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Joined: May 2018
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Soojin Offline OP
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I started playing the piano at age 7, like many kids did and still do in South Korea. From approximately age 10 to 22, I practiced a minimum of three hours a day every day. I just accepted the fact that my days were only 20 hours, instead of 24, because of the sacred hours devoted to piano practicing. I was lucky to have excellent teachers and supportive parents, and was admitted to a number of prestigious music schools in Seoul (Sunhwa) and in Montreal (Pierre-Laporte; Jean-Francois-Perrault, Conservatoire de Montreal). I competed in local, provincial, and national competitions every year. I graduated with a master's degree in piano performance. All that time, as an immigrant kid of modest means, I never even dreamed of owning a grand piano. My Yamaha C-108 wasn't good enough after a certain level, so I did most of my practicing at schools. Probably well over 10,000 hours people say is required to become an expert.

Then, I chose another discipline, went to England to study some more, moved countries, started a career, got married, and had children. Twenty years passed since my graduation recital that ended with Gershwin's concerto. I did continue to make music after graduation - singing in and conducting choirs, playing chamber music, accompanying this and that in a number of cities, but never played solo piano. Then, in December 2015, my family finally decided to stop moving around, bought our first house, and settled in Ottawa. It is a great city professionally for both of us, to raise kids, but despite my best effort (choir auditions, cold emails, referrals - nothing worked!), I just couldn't find anyone to play with or any suitable group to satisfy my need to make music. After one year of trying, I had to and did get over my fear of "no longer being good enough to dare to play solo piano again." I learned a solo piece for the first time in twenty years and uploaded my very first Youtube video with much trepidation in 2017 (https://youtu.be/pyB6RY_I7rg). I then learned some more piece (although never got around to film and upload those). I did a few house concerts. I found my calling as a volunteer accompanist+coach to underpriviliged high school students with passion for music for their university auditions, and was rewarded with the privilege to see them succeed and flourish.

My faithful C-108 was more than good enough for casual ensembles and choir practicing, but fell well short of solo piano needs. I didn't want to buy a grand piano at the expense of family needs such as vacations, so I started to save on the side. I had amassed about $10K when I joined the Piano Forum, hired a technician, and started my journey to let my dream piano find me. With that budget, I started with the idea of getting an older grand piano, but soon realized that impeccable action was very important to me. I decided to try new or nearly new pianos. After about two years of scouring this Forum, learning, trying different pianos in different cities, and more saving, in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, my new Yamaha C2X arrived home today.

I was so moved at the sight. Then the sound! And the action!! The possibilities!!!! I can finally practice these contemporary pieces that require me to pluck the strings in the comfort of my own home!!!!

As a gesture of gratitude to the Providence for granting me a life where I can own something I have always so wanted but never thought could (to the point of pretending to self that I didn't want it), I decided to donate my piano to a younger student who was serious enough about piano, but couldn't afford one. Thanks to friends, I was referred to a local music teacher who did have a perfect family of not one, but three children who had been learning the piano for some time on a very old upright, well past its expiry date.

When the three pianos' "musical chair" closed today, I was jumping with joy and moved to tears hearing how good C2X sounded compared to C-108. The other family members were also jumping with joy and moved tears hearing how good C-108 sounded compared to their own. The celebratory gratitude was doubled and felt complete.

This Forum has been very generous, exacting and diverse in its crowd-sourced advice from all over the world - thank you. To the founders, thank you for having the vision and creating such a forum, and running it successfully.

Ottawa's Yamaha dealer (Ottawa Pianos) has been amazing. I had, on a whim, visited the store on a Saturday afternoon about a year ago, although I was still thinking that I could never afford a new Yamaha grand (definitely not with the savings at the time). I played many of their pianos, quite loudly at times, for some time. Carmen and Mitchell gave me the space. And gave me a business card and kept in touch. It was obvious that they were passionate and knowledgeable about pianos and music. It was also clear that they were in the business for the long haul, not for quick sales or volumes. Instead of the customary, and frankly cheesy, "Oh, the price will go by $XXX next month," they offered a firm, but fair price. When I was unsure about the echoy sound (after years of practcing on the metallic bright C-108), they concert-prepped the piano for me to try again. When I still couldn't make the decision, for my fourth visit this year, they ordered a second C2X, uncrated it, prepped it, and put it side by side in the recital room for me to try it. And most of all, when they learned of my intent to donate the C-108, without my asking, they provided free moving service to my old buddy's new home, thus participating in the celebration and gratitude.

