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Topic: returning to piano  (Read 2015 times)

Offline uv147

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returning to piano
on: June 15, 2016, 03:23:04 PM
Hi
i was playing the piano between the ages of 7 and 13, i had weekly 1 hour lessons and 3 1 hour practice session per week.
before i quit i played pieces like beethoven's fur elise, bach's invention no.1 and invention no.8, and clementi's sonatinas op.36 no.3 and op.36 no.6, and obviously i also practiced scales and arppegios, but i was never a good sight reader (always had to count the notes, and eventually played my pieces from memory), i prepared a piece or 2 for a concert during a semester and after the concert i forgot the piece as i no longer played it.
i found some recordings of me playing back then:

here is fur elise, played about 6 months before i quit:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/8yjg7npiouq7m70/fur_elise.m4a?dl=0

and the first movement  of clementi's sonatina in c major op.36 no.3:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/m3zquft4rd1ah75/sonatina_c_major.m4a?dl=0

well, according to how that sounds i guess i was quite bad when i quit, i played way too slow , and i made some very noticeable mistakes.

i quit 5 years ago, and i want to get back to playing, this time i am motivated, and i am willing to commit, putting at least 2 hours of practice every day.
i have a few goals i would love to reach, i sorted them here to short-term, mid-term and long-term
goals:
my short term goals are:
1)getting back to the level of playing i was at when i quit
2)learn to sight read and be able to read the piano part of songs from piano/vocal selection books of broadway and west-end musicals.

my mid term goals are:
1)learn more new pieces and improve my technique, specifically getting to a level in which i can study grade 8 pieces in a few weeks
2)be able to sight read the piano accompaniement from vocal scores of operas and to accompany opera singers on the piano.

my long term goals are:
1)to learn to play lisz't transcription of Danza sacra e duetto finale from Aida, which i fell in love with.
2)improve my sight reading skills and to be able to sight read more complex pieces.
3)to become the best pianist i can (this might sound i want to be a professional pianist, but no, i just love being the best i can in everything i do)

my questions are:
1)according to the information i gave you above, during the 6 years i played piano before i quit, how was the progress i made compared to the avarage student, both with the same practicing schedule as me and with a normal practice schedule for that age (practice 30 minutes or 1 hour every day)?
2)could my practice schedule have any impact on my progress (for example, could practicing 30 minutes every day, or even 1 hour every day, instead of 1 hour every other day make my progress any faster or slower)?
3)what level did i reach? was i still a beginner when i quit, an early intermediate,a late intermediate, etc.?
4)will the progress i made have any effect when i come back to the piano, or will it be meaningless?
5)assuming i will have a good teacher and practice at least 2 hours a day, how long will it take me to reach each one of these goals, if they are even possible to reach for me?
6)are there any nice pieces that will help me get back to where i was and make progress from there?

and last but not least, if you have any advice to share with me, i would love to read it.

thanks!
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Offline visitor

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #1 on: June 15, 2016, 03:57:29 PM
...
5)are there any nice pieces that will help me get back to where i was and make progress from there?

and last but not least, if you have any advice to share with me, i would love to read it.

thanks!


first, I would go back and re learn pieces you learned before you stopped. do these in addition to any new pieces you are working. focus on bringing them to a level beyond where they were in the past.

Offline briansaddleback

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #2 on: June 15, 2016, 05:34:45 PM
I didnt read your post because it is toooo long. But I did come to say hello.

But I also came to see  a GIF BUT YOU (visiter) DIDNT
Work in progress:

Rondo Alla Turca

Offline quantum

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #3 on: June 15, 2016, 05:35:07 PM
1)according to the information i gave you above, during the 6 years i played piano before i quit, how was the progress i made compared to the avarage student, both with the same practicing schedule as me and with a normal practice schedule for that age (practice 30 minutes or 1 hour every day)?
could my practice schedule have any impact on my progress (for example, could practicing 30 minutes every day, or even 1 hour every day, instead of 1 hour every other day make my progress any faster or slower)?

My suggestion would be to shift focus from measuring progress based on practice time, towards goal based practice and workflow management.  Spending time practicing is not a guarantee for improvement, what is needed is quality in practice workflow: you need to be using appropriate practice techniques to achieve your goal, as opposed to just spending time at the instrument hoping everything will get better on its own.  One hour of concentrated, directed, and purposeful quality practice time is far more effective than three hours of practicing and hoping things get better.
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 quantum

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #4 on: June 15, 2016, 05:38:20 PM
I didnt read your post because it is toooo long. But I did come to say hello.

