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Topic: How to make up for the lack of intensive training as a child?  (Read 1700 times)

Offline claireliii

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I have been very sad and depressed lately because I was told that I would likely never play at a professional level and get into a conservatory given that I became serious about piano at such a late age(I am 20 and I aspire to get into a get master piano performance program.)

I actually started piano at a fairly young age, but I only grew up practicing 40ish min per day and never joined competitions and stuff. After I went to college I discovered the beauty of classical music and became so obsessed with it. I then set up the goal of getting into a conservatory for graduate school.

I have been struggling so hard since I changed my direction of life. I would often times come cross teenagers who got serious about piano very early and are already at a very high level, which destroys my self-esteem. I so regret not practicing more when I was little. Among all the pieces I am playing for my audition, I struggle with chopin etude the most. I always play wrong notes and seem to never be able to bring it up to tempo.(op.10 no.8  )   I have so much respect for those who can play the etude effortlessly and perfectly, because I just don't see myself doing that no matter how hard I work. If I practice 8 hours a day I will only hurt myself but still I will fail on the etude.

I am proud that I am at least very musical and learn things fast according to my teachers. But I am really struggling with improving the techniques(namely, not hitting the wrong notes/bringing up the tempo)

Offline dw4rn

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Re: How to make up for the lack of intensive training as a child?
Reply #1 on: February 03, 2021, 08:16:05 AM
I'm sorry to hear that :'(

Nevertheless, if your teachers think you are very musical and a fast learner, and you're ONLY 20, I really think you shouldn't despair too much. There will always be people who are ahead of you, no matter what. Who was it that said you would likely never play at a professional level?

I would say that if you continue to kindle your love of music, you will find some sort of way forward. They might be right that you missed the chance of having a great soloist career, but there are many ways of engaging with piano playing, and all of them are very rewarding.

When is your audition and what other pieces are you playing?

Offline ranjit

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Re: How to make up for the lack of intensive training as a child?
Reply #2 on: February 03, 2021, 11:36:13 AM
I admire the dedication! I don't think it would be possible to have a career as a top notch soloist, but I have a feeling that it should be possible to get a Masters degree if you are very motivated.

Among all the pieces I am playing for my audition, I struggle with chopin etude the most. I always play wrong notes and seem to never be able to bring it up to tempo.(op.10 no.8  )   I have so much respect for those who can play the etude effortlessly and perfectly, because I just don't see myself doing that no matter how hard I work.
Maybe try and diversify what you're working on. If you just keep doggedly trying to get a certain piece or passage correct constantly, you'll hit diminishing returns pretty quickly. Why don't you try and come up with a number of variations which use similar arpeggio techniques? If there is an especially tricky section, try and figure out what exactly makes it so hard, and make up a set of slightly easier exercises which will lead you to the point where you improve your skill at that very particular task.

Look at this for example:

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How to make up for the lack of intensive training as a child?
Reply #3 on: February 03, 2021, 12:12:37 PM
I have been very sad and depressed lately because I was told that I would likely never play at a professional level and get into a conservatory given that I became serious about piano at such a late age(I am 20 and I aspire to get into a get master piano performance program.)
Why be depressed? Getting at education at a conservatory does not increase your chances of being a professional performer by that large a margin. Many educators at conservatories are academics, they know very little about the business behind selling concerts/gigs and organising them. Some might have a concerting career because they won lots of competitions but that bottle neck is so narrow and it is not the only way to have a career performing music.

Playing piano for a living and making a living as a performer, this is not an easy life at all. People romanticize what that life is like because they see the final product of the performance. But what about all the business that goes behind setting up a profitable performance? That will take up the vast majority of your time if you choose to be a soloist.

No one will serve you on a plate events to play at, no one will buy your tickets just beause you play the piano well, so you need to have a good idea how to market yourself and network within the community that your perform for. Start with smaller events and build from there, you need that experience, go ahead and do it now. If you think your skills are poor then go to a place which don't expect much and will be glad for your donated time eg: nursing homes. You have to get out there and taste what it is like to perform for others, you don't need a degree for that, you will be surprised that you may not have to wait too long for windows of opportunity to start showing themselves.

I have been struggling so hard since I changed my direction of life.
Do you mean you are devoting your entire time to your piano studies?

I would often times come cross teenagers who got serious about piano very early and are already at a very high level, which destroys my self-esteem.
Well they may play better than you but they have no more chance of setting up a profitable performance career.