So, there. Enjoy the picture of the two new pianos and one that finally went to rest in peace.

[img]https://photos.app.goo.gl/YakyzfDqmHieCTAs7[/img]

[img]https://photos.app.goo.gl/EmWsj8Co4nTgp2gTA[/img]

[img]https://photos.app.goo.gl/Ne22j5rjQVShMELr8[/img]


Public servant by day, pianist and choir conductor by night
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My sincere congratulations Soojin!

Yours is a beautiful and inspiring path. Wish you everlasting enjoyment and pleasure with your new Yamaha CX2. It is certainly very well deserved.

Keep us posted with your new recordings.

All the best! smile


Fluxo

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Soojin Offline OP
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Here're the recordings of the same piece on my 30-year old Yamaha C-108 and on my brand new Yamaha C2X. I hate uploading recordings of my playing when I am not done polishing it to my standard, but I felt it was important that the two recordings be as close to each other as possible in time. They were both done by iPhone 8, on a music stand. Sorry I don't have any proper equipment (yet). The difference is staggering~

J.S. Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol.1, No.11, in F major, Prelude.
- On a 30-year old C-108: https://photos.app.goo.gl/pHNnzx46vYYzZsYZ6
- On a brand new C2X: https://photos.app.goo.gl/DoehM6jiWF7twhWm6

(Lady Bird, you prompted me to start a Bach in the spring, due to COVID-19 blues, remember? I wanted something happy that I'd never played before, and ended up picking this one. I decided to make all ornamenents full trills for the heck of it, as trills mean happiness to me.)

I made the C-108 recording on a Friday morning, on a busy work day, while anxiously waiting for my new grand after very little sleep. I was beyond excited, a bit in a hurry, and very much used to the percussive, light, bright sound. I made the C2X recording the next morning, after seeing that the new grand piano was still in my living room when I woke up (!) and playing two sets of 12 scales (x maj, min h, min m) spanning the whole keyboard (it's destabilizing and quite a workout for the torso!) on a relaxing Saturday morning.

I am still getting used to the new sound (and the slightly higher piano and bench, due to the wheels and coasters, quite an adjustment for a short person like me).

The sound is so much more coated than what I am used to. My kids keep asking, "why is the sound so muffled?" I am already feeling the impact of the piano's character on my piano playing and interpretation. I am taking a bit more time, affording to be less abrasive and direct. There were a few articulations that I changed overnight, too, as non-legato sounds so much rounder on C2X so I decided to use more of them. Playing trills softer is much easier on C2X than C-108, too.

I am keeping notes of little things. The left pedal is probably not properly set up, as there is practically no difference with vs. without. There are a few dampers that don't seem to be working properly - some harmonics (?) stay on after dampers go down, some dampers make a noise when coming down, etc., I am sure the tech will be able to fix at their first visit. I am overall still over the moon on my new machine!

Last edited by Soojin; 08/15/20 01:34 PM.

Public servant by day, pianist and choir conductor by night
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That was beautifully played Soojin.I am so glad my suggestion brought about you learning that tricky but lovely Prelude and Fugue !
Beautiful piano-- wonderful tone !

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First of all congratulations on your brand new Yamaha C2X! I found reading your story very interesting. Quite an upgrade from the C-108 in every way. I like that you have spent all this time to reach your piano-purchase-goal, and with you talent and stamina it was well deserved.
It seems the technician has a few tasks to take care of, but hopefully it will be sorted out readily. Enjoyed your story, recordings and pictures! Thanks for sharing!

_Skjalg


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A wonderful tale of hope & perseverance with a happy ending too! So uplifting, thanks. May you and your family have many happy years making beautiful music & memories on your lovely new piano.