But I also came to see  a GIF BUT YOU (visiter) DIDNT


Do you think this was an appropriate response to a genuine question from a new member?  Long time PS members likely get the inside joke, but how do you think a new member would interpret this?
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 briansaddleback

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #5 on: June 15, 2016, 05:44:05 PM
A new member would most likely be laid back and just chuckle at me.


visiter where is the GIF?
Work in progress:

Rondo Alla Turca

Offline visitor

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #6 on: June 15, 2016, 05:59:54 PM
to Op welcome again.
i would look at some of the less common but oh so lovely music for children by Samuel Maykapar




just a few of examples of volumes and volumes of wonderful charming little pieces available to explore and the different characters will challenge you appropriately :-)

also there's Akira Yuyama's music which i have posted about before, if you search the board for Akira Yuyama you should see some hits for prev posts if i am unable to go back and pull to quote them here for you

Offline briansaddleback

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #7 on: June 15, 2016, 06:11:20 PM
I love that woman's hair.
Work in progress:

Rondo Alla Turca

Offline uv147

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #8 on: June 19, 2016, 11:07:07 AM
thank you very much for all your answers
but you only answered question 6
i would also like to get answers for questions 1-5, so i can know what to expect
thank you very much

Offline pjjslp

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #9 on: June 19, 2016, 02:47:10 PM
thank you very much for all your answers
but you only answered question 6
i would also like to get answers for questions 1-5, so i can know what to expect
thank you very much

Most of those questions are not answerable, as everyone is different. Personally, I can't listen to recordings and tell someone whether they were intermediate, etc. and my crystal ball isn't currently functioning well enough to tell you what type of progress you're capable of in the future.

I can address question 4. What you did before will stick with you, more than you think. I took a break of more than 20 years and was still able to sit down and play through some familiar pieces the day my piano was delivered. Muscle memory is a real thing, for good habits and bad.

Offline quantum

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #10 on: June 19, 2016, 04:11:32 PM
1)according to the information i gave you above, during the 6 years i played piano before i quit, how was the progress i made compared to the avarage student, both with the same practicing schedule as me and with a normal practice schedule for that age (practice 30 minutes or 1 hour every day)?

Comparing yourself to the "average" student (I'm not convinced there is such a thing) is of little benefit to you're progress.  It can cause added anxieties, but do you really want that?  Focus on your own work.

There's a saying that college/conservatory students would relate to: are you the type of person that competes with the guy in the neighboring practice room (feeling slightly jealous that he is banging out Rach 3 while you slave away at your Mozart Sonata), or are you the type of person that competes with yourself (striving to play that Mozart Sonata even better than you did yesterday). 

2)could my practice schedule have any impact on my progress (for example, could practicing 30 minutes every day, or even 1 hour every day, instead of 1 hour every other day make my progress any faster or slower)?

To reiterate what I said above, work ethic matters more than practice schedule.


3)what level did i reach? was i still a beginner when i quit, an early intermediate,a late intermediate, etc.?

Levels can be useful for placing yourself in a graded syllabus.  However, they can also be terribly inaccurate and give a false sense of your overall musical education.  It is far better to work on specific skills.

4)will the progress i made have any effect when i come back to the piano, or will it be meaningless?

That is something you will need to observe as you progress.

5)assuming i will have a good teacher and practice at least 2 hours a day, how long will it take me to reach each one of these goals, if they are even possible to reach for me?

To reiterate above statements: work ethic matters more than time practicing.  Not having experienced your playing in person, I will not speculate any further.  

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 thirtytwo2020

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #11 on: June 20, 2016, 09:59:30 AM
Yes these are difficult questions to answer but I think you deserve a try... So far, I feel we haven't helped you enough. So, here we go, take it for what it's worth:

1. I think your progress was good during those 6 years, judging from your recorded performances. Average or slightly above.

2. Yes! Impossible to say what will work best for you though. My guess is that during the first couple of years you will do better with shorter sessions every day than with longer ones every other day. The pieces you will learn will be shorter and basics will be learned more solidly if you return to the piano more often.

