Recording a short piece with my horrible webcam and microphone once in a while.
In my experience, an essential part of being successful as a professional musician--- or as a professional in any field, for that matter--- is constantly re-evaluating what success is.
Agreed, so much, on redefining it as you grow. In college my definition of success was being able to play virtuosic pieces and get through them (let alone play them well and get a hearty round of applause). Perhaps my ideals were low? Anyways,then it became more intricate. How to play without so much effort and to interpret the music as a personal expression AND an impression of how i understand the composer and style of that time.I decided that I would branch out and continue accompanying as well as performing after college. The venues I chose for my own performance were not intimidating ones. Churches, retirement homes, dinner parties, restaurants. People listen, enjoy, and don't really have to do anything. If they want to talk with me afterwards - i think that is what i appreciate the most. I enjoy sharing the music and casual atmosphere most of the time. My success has been to be able to teach piano lessons, accompany, and just appreciate the pieces that i learn more for my own enjoyment and playing for a few other people. However, I am very motivated to someday get back on stage. There is something appealing about stage lights and having an audience in rapt attention. It's like a drama or play where you reenact your version of a story. After all, even the word 'ballade' implies a story.PS I started at age 8 and look where that has gotten me. Nobody feel badly if you start later. As you said, Ahmed, it's all in the practicing and exactly what you want to do with it. Success can be just being happy with expressing music and not worrying about large audiences. That will come when you are ready. For some it takes longer than others no matter what the age. But, hey - it's not a shame or anything. It's really just recognizing the truth about your readiness to handle stage performances vs. casual, light entertainment where maybe only one or two pieces are played at a time (interpersed with vocal or instrumental). Music doesn't have to carry some heavy weight around your neck! Susan