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Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano? (Read 777 times)

Offline Derek

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Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
« on: November 01, 2017, 10:52:39 PM »
 With the exception of improvisation, I don't have much skill at the piano. The hardest piece I've ever attempted was Chopin's Ocean Etude, and I could never get to a point even at a relatively slow speed where I wasn't totally flubbing some of the passages. Right below that may be 3rd movement of Moonlight Sonata. I got maybe 80% of the way there, but several passages in that were damn near impossible to really get right it seemed. I think if I revisited it today, I *might* be able to get that one down.

I forgot, I DID attempt Scriabin's Opus 42 no 5 briefly, but good lord that rips my hands to shreds!!!! I think I'd have to have hands that are like twice the size to even attempt that one again!

But thankfully there's a TON of easier/intermediate pieces for casual amateur players to enjoy, I'm grateful for that. And I have my improvisation.

And I'm actually pretty decent at sight reading! (at easy/intermediate levels) I have a suspicion improvisation may be helping with that to a significant degree as it gets my fingers familiar with all sorts of shapes on the keyboard which would only come with memorization otherwise...

I'm just curious, am I the only amateur here (playing at a sub-virtuosic level) or am I surrounded by exceedingly talented folks who probably couldn't care less about what I have to say? Haha

Offline Bob

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #1 on: November 01, 2017, 10:55:56 PM »
I'm stuck in technique land.  I'm probably still early/mid college level.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline Derek

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #2 on: November 01, 2017, 11:09:13 PM »
I just found an old midi recording I made of the ocean etude. It's probably playing at a half or quarter speed of what one normally hears in recordings. Several mistakes. I guess it's probably possible, but damn, it'd have to be virtually the only thing I do with my free time for weeks on end likely. My memory of getting the piece to this point was me and my wife allowed her sister in law and toddler to live with us for a few months. I couldn't stand the noise so I spent my evenings locked away in an office with a digital piano and headphones, and practicing a few pieces utterly to death was my solace at the time, LOL. And that's how far I got..... *not far enough*.

Doesn't help the only acoustic piano I have access to has a horrible shitty action. Haha

Offline Bob

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #3 on: November 03, 2017, 12:21:18 AM »
Having a job definitely has a negative impact on playing and progress... except for the income to sustain yourself.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline Derek

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #4 on: November 03, 2017, 12:50:42 AM »
Having a job definitely has a negative impact on playing and progress... except for the income to sustain yourself.

Yeah makes sense. I'm just glad it's possible to enjoy music anyway. I used to have a rather inflated idea of where I'd go pianistically. Thought I'd win some amateur competition some day. And it's like SShyeah, not unless you quit your OTHER hobbies, which are also important to me lol.

I'm a jack of all trades!

Offline quantum

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #5 on: November 03, 2017, 04:24:44 AM »
You are likely far better off being a jack of all trades.  One trick ponies may appear to get the shiny lights and attention, but when it comes to pragmatic employment as a pro musician, the versatile ones are often given preference for the job.  This includes in academia where everyone has specialties upon specialties.  Its nice that so and so was able to write a 1000 page dissertation on the first three notes of Plinkmaninov's triple concerto for toy piano, xylophone and garbage can, but what the committee really wants to know is if you can teach a 1st year course filled with aspiring musicians.
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 mjames

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #6 on: November 03, 2017, 04:44:56 AM »
Hey @Rachmaninoff4ever, why haven't you posted yet? It's the perfect thread for you!

Offline j_tour

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #7 on: November 03, 2017, 06:34:02 AM »
I kind of suck, in quite a few aspects.  I haven't been doing live performance jobs in a few years, and the few rock and roll kids who stumble around every so often to cop a few tricks only really pay what amounts to beer money or pocket change.  

I don't if that makes me an amateurish (or just plain kind of lazy and/or shitty) professional, or just an average amateur who'd rather screw around than hustle up playing gigs with people whose company I don't often enjoy, playing music I'm not always in control of choosing, and hauling hundreds of pounds of gear around for a few bucks, and dealing with phone tag with some coked-up flake of a bar owner or "band leader."

