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What level of music training do you have

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1,036 Posts
I've taken basically 1.5 years of piano lessons, occasional cello lessons for like 1 year, and viola lessons for a couple months. Despite that, I've continued playing viola and piano up to this day. I'm not great, but I can play stuff like the Pathetique Sonata on piano (although I really need to memorize all of it!), which is sufficient for me. I like to find random sheet music on IMSLP and just play through it.

937 Posts
I had some moderate success as a professional singer, but switching from tenor to baritone at age 24 set me back too much. And I realized a few years later that I lacked the incredible discipline needed to pursue a career. It ceased to be fun, so I went back to being a talented "amateur." I still sing solos whenever I can that are professional-quality IMHO. But I do it for love of the music, not for money.

You people who don't applaud professional musicians because of whatever pickiness you have, should try it yourselves.


Kind regards,


919 Posts
I grew up in a musically literate family. Not exclusively classical, but a fair amount. I learned an instrument, clarinet, in fifth grade and played woodwinds in the band all the way through high school. Never a private tutor or instruction, just school band.

Outside of school I took up the mandolin.

I went to an engineering college and took one semester elective in basic music theory. Recently I took some violin lessons.

Other than that it has just been lots of listening and following what interests me.

The last several years I have started getting into classical mandolin. I pursue every opportunity to play in mandolin ensembles and orchestras - where I am a solid Mandolin 2.

703 Posts
I got a thorough training in traditional theory and orchestration (& some counterpoint) in high school. Later in college, I got the same training, which I didn't need. I felt as though I'd been sent back to kindergarten. I was a composition major and was required to write in a 20th century harmonic style. Unfortunately, they had no intention of teaching me any 20th century harmonic language. I was forced to go outside the faculty and pay a graduate student to teach me what they should've. (I was tempted to file a lawsuit.)

Fortunately, what the graduate student taught me was enough for me to produce pieces the comp faculty liked, and I got my Bachelor of Music degree. .... Based on what I saw of the academic politics, I decided not to pursue a graduate degree.

1,359 Posts
I had weekly piano lessons from the age of 9 to the age of 18. I think I was reasonably good at that age but that was a long time ago. Then university, work, life got in the way and I very rarely play nowadays although I still enjoy it when I do. If I ever manage to retire then I will buy a concert grand and devote my time to playing properly.

4,074 Posts
Um - I haven't read it.
Actually, I'd never heard of it, before I read your post! :eek:
But I'm feeling a bit better now that I've googled it and Wiki says that it's 'a prescriptive American English writing style guide'.
After all, I'm an English-English teacher.
But I'll probably take a look at it if it's an important book across the pond.
Thank you, Florestan. :tiphat:

To keep on topic, I'll also add that I, like most British children of my vintage, learned the recorder at school. (I believe now that the ukulele has taken its place.)
However, precious little classical music was played - some would say, precious little music.
Just a small warning. I volunteered last year to tutor several kids for their SAT exams. Some of the strictures in the teaching materials on grammar varied from Strunk and White, at least as I recall.

As to the question, similar to Ingelou. I played clarinet for several years as a child. I was forced to give it up when my dentist (probably erroneously) said it was screwing up my teeth. I took it up again at age 50, took lessons for almost a decade, concluded my skills were limited and gave them up. I still pull out the instrument and play for a few minutes every other day or so.

Recently I started taking musical theory. I learned basically nothing about harmony from my clarinet teachers. So if you put everything together it's over 10 years (and though I'm still not very good on the clarinet I am getting better).

4,557 Posts
I'm probably one of the few on the site who has no musical training whatsoever and am purely a listener. I mean, besides those couple years in high school where I decided to be a self-taught guitarist to learn a few Nirvana riffs and jam out with my friends. :lol:
You are not alone. I have exactly as much musical background as you - including the few riffs, that is :D

I did not know you were an English teacher. How do you like Strunk and White's The Elements of Style?
Like Ing茅lou, I'd not heard of Strunk and White (nor did I realise that EB White was a man!) but am a fan of English guides such as Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Gower's The Complete Plain Words and Partridge's Usage and Abusage. Dipping into my Fowler's, I find few gems, the whole now seeming somewhat arcane. The Complete Plain Words, however, is more practical and amusing. In a chapter about making sure that words are correctly ordered, examples of poor construction and the ambiguities that follow include:

Prices of different models vary and you should take the advice of an expert on the make.

There was a discussion yesterday on the worrying of sheep by dogs in the Minister's room.

And I like this example of zeugma.

[Poor construction] leads to unwieldy sentences and irritated readers.

5,811 Posts
I answered two years or less of classical training/experience because it's the most technically true. But it also makes me sound more skilled/experienced than I truly am. I took a year and a half or two of piano lessons. However it was during probably the most difficult time in my life. During that time, my children were very young and dependant (a baby and a toddler at the time), I dealt with a job loss, carpal tunnel syndrome, and most significantly, an undiagnosed sleep disorder. I say all this to note that while my lessons meant a lot to me, my short term memory was about shot at the time and I did not advance at the rate I would have liked to.

I finally had to give up lessons as a result of the sleep disorder; I just couldn't keep up. The bright side of it is that it was finally found; due to a nasal cyst that almost completely blocked off one of my nostrils. I had surgery a year ago and I'm a new woman. I have not returned to lessons yet; I'd like to. I really enjoyed working with my instructor. But between buying a kayak for the summer; an intense obsession with listening to opera that sometimes keeps me away from playing my piano as much as I might otherwise like to..... well I just want to wait until I am playing at least 3-4 days per week on my own on a regular basis before I pick up the commitment to lessons again.

125 Posts
I've answered 5-10 years though that makes it sound more impressive than it really is. I took violin lessons at school reaching grade 6 in the Associated Board exams - gave it up completely when I went to university and only took up any sort of music lessons again when I joined a Gilbert and Sullivan society and started to try to play some of the baritone roles and realised I didn't have the technique to sing them so took singing lessons for a number of years. As well as G & S my teacher got me singing some Schubert, Mozart, Handel. This taught me that I don't have the ability or determination to work at singing technique to be anything other than an amateur performer of G & S....

4,098 Posts
This taught me that I don't have the ability or determination to work at singing technique to be anything other than an amateur performer of G & S....
And there's nothing wrong with that. Good on you I say. I've met dozens of talented amateur musicians who for one reason or another aren't professionals.
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