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Am I too old? (Read 2246 times)

Offline total_failure

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Am I too old?
« on: November 03, 2015, 10:36:55 PM »
Hello and thanks for your attention

A bit on my background:

classical guitar lessons from age 6 to 18
When I was 16-17 I started playing the piano by myself in my free time. from 18 until 26 i was playing the piano, again selftaught. Since 27 I go to piano lessons regulary. My teached says I am doing good work and i am improving, but also mentioned that it is too late to persue a soloist carreer. I am 29 now.

Do you think there would be a chance for someone to become pro at such a late age, given that he is absolutely ready to do whatever it takes? Is there a small, slight chance? Have you maybe heard of anyone managing something like that?
Do you think I am crazy?


Offline adodd81802

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #1 on: November 03, 2015, 11:08:17 PM »
I would be inclined to say yes without smashing your dreams. But in life it's always worth having a plan B. your thought process already sounds incorrect along with your user name.

But to give you a glimpse of hope here's an extract from Arthur Rubinsteins wikipage.

In 1934, the pianist, who stated he neglected his technique in his early years, relying instead on natural talent, withdrew from concert life for several months of intensive study and practice.

Being born in 1887, that would make him what 43? Regardless of being a child prodigy and already a successful concert pianist, it seems Rubinstein admits "talent" (that lucky roll of the dice where you seem to either 'get it' or 'dont' first time) wasn't enough.

Note that he made it to Carnegie Hall at the age of 19 and so spent 24 years touring and performing before actually re-evaluating his ability.

I think that demonstrates 2 points -

The first being, I think you have to consider what the term "professional" actually means. Is it performing at the biggest concerts? Is it being paid for your playing? Is it having your own Wiki page?

Or is it merely a performance of a collection of pieces that are well received by the public?

It doesn't prove perfection or without fault, or 100% technique. I don't think you can aim to be a great pianist and also aim to be professional, because they are two different things. Not every great pianist is on stage and not every performer is a great pianist.

Second, hypothetically if somebody gave you the full guide to becoming the best pianist, with the best will in the world the book would probably span earth a couple of times and contain too much information to digest in a life time. That is to set your goal from the start to be at the very top, it is unlikely you can have a realistic study plan to get you there.

Now I don't know your ability, but the reality is you're a late starter, not lost, but far behind the "prime" age in which you were able to absorb and retain information. Rubinstein for example was suggested to have perfect pitch at the age of 2. Luckily it seems you were exposed to music at a young age and that will be a big advantage.

I think at this still early stage you should be setting yourself small manageable goals and measure your progress to see how far you've come rather than worry about where you're getting too.
Whether your aim is to learn a scale, improve your double 3rds, practice trills, or even study a composer, have digestable goals to ensure you are improving.

Learning the piano, whilst requiring hard work for the real progress, shouldn't feel like hard work if you are managing a smart workload and in the right mindset.

There is tonnes of information in these forums, other users in your position, don't be discouraged, but don't be delusional either.
"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline chopinlover01

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #2 on: November 04, 2015, 12:02:59 AM »
Define "professional", s'il vous plaît?
If you mean a Lang Lang type professional, sadly, it's probably not possible. But you can probably still make a living in music through other ways after 5-10 years of study with a good teacher (this is critical!!), especially by teaching.
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Offline dcstudio

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #3 on: November 04, 2015, 12:39:42 AM »
Hello and thanks for your attention

A bit on my background:

classical guitar lessons from age 6 to 18
When I was 16-17 I started playing the piano by myself in my free time. from 18 until 26 i was playing the piano, again selftaught. Since 27 I go to piano lessons regulary. My teached says I am doing good work and i am improving, but also mentioned that it is too late to persue a soloist carreer. I am 29 now.

Do you think there would be a chance for someone to become pro at such a late age, given that he is absolutely ready to do whatever it takes? Is there a small, slight chance? Have you maybe heard of anyone managing something like that?
Do you think I am crazy?



your user name... whoah.

define pro..  someone who gets paid to play the piano?  This is very possible.   Becoming a world-famous concert pianist is nearly impossible under the best of circumstances...   that doesn't mean though, that you couldn't perform classical works and even get paid for it.

There are many, many, jobs in music in addition to "world famous concert pianist."   

Offline pencilart3

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #4 on: November 04, 2015, 12:45:09 AM »
your user name... whoah.

With that attitude, it doesn't matter how old you are.
You might have seen one of my videos without knowing it was that nut from the forum
youtube.com/noahjohnson1810

Offline total_failure

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #5 on: November 04, 2015, 01:03:43 AM »
Ok, first of all the username is just a joke. Dont draw conclusions from that.

you are right in that the question was too general...

