since I was little, my family just couldn't afford to give me piano lessons when I was young, even though I was clearly gifted.  I was on the piano at age 3, and I have been hammering at the piano ever since 20 years later.  I even used to write my own songs and play them on the piano, and I'd hear a song on the radio and be able to play it on the piano.  I even took "piano class" in high school and college just about every  year, but it's not the same as having REAL piano lessons. 

It wasn't until I was about 19 or 20 years old that I started having REAL private lessons.  I LOVED them!  And I was improving at a nice speed (when I would actually practice).  But I had to quit taking them because I was paying for them and they got to be quite expensive with paying for tuition, a car note, books, etc...so I quite early this year.   :(  But I ALWAYS had the intention of going back to my lessons.  I just think that my lack of motivation for practicing may stem from an inner feeling of inadequacy.  Or, almost like I'm feeling like I "missed" the opportunity to be a really "great" piano player since I didn't have lessons when I was young, so what's the point in practicing NOW?   

I know that's  a silly way to reason, but I guess my question is...

I would LOVE to get back into taking my piano lessons again, and my piano teacher is ready to take me back...but what have you on the board (those of you maybe who started later on in life) used as a motivation or encouragement for you to actually PRACTICE and get BETTER at playing?? I feel like I've hit a brick wall almost.  I have the DESIRE to play and be GOOD, but maybe I just need the impetus. 

ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated.   ;D

Sorry for my lengthy post by the way. lol*

Offline mound

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I played when I was very young and gave it up out of stubborness I guess.. 20 years later I started again purely because I love music and wanted to (with a 10 year period of being a wanna be rock star bass player.) I started by clearly writing out my goals, and it was the first thing I handed my new teacher during our interview meeting. I had goals, I communicated them, and we began. Motivation and encouragement to practice? I don't know where that came from, purely for the love and knowing that there was no other way possible to reach my goals.

Music is not a competition, don't let it be. Do it for yourself and nothing else. If you love music and care only about setting and reaching your goals, you will be driven to practice. If you are constantly comparing yourself to people and declaring yourself inadequate based on these arbitrary comparison points, you are setting yourself up for failure.

I think in your case specifically, if you get a teacher and start lessons again, the talents you saw in yourself at such a young age are going to come screaming back, and you'll be addicted again in no time!

ps. once you do get going again, there is an enormous collection of interesting posts throughout these forums on all kinds of topics with regard to motivation, boredom, concentration, focus, planning, practice techniques, goal setting, reaching goals etc.. etc.. etc..


-paul

Offline piano_luvr

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Thanks so much for the encouragement Mound.  It's encouraging to know that someone else on this board  was able to go ahead with lessons even later on in life.  So, how are your lessons going? 

I have a teacher who is willing to take me on again as his student, but I kind of want to practice more and get into the habit of practising every day before sighning up with him again.  I don't want to waste his time, or my time.  Before, my mom was paying for my lessons with him, and sad to say...my practising habits were "sporadic" at best.  He would never get angry or irritated with me, but I could see that he knew I could improve at a  MUCH faster rate if I were just PRACTISING! 

Now days, things have changed.  I will be the one paying for my piano lessons, so I think that gives me more of a drive to do BETTER and practice MORE. 

I probably should stop comparing myself to other people.  I mean, what good does that do?  Since reading your post, I already started last week trying to practice piano every day for at least an hour.  I know that's not much compared to how long some of you on this board practice, but for me it's a SIGNIFICANT improvement.  THere were times when I wouldn't even practice for 2 months!!  So...this is a HUGE difference.  And who knows?? Maybe when I get better, I'll want to practice longer. 

Also, I have another question for other students.  Do you think my decision to wait until I've improved and gotten in the habit of practising piano BEFORE signing up with my piano teacher again is a good idea?  Or, do you think it would be best for me to just JUMP in right away trying to learn from him now?  I was thinking that I could possibly start my lessons in January (hopefully he'll still have  a spot open for me!) if I decided to wait.  What do you think?

