Many- who are interested in my teaching but have not been my students yet- might have doubts about my teaching philosophy and methodology. Here I would like to use this post to clarify how I teach and what I advocate.
I understand that some of you might have concern about my teaching method which emphasizes creativity and fun in piano playing and therefore seems to lack seriousness and professionalism. Let me stress that it is exactly the opposite: I am very serious, professional and passionate about my teaching, about my students’ development in piano playing and music learning. That is why I always strive to be better at it by more reading, experimenting and modifying my teaching methodology. I sincerely believe that, in order excel in something, whether it be golfing, cooking or mathematics, one has to love it, be passionate about it and try his or her very best to be better at it without others telling him or her to do or regardless of what others might have to say about it. Therefore, one who loves to play the piano should feel like having fun during lessons and practice. Having fun does not mean we do not work hard. On the contrary, we work very hard on it but we do not feel like it is hard, or we know it is hard but we still want to do it because we simply want to be better at our playing. And in order to learn efficiently and effectively, we cannot use the traditional means of teaching and learning style anymore. We need instead creativity and fun. My teaching methods, which are built and improved based on my personal experiences and constant updated research studies, are transformed with much Creativity into simpler forms that can get to my students easily and effectively, or else they would not understand such complicated methodology. All these, together with making lessons and practice Fun, drastically accelerates students’ learning progress and improves their results.
Now, you may have some doubts about this: why can’t we use the traditional ways to learn piano playing? Why don’t we work hard and practise many hours the same three songs and scales with the same method throughout the whole year in order to achieve the best result possible? That all comes to one question:
What is playing the piano all about?
Playing the piano is about the process but not the goal. Nowadays students focus too much on the end product (exam result), and their playing suffers.
Playing the piano is about focus. Without focus, one is merely moving the fingers across the keyboard.
Playing the piano is about passion. Without passion, one cannot make good playing and good music; one cannot advance to a higher playing level.
Playing the piano is about using the most effective and efficient methods to build a solid foundation of technique and a wide style of repertoire, as well as to gain a good sight-reading skills. The methods are not fixed, they can be varied. To vary the methods to suit one’s playing purpose, one needs creativity, that is not only required in the teacher but also the student.
Playing the piano serves as a tool to venture into the deep pool of music treasure. It is a wonderful means to learn and understand music of various genres, whether it be classical, pop, jazz or musical. It is an instrument of versatility.
Playing the piano is about creating your own style of playing, not copying others. There are parameters to confine to, like the appropriate articulation, dynamics, musical style and performance practice. I, with my musical knowledge and piano expertise, provide such parameters for my students so that they are aware of them, then they can go ahead to create their personal style of piano playing.
Countless repetition with only one single method is mindless playing. As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I want to train my students to develop an independent and critical thinking, to be smart and creative, so that they can apply such attitude not only to their playing but also to other matters in life, in their studies, works, and interests, so that they can transform themselves into better persons.
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I never said playing the piano is easy. It is not. We do need to work hard at it. Anyone who hates playing the piano and putting effort into it should not come to me for lessons. It is not a smooth path, but we can pave it together.