“At what point do you get to be called a pianist?”
I recently stumbled across this hotly debated topic in a Facebook group for adults learning to play the piano. And the feedback by fellow adult learners were more than a little shocking.
Responses ranged from anyone who can find middle C to only those who accept money for their skills. Many replies fell somewhere in the “you can only consider yourself a pianist when you can play the 3rd Rachmaninoff concerto blindfolded and handcuffed in front of a live studio audience” camp.
People argued. Tempers flared.
Responses appeared in ALL CAPS. Exclamation marks peppered the entire exchange.
Who knew that such a seemingly humdrum question would result in an outright clash of egos?
And more importantly, what does any of this have to do with you?
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Why You Should Care About This Definition
A definition sets you apart. It tells those around you that you’re serious about what you do. And it dramatically increases your success rate.
How you think about yourself changes the actions you take. If you see yourself a certain way, taking the steps necessary to develop into that person becomes more effortless according to James Clear, author of the phenomenal book Atomic Habits.
As an example, let’s explore getting into shape. There are two ways you can think about getting more exercise.
The first involves focusing only on all the work to become more physically fit. You could spend your time thinking about all those early morning workouts. And all the time it will take you to get back into shape. After a while, it becomes easier and easier to sleep in rather than hit the gym.
The alternative is to think of yourself as an athlete. Does an athlete skip their workouts because they had one too many the night before? Hardly. Does an athlete avoid the gym because it’s too cold outside? Nope.
Do you see how establishing an identity rather than focusing on the action steps themselves sets you up for success? Decisions become a no-brainer.
And you quickly start seeing the results of all those decisions you’ve made add up. Pretty soon, you’re much closer to your goals than ever before.
If you’re looking for more identity-based habit change inspiration, make sure you check out Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Pianist vs. Piano Player
You’re reading this because you’re serious about the piano. But a tiny part of you worries that you’ll never be good enough to call yourself a pianist. You fear that because you’re not into classical and don’t play for money that you don’t have the right to label yourself a “pianist.”
I call bullsh*t.
You’re a pianist. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been playing. Or whether you only sit down to plunk away at show tunes.
Pianists come from all genres and levels. The one constant is how you see yourself.
And if piano brings you joy, you should be calling yourself a pianist. Not a piano player. Or someone who plays the piano.
You’re a pianist.
But if you’re still stuck on the words of those piano trolls who insist that you can only call yourself a pianist if you memorize ALL your music, it’s ok. I’ve got you.
Trolls are loud, but the loudest are usually the ones doing the least amount of work. And trolls thrive on criticizing others.
But you don’t have to be on the receiving end of that criticism. You know the truth and, thanks to this article, have five reasons to be calling yourself a pianist.
1) You Should be Calling Yourself a Pianist Because You’re Passionate
“The important thing is to feel your music, really feel it and believe it.”Ray Charles
Do you find yourself thinking about the piano, even when you’re away from it? Does something about playing the piano feel right even when it’s hard? As if you were always meant to do it?
Does playing the piano give you a deep sense of fulfillment?
If you can answer “yes” to the above questions, you should call yourself a pianist.
Passion means losing track of time when you’re doing what you love. It means daydreaming. And it means ignoring the naysayers because there’s nothing that can replace the feeling you get from playing the piano.
2) You Love Practicing
Do you look forward to that magical time of the day when you are free to play whatever you want? Sure, you have a few goals but for the most part, do you long just to play?
If so, you should be calling yourself a pianist.
It doesn’t matter what you’re practicing. It could be scales, pop, or movie scores. Maybe you love to play songs by ear. If you can’t wait to sit down and get a piece of music under your fingers, you’re a pianist.
3) You Watch YouTube Videos About Playing Piano
A true sign of passion is your YouTube history. Does yours reflect a watch list of piano videos? Maybe it’s tutorials on classical technique. Or outstanding performances by world-class pianists.
Maybe you’re trying to understand music theory, and your watch list consists of minor chords or the circle of fifths.
If so, then you should be calling yourself a pianist.
4) You’re Getting Better Every Day
Regardless of how yesterday’s practice session went, do you constantly aspire for more? Do you start every day by thinking about how you can improve, even by 1%?
You’re a pianist!
And between the practice and all those YouTube videos, you are well on your way to massive improvements!
5) You Should Be Calling Yourself a Pianist Because You Love the Piano!
“When you play, never mind who listens to you.”Robert Schumann
Can’t stop talking about playing the piano? Maybe you’ve just written an entire blog post about one comment in a piano-related Facebook group. Or you can’t wait to apply the latest self-improvement book you’ve read to the topic of playing the piano.
If any of this applies to you, you should be calling yourself a pianist!
I hope you’ve caught on to one simple theme by this point. A theme that excludes the opinions of others.
The theme is that calling yourself a pianist is NOT about any objective measure of your skill. It’s not about your skill level compared to anyone else around you.
Calling yourself a pianist is about your love for the instrument. It’s about appreciating the music of others. Getting goosebumps when you hear that piece you love.
It’s about feeling a deeply rooted passion for the instrument. And a constant desire to take your artistry to a deeper level. It’s about never giving up, even when it seems like you’ll never master that new technique.
Forget about all those nasty internet piano trolls. Isn’t it about time for you to write your own story?
It’s Your Turn to Start Calling Yourself a Pianist
Pianists exist in all genres.
If piano brings you joy, start calling yourself a pianist.
Can’t wait to get home so you can try out that new practice technique you saw on YouTube? Start calling yourself a pianist.
And if you can’t imagine your life without the instrument, start calling yourself a pianist!
Do you love playing pop tunes? You’re a pianist. Maybe jazz is your jam. You’re a pianist. Or perhaps you love playing worship music at church. It’s time to start calling yourself a pianist. Or organist (as applicable).
Stop letting others dictate how you see yourself. Let’s you and I make a pact. We are no longer falling into the comparison trap from here on out. We’re not giving in to the myth that we need permission from anyone else. And we’re not letting those piano trolls win!
Being a pianist is something that comes from within. It’s not a label anyone else can give you. And if you’re looking for more piano inspiration, make sure you check out the following posts:
- Easy Brain Hacks to Upgrade Your Piano Playing
- SkillShare for Pianists: 2 Classes Guaranteed to Advance Your Skills
- 5 Mindset Secrets to Boosting Your Piano Playing
- An Authentic Review of the Modacity App
- How to Instantly Upgrade Your Piano Practice
- 7 Simple Tips for Adults Who Want to Learn Piano
- Top Piano Practice Myths You Need to Stop Believing
- How to Find the Right Piano Teacher for You
- The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Pianists
- Become a Better Pianist with These 5 Simple Tips
- How to Learn Piano as an Adult
As always, don’t forget to leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the post. 🙂