Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about becoming a concert pianist. Do you aspire to be a concert pianist? Maybe you have children you’d like to expose to piano with the hopes that someday they can become concert pianists. There are many things involved with this. First, I don’t want to disappoint any of you out there, but starting young is really important. It will help to set the foundation and passageways in the brain.
Is it essential to start playing piano at a young age?
There are always exceptions, but I’d say starting young is important. Many concert pianists not only started playing young, many of them were child prodigies concertizing as children! Some of those people evolve into great artists. Many of them go by the wayside. The transition from being a child prodigy to being a concert artist later in life is not an easy one for many reasons. Coming into one’s own as an adult is a time of discovery for everyone, not to mention the fierce competition in the world of concert pianists.
Innate talent plays a role.
Some things are just just inborn in your DNA. There are so many different facets of intelligence and physiology that come into play as a concert pianist. You need to be able to memorize scores, the dexterity to be able to play complex passages with your fingers, the ability to hear things acutely, and good hand eye coordination. There are so many aspects that obviously somebody who’s born with these natural skillsets is going to have a much easier time. I can tell you from years of teaching there’s a dramatic difference in how different people learn. Yet interestingly, because there are so many different facets involved in playing the piano, some people have tremendous gifts in some areas and struggle in others. For example, somebody might have perfect pitch but be rhythmically disabled. Simply counting to a metronome might totally elude them. They will have to work 10 times harder at rhythm than somebody else. There are so many aspects to playing the piano. Just because you have weaknesses and strengths doesn’t mean that you can or cannot become a concert pianist. You must develop your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses.
Proper training is a must.
To become a concert artist, you must have superb training at some point along the line, hopefully in your formative years. If you have poor training that has compromised your playing and you’re already an adult, being able to unlearn bad habits and relearn proper piano technique and musicianship is a daunting task that few people will endure. It takes intensive work to relearn something that’s been ingrained for years incorrectly.
Exposure to music is vital.
Being exposed to music, especially from a young age, is so important. You have to live it and breathe it! Go to concerts, listen to recordings. If you’re in a family of musicians you’re surrounded by music and that’s great. But there are some people who just take to the piano and they’re the only musician in their family!
There are exceptions to every one of these rules. There isn’t a cookie cutter way to become a concert pianist. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t check all these boxes and you have hopes for yourself to become a concert artist.
You have to have an unwavering commitment to become a concert artist.
If it’s something you kind of want to do but you don’t have a dedication to it, that’s not really a recipe for success in any field, much less the piano which is so highly competitive. Speaking of being competitive, how about competitions as an avenue? Competitions are one of the few ways to get recognized for your achievements on the piano. But today, there are more fine pianists out there than have ever been around in the world, and the number keeps growing. China in particular has 40 million piano students, many of them on an increasingly high level. Competitions are not for everyone, but if you want to be a concert pianist, it’s one of the few ways to put yourself on the line and see how you stack up. Even if you don’t win competitions, you might be recognized by some of the concert artists who are judges. They might keep you in mind for something. You might develop a relationship with somebody. So, competitions are an important component if you want to become a concert pianist.
Developing and sustaining a career as a concert artist is incredibly difficult.
Versatility at the piano is valuable when trying to carve out a career in music. Being able to play different styles of music with different ensembles and having some kind of creative approach can be helpful. You want to be able to bring something to the table that’s different from everyone else. Playing the same music but maybe just a little better, is that enough? Well, there are tens of thousands of accomplished pianists that are doing that already. Just playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata brilliantly isn’t enough. Even playing the hardest piano literature, there are many people who do that. But if you have a vision for programming or some comprehensive idea of how to expose audiences to music in new and creative ways, you might be able to carve out a career for yourself.
These are all different aspects that go into becoming a concert pianist. If it’s something you really have a passion for and you’re willing to be creative in your approach, you can make a life in piano. You can develop your playing to a concert level if you have the aptitude, the willingness and the training to make it happen. If you have questions I would love to hear from you! At the Living Pianos Patreon I can give you even more personal attention! Thanks so much for joining me. I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.