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Thread: What are you working on right now.

  1. #1021
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Hey, think about it. There are people who are groomed from a young age and then play daily many many hours, some of these become pros. Then some hold them up as being the only ones that are 'real' pianists. I don't think music is like that.

    Instruments that are less popular like tuba and bassoon require less practice time to become pro, because the benchmark hasn't been set as high. These are artificial bench marks we create basically based on whoever has put in the maximum amount of work, mixed with talent. I think amateur musicians are capable of expressing profundity on their instruments and moving people. The other stuff is just competition. Anyone can become a 'real' pianist. Not anyone can become pro, but I personally don't care about that. I don't feel the need to sacrifice virtually every waking minute of my day to music because someone else with no life decided to, so now they are somehow the only 'real' pianists? I reject that. Music should not enslave people in my view. Does it point the way to something that is profound? Mission accomplished. I think it has gotten to the point that the pros focus too much on minutia, personally.

    Don't get me wrong I am grateful for my recordings done by the pros, but I often find unique insights in amateur performance as well. Perhaps once a performer has gotten to a certain level, some qualities can be lost. I believe it was Picasso who spent much of his later years as an artist trying to regain aspects of his craft that were lost from his youth.

    The above may be a minority view here, but that is how I see it.

    By the way if you also like Bach's WTC, you might like this thread:

    Well Tempered Experience
    The implication in the bolded is quite insulting to pros and high achievers and very far off the mark imv. Wanting to excel at an instrument and in performance is not driven by "competition" but is a personal, intuitive desire, a calling if you will. Clearly a certain standard of performance has to be attained, but one has to do that anyway in order to communicate and perform effectively at the higher levels of music and musicianship. In other words, attaining excellence is not driven by competition in the literal sense but is simply the bare minimum requirement to enter the profession or to play music well, simple and especially more complex works. Also, in order to achieve a high standard, the minutia is an all important focus in formative years and stays as such throughout the professional years. You most likely wont survive professionally if the minutia is neglected - it's that important, which is why the details are never neglected, they are the foundation for expression.

    To suggest that those who practise hard and devote much time in order to master music have no life is quite odd. Music can be a great life, a rewarding, fulfilling life. But then again, the general tone of your post is an amateur's perspective and although not wrong as far as you are concerned (it even comes across as a little bitter), is far from the truth of the matter and seemingly shows no real understanding of what drives a musician towards excellence and why. The answer is easy...it's the music.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Jul-10-2021 at 15:14.

  2. #1022
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    I'm capable of expression on the piano, but I believe without the technique it's virtually worthless to any listener. In fact, I'm finding I use expression to cover up my technical deficiencies. haha.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

  3. #1023
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    The implication in the bolded is quite insulting to pros and high achievers and very far off the mark imv. Wanting to excel at an instrument and in performance is not driven by "competition" but is a personal, intuitive desire, a calling if you will. Clearly a certain standard of performance has to be attained, but one has to do that anyway in order to communicate and perform effectively at the higher levels of music and musicianship. In other words, attaining excellence is not driven by competition in the literal sense but is simply the bare minimum requirement to enter the profession or to play music well, simple and especially more complex works. Also, in order to achieve a high standard, the minutia is an all important focus in formative years and stays as such throughout the professional years. You most likely wont survive professionally if the minutia is neglected - it's that important, which is why the details are never neglected, they are the foundation for expression.

    To suggest that those who practise hard and devote much time in order to master music have no life is quite odd. Music can be a great life, a rewarding, fulfilling life. But then again, the general tone of your post is an amateur's perspective and although not wrong as far as you are concerned (it even comes across as a little bitter), is far from the truth of the matter and seemingly shows no real understanding of what drives a musician towards excellence and why. The answer is easy...it's the music.
    I think there are people who are born with the ability to become professionals and the circumstances, and can be happy doing it, and that is great. But there are others that make major sacrifices and it shows in their demeanor and attitude. People that act like only pros are capable of creating music I find are insulting, and further I don't think they even have an understanding of what music actually is. I'm sick of that kind of attitude and frankly I think it turns a lot of people away from classical music and it also causes many people to believe that there is no point in learning to play an instrument unless they start before 10 years of age and have the time to play many hours everyday and focus on all the minutiae the pros do. It simply kills the joy for many people, and that is what music is about. This kind of attitude frustrates me. Yes my point was exaggerated, and there are exceptions, but also truth to what I was saying.
    Last edited by tdc; Jul-22-2021 at 21:51.

  4. #1024
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    In Swafford's bio it discusses how Brahms used to play the piano at the Schumann's and other places and people were very moved by it. By today's standards Brahms playing would likely be considered at the level of a gifted amateur. Ravel toured and got standing ovations, even though some snobs around him criticized his playing. Today there are people who would act as if Brahms and Ravel themselves would have no business playing the piano.

    I remember watching a master class a while ago where the student performed a Schubert impromptu (wonderfully to my ears) and then Schiff proceeded to break down all the things he was doing wrong, and it was just another example to me of how perspectives have gotten so extreme in this regard. It is fine to strive for technical mastery and to want to learn from pros like Schiff, but technical perfection is not possible. Music comes from the soul and the performer is the one who will breathe life into a piece. If that performer has limited life experiences to draw on because their entire life has been focused almost entirely on the technical aspects of music, then I believe interpretations can suffer from that too.
    Last edited by tdc; Jul-22-2021 at 23:47.

