Music School for Piano!!!

<p>Hello, I am a 16 year old rising Junior and I began taking piano (oddly enough) this January. I know it may seem short, but in the short months I've been taking, I've already learned a Polonaise by Chopin as well as an Etude (Revolutionary) and a Beethoven Sonata (No. 27, Op. 90) and I was wondering, with my level of progress and my dedication, about 4 - 8 hours of practice a day, do you think it is realistic that I will get into a music school? Such as Mannes or Manhattan School of Music?</p>

<p>Being an avid Chopin fan and revolutionary being one of my favorite chopins etudes i find it rather difficult for someone to actually play that piece well with that long playing but what do i know, there's crazy good people like that all over. who knows, just keep working like you are, but learning hard pieces doesn't always make you a musician, theres lots of other aspects to it all. and being a junior you have lots of time, and it's not like a thing you can calculate</p>

<p>"oh well with this much amount of progress and dedication i have a point blah blah percent of getting in!" no it's much more subjective than that</p>

<p>I cannot comment on the rep, as it is beyond my area of expertise, but studying since January and having your expectations throws up a red flag.</p>

<p>Candidates seeking admission to the level of program you mention more often will have more than a decade of instrument specific high level training. You do not mention whether you are working with an instructor.</p>

<p>You do not detail enough musical background to suggest prior training on another instrument, and have only recently have switched to piano.</p>

<p>No one here can assess your skills, or potential. Your private instructor and other music professionals familiar with your current level and potential are the best sources of information.</p>

<p>What other pieces have you learned and played from memory at recital level since January? Why tackle a late Beethoven sonata before learning some standard rep first? When my daughter learned Beethoven sonata #30 Op 109 for her college audition, she was fine technically. But her teacher did comment that for D to play it convincingly, she needed to age 50 years. What does your teacher say about your progress and your repertoire?</p>

<p>That is a question that no one on here could answer with any kind of certainty, since none of us (least I think) are high level piano teachers or even if we were, had heard you play. </p>

<p>That said, I think some points need to be made, some of which already have been</p>

<p>-Being able to play a high level piece, where it sounds decent, maybe even would meet the approval of some teachers, is not really a good benchmark, as others have said. First of all, music training works in a certain way, and skipping to the 'hard rep' seems like a shortcut, and also seems like "well, if I can play this piece, then everything else falls into play". I have seen that with some teachers, that get kids onto the flashy rep, like the Sibelius violin concerto, and think that means something. </p>

<p>-Most of the people on here will tell you that to be good at an instrument takes a lot of work, and in playing a high level piece while skipping everything before leaves the person with big gaps in the skill set. The reason that teachers use scales and etudes in teaching is to develop the technical skills, a foundation, that then allow playing the music. It would be like a mathematics student trying to skip ahead and solve a major math puzzle and claiming to be a high level mathematician, it won't work because all the stuff before, the calculus and basic topology and the like, is needed to be a mathematician, it is like a carpenter having a gee whiz saw and not learning to use a level properly (and I will stop here, before going on to stories about going to school both ways, uphill, in the snow storm, 5 miles each way:). </p>

<p>-Plus, in playing the pieces themselves, there is a lot more then playing the notes,there are elements of how to shape the piece and so forth, that is what makes for high level playing. Learning a piece well enough to play it without sounding terrible, missing notes, and so forth is not the same thing as playing it at a high level</p>

<p>-The other factor to keep in mind here is who you are competing against for slots in the schools you mention. Mannes and MSM are high level programs, that though usually thought of as being 'below' programs like NEC and Juilliard et all, are in many cases just as competitive, and they get a lot of high level applicants who could easily go to Juilliard or NEC or whatever in terms of quality but didn't get in because others were as good or better and had a teacher willing to take them there. </p>

<p>Piano is wickedly competitive, and most kids start it somewhere between 4 and 8 years of age, and more then a few of them have been seriously going at it, practicing long hours, doing competitions, etc, for a lot of that time, so they are already quite accomplished by the time they are your age. And practicing 4-8 hours a day, while commendable, is what many of these kids have been doing for years (8 is on the outside, I would say the average is probably 4-5 hours for most students on the high level), so that bar is quite high.</p>

<p>So what I and others can tell you is that while nothing is impossible, and there have been cases of late bloomers going on to get into good programs and a decent career, it is pretty rare. One of the standard pieces of lingo out there in the world these days is the '10,000 hour' rule, that says that to get really good at something, takes that many hours to get to a high level, and conversely that 'natural talent' alone is not the prime means. </p>

