Improving a talent

Questions on learning to play the piano, and piano music.

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Improving a talent

Post by bedocoman » 12 Sep 2017, 02:43

I am 16 years old and I have been playing piano since I was 6 years old. Since then, I have practiced around 1-2 hours a day. Through the years I have always been told that I had talent and had even once been described as a 'prodigy' by a leading pianist in Berlin when I was 8. I reached grade 8 aged 15 after starting my grades at 8. However, all the pieces I have ever learnt bar around 6, have been completely self-taught. I have learnt Chopin and Rachmaninov by myself. I go to a piano teacher for 40 minutes per week and the teacher is quite useless. Before that, I had a teacher that I had for half an hour per week but she let me go saying she felt she could no longer teach me.

My dilemma is, however, that for the past few months, I have been stuck in a rut. I can't seem to find the motivation to play or learn a new piece. I love to the piano more than myself, don't get me wrong, but I sit down to a new piece and don't seem to get that spark and excitement anymore like I used to. I have tried to remedy this but I feel it also comes down to support. My teacher is quite useless and my family are not musical at all so they don't understand what it takes to be great. Every once in a while, after playing a somewhat complicated piece that took me months to learn, I'd get a "sounds good."

I want to become not just 'good' but excellent player. I know I have a talent, my music teacher (not piano teacher) says I'm excellent and my friend recently reluctantly admitted to me that part of the reason they gave up the piano at age 10 was due to the fact that they weren't as good as me and never would be. That makes me sad because I'm really not as good as they say I am. It seems to me that its always strangers who say I'm good; I really do feel I'm lacking support and comprehension.

I want to be great and at this particular moment in time, I really don't know how to achieve that.

Gill the Piano
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Re: Improving a talent

Post by Gill the Piano » 12 Sep 2017, 15:07

It's quite simple; you need a new teacher who will inspire you and encourage you. You have rushed through the grades and so haven't been allowed to develop a repertoire. Grades should be a by-product of learning the piano, not an aim in themselves, but many teachers either like the kudos of a young pupil achieving high grades or (more usually) are overruled by parents or - if in an academy or school - by the institution by whom they are employed.
Take your time, ask around (as you are now) and get recommendations. You need a teacher who can teach to a high standard - many stop at grade 5 or 8. Ask at local music schools, universities or state schools who are known to have a decent music department. Tell your music teacher - who seems sympathetic - how you feel, as s/he may be able to recommend someone (but be discreet - don't get them into trouble!). Church organists often know what's what on the local music scene and are usually knowledgeable about teachers. Maybe a nearby concert pianist would take you on as a student, but be ready for a brutally honest opinion on your playing. Remember, just because someone can play well doesn't mean they are a good teacher. Ask for a sort of 'taster' lesson where you can sound the teacher out (and s/he you) and make sure you have the same aims and expectations. Don't forget though, that good music teachers aren't necessarily cheap; ask about rates and have a clear budget in mind. Better to see an excellent teacher every two weeks than a so-so one every week.
Hopefully Colin will see this - he is an experienced piano teacher and will tell you more from his side of the fence. I don't teach, but have been lucky enough to have had excellent piano teachers all my life, and hope you will get to find one with whom you really 'click'. Good luck!
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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