Offline RJones

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piano_luvr,

It's very easy to be angry with yourself for not starting lessons when you were young or worse, not sticking with it once the fundamentals were learned. I started playing piano when I was 36 and was motivated to learn but there always seemed to be a reason for not practicing. After a week or two, I could see that I wasn't making any progress and would get angry at myself for wasting that time and several times I would come close to just giving up (but I didn't).

My epiphony occured about about six months ago. My wife came up to me and asked if I would play her some piece that I had been working on the previous night. She didn't say "could you practice that piece for me"!!! Of course I made many mistakes and we both laughed several times, but as far as she was concerned, I had just performed for her and she was delighted.

Ever since that day, the word practice has not come out of my mouth. Practice is boreing and quite frankly is a four letter word "WORK" which I do enough of to earn a living. I play piano for enjoyment (not very well but getting better every day). Even my wife doesn't think of my playing as practice any more. If I'm not busy around the house, she will often ask me to go and play. Even if I'm working on scales, she will often comment that my "playing" is improving.

My point is that when I was practicing, I found it difficult to get a couple of hours at the piano a week, but now that I think of it as playing, I almost never spend less than 2 hours a day.

Rodney

Offline BoliverAllmon

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my teacher had a friend in peabody conservatory. Who took 4 years of lessons and then made the entrance exam to peabody. His first lesson was to show him where middle C was. So as you can see he came along way in a very short time. The thing is that he was committed. he decided he wanted to do something and basically did it.

boliver

Offline sharon_f

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I took piano lessons for about 4-1/2 years when I was 13. Even then I knew I started late compared to some of the other students. My best friends were working on Chopin Scherzos and Liszt  Etudes at 16 & 17 and I was just getting to the Mozart Sonatas and Schubert Impromptus. I always felt defeated and inferior but I still pushed and practiced and was starting to get to some of the early advanced repertoire when everything in my life turned upside down.

To make a long story short, I found myself not going to college, and worse, without a piano. And I was without a piano for almost 35 years.

I got a piano this last April and started classes once again at 52 years of age. It has not been easy. (I thought everything would come back in an instant. It did not.) I've had to practice scales again and arpeggios. I study with a wonderful teacher and take classes at a university about an hour and half away from where I live. She has the best students at the university and some of the best younger students in the area. So I sometimes sit waiting for my lesson and I get to hear these wonderful 17 & 18 year olds playing things like the Mephisto or the Rach 3.

Last week I was waiting for my lesson and from my teacher's classroom I heard someone playing the last movement of the Italian Concerto and then the Chopin b minor Scherzo. When it was time for my lesson I knocked on the door, and a 13 year old boy opened it!!! Talk about a deflating moment.

But you know what? I got over it. It just made me more determined to get better. I practiced even harder and more focused this weekend then I ever remembering practicing, because in 4 or 5 years I want to be able to play one of the Chopin Scherzos. (#2 is my favorite.) And I know I will. Because there are certain pieces I just know I have to master.

7 months ago when I first met my teacher I had two things prepared. (At that time I had the piano exactly 2 weeks prior, so I chose 2 pieces I had played years before.)
One was a Scarlatti sonata and the other piece was the Allemande from the 6th French Suite. Now I have the whole French Suite completed and am working on polishing it for performance. I've completed a Brahms Intermezzo, 118, #2 and am working on #3 of the same group. I'm finishing up the variations from Beethoven's Op. 26 Sonata and getting ready for the Scherzo. I've learned a Chopin Waltz, some Tcherepnin Bagatelles and am learning some Mompou. And what's even more incredible to me, is that I am playing them at a whole other level than I was 35 years ago. My technique is much stronger and my tone is richer and more beautiful.

I practice at least two hours every day. And I work full time (along with a part time job.) I do it because I love the music. I do it because I now realize that for 35 years something vitally important was missing from my life. And I don't want to lose it again.

If it is important to you then hang in there. And don't compare yourself to others. We are all unique. You will grow and learn in your own time.

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

Offline mound

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one of the most important things in life you should try to always keep in mind, is that you can only move forward from where you are now.  no sense upsetting yourself about where you could have been.