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  6. #1025
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    So interesting to read the feed. I’ve recently (since a couple of years) come back to the piano, after nearly 30 years of not playing…since leaving home for university. As a teenager, my life was filled with competitions and recitals, with the hope of pursuing a career as a pianist…I was decent enough, but just not good enough. Sitting today at the keyboard, it’s like rekindling an old friendship…it’s wonderful, but also frustrating. My brain remembers the notes/fingerings of everything…unfortunately, my fingers seem to not be in cohesive conversation with my brain! I’m trying to be ruthless in regaining technique, with lots of Bach (Partitas & French/English suites). Just for laughs (torture) each day, I pull something I could play blindfolded at 15 or so and give it my best shot. Today’s pick was Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes…two or three of the variations were somewhat passable!

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    Interesting post and it's great you've come back to the piano.

    Based on my own experience, while I wasn't at your level back in the day I can't help wondering if - frustrating as it may be - you might benefit from taking things right back to basics technically. I had lessons from the age of 5 to the age of 18, then stopped them when I went to university but always carried on playing. Three years ago, after a 46-year break, I decided as a retirement project to go back to lessons and my teacher, having heard me play a Chopin Etude (op.25/1) and Nocturne (op.15/1) as well as some Bach, put me straight back on scales for months! She felt my playing had something to commend it but had become pretty "splashy" during those self-directed years. Three years on almost to the day, I bless her decision and the fact that I managed to make myself stick with it. My playing has greatly improved and I'm now playing stuff (Chopin Fantaisie-Impromptu, Rachmaninov prelude in G minor etc.) which I'd only have played *at* before. Just a thought.

    Welcome back anyway!

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  10. #1027
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    In Swafford's bio it discusses how Brahms used to play the piano at the Schumann's and other places and people were very moved by it. By today's standards Brahms playing would likely be considered at the level of a gifted amateur. Ravel toured and got standing ovations, even though some snobs around him criticized his playing. Today there are people who would act as if Brahms and Ravel themselves would have no business playing the piano.

    I remember watching a master class a while ago where the student performed a Schubert impromptu (wonderfully to my ears) and then Schiff proceeded to break down all the things he was doing wrong, and it was just another example to me of how perspectives have gotten so extreme in this regard. It is fine to strive for technical mastery and to want to learn from pros like Schiff, but technical perfection is not possible. Music comes from the soul and the performer is the one who will breathe life into a piece. If that performer has limited life experiences to draw on because their entire life has been focused almost entirely on the technical aspects of music, then I believe interpretations can suffer from that too.
    I believe that last part is true, and I don't think there was any disagreement on that. I think there are 2 different things at play here. One can always make or play music for one's own enjoyment and of others who are drawn into it, regardless of them being pro or not, or trained at all in any way. If that is the goal, then who cares what anyone or any pro says. And if you the listener find pleasure in someone that does that, there is no shame. The artist has made that connection. He/she had achieved their goal, or at least a goal.

    I think the other thing is on critical or commercial standards. Great technique is a must, and for that there has to be sacrifices made for that. The level of interpretation may vary. Just using Rubenstein as an example, he said something like he could never have Horowitz's technique in a 100 years, but he thought he was the better musician. I think Lang Lang and Hamelin clearly have better technique than Rubenstein, but I don't think their level of interpretation comes close. But we're talking of people of the highest standards. How do you set yourself apart from an un-nurtured talent off the street? I remember hearing Murray Perahia practices for 4 hours a day.

    What if someone thought Andre Rieu was a better conductor than say Riccardo Muti? He is definitely more popular, and is not without talent, and training. But it's just different vs cutthroat competition in the Classical world. I found this article interesting. Even mentions TalkClassical.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/m...d-me-1.4107182
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; Aug-05-2021 at 15:16.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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  12. #1028
    Senior Member mossyembankment's Avatar
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    Kinderszenen. And less frequently, Maple Leaf Rag, Lucky to Be Me (Bill Evans), and Ruby, My Dear (Thelonious Monk).

  13. #1029
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    "The Carman's Whistle" by William Byrd, and Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" - a wonderfully contrasted duo to be working on at the same time, both technically and musically.

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  15. #1030
    Senior Member Livly_Station's Avatar
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    I'm back at studying after without practice.

    I was never an advanced piano player (only played for 2 years), but I could play (poorly) some allegro movements from Beethoven sonatas and other miscellaneous pieces like Brahms' intermezzo op. 118-2, or Moszkowski's étude op. 72-2, etc.

    I wanted to start fresh now, so I decided to pick:

    - Beethoven's Bagatelles Op. 126 - beautiful short pieces which are not super difficult.
    - Debussy's Arabesque I - good to train polyrhythm (3 on top of 2).
    - Liszt's Anées de Pèlerinage 1st set, the first 3 pieces - a little more difficult, but they almost look like études of medium difficulty.

  16. #1031
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    Beethoven's Diabelli Variations

  17. #1032
    Senior Member mossyembankment's Avatar
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    Only partway through the Kinderszenen, but for the sake of variety and fun I'm also making an absurdly ambitious attempt to learn the Davidsbündlertänze, which is mostly far above my level. I can play through Nos. 2 and 14, very slowly making progress on No. 1.

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