3. I would say you were an early intermediate.

4. Yes! From what I can hear, you worked on these pieces rather meticulously. An effort like that made in the years between 7 and 13 could never be meaningless

5. I think you should revise your goal list. The following are very, very rough guesses...

To reach the level where you quit, and play some of the easiest broadway or opera scores, you might not need more than 1 or 2 years. But don't rush, it's much better to do a thorough job on basic technique than to set to specific repertoire goals.

Improving your sight reading skills doesn't have to be a long term goal. You can start working on that now and make noticable progress in weeks or months.

If you are not going to be a professional pianist, I am not sure it will ever be a meaningful goal to learn grade 8 pieces in a few weeks. Anyhow, I think you should be prepared to spend 5-10 years before playing grade 8 pieces regularly. Perhaps you can work on single pieces of that level before then.

Otherwise I think all your goals are within reach if you have real patience and perseverance. The Danza sacra I don't know, so won't speculate on when that would be possible.

6. Türk's 60 pieces for the Aspiring pianist will help you get back to your previous level in the classical repertoire and can also be used as sight reading exercises.

Offline keypeg

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feedback & suggestions
Reply #12 on: June 20, 2016, 01:32:32 PM
Listening to your two recordings reminded me of the first time I had lessons on an instrument, and the things I didn't know about and was not taught.  I suspect that you are in similar shoes and maybe the same thing can help you.  My impression is that during your years of lessons you were given pieces that were gradually harder, at higher and higher grade levels, and maybe told what they should sound like and where you made the mistakes - there are other sides that often we are not given.

For example, there is how to approach a piece of music, both over the weeks you are learning it, and on any given day.  There are things like working on a small section - even as small as one or two measures - working backward rather than forward (m. 24 - then m. 23 & 24 toward the known); analyzing the music ahead of time to get a handle on it; working on the hardest part first; planning it out before starting to practise.  Also: working on isolated elements one at a time and bringing them together (the right notes and fingering, then fine tuning timing at a slow tempo, then adding dynamics and articulations) --- working out difficulties when they are technical and physical: if this passage sounds bad and I can't improve it, what is the obstacle.  The weaknesses in those recordings - the lurches, stumbles - these would probably improve to an astonishing degree if you learned a different way of approaching music and practising.  Unfortunately there are too many teachers who don't teach this.

If "level" is quality and skill, rather than grade level of a piece, then you don't want to go back to that level.  You have a chance for something much better and much more enjoyable.  The cool thing is that when you learn this new way of working, what you gain extends across all your pieces, at all levels.  The answer is not in the choice of pieces you work on, but in how you work, and toward which (technical etc.) goals.

Offline uv147

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #13 on: June 20, 2016, 02:13:33 PM
thank you


If you are not going to be a professional pianist, I am not sure it will ever be a meaningful goal to learn grade 8 pieces in a few weeks. Anyhow, I think you should be prepared to spend 5-10 years before playing grade 8 pieces regularly. Perhaps you can work on single pieces of that level before then.

Otherwise I think all your goals are within reach if you have real patience and perseverance. The Danza sacra I don't know, so won't speculate on when that would be possible.



well i definetly am not going to become a professional pianist, but by saying "learning a piece", i mean learning the notes and being able to move on and polish the piece, and increasing tempo, absolutely not have it perfect in a few weeks

Listening to your two recordings reminded me of the first time I had lessons on an instrument, and the things I didn't know about and was not taught.  I suspect that you are in similar shoes and maybe the same thing can help you.  My impression is that during your years of lessons you were given pieces that were gradually harder, at higher and higher grade levels, and maybe told what they should sound like and where you made the mistakes - there are other sides that often we are not given.

For example, there is how to approach a piece of music, both over the weeks you are learning it, and on any given day.  There are things like working on a small section - even as small as one or two measures - working backward rather than forward (m. 24 - then m. 23 & 24 toward the known); analyzing the music ahead of time to get a handle on it; working on the hardest part first; planning it out before starting to practise.  Also: working on isolated elements one at a time and bringing them together (the right notes and fingering, then fine tuning timing at a slow tempo, then adding dynamics and articulations) --- working out difficulties when they are technical and physical: if this passage sounds bad and I can't improve it, what is the obstacle.  The weaknesses in those recordings - the lurches, stumbles - these would probably improve to an astonishing degree if you learned a different way of approaching music and practising.  Unfortunately there are too many teachers who don't teach this.

