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This is a less technical question but something really important for to me. I've been reading stackexchange for years now from computer programming, language learning, and music, time to finally ask a question.

So I consider myself a rather poor pianist compared to most people, I do it for fun. I've taken lessons since I was 6 ( I am 18 ), didn't keep going with them, but I always played. This question isn't necessarily about whether I should take classes, but if you must answer with that then that's fine. Now to the point:

I want to play this song, but I am unsure if I have the ability to play it. For reference, here is the second hardest part ( in my opinion ) in the song.

AT 1:25

And as for a reference to my current skill, I know these songs

Look at 3:02

-EDIT:- It won't let me condense more than two links unless I have 10 reputation, so sorry for this huge video taking up so much room.

[Look at 2:34 and 3:40]

( although I play the part at 3:40 twice as fast personally, and without putting my left hand over the right )

I realize this is less of a general question and more personal to me, but I believe by answering this other people who might be at similar skill or even those who aren't will be able to use your answers as reference.

So the question: Should I try? I who see people online who say that the hardest of pieces that are way out of their league can take weeks to months to really get down, but as long as enough practice goes into it they can do it. So is practice and diligence all I need?

(Bonus question: the piece is so different than what I normally try, should I be concerned about health, and start paying more attention to technique?)

Thank you all so much for whatever answers you give, this question actually really means a lot to me and how I want to continue learning, and I will look at every single reply and consider each carefully, even if it's an answer I didn't necessarily want or expect ( Oh and sorry for rambling too much ).

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    There's an old joke that implies the answer is "Carnegie Hall". – Todd Wilcox Apr 14 '17 at 22:06
  • Welcome, Victor. Sorry to downvote off the bat but, this kind of is a really bad question - Practice makes Perfect!! Please consider rewording the question... "Is it better to practice 'this technique' vs 'this technique' for 'this piece,' for example... – Tim Burnett - Bassist Apr 15 '17 at 0:36
  • "What does it take to get to Carnegie Hall?"... "Practice, Practice and more Practice!!!" – Neil Meyer Apr 15 '17 at 12:09
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You say you have taken lessons from the age of six but you don't tell us how old you are now. So maybe you have been playing for 5 years of maybe for 20 years, we don't know. I'm going to assume that you have been playing for 15 - 20 years or so.

Now the piece that you are aiming for sounds nice; some difficult moments its true but so what? If it was easy it might not be so much fun!

I've listened to the stuff that you say you can play. If you can play those pieces as well as they are played on the videos then in my view you should absolutely aim for this new piece. And yes, you will need to practice; a teacher would be good as well (because its always good to have an critical independent listener) but not absolutely necessary.

The crucial thing here is knowing how to practice. Identify what you do not do well and concentrate on improving your technique to overcome those difficulties. You need to be honest with yourself and you need to concentrate. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen if you stick at it. Practice scales and (especially for this piece) arpeggios as well. Play slowly at first ensuring that you are striking the right notes. Make sure that you are striking the keys consistently and getting the same tone from each finger. Speed will come later once you have got used to the hand positions and fingerings.

If you have specific issues there are plenty of people on this site who will be happy to give you more advice if you need it.

Have fun!

  • I think this is a very good answer, and thanks for the encouragement, I added my age up there, I'm 18. I do have a specific question ( please tell me if you think I should add this to my already long post ): for the past half an hour iv'e been stuck at 50% speed at the part at 1:30. Is it really normal to take a very long time to progress? I don't mind it taking time, I'm used to spending well into a month(s) to take a piece but I worry that i'm actually not making progress. Thank you for your response by the way, I was worried I wouldn't be answered! – Victor Apr 14 '17 at 20:21
  • Sounds totally normal. I'm not sure what you mean by "the part at 1:30". Is it a bar or two, a page, ...? Personally I tend not to work on any one bit more than maybe 20 minutes at a time, then I move on to something else and come back to it tomorrow. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Also, progress isn't usually steady or predictable. You hit walls and then either have to stop and think about what you're doing and find a different approach, or just give yourself some time. There's diminishing returns from just hammering the same exercise over and over. – Bruce Fields Apr 14 '17 at 21:52
  • I meant in the video I linked, the part beginning at 1:30 – Victor Apr 15 '17 at 1:55
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Practice is the only way to improve, but you won't accomplish much unless you practice the right thing, and in the right way.

You to find out what is the technical problem that you need to solve, and then practice to overcome that problem. Just "repeating the piece you want to learn till you can play it better" is similar to Einstein's definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again, but hoping for a different result the next time you do it".

For example, in your first link one obvious technical difficulty is "playing fast and moving your hands around the keyboard". If you don't know how to do that technically, you are unlikely to "guess" the best way. Here are some good video tutorials:

Forearm rotation, part 1

Forearm rotation, part 2

Playing fast passages

  • Thank you so much for your input, I'll look into all the videos you suggested take your advice. – Victor Apr 15 '17 at 1:54
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The left hand's moving around a bunch, and some of that fancy passagework has to be kept at an even, soft dynamic to keep the melody in the foreground. I dunno, no idea, could be hard.

One tip: I would not start learning this piece at the begining. Start instead with measures you think are the hardest. First of all, that's the part that will need the most time to learn. Second of all, you'll find out more quickly whether you're up to it.

Record yourself to get a more objective idea how you're doing. (Also, if you expect strangers on the internet to have any idea where your technique is; it's one thing to get through all the notes in a piece, another to make them all sound musical, so "I can play piece X" doesn't tell us much.)

A teacher's always a good idea.

  • I actually already went with the advice of getting the hard part first, I dove straight into that part I mentioned in my post at ~1:30. It's been 5 hours and I can roughly play it at 50% speed. Also thank you for pointing out errors in this question, I'll consider some edits and clarifications. – Victor Apr 14 '17 at 20:14

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