I actually registered on this site quite a long time ago but due to being sidetracked by other commitments I never got round to actually making a proper introductory post and wanted to do that before anything else.
I'm Ashley (or Ash) and I play the piano and the flute. I'm 21 years of age so suppose that makes me an adult learner! I think it will be here where i spend most of my time, as firstly, I've always gotten along better with older people, for some reason (but ironically ended up being the oldest child in school twice so that didn't work out too well!) and secondly I have been looking for a space to connect with other adult learners and share advice as we can all empathise with certain elements of adult life that perhaps make the musical journey a little tougher than for our younger counterparts.
I started taking keyboard lessons at the age of 16. That's quite late compared to most accomplished musicians that you hear about, and can't help but feel a little disheartened by reading about famous musicians who always seem to start at the age of 3 or 4, but still have a lot of dreams to fulfill musically: I would like to reach the same level as people like Ludovico Einaudi, compose and perform my own material, maybe even one day get into teaching, but that's not something I'm likely to do until I'm in my forties which is perfectly fine. I feel as if I have a lot of lost ground to cover if I'm to get to where I would like to be - I stopped music lessons when I went to university but have recently started them again, travelling home every weekend, despite being two thirds of my way through a very taxing course.
Although it's lessons in keyboard I take, it's piano that I study in my spare time, and did a lot of this in the time I didn't have lessons. My progress through A-levels was really slow and almost ground to a halt, the main trigger being a competition performance I gave which was awful - this combined with pressure from A-level exams caused me to hit a bit of a brick wall. When I left for university, I was on Grade 3 (Grade 1 Distinction, Grade 2 Merit). I have the Grade 3 exam in October so a fair way away yet but preparations for it are certainly underway. Shortly after returning to the school I attend I found myself performing an Einaudi piece solo in concert. I had practiced this so much that I was able to recall the entire 6-minute piece from memory, and played without sheet music. It was a hugely successful occasion and I got such good comments. I thanked my teacher profusely and told her that I had no regrets returning, despite tough times at uni, although I may come to regret it next year . My teacher is a student as well so knows how tough uni and adult life makes trying to get all the necessary practice in. These days, I do one and a half to two hours a day for each instrument unless I'm working.
The exams I will be taking are not with ABRSM, but will likely enter myself for flute and piano exams in the future. I hope I can still benefit from this forum. I do not take grades in flute and given that I have been doing keyboard/piano for nearly 6 years and the flute only since I turned 20, and am much more successful and proficient with the piano (I was told by my teacher that the piece I performed was two, maybe three grades higher than my official level), I stand a much better chance of getting somewhere with the piano as I might have started the flute a bit late. I am considering taking flute exams after graduation when I am in a better position financially.
Sorry for the long post! Hope everyone is well.