Piano Forum



Enfant Terrible or Childishly Innocent? – Prokofiev’s Complete Piano Works Now on Piano Street
In our ongoing quest to provide you with a complete library of classical piano sheet music, the works of Sergey Prokofiev have been our most recent focus. As one of the most distinctive and original musical voices from the first half of the 20th century, Prokofiev has an obvious spot on the list of top piano composers. Welcome to the intense, humorous, and lyrical universe of his complete Sonatas, Concertos, character pieces, and transcriptions! Read more >>

Topic: When to call yourself a pianist?  (Read 4677 times)

Offline andd845

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 31
When to call yourself a pianist?
on: September 19, 2017, 04:20:11 PM
Hello there,

I've realised that I tell people I play the piano, never
that I'm a pianist...I used to think, early on, grade 5, but that came and
Went and here I am preparing for g7 and realistically on for grade 8 in next year, but
nope, still not feeling like a pianist. It's not the grade is it?

Someone in a band, playing a piano in a hotel lounge, they'd say they
were pianists, and I think they'd be right. For a classical player, a certain level
of sight reading, accompanying, being paid, a certain
level of under standing of what you're playing, being able to sit down and play without music
For hours? What is it that would make you announce yourself a pianist?

(Sorry for formatting)

Offline visitor

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5294
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #1 on: September 19, 2017, 04:25:11 PM
its arbitrary, so id say whenever you feel like it.

i mowed the lawn last week. i think i'll start saying i'm a lawnist, or lawn mowerist, that sounds so much more substantial.

Offline andd845

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 31
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #2 on: September 19, 2017, 04:34:27 PM
From a distance my patting my  lawnmower may look suspiciously like affection, but in fact I'm just checking to see if the grass bin needs emptying. I feel we may be veering off topic..

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3414
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #3 on: September 19, 2017, 07:46:21 PM
I'm not sure the exact terminology matters but the attitude might.

So try this.

A piano player is advancing through levels of skill as an individual.  Your level is higher than most ever attain, but you are still a player.

A pianist communicates with an audience, and defines himself/herself by that action rather than by the current state of proficiency, which could be considerably lower than yours.  The audience could be sophisticated symphony attendees or intoxicated patrons in a cocktail bar, it doesn't matter for this purpose. 
Tim

Offline beethovenfan01

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 288
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #4 on: September 20, 2017, 07:18:13 AM
I would agree with that, and add a little more.

Going from "piano player" to "pianist" is such: when you are a piano player, it's something you do, normally just as a small part of your life. A pianist, however--amateur or professional--is serious about improving and executing his art, and strives to reach the highest standard he can. It's when it becomes part of who you are.

Are you there yet? Only you can tell.
Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH

Offline klavieronin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 793
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #5 on: September 20, 2017, 08:39:24 AM
I would only ever call myself a pianist if at least part of my living was earned through playing piano. That isn't because I think you need to be professional to call yourself a pianist but rather because when you say "I am a (blank)", it is usually assumed that (blank) is your profession (unless you are still in school).

Context is important though. If you were part of an amateur orchestra/band/ensemble for example, within that context you'd be right to call yourself a pianist.

Examples:

"So, what do you do?"
"I'm a pianist."
Sounds like a professional

"So, what are you doing on the weekend?"
"I'm the pianist in a community chamber ensemble and we have rehearsal all weekend, so I'll be doing that."
Sounds like an amateur.

"Do you like this music?"
"No. It's crap, and I'm a pianist so I think I should know."
Sounds like an arrogant prick.

Offline stevensk

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 641
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #6 on: September 20, 2017, 10:43:52 AM
-It doesn't seems like guitarists have these issues  ;D

Offline Bob

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 16364
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #7 on: September 20, 2017, 10:49:05 PM
Whenever you want.

Who you're talking to probably also factors in.

Either way, I'd probably say I practice or play piano.  The only time I'm thinking I'd call anyone a pianist is if they're in a group, and I need to point something out.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline ted

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3988
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #8 on: September 21, 2017, 12:57:46 AM
If asked that question I usually describe myself as an outsider pianist, because I play the instrument in ways different from the commonly accepted meanings of the word. It saves later embarrassment when I cannot perform functions normally ascribed to pianists. On the other hand, many people call someone a good pianist purely in a functional sense, if keys are pushed with dexterity and confidence. The word is capable of several meanings.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline bronnestam

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 716
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #9 on: September 21, 2017, 07:43:15 AM
Why wasting time and energy thinking of what others might think?  ::)

Call yourself a pianist if you like. Or don't, if you like. Just don't do it because you worry about others.

There are some professional titles you are not allowed to use unless you have a legal license, like surgeon or police. The reason is obvious. But "pianist" is not one of those titles.

Offline klavieronin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 793
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #10 on: September 21, 2017, 10:24:05 AM
Why wasting time and energy thinking of what others might think?  ::)

Call yourself a pianist if you like. Or don't, if you like. Just don't do it because you worry about others.

There are some professional titles you are not allowed to use unless you have a legal license, like surgeon or police. The reason is obvious. But "pianist" is not one of those titles.

I suppose if you cared about communicating with people effectively you might strive to do it in a way that avoids unnecessary confusion and misunderstandings, in which case the vocabulary you use is kind of important.

For example, when my father would introduce me to one of his friends or work colleagues he would always tell them that I was a pianist which I hated because the question "where do you play?" or "when are you performing next?" would inevitably follow, at which point I would have to explain that I'm not that sort of pianist.