Offline Fastzuernst

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After a 10 year hiatus, I came back to the piano with ziltch (I could barely read music!) except a complete desire to learn everything I could about music.
Now 5 years later I have complete confidence in my abilities to learn and perform, any piece that I desire, although I still need teachers of course! My greatest advice is - try not to compare yourself to anyone, but try to gain inspiration and knowledge from them. I believe we are all in a different state of learning and besides, is it ones goal be the absolute best?  Thats the beauty of studying piano - there is always more to learn and that gives me inspiration!

Offline cellodude

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Wowsers! Pretty amazing Sharon_F. You've just given me more reason to work a lot harder. And to piano_luvr, thanks for bringing this up. I think I'll add my story here if it can be of any use to anyone.

I started at 10, finished Grade 6 and gave up on Grade 7 halfway through. I got tired of the practicing when I didn't get the results that I was looking for. I gave up playing the piano thinking that I didn't have the brains or the talent required for such an endeavour.

But my love for classical music and piano music in particular had me buying cassette tapes of the greats (we didn't have CDs in those days - 1970s) to keep in touch. In the meantime I got myself a piece of paper that says that I can work with computers, got married and had 2 kids. Since there was  classical music constantly playing in the house I noticed that my kids love classical music too (surprise, surprise). So, I started them on the violin hoping that they would fare better than their dad.

Their achievement on the violin blew my mind away. They achieved in 1 year what I struggled to do on the piano in 7 when I was twice their age. My son then 6 and daughter then 8 were attempting Grade 6 pieces with pretty good success. Seeing that, I got the same teacher to teach my daughter the piano with slightly less spectacular results. (I had been coaching my children in the preliminaries on the piano while they were learning the violin).

I concluded that it must be the practice habits and teaching methods that are different from when I was learning to play the piano. At that same time slightly more than a year ago, I discovered the internet book on piano practice by CC Chang and in conversations with their piano teacher found that he shared many sentiments expressed in Chang's book.

I then decided that I should seriously try the piano again. So after a 25-year haitus I started playing the piano again last year. And in 1 year I got Chopin's Etude Op. 25 No. 1 and his Impromptu #1 in A flat under my belt. Along the way, I also picked up Haydn's Gypsy Rondo. I am currently working on Chopin's Etude Op. 10 #9 and LVB's Sonata Op. 10 #2 with a few more lined up for the next couple of years.

I don't have a teacher because I am not able to practise consistently. I can only afford about 30 to 40 minutes from Mondays to Fridays if I get to practise at all and between 2 to 6 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. I get free advice from my childrens' teacher though. He volunteered and I don't mind accepting since I'm already paying him close to $400 bucks a month to teach my son violin and my daughter piano and violin.

My motivation is that I love piano music. I set myself small goals and try to be as consistent as possible. If a 52-year old can do it, I think I stand a pretty good chance at 44. Here's to the piano.

TTFN (Ta Ta For Now),

dennis lee


Cello, cello, mellow fellow!

Offline kaff

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Also, I have another question for other students.  Do you think my decision to wait until I've improved and gotten in the habit of practising piano BEFORE signing up with my piano teacher again is a good idea?  Or, do you think it would be best for me to just JUMP in right away trying to learn from him now?  I was thinking that I could possibly start my lessons in January (hopefully he'll still have  a spot open for me!) if I decided to wait.  What do you think?

I wouldn't wait too long before starting with your teacher.  Two reasons:  first, a teacher should help you learn how to practise and what to practise - it would be quite annoying to spend several months practising only to find out later that you'd been doing something wrong, or at least, inefficiently; and second, because (if you're anything like me) knowing that you're going to be having a lesson in x number of days and that someone is going to be listening to you, is a good incentive to practise.