I was actually meaning concert pianist. I know that it is too late to be a Lang Lang, and of course i wouldnt compare myself to pianistic giants such as Rubinstein!!
But I wonder wether there is some room for me on the stage, to perform the pieces i know and especially those which I think I can interpret in a special way (without killing the composer) which will touch the audience. Now maybe you will wonder, why does this guy really want to go on stage?
The answer to that is that i strongly feel that I have a story to tell, which is hard to put into words, and can be expressed best through music. And I think that the classical repertoire and certain composers appeal to me and their music expresses what i wanted to say and even more!
This is why i started piano lessons on the first place. I had that long term goal in mind.

It is true however that the goal I am looking at is a very distant one. Maybe it is right to focus on smaller archievable goals.

Thanks for your replys, I will certainly thing about it.

Offline ronde_des_sylphes

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #6 on: November 04, 2015, 01:48:38 AM »
On the basis that I had piano lessons when young but then didn't play for ten years, then self-taught for a bit and finally took (much-needed) professional advice, absolutely you can do something in the direction of soloist. I've given a fair number of recitals and also made a cd, it does take a lot of work and hard criticism though. Self-teaching is very dangerous - it has a tendency to instill bad habits.

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #7 on: November 04, 2015, 02:10:42 AM »
All the evidence suggests that you are still alive... therefore, you are not too old to pursue whatever dream you may have.  Including playing concerts for other people and, perhaps, even getting paid for it now and then.

No, you probably won't get to be a Rubinstein or Paderewski.  But don't count on it.  You certainly won't be the first artist to discover that art or music is something to be pursued later in life, and you certainly wouldn't be the first to do pretty well at it, either.

Besides, from my point of view, 29 is still pretty young.

So go for it.
Ian

Offline outin

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #8 on: November 04, 2015, 02:58:20 AM »

Besides, from my point of view, 29 is still pretty young.


Took the words out of my mouth...

But I think the op might benefit from asking himself the question why would he suddenly want to pursue such a  career now? Is it some kind of an escapistic dream? Does he have a job now? Does he hate it? Does it pay the bills? Is playing the piano 8+ hours a day the thing that really makes him happy? Does he love performing to people and do people respond to him? Because the odds are against it, not necessarily because of his age, but the amount of serious work with a teacher he has missed that the other wanna be concert pianists have behind them.

I think the best way to proceed is to invest as much as you can now to learning to play for a while and see how that feels and whether any doors open. Don't try to speculate with the outcome, just see how things start going. I think in a few years you will know whether you have it in you and whether the opportunities start presenting themselves. If they don't you can still become a skillful happy amateur pianist. Or you could go into teaching, part time or even full time.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #9 on: November 04, 2015, 02:34:28 PM »
. Self-teaching is very dangerous - it has a tendency to instill bad habits.

AGREED--(but  I often agree with you Ronde)   and  the self-taught often have no way to gauge their own progress except for the comments they receive from those close to them.  This can so often lead to a seriously grandiose perception of one's own skill--and it's something we see here at PS all to often. Some random guy sits down and figures out a bit of a Chopin etude--his friends tell him he's a genius...and he believes them.  So then he figures he will share his "genius" here on PS--and when no one agrees--things get ugly. You don't sound like that type of player at the moment... but I have seen the nicest people turn into complete jerks because someone flattered them about their skill as a pianist.  A good teacher will prevent this completely...:) LOL.. sometimes rather harshly...

Offline chopinlover01

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #10 on: November 04, 2015, 04:37:18 PM »
AGREED--(but  I often agree with you Ronde)   and  the self-taught often have no way to gauge their own progress except for the comments they receive from those close to them.  This can so often lead to a seriously grandiose perception of one's own skill--and it's something we see here at PS all to often. Some random guy sits down and figures out a bit of a Chopin etude--his friends tell him he's a genius...and he believes them.  So then he figures he will share his "genius" here on PS--and when no one agrees--things get ugly. You don't sound like that type of player at the moment... but I have seen the nicest people turn into complete jerks because someone flattered them about their skill as a pianist.  A good teacher will prevent this completely...:) LOL.. sometimes rather harshly...
Excellent point from DC as always. Way to go.
We encounter all kinds of people that think they're the next Liszt or whatever, and who think they're brilliant because "well I can't read music but I can play by ear, that's even BETTER!".
Don't become them. That's about the best advice I can give. Always be humble about your strengths, and open about your weakness.
Not to say you should constantly stab your self esteem where the sun don't shine, but remember that, no matter how well you can play, there's an asian 9 year old somewhere who's better than you ;D
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Offline dcstudio

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #11 on: November 04, 2015, 06:21:27 PM »
no matter how well you can play, there's an asian 9 year old somewhere who's better than you ;D

LOL...  those Asian 9 year olds keep all of us humble. :)

Offline total_failure

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #12 on: November 04, 2015, 09:26:25 PM »
I can hardly believe how popular this thread became after only a day!