I so regret not practicing more when I was little.
Don't torture yourself with "what ifs". In reality you are still very young, but the relative experience of time gets faster and faster as you age, don't waste your time.

Among all the pieces I am playing for my audition, I struggle with chopin etude the most. I always play wrong notes and seem to never be able to bring it up to tempo.(op.10 no.8  )   I have so much respect for those who can play the etude effortlessly and perfectly, because I just don't see myself doing that no matter how hard I work. If I practice 8 hours a day I will only hurt myself but still I will fail on the etude.
Why study such pieces that pose a challenge you cannot solve? Measure what you can manage and work with pieces that challenge you but don't totally stump you. There is a whole lot of repertoire out there and no need to copy selections of well trodden paths.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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Offline adodd81802

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I think we underestimate those that do make it professionally when it comes to classical music, one of the most cut-throat genres there is.

I think the bigger question really is why do you aim to take it professionally. I think the issue is not your progress, but the pressure you're putting on yourself to be as good as other people, and so maybe worried that in a professional environment, you're not going to make the cut.

Looking into the past is a waste of time, you cannot change it. You must however also face the reality that you may never become a professional in this field, and that is OK. The internet is both a wonderful and awful place, for exposing talents across the world, but also raising the bar that much higher.

My advice is this, don't look at your end goals, focus on your short and small time goals, and also whether or not the pursuit actually even makes you happy. If you're going to emotionally fall apart because a college may turn you down, or an audition goes bad, maybe this just isn't for you, and that is also OK.

After not being able to afford to go to Music College, I had to face the reality that piano for me was always going to end as a hobby and while the story was sad, it is also a huge weight lifted for me to know that I was then able to focus on actually having a 'life' while still doing something I love and enjoy, without the pressure of potentially failing.

There are plenty of amazing musicians that for one reason or another do not get the exposure of platform they deserve, but that does not stop them from doing what they love. That should be the most important thing here, is it the instrument - or the stage?
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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After not being able to afford to go to Music College, I had to face the reality that piano for me was always going to end as a hobby and while the story was sad, it is also a huge weight lifted for me to know that I was then able to focus on actually having a 'life' while still doing something I love and enjoy, without the pressure of potentially failing.
I know a number of music teachers who haven't got a music degree and they are excellent. I performed sold out concert halls when I was younger and didn't have a degree either. It might sound strange coming from a teacher but I don't think music degrees are useful for everyone wanting to do music professionally. Setting up profitable concert events is not taught at universities, that should tell us a lot.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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Offline anacrusis

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I think we underestimate those that do make it professionally when it comes to classical music, one of the most cut-throat genres there is.

I think the bigger question really is why do you aim to take it professionally. I think the issue is not your progress, but the pressure you're putting on yourself to be as good as other people, and so maybe worried that in a professional environment, you're not going to make the cut.

Looking into the past is a waste of time, you cannot change it. You must however also face the reality that you may never become a professional in this field, and that is OK. The internet is both a wonderful and awful place, for exposing talents across the world, but also raising the bar that much higher.

My advice is this, don't look at your end goals, focus on your short and small time goals, and also whether or not the pursuit actually even makes you happy. If you're going to emotionally fall apart because a college may turn you down, or an audition goes bad, maybe this just isn't for you, and that is also OK.

After not being able to afford to go to Music College, I had to face the reality that piano for me was always going to end as a hobby and while the story was sad, it is also a huge weight lifted for me to know that I was then able to focus on actually having a 'life' while still doing something I love and enjoy, without the pressure of potentially failing.

There are plenty of amazing musicians that for one reason or another do not get the exposure of platform they deserve, but that does not stop them from doing what they love. That should be the most important thing here, is it the instrument - or the stage?

Good post. I think anyone who wants to perform music professionally would benefit from asking themselves:

1. Do I absolutely love and adore a large quantity of the piano repertoire?

2. Do I absolutely love and adore being on stage and sharing this music with other people?

3. Do I absolutely love and adore the work needed to prepare my technique, musicianship and repertoire to make it ready to be shared on stage?

If the answer is not an instant yes on these three, I would do a lot of soul searching on why I want to make a career out of performing in the first place. For example, if you love the idea of being on stage but are miserable practising for hours and hours to get there, why would you want to put in all that work if you don't even enjoy the process?

Offline brogers70

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It is totally normal to mourn the loss of a future you had imagined for yourself. Totally normal. It's unlikely to feel miserable like that forever, though.