I mean, I'm good at playing the stuff that's been in my stylistic wheelhouse for decades now, I'm confident that I can do what I can do, to give a nice tautology, but I'm still chipping away methodically at some technical defects that are, I feel, holding me back from romantic-era concert repertoire, as well as performing a more sophisticated style of jazz than my old-school bebop fetish.  Which [large swaths of romantic-era music, including the late-romantic Russians, Scriabin excepted] doesn't interest me, really, but it limits my ability to play the Chopin Préudes, most of the major post-middle period Beethoven sonatas, many of the Debussy préludes, and a good bit of Liszt, a large portion of Schumann, and some of the more technical Brahms (even just the B-minor Rhapsody, if I really try to play it with absolute clarity, rather than hiding behind the pedal for some of the effects -- not to mention it's a PITA to remember the first variation/development of the A theme, unless, you know, you try and stuff) -- as well as to rattle off some improvised baroque material with equal facility in LH as in RH, and things like the Scarlatti K141, which is physically exhausting for me, almost certainly not feeling it's worth the time to fix the technical stamina needed, even if the notes aren't that hard themselves.

Not to mention that, especially as get older, my ability to memorize new through-composed material, especially Bach, is pretty atrocious, compared to when I was a young teenager and it seemed like nothing to just inhale music.  OTOH, I'm a lot better at glancing at a lead sheet and just making it sound close enough than I was at that age, transposing, sight-reading more things, knowing more theory, playing better by ear, better at transcribing, so, whatever, it kind of balances out.

In a related note, I think it has to do, the memory recall, that a lot of stuff, particularly early Romantic material, just plain has so many notes, regardless of technical difficulty, that I often find it's just more trouble than it's worth.  Chopin's C major prélude is a great example -- I'd like to have that one to just rattle off if I felt like it, but it's a lot of subtle harmony to really load up the brain stack with.  Similar with the Op. 10 no. 2 étude -- that would be a good one to experiment with different fingerings for RH chromatic work, but, you know, something must happen as you pass your thirties and twenties and teens to the willingness to have patience for stuff you're not really motivated for.  OTOH, patience for reading through the WTC, sometimes at a glacial pace, has increased, so it's not all bad.

So, yeah, there's definitely a lot of music I suck at, but that's fine with me.  I'm not on anybody's list for playing reggae or Latin dance music, or playing the Hammerklavier or the Diabelli variations, but that doesn't bother me in the least.  I'm happily doing things in classical thasit didn't interest me when I was a kid -- some of the middle Beethoven Sonatas (very glad that I never again have to play the Pathétique or the Moonlight -- although I admit to occasionally reading through bits of them just as a kind of sanity check, although I'd have to woodshed a bit on the presto agitato, and I'm happy to say I'm old enough that I just don't care anymore, now that the superior Op. 27 no 1 and the parts of Op. 26 I didn't do as a kid and some hamfisted stabs at the Op. 30 sonatas keep me interested), Mozart, Haydn's later sonatas, a wider range of Bach, sight-reading more Debussy, deciding that I'm probably not ever going to really internalize Schoenberg, nor develop a coherent reading of the Berg sonata the way I want it to sound.

Sorry about the wall of text -- not exactly logorrhea, but I try to keep my thoughts organized at most times, so when it's time to offer some ridiculous dump of what I've already decided, it just comes out the way it's already been formulated internally, unless there's a reason to nip it in the bud.

At least it's in paragraphs!

Offline ted

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #8 on: November 03, 2017, 08:41:26 AM »
The facts about me would probably surprise. I failed the only music examination I sat, a very elementary one, I lack almost all the measurable skills and knowledge of common practice music, my ear is conspicuously fallible, I cannot sight read to save myself, I know no theory at all, not a skerrick, and indeed, do not even know the names of most of the chords I use. My working knowledge and experience of playing either classical or jazz aside from a few dozen pieces in my youth, is close to negligible. I have not bothered to learn any new pieces for ten years, the last big formal concerts I attended were fifty years ago, I have zero contact with musicians because I don't get on with them and I have an intense loathing for performance of any sort. I have never, even once, earned any money from my music, and spent thirty years working at a factory.