Thanks for the encouraging as well as the discouraging posts. I know though that they are all well intented. I got some food for thought in this thread and I want to thank everyone.

If some are curious on how I sound, I had posted a year ago in the audition room. This can be found here:
http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=54040.0











Offline pencilart3

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #13 on: November 04, 2015, 10:26:59 PM »
I can hardly believe how popular this thread became after only a day!

12 replies? Not that many. There's some addicts here... ;D
You might have seen one of my videos without knowing it was that nut from the forum
youtube.com/noahjohnson1810

Offline outin

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #14 on: November 05, 2015, 04:35:14 AM »
I can hardly believe how popular this thread became after only a day!

Thanks for the encouraging as well as the discouraging posts. I know though that they are all well intented. I got some food for thought in this thread and I want to thank everyone.

If some are curious on how I sound, I had posted a year ago in the audition room. This can be found here:
http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=54040.0

I hope you didn't see my post as too discouraging. Just wanted to give you some tools for self examination...Your playing sounds quite pleasant and you seem to be able to evaluate it realistically. So you are not completely delusional in the way we sometimes see here :)

Is it easy for you to learn new repertoire? Because of course you would need to build a solid base of repertoire to be a performer.

Of course it also depends where you live and how much you are willing to travel just to get to play. As an example, I know a few good classical pianists with excellent education (my teacher included) but they don't perform that often because performance opportunities for classical pianists are just so scarce here and they won't pay the bills. If one is willing to do other kind of music and any kind of gigs (parties, TV jobs...) then maybe one could get more, but if one just wants to concentrate on classical performances the only way to get really busy would be to arrange the concerts oneself (with all the financial risks). Unlike in US we don't commonly have chuch services with pianists either, you'd need to play the organ. So teaching is what pianists usually do for their living. Our public music school system produces promising pianists every year, but very few can make a career as concert pianist and to do that one really needs to go abroad. One also needs contacts to get opportunities and those contacts are usually formed while studying in some music institute. Competitions are one way to get name for yourself, but they usually have an age limit around 30.

So if you are financially secure there's no harm in trying to become really good and see if people want to hear you. But to pay the rent by playing classical music is just not realistic in your situation. If it was only hard work and talent that is required, then maybe, but those who make it also tend to have some good fortune when it comes to opportunities presenting themselves. Of course if you invent a completely new and individual style (some sort of crossover) and get novelty value, that might open some doors.

If it makes you feel any better, even if you had started at 5, it would not have been much easier...

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #15 on: November 05, 2015, 05:41:29 AM »
@outin... always there with the solid practical advice... you are not discouraging--just realistic. :)



to the OP:  I would like to say a bit more about the "good fortune" outin has mentioned.  Sometimes opportunities do just materialize out of thin air...
 

 I started at 4, took the lessons, went to music school and dropped out at the end of my junior year.  I told myself I didn't have what it takes to be a great pianist and I moved to another state with my husband (and guitar player) to work as a craps dealer in a casino.  I really didn't play at all for about 5 years.   So one day, out of the blue I went to the piano store and bought myself a nice little upright piano.   I goofed around on it a bit, and mostly just tried to work my old repertoire back into my fingers.  

About a month later, the casino boat that my husband and I were working on moved to another port and we both lost our jobs.   Amazingly enough the very next day we got a call informing us that we had won the grand prize in this contest I had forgotten I had even entered.   The prize was $5k in music gear...no sh!t..as we arrived home with our new equipment my husband's friend called and said his buddy had just opened a fine-dining restaurant and wanted a sophisticated jazzy type house band.  

That weekend I made my debut as a professional jazz pianist rocking a beautiful brand new keyboard and amp--72 hours before that I was a casino dealer with no plans to return to music.  :)

My story is pretty wild... but that's what happened.   I was 30 at the time and I have been playing and teaching ever since.


That good fortune outin mentioned... what can I say?  It could just all be a coincidence...a really, really, big coincidence..  lol...  or maybe it was destiny.

my point is... I have no idea if you are too old--29 is pretty young in my book...but fortune favors the bold and anything is possible.

More good fortune?  Here's a YT vid.. somehow I was featured and now I have 1.7 million views on my account.  It is not because I was compared to every other YT pianist and judged to be the "best" either...  lol..I just got lucky.







Offline briansaddleback

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #16 on: November 10, 2015, 11:31:48 PM »

 I started at 4, took the lessons, went to music school and dropped out at the end of my junior year.  I told myself I didn't have what it takes to be a great pianist and I moved to another state with my husband (and guitar player) to work as a craps dealer in a casino.  I really didn't play at all for about 5 years.   So one day, out of the blue I went to the piano store and bought myself a nice little upright piano.   I goofed around on it a bit, and mostly just tried to work my old repertoire back into my fingers.  