If "level" is quality and skill, rather than grade level of a piece, then you don't want to go back to that level.  You have a chance for something much better and much more enjoyable.  The cool thing is that when you learn this new way of working, what you gain extends across all your pieces, at all levels.  The answer is not in the choice of pieces you work on, but in how you work, and toward which (technical etc.) goals.

yes, i was one of those students... (although in the last year i was already being assigned with learning new parts alone at home, and practicing a part "row by row and if needed bar by bar at a very slow tmepo, and then connectring every too bars")
by "level" i mean the ability to play pieces at the same technical level (i am not sure whether that is the same as grade level), this time i plan to focus on learning how to practice better and smarter, and on becoming independent, and not depend on my teacher to help me learn new material and correct my mistakes, so that if and when i will  continue without a  teacher i will be able to make progress and learn new pieces and other things on my own. i am quite sure that at the level i was at, combined with better practice methods, i will be able to learn pieces and play at a much higher quality.

Offline bronnestam

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #14 on: June 20, 2016, 03:46:24 PM
I have found that AGING is a good way to improve as well ... when I returned to the piano in my mid-40's I realized I had a much, much better understanding of the music than I had as a teenager (I quit taking lessons at 19, then the whole thing was pretty much asleep for decades.)

Technically I had to almost begin from the beginning once again as I was more than "rusty". But re-learning was of course much easier than doing it all from scratch. Since then (it was 4 years ago) my learning capabilities have accelerated and I now have surpassed my former skill level since long, and I learn much faster. It took me months to get through my first "new piece", which was the Adagio from the Pathétique sonata. The first 10 bars took me two weeks, because I was not used to the process at all.

So, I would say, you have not forgotten anything you once learned. It will take you some time to get access to it again, but you will find it. Just be patient and try to work in a structured and methodical way. Also, do not do what I did: I found practicing so nice that I started to play for hours every day, instead of the modest 20 minutes I used to do back in those days ... and guess what happened? I got injuries. One muscle inflammation after the other, it took me about 1½ year of pains and rest and new attemps in a tedious circle before I got out of it. NOW I can play for hours, but I have learned to pay attention. I know that warning signals must not be ignored. If you feel fatigue, or other sensations in your arms and fingers, stop for the day. It is torture when you are full of enthusiasm and eager to learn, I know, but it will be even more torture to be forced to totally stop playing for weeks or months.

I have been through this myself, and have met several others who really have been in trouble. Some never recover fully, and you do not want that end of your piano career ...  :(  So, do not ignore early warning signals. Do not compare yourself with students who have played for hours every day during the last years. Physically, you are a beginner again, take care. In time, you too will be able to play as much as you want. Meanwhile, learn to value off-piano-practicing. No, it is not practice time that counts, if you by practice time just mean "fingers moving over the keys". Instead, study theory, go to recitals, visit open master classes (you find a lot of material on the Internet, as you probably know already) and read sheet music. Listen! Think! Analyze! Plan!

Personally I have practiced quite a lot while I have been out walking my dogs ... I think of a piece I work with, I have it on repeat in my head so to speak, and I hum it and feel it while I'm walking, I get ideas. This time counts too!

There is no way anyone can tell how fast you will make progress and I dare say it is not that important either. It is not always the fastest learner who achieves the best results. But again, do not push yourself too hard. Remember that your learning pace will accelerate.

Offline keypeg

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Re: returning to piano
Reply #15 on: June 20, 2016, 05:39:05 PM
by "level" i mean the ability to play pieces at the same technical level (i am not sure whether that is the same as grade level), this time i plan to focus on learning how to practice better and smarter, and on becoming independent, and not depend on my teacher to help me learn new material and correct my mistakes, so that if and when i will  continue without a  teacher i will be able to make progress and learn new pieces and other things on my own. i am quite sure that at the level i was at, combined with better practice methods, i will be able to learn pieces and play at a much higher quality.
Gotcha.  In regards to depending on a teacher - there seem to be at least two ways of teaching.  When a teacher says "this is what it should sound like" that may not be much of teaching; when a teacher is correcting mistakes, that is a kind of passive, after the fact, "teaching" and I'm not sure that it is actually teaching.  A good teacher (a rarity) will be aiming to make you independent by giving you the tools.  You might be working in a very guided way at first, with the teacher being involved in how you are practising and such, but ultimately this gives you what you need to take over by using these things, as well as springboarding off them to inventing your own tools.  A good teacher will also encourage that kind of independent thinking and problem solving.  But we need something to start with to get us on a path that works.
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