"Is there a credit side at all ?" I hear you ask. Yes. The wonderfully unorthodox teachers of my childhood and youth told me it didn't matter because the creative drive is a very powerful thing, and told me to do exactly what I wanted to and ignore both the deficits and everybody else. In particular, they told me not to bother with any more teachers, advice I soon wished I had heeded.

The one aspect which isn't too bad, I suppose, is my physical technique, but it is wildly unconventional and results solely from the kindness of my second teacher in supplying me with a Virgil Practice Clavier, which I have used almost daily for fifty years. Wthout this amazing device I doubt I would be playing at all at seventy.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #9 on: November 03, 2017, 10:29:39 AM »
With the exception of improvisation, I don't have much skill at the piano. The hardest piece I've ever attempted was Chopin's Ocean Etude, and I could never get to a point even at a relatively slow speed where I wasn't totally flubbing some of the passages. Right below that may be 3rd movement of Moonlight Sonata. I got maybe 80% of the way there, but several passages in that were damn near impossible to really get right it seemed. I think if I revisited it today, I *might* be able to get that one down.

I forgot, I DID attempt Scriabin's Opus 42 no 5 briefly, but good lord that rips my hands to shreds!!!! I think I'd have to have hands that are like twice the size to even attempt that one again!

But thankfully there's a TON of easier/intermediate pieces for casual amateur players to enjoy, I'm grateful for that. And I have my improvisation.

And I'm actually pretty decent at sight reading! (at easy/intermediate levels) I have a suspicion improvisation may be helping with that to a significant degree as it gets my fingers familiar with all sorts of shapes on the keyboard which would only come with memorization otherwise...

I'm just curious, am I the only amateur here (playing at a sub-virtuosic level) or am I surrounded by exceedingly talented folks who probably couldn't care less about what I have to say? Haha

Of course this is the internet, where you just might have exceedingly UNtalented folks who couldnt care less about what you have to say - haha.  From what you write it looks like you have the same type of experience I have so I can relate, but would not use the word "terrible" . With piano, you can experience great music without having to be a virtuoso.
It is not so black and white (pun intended).  I am grateful I dont have to play Bach super fast to enjoy it.   

Offline Derek

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #10 on: November 03, 2017, 12:43:46 PM »
Yeah calling myself "terrible" as a pianist is probably too harsh. All I really meant by that is: "Would not achieve higher than last place in a piano competition." (which I have never tried, never was interested in and never will...)

Offline Derek

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #11 on: November 03, 2017, 07:23:17 PM »
 OTOH, patience for reading through the WTC, sometimes at a glacial pace, has increased, so it's not all bad.
I'm ramping up to the confidence necessary to start reading through that beast in earnest. I've got quite a few of the 3 part sinfonias under my belt (not memorized mind you, just so I can play them if I have it open in front of me, and play them pretty well I think).

There's a handful of WTC pairs I really really like. Then another handful of the later ones which just sound like "the prog rock of baroque" to me, just way too dense and not melodic enough. I'll probably avoid those...

I also decided randomly to sight read some Chopin waltzes the other night. Not quite at speed, but comfortably enough I think I'd have those down fairly quickly. The b minor one is friggin gorgeous.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #12 on: November 03, 2017, 09:54:16 PM »
With the exception of improvisation, I don't have much skill at the piano. The hardest piece I've ever attempted was Chopin's Ocean Etude...

I think there's a thread about the Dunning Kruger effect somewhere here... ;D

Anyway, I'm probably one of the worst piano players on this forum. I've been playing for only about two years now, and I don't even have access to a piano :(

Offline outin

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Re: Any fellow amateurs here who are pretty terrible at piano?
«Reply #13 on: November 04, 2017, 07:25:54 AM »
I find I can practice skillfully (except right now with a busted shoulder) but cannot really play anything.