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What Makes Someone A True Piano Player?

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It depends on what your goal is. If you want to accompany other musicians, you probably should become a good sight reader. If you want to play in a rock or pop band, you should probably learn to play by ear. If you want to be a good jazz player, a solid understanding of theory will make your journey less frustrating. If you want to be a great classical artist, you will need to get good at memorizing music. But there are great musicians who lack one or more of these skills and still manage to make wonderful music. Pursue the skills that support what you want to achieve musically.


These are all learned skills, and I believe that anyone who truly wants to learn them absolutely can. Desire (passion, drive, etc.) is ten times more important than talent. Productive, focused learning and practice habits are ten times more important than how much time you put in. But you still have to put in time, and there is no getting around that investment.

I'm an advanced classical pianist, but my sight reading abilities are horrible. It's not that I'm incapable or lack some natural sight reading gift. It's just that it wasn't stressed by my teacher when I was young, so I never developed the skill. I have no desire to build that skill now, and probably never will. Being able to memorize is a skill that I did gravitate to. The sooner I could have a piece of music committed to memory, the sooner I could focus my brain power on phrasing, dynamics, pedaling, and preparing a performance. Using that brain power to process visual information on the printed page seemed like a waste of time. (I'm inherently lazy and will work hard to develop a skill if that skill will save me time in the long run.) I'm not suggesting sight reading isn't an important skill. It's absolutely essential for those who accompany other musicians, and good sight reading can really add to the enjoyment of music for those who develop the skill.

Similarly, learning music from a recording and playing by ear is a skill I developed from playing in rock bands from age 14. Being able to play a song after listening to it one time has saved me countless hours over the years. I developed that skill out of laziness, too. I've arrived to rehearsals having only listened to a song for the first time in the car on the way there - shhh, don't tell anyone.

The important thing to keep in mind is that we aren't born with the ability to play by ear, or to be good at sight reading, or memorization. Certain musical skills may develop more easily for some than others for various different reasons, but nobody gets there overnight without effort. If you really want it, then work hard at it. Focus every minute of your practice sessions on stretching and pushing your brain to it's limit. Every note should be a learning experience. It takes a lot of energy to maintain that kind of focus, so start small. With intense focus on learning, you can achieve a great deal in 20 minutes, 3 days a week. Some people spend hours a day going through the motions and never get very far. It's the equivalent of leaning on a shovel while daydreaming, and then wondering why the hole isn't getting any larger. This ultimately leads to the common excuse: "I took lessons for two years and I'm just not musically talented." Don't be an excuse-maker. Don't ever tell yourself you can't do something, and don't listen to someone else who tries to limit your potential by suggesting you just don't have what it takes. When that happens, just think to yourself, "Challenge accepted." And then prove them wrong.

Republished from http://www.quora.com/What-makes-someone-a-true-piano-player-Is-the-ability-to-play-a-song-immediately-upon-seeing-it-for-the-first-time-a-requirement

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