If you are twenty and already naturally musical, you have something like 50-70 years to look forward to in which you can develop your technique and play music. Years and years in which you can explore a huge body of wonderful music and share it with family and friends and local people even if not as a professional concert pianist. You might well need to find a non-musical way to make a living. You might find a niche in music that does not require the highest level of technical prowess. In either case, music is wonderful, and whatever else you do, you'll have direct, personal access to great music in a way that most people never do.

Offline ranjit

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One more thing -- I think it's important that you (or someone in a similar situation) should find someone who can not only play the piano well, but also describe and convey the mechanisms behind their playing really well. While this is also possibly a good thing for children, I think it is especially important for adults -- I think, as an adult learner, it's good to both be able to play with good technique, as well as have conscious awareness of it so that you don't fall into bad habits while playing. Children can sometimes learn technique at a very young age and have it ingrained to the point where they never have to think about it (although I think even this has its drawbacks, given the number of people who still end up injured). But for an adult trying to play at a high level, I think it's doubly important to find someone who is really good at articulating things which may seem "natural" to a seasoned pianist.

Offline gtpiano

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I really think you are too hard on yourself. You are still very young. All of us only have the present. The past is a memory. The future is a fabrication. Why not get a regular gig playing to, e.g., aged care residents, children in hospital, etc. I have dabbled in piano for many years and am really not very good at all, but enjoy trying. I am 72 years of age. I did play drums and sang semi-professionally for several years while in my teens and twenties. Had a lot of fun, but it was not easygoing. One should never regret the journey life takes you on. 

Offline lelle

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Re: How to make up for the lack of intensive training as a child?
Reply #10 on: March 26, 2021, 05:48:23 PM
I really think you are too hard on yourself. You are still very young. All of us only have the present. The past is a memory. The future is a fabrication. Why not get a regular gig playing to, e.g., aged care residents, children in hospital, etc. I have dabbled in piano for many years and am really not very good at all, but enjoy trying. I am 72 years of age. I did play drums and sang semi-professionally for several years while in my teens and twenties. Had a lot of fun, but it was not easygoing. One should never regret the journey life takes you on.

If you don't mind me asking, what did you end up doing once you quit playing drums and singing? How did the switch happen?

Offline gtpiano

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Re: How to make up for the lack of intensive training as a child?
Reply #11 on: March 27, 2021, 12:00:52 PM
"If you don't mind me asking, what did you end up doing once you quit playing drums and singing? How did the switch happen?" An interesting question that nobody to my knowledge has asked before. The long answer is. I left school at 15 years after spending my last school year or so at a special school for boys that had difficulty with the conventional school system. When I was escorted to the train station to go home, my escort, also my favourite teacher, asked me what did I want to do now. I said the only thing I will definitely do is play the drums. I had wanted to play the drums since my earliest memories. I never really "quit playing the drums" I just realised I could not support a wife and family doing so. I tapered off with music when I was around 30. I studied hard to gain access to university, failing the entrance exam the first time but getting accepted the second time I applied a year later. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1990 but didn't actually get employment in that field although the fact that I am a studious person opened doors in other areas. I later became a lighting engineer, i.e., a full technical member (MIES) of the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand. I worked as a lighting engineer for around ten years. I became dissatisfied with that role as I felt like an overqualified lighting salesman so changed careers around 2000 by doing an AutoCad drafting course and becoming a design draftsman until I semi-retired around 2009 when I qualified as an assistant in nursing (AIN) I worked in that field until my own compromised mobility made it difficult for me to assist people safely. In 2012 at the spritely age of ~63 I was accepted into The University of New England (UNE) NSW Australia where I studied up until 2019, Graduated in 2017 with a PostGradDip (GDH, Archaeology & Palaeoanthropology), in December 2019 graduated again with a Master of Humanities (MA, Archaeology) at the grand age of 71 years. I am now attempting to find a supervisor so that I can pursue a Ph.D. in Archaeology, a difficult pursuit given the COVID situation. Back to the Drumming. After my tapering off at around 30 years I played with several bands in practice studios etc plus ten years in a Saturday jazz workshop comprising very small jazz combos. I only stopped playing around 2008 after a minor stroke. Towards the end of 2019, I was rushed to the hospital after several heart attacks, where I had triple bypass surgery. Whoever said "life is like a box of chocolates" was absolutely correct.
 

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