Other practise-motivating tips: set yourself goals. Not just: "I'll learn this piece by next April" (or whenever), but "I'll learn this piece by next April and I'll invite half a dozen friends/family round to listen to it and then we'll all have some nice drinks and snacks".  Or you'll play it at your local church, or you'll enter an exam or a festival or competition, or whatever type of goal is appropriate for you.  But if you have something to aim for it'll help the motivation.  Of course, the expectation is that once you've got into the way of practising it'll become so wonderful, so addictive, that you won't be able to stop.

Lots of luck - enjoy it!

Kathryn
Kaff

Offline piano_luvr

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WOW!  Thanks so much guys for the wonderful replies and words of encouragement.  I also enjoyed the experiences shared by all of you, especially Cellodude, Fastzuernst, Sharon_F, and RJones.  It really helped me to try and look at my own situation and stop feeling sorry for myself.  I can't change what happened in the past, but I CAN change what happens in the future!

I love the piano so MUCH!  I especially love Classical music, but I also like some jazz piano pieces, pop culture pieces, and Broadway musicals.  I can't wait to try my hand at some new material.  I think I was basically taking the "lazy" approach.  I can definitely SEE my goal, but getting there is the hard part.  I've been trying to practice everyday.  Sometimes I fall short of that, but I've been practising as much as I can this week with school and work also crowding my life at the moment.  lol* 

Thanks for the advice Kaff on my teacher.  Yes, I don't think it would be beneficial for me to wait TOO long to sign up with him.  I just don't want to make the same mistake as before (missing sessions, not practising as much as I SHOULD, etc.).  He definitely saw great potential in me, and to tell the truth, if it weren't for him, I probably would have just given up a while ago.  He really sat me down and told me: "you're GOOD! You just have to practice!"  Most of the time when someone says "oh you play well", or "you're good"...I graciously say "thank you", but in my mind I'm just thinking..."yeah, but I could be SO much better if I just applied myself".  Plus, some of the people who say "you play beautifully" are just friends and family members, and they don't really know much about piano music to begin with.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate their compliments, but in my head I'm just thinking of how good I could really be if I just played more. 

My main weakness is my left hand and my sight reading.  I just feel like I can't sight-read fast enough.  My mom (who had piano lessons for 10 years when she was young) always tells me to "slow down" and use the metronome when I play, but I don't know...maybe I'm just so intent on getting "results" that I don't think to just "take it easy" and really LEARN a piece. Does anyone else have this problem?  I tend to be able to memorize pieces pretty fast , which is both a blessing AND a curse, because then I just simply play from memory, and not from READING! Ughhghg...it's just so frustrating sometimes.  I feel like I should be reading every note...or at least enough so that when my teacher asks me to go back to a certain movement, I can play from the page. 

Any suggestions for improving sight-reading skills?  Oh, and does anyone know where I can find this Chang's advice on practising?

Thanks! 

Offline shotkong64x

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well..   i JUST started at age 18,  with 0 music background.  Im doin it cause it was always something i was curious about, but afraid to commit to.  But ive been at it for 3 months now and Im really enjoying it.  I can read music almost fluently, and play some grade 4 things.  Im doin it for myself, i have peices i want to be able to play, and my desire to have the skill to play em is what is driving me to keep on practicing and learning.

I think most people would agree 18 is pretty late in life to start, but I really dont care what they say.  You also seem to be pretty good if your compsosing, and able to play stuff off the radio and stuff..  so,  just do it for yourself because you enjoy it.

Ive had little 6 year old kids come into the place where i take lessons and blow me out of the water with their skills.  Good for them i say.  Ill get there eventually.  lol.

anyway, this isnt really advice, but its a good story i guess.

Offline jazzyprof

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Any suggestions for improving sight-reading skills?  Oh, and does anyone know where I can find this Chang's advice on practising?

Thanks! 
For sight reading tips, try this very nice book:  Super Sight-Reading Secrets, by Howard Richman.   I like it because it's short and to the point.  With sight reading, the more you do it  the better you get at it.  You might want to spend 5 minutes a day sight reading some relatively easy pieces of music.  Pick a slow comfortable pace and just keep going without stopping.
CC Chang's online book can be found here:https://members.aol.com/chang8828/contents.htm
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke
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