Unlike today, very few students took dipABRSM during my teenage days. In fact, I think it was called the “Advanced Certificate”. I did not care too much about taking the exam or not; of course I worked hard towards passing the exam, but most important of all, I just wanted to play better piano, learn more about music, which to me was like magic. At school, I did not like any subjects, except English. I was very good at English. Maybe that was the reason why I loved English. And Piano. I was also amazed at the power of language. I did not know back then, but now I realize there is a close connection between language and music, and I always use it as an example during students’ lessons.
I hated going to school, a famous girls’ school which recently has become quite popular in the news. But still, I hated it. I liked it when I was in Form one or two. Back then we had a great principal, who unfortunately left us for immigration to Canada. To succeed this kind principal was an devilish woman (Yes, I mean, devilish). The teachers were simply working to earn their daily bread and not doing their teaching job, and therefore, uninspiring. So the only hope for me was music (note: my academic work was fine). Other than playing the piano, I also played Erhu for the first three years in secondary school: I wanted to play flute but the music teacher told me to play something else, e.g. a Chinese instrument, since there were too many students applying for flute lessons. I actually liked playing Erhu and participated in school’s Chinese Orchestra. We got to perform in different venues; it was simply fun.
Now back to the original topic. Every Wednesday after my miserable day at school, I walked to the art center to take my piano lesson. Although I was already tired, I did not mind going to my piano lesson. It had simply become my weekly routine.
The pieces for the Advanced Certificate were difficult. I had never played pieces like this long and complicated before. The exam was like a 35-40 minutes’ recital long, with all pieces memorized. As my Teacher and I took time into preparing them, I became more emotionally shut down at school and at home.
(To be continued…)