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At What Point Could You 'Play' Your Instrument


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#1 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 10:44

OK, putting aside philosophical statements about perpetual learning journeys and everyone being a musician, if you now answer 'yes' to the question 'can you play an instrument (incl. sing)?', at what stage (age or grade or milestone etc) do you feel that you became a musician?


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#2 Steven Carr

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 11:37

I define being able to play an instrument as being able to play the instrument without sheet music. If you are playing with sheet music, I call that playing the sheet music.

 

Perhaps this is a wrong way of thinking about it?


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#3 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 12:02

Just one aspect of what prompted my question was seeing Ed Balls label himself as "Dad, cook, pianist, economist, author... <snip>".  As I understand it, Mr Balls has passed ABRSM grade 4 piano. 

 

So would you have called yourself a pianist (or player of your instrument) at grade 4? In general, at what stage, grade, age or other milestone (e.g. first paid public concert), would you label yourself as a musician?


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#4 fsharpminor

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 12:10

Well I think I would have said at Grade 4 or so (age 10) I could play the piano, but not call my self a pianist. Its all a matter of degree. At 16 I had ALCM so I could say I was a pianist. I suppose you change from one to the other about Grade 6 or so, as at that stage you could perform some reasonable standard pieces. But its a bit presumptiouous  to say you you are a pianist at Ed Balls stage.  Others may put the transition at a different level.


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#5 Violin Hero

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 12:20

For me it was grade 8. I think was because it was the first exam I had taken since grade 4, which I had scraped a pass in. It felt more official, getting confirmation from a third party profesional, i.e examiner, that I was indeed at the level I thought I was. Being teh highest grade achieveable also made me think 'I've finally reached the end of the grades, feels like I can actually play this violin'.

 

As already mentioned it is just a matter of opinion but unlike Mr Balls I most deifnately didn't consider myself able to play my instrument when I was at grade 4. At that level I considered myself to be learning to play my instrument.


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#6 mel2

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 12:42

One of those pointless existential questions like, 'can you call yourself an organist (as opposed to someone who schleps up to the thing and bangs out a hymn on a Sunday)/ a Christian (if you mutter disobliging things about our fellow creatures under your breath)/ a runner (if you can only puff your way around the park with plenty of recovery stops).
The answer to all the above being 'yes, but not a very good one'.
Why do we have to be expert at everything? As for not being a pianist if you can't play without music -in that case many of us might as well close the lid and lock it.
When I could play a recognizable piece of music without too many mistakes is the time I called myself a pianist.
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#7 Latin pianist

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 13:04

Don't agree with Stephen Carr. I play for two choirs and do lots of accompanying but rarely play without music. I certainly don't tell people that I play sheet music but not the piano. Maybe those who play an instrument but can't read music should say they play the piano but can't read music.
Surely anybody who can play at all can play their instrument?
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#8 Misterioso

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 13:16

One of those pointless existential questions like, 'can you call yourself an organist (as opposed to someone who schleps up to the thing and bangs out a hymn on a Sunday)/ a Christian (if you mutter disobliging things about our fellow creatures under your breath)/ a runner (if you can only puff your way around the park with plenty of recovery stops).
The answer to all the above being 'yes, but not a very good one'.
Why do we have to be expert at everything? As for not being a pianist if you can't play without music -in that case many of us might as well close the lid and lock it.
When I could play a recognizable piece of music without too many mistakes is the time I called myself a pianist.

 

agree.gif I called myself a violinist in the first year of learning violin. What is it about music that you can't be called a musician if you can play an instrument at any standard? 


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#9 elemimele

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 13:42

Depends on context, doesn't it? If you're a professional engineer who happens to play clarinet to an extraordinarily high level, then if an immigration officer asks you what you are, you'd probably say "engineer". If someone asks you while you're discussing the forthcoming rehearsals of your local orchestra, you'd probably say clarinettist. In fact you'd say clarinettist even if you were "only" grade 3 on clarinet because you're announcing your musical reason for being there.

Otherwise, yes, it's a pointless existential question - but with the caveat that some instruments with inferiority complexes have performers (at all levels) who go around saying "I'm a recorder player!" with the express, and understandable purpose of pointing out that it's genuinely possible to be a serious recorder player.

And as to sheet music: "I play from sheet music" is a reasonable answer to the question "are you a memoriser or a reader? or do you prefer to improvise?", not to the question "are you a pianist". If I asked someone what instrument they played, and they said "sheet music" I'd be somewhat nonplussed.


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#10 agricola

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 14:02

I think of 'a pianist' as someone who earns money from playing their instrument.  I have occasionally been 'a pianist' but would usually describe myself as someone who plays the piano, or a piano teacher.  I tell pupils that if they get to Grade 5 they will be able to play competently.


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#11 Arundodonuts

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 22:00

I define being able to play an instrument as being able to play the instrument without sheet music. If you are playing with sheet music, I call that playing the sheet music.

 

Perhaps this is a wrong way of thinking about it?

I shall bear that in mind when I next go to an orchestral or chamber concert. Presumably those folks can't play?


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#12 Cyrilla

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 23:35

A runner is someone who runs.

 

A swimmer is someone who swims.

 

A pianist is someone who plays the piano.

 

It's all a matter of degree as to how WELL someone does these things - but that's another matter.

 

:)


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#13 sbhoa

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 19:46

 I tell pupils that if they get to Grade 5 they will be able to play competently.

That's what I expected to happen when I got to grade 5. Then Grade 8 and still didn't feel that I could play competently.

I felt cheated.


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#14 EllieD

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 08:37

I hope you can recognise you're a competent pianist now, sbhoa! smile.png


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#15 Steven Carr

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 21:55

if I can play Jingle Bells chords so that my family can sing along to it this Christmas, I will call myself a pianist.


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