I started playing the piano around 5, so I was told. I took lessons at a music studio (“piano company”) in my neighborhood. The first teacher was a young female. That was the only thing I recalled about her. Then I was switched to another teacher in the same studio. A blind male teacher. And then another blind male teacher, who was the student of the first blind male teacher. My older brother also studied with him. Then the second blind teacher quit and set up his own studio, far away from my home. So we followed him. After a while, we also moved to a new home, far far far away from our old home, and far far far away from the piano studio. We had to travel long-distance from our home to the studio. It was about a 2-hour round trip by MTR. Still, my Father insisted that we studied with the blind teacher. I sometimes wondered how the blind teacher taught me. I only knew he read music with braille. That means he could not do sight-reading? And how did he correct my playing? Okay, he could listen, but how about my hands? My technique? My sitting posture? I was around 8 or 9.
I suppose a 2-hour travel on the road became a burden for us as we were getting more homework and study. So my Father looked for another teacher in our neighborhood. She was a teacher with a heavy Shanghai-nese accent. She was tall and big, a typical built from the Northern region of China. She was not particularly nice or compassionate, but at the same time I do not recall if she was mean to me. Perhaps just no smile. The traditional kind of piano teacher who wanted to look serious and tough just to gain respect from her students. Maybe that was the only way for her to do so.
My older brother did better at piano than me back then. He would gain exam result with a merit. Not me. I was just an average piano student, who practised as told to. A nice and timid girl. Under tutelage of this teacher with a dialect accent, I played in a piano class (or “masterclass”, except I would not call her a master), a student concert and took an exam. The piano class was something that the soon-to-take-exam students played in for each other. The only thing I recalled from the class was a boy, whom I saw on the street one day after 20 years became quite fat and vaguely resembled that figure of the smart youth I used to have a mild crush on.
For the concert, I was assigned (or “forced”?) to play electronic keyboard instead of piano. It was not a solo piece; it was a piece with electronic keyboard and piano. I do not know why I had to play the keyboard instead of piano; I suppose it was because my piano skill was not as good as the boy who got to play the piano part. Apart from that, I got a bouqet of beautiful flowers from my beautiful Mother and was taken quite a few photos.
I passed grade 7 exam; it was a bare pass, the mark being something between 104 and 107 (passing mark was and still is 100). I suppose my Shanghainese teacher thought I was not talent enough to be her student, therefore she decided she would discontinue teaching me with an excuse to my dear Mother that she was only way too busy to give me lessons anymore (but she was teaching me then, right?)
My Mother did not know what to do. She was afraid to tell my Father about this; I suppose she thought it was my fault the teacher stopped teaching me. ME? I was the student who showed up on time for lessons, paid tuition fee on the first lesson, practised every single day, participated in every event my teacher asked me to. I gave her mooncakes on Mid-Autumn Festivals, presents during Chinese New Year. Why would she stop teaching me? Was it because I was not good enough? What was wrong with me? I was upset for sure.
My Mother started searching for another piano teacher for me without noticing my Father. Finally she found this place operated by a very famous Chinese pianist (now there are numerous branches of this “art center” all over Hong Kong). There I met my first Teacher.
(To be continued…)