About a month later, the casino boat that my husband and I were working on moved to another port and we both lost our jobs.   Amazingly enough the very next day we got a call informing us that we had won the grand prize in this contest I had forgotten I had even entered.   The prize was $5k in music gear...no sh!t..as we arrived home with our new equipment my husband's friend called and said his buddy had just opened a fine-dining restaurant and wanted a sophisticated jazzy type house band.  

That weekend I made my debut as a professional jazz pianist rocking a beautiful brand new keyboard and amp--72 hours before that I was a casino dealer with no plans to return to music.  :)

My story is pretty wild... but that's what happened.   I was 30 at the time and I have been playing and teaching ever since.




Great story. Very inspiring. I watched some of your videos you and your husband are funny, playing music at 2 in the morning.
29 youre still a child. I started piano in my late thirties and never asked or doubted myself. I just went out and started trying to learn. Made some mistakes , back tracked, went forward again. Sought advice then re tweaked and so forth. I am learning etudes of Chopin  (hopefully properly) and I am not going to perform professionally but I do perform for school recitals and so forth and it is just a blast. That is all I seek... to have a blast with others who enjoy and play music.

I never ask "is it too late? can i be better than them? is it worth it? can i prove them wrong? can i prove them right? will people like me? '
dam...that is too much ulterior motives to actually persevere through  a difficult art like this. Only question you should have is DO I HAVE PassiOON for music and/or DO I ENJOY Others or want to share EXPRESS my joy and feelings of MUsic with others??

that is it!
some people will never get it.
Music is not a 'numbers ' game. or whatever. It is just an art of expresssion and you have a passion for it...whether it is a simple minuet or rachmoninof
Work in progress:

Rondo Alla Turca

Offline total_failure

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #17 on: November 11, 2015, 11:22:56 PM »
you are right in saying that there is a simple question one has to answer, if he/she considers music seriously. And I agree with you that this is "Do I have a passion for music?" This is a question I am answering everyday with "yes". But there are further questions, like "How important is piano playing to me". If you are one of those few, which answer that question at the age of 30 with "its the single most important thing in the world", then certain problems arise...

And that is exactly the reason why I don't think of music as a hobby.
A hobby is something that pleases you, that you do in your free time, no big deal, no special commitment.
But if you are passionate about something, it is not something you just do, but something you _have_ to do, that is the basic difference between hobby and passion.
As a result of that, you want to progress.
No, not because you want to log into a piano forum and say i can play rachmaninoff, but because the music you want to play demands it. The composer is right next to your piano and demands it from you personally. He says: progress progress progress.
Now if you are having an 8 hour job, and after that you are tired and want to rest, making major improvements in piano playing is almost impossible, and that of two reasons:

1) You don't have the intense concentration needed for practice
2) You don't have enough time to practice

So I think the most reasonable is to consider turning your passion into a profession. That is why the question of age is a certain factor.
Of course if one's ambitions don't go beyond playing a "Farmer Joe" once in a while for relatives (btw nothing wrong with that), then all the discussion is irrelevant.









 

Offline total_failure

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #18 on: November 12, 2015, 01:13:00 AM »
Sorry, I actually meant the "happy farmer", not farmer joe ;)

Offline outin

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #19 on: November 12, 2015, 05:03:25 AM »
^What you say is very true. I also have a job that is severely interfering with my passion with music. I neither have enough time nor enough energy left to do what would be necessary to become as good as I probably could (which in my case is still not good enough for any sort of a career, but in your case it might). The only way to change this would be to quit my job (which I also do mostly find rewarding).

So there's one question to ask: Can you afford it? Music is not going to bring the kind of income you get form a day job (and in the beginning it will bring zero income). There are also costs involved, lessons, maybe a better instrument to practice on, travel, PR... If you can afford a change like this, then it's just a matter of deciding to do so.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #20 on: November 12, 2015, 04:05:15 PM »


think long and hard about it...   

although playing the piano for people is amazing and very rewarding...and teaching piano is also a very noble profession and equally rewarding in its own right...

this is still a tough life guys..   and I am one of the fortunate few who has an income from performing.  You will have to reinvent yourself as a musician over and over again to keep that money coming in.  The list of music job titles I have held in addition to "pianist" is pretty long... IMO--it's a matter of deciding.. I am a musician and that is my profession... instead of I will be a pianist if and when I am guaranteed that the gigs will pay well...(LOL) 

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Am I too old?
«Reply #21 on: November 12, 2015, 04:46:37 PM »
Do you think there would be a chance for someone to become pro at such a late age, given that he is absolutely ready to do whatever it takes? Is there a small, slight chance?


It's theoretically a little harder at 29 than at 6.

But realistically the chances for the 6 year old to succeed are very small anyway.  Anything times zero is zero, so your chances aren't that much different. 
Tim