<p>If you are serious about trying this, then I agree with others, find a high level teacher locally, maybe at a college or university or a known piano pedagogue of high reputation, and ask them to do an evaluation of where you are. I would say also as a rising Junior, which means roughly a year and a half until you will be doing screening CD's and then auditions, it is very, very tight and that if you are really dedicated to doing this, that you think of a gap year, to give yourself more time.</p>

<p>Regardless of whether or not you'll get in a school with piano you can have all your life to play so don't skimp out on the basic things,how can you do chemistry or calculus or anything else without knowing all of the building blocks? jumping right ahead leaves your skills like an upside down pyramid and it will tumble eventually, I started piano at 6 and did like what musicprnt said, practicing long hours, getting high marks at festivals/competitions/composition contests etc. even though guitar is my main instrument now all of my prior musical engagements i think give me a good upper hand against other people, you see child prodigies all the time that can play anything they hear and they (more their parents actually) work themselves to death to play mindless technical pieces and then what happens once they start getting older? no one cares about them anymore, because now they're just technically gifted players with no soul or musicianship, don't let technicality become a facade and have people look deeper and see theres nothing behind it</p>

Nicely put, I have seen a lot of the prodigies you talk about, the ones that teachers and parents push into high level repertoire early, who win competitions and music programs and teachers jump to get into their programs, and that is exactly what happens,they can play paganini or whatever early, get on tv shows, etc, and 99.99% of them end up dying out (among other things, they lose the technical ability, not to mention not having the musicality and soul in the first place, around when they hit their teenage years). In effect prodigies are cheating IMO, using inate skills to play high level music that frankly can't last. There are young musicians out there who are fantastic, play beautifully and with passion, but if you look at the way they were trained, they were not put out there as 'flashy prodigies', they were taught the basic way you and I were talking about.Unfortunately prodigies are known by a lot of people, and give the impression that someone can be 'natural gifted' and waltz into a career as a musician, but the reality is quite different.</p>

<p>All of your comments are truly eye opening, to answer some of the questions:</p>

<p>I have been playing trumpet for about 6 years now, and I already understood how to read music pretty well, and I knew how to read in the bass clef, so that was no issue. And honestly, my repertory is very small, some sonatinas maybe, other than that, it's just high level pieces. And i was thinking, maybe going to a smaller music school for a year, and then transferring to another school so that I can continue taking from my teacher, who is also very dedicated, with lessons sometimes lasting 6 - 7 hours, like today. But, based on what you all said I'm chasing dreams here. I wish I could've started earlier, but unfortunately, I was not given that luxury. I'm trying to do the best I can. My teacher is the best in my region, and she has been teaching for 50+ years, and she thinks I have a chance, even if it is a small one. Starting today, I am to go to her house everyday to practice and have a small lesson to supplement my 2 lessons a week. I am very dedicated guys... I want this more than anything. And won't colleges be glad to hear that I made such progress on only 3 years?</p>

<p>Sweng - To be honest, the conservatories don't really care if you have been playing for one year or 12. They are interested in how well you play at the time of your audition. The audition is pretty much everything. It is possible that occassionally a teacher will see a student with potential that they accept even if that student doesn't have the best audition. However, piano is fiercely competitive. I am not saying not to go for your dream, but you need go approach it with your eyes wide open.</p>

<p>Yeah, you could at least audition for trumpet, theres lots of opportunity to do other instruments at schools, but i suppose you could start off at a less rigorous school or what not, but really just keep practicing and doing your thing and then start visiting colleges and see what they're looking for, there's always a chance</p>

<p>I am trying to be realistic about this. I know this isn't some dumb television show. But I hate trumpet to be frank -__- And I will possibly go to another smaller music school for a year or so and continue studying with my teacher for that period, and then audition the next year. And my teacher HEAVILY stresses playing with emotion. Even for Sonatinas... Haha. She tells me to have story in my head when I play. I'm working hard on playing piano... Not letting it play me.</p>

The most important thing you have if you are going to try and make it on piano is what you have already expressed in a sense, that despite knowing how hard it is, that you are willing to try, even if it is such a longshot. Music takes persistance and a thick skin, because even the best players are told time and again how hard music is, how competiive, etc.</p>

<p>One of the biggest things you need to work out with your teacher is if you are to have a chance, what the work needed to get there is, what the path is, and plan everything around that. For example, I am not sure going to a smaller college and transferring would work the way you think (there are threads on here about transferring programs), maybe it would be better to stay with your current teacher and work through a gap year..</p>

<p>In any event, it isn't just about practicing long hours, lots of lessons, IMO it would also be putting together a roadmap, with milestones of progress, to makes sure you are progressing. So this would include the repertoire and skill building, it might be for example getting to Rachmaninoff 3 (hypothetical example,btw, I am not a piano teacher or that knowledgeable) in 12 months, whatever.....I would work this out with your teacher, and use that to judge where you are.</p>