A very skilled thirty-something pianist (piano teacher) in my area embarked upon learning the flute 2½ years ago as a 2nd instrument.
Obviously the man brought a lot of skills with him to his study of the flute. He could read and analyze music really well, and he had the advanced finger coordination that comes from playing any musical instrument at a fairly advanced level. In addition, he knew very well the process and effort it takes to build a good technical foundation. These are huge advantages over the average adult beginner who has never studied a musical instrument. So I’m not really surprised at the progress he made.
I started the harp at 18 after playing piano and flute since childhood. I was mainly a flautist and, post grade 8, decided to add another string to my bow. I passed grade 5 and then grade 8 harp in a year and a half. Harp was just my “thing” I guess. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. One thing I would say though. Passing an exam at a certain level doesn’t necessarily mean you are totally proficient. The only repertoire I had was my exam music. I learned everything from memory and couldn’t sight read or learn anything quickly on the harp for at least another 3 years. I got the qualifications that quickly so I could get into a music course at university. Once I was there, that’s when I really started getting to grips with the harp.
That doesn’t sound terribly far from what I did except flute is my main instrument. I went from struggling through easy-mid level pieces to playing incredibly difficult repertoire and winning spots and scholarships in nationally/internationally competitive summer programs and competitions in 2 years.
That being said however… I burned out two years later. I have pursued other career interests since then, but I find myself now wanting to be in music again but in a different way: as a teacher and as an instrument maker/repairman. I love to perform but I can’t take the pressure any longer.
Harp has always been and will always be my escape. 🙂
I put it away and for the past 6 months it has sat on its shelf in my bookcase of music. My harp has been silent too. Music just became… too much.
But the flute has made its way out in the past week or two and my harp is getting its voice back as I bring it back up to tension.
At the moment I play for my enjoyment only. But… I already have some competition literature on my music stand. This time however, it will be for fun and not for professional attainment. My career goals have shifted. I don’t want to be a full time performer ever again. A recital here and there and a gig on the weekends is all I want (and a day job that is related to the Arts).
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