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Congratulations on your new Yamaha!

The piano and the setting is beautiful.

I wish you many years of enjoyment with your new piano.

I very much enjoyed listening to your recording and will be looking forward for your new recordings.

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Congrats on Your New Grand!

Great backstory w/ a Wonderful ending

Big difference in sound between the C-108 & the C2X

Now - Just need to figure out Your bench height/foot support!


~Lucubrate


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Thanks for sharing your story Soojin. Most interesting. It's certainly time you had an instrument worthy of your passion and talent. I wish you many many years of enjoyment. Funny, I also recently learned the F major Prelude and Fugue. Love the trills...though I haven't got it up to speed yet.
Really nice to hear about Ottawa Pianos. I now wish I'd bought locally (Ottawa) and not Montreal, but oh well.
You'll have to host a piano group session when things return to normal!

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Soojin Offline OP
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Thank you, everyone, for accompanying me on the journey, for the encouragements and kind words. It's so good to have virtual friends who are as nerdy as (or much nerdier than) me when it comes to piano.

And Katieji, I forgot to mention Ottawa Piano Group! As I kept failing to find a group to play with in my early days in Ottawa, it was wonderful to find a group of adult piano solists of all levels meeting every month for no other reason than to perform piano to each other. Of course, I plan to host many Piano Group meetings at my place, now that I have a decent piano!

BTW, you reminded me that I played the Medtner linked above, as well as Debussy's Claire de Lune at my first attendance at the Group. Believe it or not, I learned the Claire de Lune (and had to rearrange the middle a bit) so that I could play it perfectly in sync with this Ocean's 11 movie clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfu9s89C-pc) and did at my house concert. I thought it was fun to de-construct like that, haha. I muted the movie clip, except for conversations in the middle and the last "puff" of the fire work / fountain work's noise, which was fall perfectly with my ending. ;-)

Last edited by Soojin; 08/31/20 08:44 PM.

Public servant by day, pianist and choir conductor by night
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In case some of you are curious, here's the Ottawa Piano Group's website: https://ottawapianogroup.blogspot.com/. Adult pianists meeting monthly for the sole purpose of performing to each other. It's really lovely.


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Congratulations Soojin on finally getting your C2X! It looks and sounds beautiful and you play so well. Thanks for sharing your story!


J & J
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Congratulations Soojin! And thanks so much sharing all the beautiful pics and recordings. And I think I'm at exactly the same page with you. I got my brand new C2X on September, and I do have the same concern, the muffled sound you mentioned in your previous post. I kept monitoring the sounds for 2 months and here's my feeling: 1. my expectation would be too high to have that crisp clear sounds like the ones in the CDs; 2. all my previous uprights sounds too bright but too thin; 3. the new piano softer hammer will definitely affect the sound, as I played daily and heavily for 2 month, I started to notice a subtle difference that the piano is "expanding" its real sound, which is really nice; 4. tuning and the acoustic effect of the room matters a lot: I found one note extremely muffled (but not quite out of tune) than others and then I tuned the unison of that note and it makes huge difference. and my rooms for the piano is big with mostly very hardwood floors (stranded bamboo, the hardest one, ~400 sqft), thus the echoy sounds makes it muffled a bit. When I close the lid, I can actually hear more real sounds of the piano and which is really not bad. Overall, the piano sounds both warm and bright, thus I have so different feeling each time I play (sometimes I think it's okay, but sometimes I still think it's a bit muffled). Since I can notice the difference while keep playing, I will leave it like this and hopefully it can get better as time goes on (I have confidence in this). If still not, I am pretty sure a voicing technician will get it much brighter if I really want that.
Thanks to your recording, I think the sounds of your C2X is almost exactly the same that my C2X has, and almost all the C2X that I've tried have similar sounds. I'm amazed how consistent and stable YAMAHA pianos are! I'm glad that to know that we both have the same exciting new pianos and arrived almost the same time! Congratulations again Soojin! And keep enjoying it and hopefully we can share more feeling, recordings and etc in the future:)


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