The question, as I understood it, was less about what people think and more about what is generally understood by the term "pianist".

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3414
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #11 on: September 21, 2017, 12:22:47 PM


Call yourself a pianist if you like. Or don't, if you like. Just don't do it because you worry about others.


True, but, in this case I think it goes to self image. 
Tim

Offline bronnestam

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 716
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #12 on: September 21, 2017, 08:06:00 PM
Well, I constantly end up in similar debates when it comes to writing. "When can you call yourself a writer?"
I have published just one novel - only tried that one - and some short stories and YES, I am a writer, because I always write. I think, breathe and live writing. But I don't make a living on it, obviously.

I know there are people who have published +10 thick novels and still they refuse to call themselves writers, maybe because they think they should be "modest". Or because they have not made enough money on them. Or because they think you need to get the Nobel Prize before you are a True Writer. Before that you are just a cheater and wannabe ...
On the other hand, there are people who have written two haikus and they call themselves poets. And why not?

In my Facebook profile I describe myself as a "writer, translator, pianist and engineer". If we want to go formal, I am just an engineer in applied physics, because I have the diploma. On the other hand, I have never worked with applied physics, not even one day in 25 years. I make a living on translations. I devote my spare time to piano playing and writing. If someone would tell me to adjust my description because it does not go well with THEIR definitions, I would ... not give a ****. And if they asked me when my next performance is, I would just say "never. I don't perform." And I am no Argerich either, for that matter. I cannot remove the description "pianist" just in case anyone would get the faulty idea that I am a skilled professional. 

But when I play the piano, I am a pianist.



 

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2553
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #13 on: September 21, 2017, 10:24:37 PM
When you can play Chopin's op.10/25  etudes or Bach's goldberg variations all in one go. Until then you're crap and don't deserve to publicly associate yourself with the instrument.

Offline chopinlover01

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2117
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #14 on: September 22, 2017, 04:22:36 AM
Just.... don't.

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2553
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #15 on: September 22, 2017, 04:54:41 AM
I don't play piano, I make love to it.

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2553
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #16 on: September 22, 2017, 05:11:53 AM
Oh and furthermore, if you can't perfectly transcribe Prokofiev's violin concerto after one listen then you can't call yourself a pianist. Ever.
You're only eligible for the club membership once you attain these heights.

Offline klavieronin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 793
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #17 on: September 22, 2017, 06:47:53 AM
I don't play piano, I make love to it.

Yikes! Remind me to never touch your piano.

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2553
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #18 on: September 22, 2017, 01:55:25 PM
Yikes! Remind me to never touch your piano.

touch it like you touch my woman

Offline klavieronin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 793
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #19 on: September 22, 2017, 02:40:23 PM

Offline bernadette60614

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 541
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #20 on: September 28, 2017, 10:36:56 PM
I think when you can mow a lawn, you can say you are a lawnist, but you can't say that you are a landscaper.  A landscaper has a depth of knowledge, a broad range of abilities and a professional commitment to greater levels of knowledge, proficiency, and in the highest practitioners, artistry.

I am an emerging pianist.  I am gaining knowledge, my range of abilities is increasing and I have a professional commitment to constantly improving.

Offline chopinlover01

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2117
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #21 on: September 28, 2017, 11:58:29 PM
Honestly, guys, this isn't really a tough question. When you can play something - anything - competently, you can call yourself a pianist.

Really, it doesn't even have to be very competent. Is anyone going to look at someone and say "they aren't a pianist" because they butchered Fur Elise?

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3805
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #22 on: October 27, 2017, 05:33:30 AM
"Do you like this music?"
"No. It's crap, and I'm a pianist so I think I should know."
Sounds like an arrogant prick.

Ha.  Pretty good.  I might have to steal that one, if I can remember it at an appropriate time.

Yeah, I think I agree with several people (I don't differentiate "piano player," "piano picker," or "pianist," as concepts, just synonyms in slightly different registers):  if you have a book of repertoire, meaning you can pick and choose from your repertoire to play for a certain non-trivial amount of time something most people would recognize as music, sounds like a pianist to me.

Also, even though many advanced musicians still work with teacher/coaches, if you don't rely on anyone's advice, ultimately, but your own to choose repertoire or to identify technical problems to correct, sounds like a pianist.

If someone asks you impromptu at some occasion to entertain the crowd for a while on piano, and you can play appropriate music by sizing up the audience, that sounds like a pianist.

However, the obsession some imho intellectually-disabled people have with the corporate, tax-structures of "professional," "semi-professional," "amateur," or whatever are for retards.

If you get paid to play, you're a professional.  If you don't get paid very much, then you're not a very good professional.  If you make videos and monetize them, you're an entrepreneur who's selling some stuff you made in your basement. Power to you.

If you play jobs for "the experience" (i.e., without any compensation whatsoever) IMHO, you're lower than an amateur, you're a chump, or maybe 15 years old and don't know any better.  Some exceptions can be made for volunteering for the cancer ward or for AIDS babies, or at the old folks home.  I personally think people who put all kinds of videos for free on YouTube are losers, but at least they're developing a portfolio.  I'd never do it without money in the hand, but I'm lazy and dislike "helping" people without a good reason that benefits me directly.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline Derek

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1884
Re: When to call yourself a pianist?
Reply #23 on: October 30, 2017, 03:15:28 PM
You're a pianist if you make sounds that you and (maybe) others like using a piano.
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert