Category: The Unashamed Piano Teacher

To My Old Piano Students

Dear Students,

How are you? I wonder how you’ve been doing. When’s the last time you played your piano? When’s the last time you shared music with others?

I think about you often. I do. 

I remember how our first piano lessons together, and how that evolved to become a long-term relationship as teacher and students, as well as friends. 

I remember we had the first breakthrough in one of our lessons, it was amazing.

I remember how I felt so emotional and touched when I heard you play in some occasions, thinking I was really blessed to have all these lovely students who wanted to share music with me for so many years.

I remember how I told you to have a haircut because your hair was frankly, messy (you see, your teacher, aka moi, also have the same problem from time to time when life gets hectic, still do).

I remember we had that talk, and I really hoped it resonated with you and helped you through.

I remember we had all those performance classes, masterclasses, concerts, all the rehearsals and performances – some frustrating moments, but always so many more good ones. 

I remember we would go to concerts together, and discussed about the concert afterwards with a drink each in our hands.

We also had lunch, dinner, barbecue and all sorts of gathering. There were never short of laughters. 

We had a lot of music gatherings and parties at my place.. it was a lot of fun. I love having parties and you all come over. 

I remember I cared. And I still do.

Frankly, I really miss all of you.

I hope you are good, and still play the piano.

Have a happy Chinese New Year,

Your Teacher,

TW

Honoring Music Teaching

Teaching is a service to others.

Teachers are the guides, to shed light for their students on the path of knowledge and learning, with wisdom, insight, compassion, patience and empathy.

Teachers pass their knowledge, skills and information, their ways of learning and problem solving to their disciples, so that they can adapt, modify and create their own principles and methods to apply wisely for their own learning and skills. It’s the kind of flexible and smart principle that helps one to apply in different situations accordingly, instead of a cookie cutter, one size fit all rigid method that can be used in only one fixed situation.

I have the privilege to have learnt from great masters and teachers, and the pleasure to have passed my knowledge to my wonderful students of many over the past one and a half decade. I am also grateful to have this platform to share it with you my readers here. I hope you have all learnt something useful and impactful, something that lasts and is applicable in many ways, which would be the definition of true knowledge.

As for the aspiring music teachers, I hope you have mustered all your courage, your passion as well as your patience, when you are just starting out and at times feeling frustrated, exhausted and simply, lost. Keep up with your great work, keep on with your love for music and teaching, I’m here to support you.

How to Build a Successful Music Teaching Studio Course Special Discount

A New Beginning I

[:en]Hi all,

I apologize for not having been here or on any social media channels lately.

I just came back from a wonderful trip in Hawaii. It’s beautiful and just a great time there. It actually made me miss Hong Kong a little bit regarding all the food selections! Hongkongers are definitely spoiled with their food choices.

During my holidays in Hawaii, I tried to do a couple things that scared me, both of them required me to be in the ocean. I don’t know if any of you read what I wrote all this time, but I did write about my fear in water. I took swimming lessons and so far I am somewhat better in the pool but if you ask me to go do some water sports in the big ocean I would definitely think twice (or more like hundred times!).

I think I didn’t write about this for some reason, but I went on a diving trip (yes, diving in deep deep water under many feet) a couple years ago in Taiwan, after I tried this “discover diving” thing in Okinawa. I thought it was fun and easy (!) and therefore I decided to venture out to get the open water diving certification after my Taipei stay to finish my Music Together teaching certification (oh yes that’s another story for another time).

That diving trip was gruesome three whole days of me being in the cold open murky wavy water, floating on top of and diving in deep in the ocean. I am not sure if I want to do it again soon, but I do think I will get back at it in the (far) future, perhaps at some place some time with clearer and warmer water.

Anyway, back to the Hawaii trip. I went snorkeling for a few times and I saw some amazing sea creatures! It was not a really fun thing for me to do – like I said, I do not like being in the ocean or somewhere deep. But I made myself do it and I thought that was good.

The other thing I tried actually changed my mind of me being in the ocean and that I actually could enjoy AND have fun about it. It was surfing.

I have seen people surf in TV shows and movies, thinking “wow, that looks so cool”, and especially when I see girls doing it, I am like, “that just looks hot”. Like for me girls doing anything I normally won’t do is “hot”, like driving (which I do now), and being athletic and lifting heavy weights (which I also do now). So being great at water sports is just something that blows my mind and I cannot fathom I can even manage to do it, let alone being good at it.

And there I went surfing.

Needless to say I had this HUGE anxiety before the morning to take my surf lesson, which was like two hours (“Why do anyone want to take surfing lesson for two hours straight? Is there a break in between?”). So with much anxiety (imagining I might drown or thrown out in the ocean without my surfboard and hit my head on the rocks etc) and sleepiness (it’s 8 in the morning! and hey it’s holiday), I arrived at this truck full of surf boards, standing nearby a fit young lady. I thought she was one of the surf students, but no, she’s my surf instructor!

I put on a tee shirt and water shoes my instructor handed me, and we were off to do some practice on the grass nearby with the surfboards. I watched intently what she was demonstrating to me and then I copied. The instruction lasted for 15 minutes. And then she said, “let’s go to the water and try it out!” “What?! That’s it??” I was shocked inside. But I took up the courage and picked up my surfboard and there I went with her to the water.

 

 

 [:]

“I Wish I Could Play Better Piano!”

I am going to be quite blunt from now on, and also slightly more philosophical and spiritual with my writing than before.  I feel I am running out of time here..

I find that most people like the idea of playing the piano but not exactly the action of it. 

Why do I say that?

Have you ever heard your friends say, “I wish I could lose some weight”, then they would add, “if I had time to go exercise”, and “but it’s too hard, and I love eating!” etc etc.

Or, “I would love to go ______ (put any sports or hobbies there: e.g. golfing, fishing, hiking, reading, travelling, cooking…) “, BUT, “I don’t have time”. 

IF they are some of those really lucky people in this planet that have TIME, and even when they take action to go do these activities, they actually find that it’s quite an exhausting task to fulfil. 

AND if they so do decide and manage to keep this hobby going, they would find they don’t actually like it that much as they thought they really would before they started doing it. Usually it’s because it’s too HARD, and take too much TIME. 

But now they are STUCK.. Why? Because they have already started doing this thing they have been wanting to do so long, and they have INVESTED TIME, MONEY and maybe some EFFORT, and also THEY TOLD EVERYONE THEY ARE DOING THIS! THEY CANNOT BACK DOWN CAN THEY NOW?? 

“CAN I ?!?!?!?”  (I think that’s the voice screaming inside the back of your head)

Well, my answer to you is, “YES YOU CAN.”

YES YOU REALLY CAN!!! (I want to scream at that voice inside the back of your head too, if I have to. But no, I want to be gentle.)

Because I have been there.

It may not be playing piano (or music in general), because I realise “he” (I have to put a male gender just to be “politically correct” here) is the LOVE OF MY LIFE. I shall never abandon him.

It might not be teaching (piano), as I thought I have loved it for so long and changed my career for him, and devoted hours and hours developing skills for him and in him; although recently I did find my love for him has not been the same anymore and might need to shake things up and change directions in the most dramatic way…

But I do understand, yes I can and I have been there.

For instance, I tried to teach the way everyone was doing here: focus on training in the shortest time frame possible for the highest grade ever in a youngest student in the whole planet, having students competing in every single competition one can find and making them play some horrible music that would not help them to grow just so they could fulfil some exam/competition/performance/school requirements. Ok, I never have done most of them at all. I couldn’t bring myself even close to just do the first one. They did happen only because I focused on what really mattered to me: instil in students their love for music, inspire them to create music, to enjoy and play the piano, provide them with knowledge necessary to understand and enjoy music, all in the long run and for the long run. Again, I am not saying whatever others do is wrong. They are right for their own accord and in their own terms, as long as they are happy with what they want. But I know that was not what I wanted and it will never be what I want and who as a teacher I want to be.

So, I struggled, I moved on, I struggled more, I moved on again, I stumbled, I sat, I paused, I stood up and started walking again, I splinted, I jogged, I was exhausted, I rested. 

Now, I am sitting still whenever I can.

My newest hobby is “chillaxing”. 

I always understand I cannot make anyone do anything they don’t want to do. But I did not ACCEPT that fact completely. I still thought from time to time, “if I just TRIED HARDER…”

No, I realise it’s not about trying harder. 

Everyone has their own journey and their time to grow or not grow.

Everyone has their own rate of growth and progress. 

No one can push them. No one ever did. 

The real reason for those would truly grow and progress much faster than anyone else is because THEY THEMSELVES WANT TO GROW AND PROGRESS THAT FAST, AND THEY DID A LOT OF WORK TO GET THERE.

Even if they fall.

Even if they struggle.

Even when they just want to sit there and cry and feel all this pain inside them and that voice saying “I don’t want to do this anymore, why are you forcing me to do this, are you insane???” 

They sit there and start asking themselves, “do I want to do this anymore? Do I want to stop now?”

They might not have the answer they want to hear. Instead, they might hear, “I don’t know. It’s too hard. I don’t know how to continue.”

If they tell themselves instead, “Ok, I am not doing this anymore.” And then they feel pain, they feel sadness, that voice inside them whisper, “I don’t want to stop actually. I still want to do this.”

Then they realise, they do want to do it. 

But they must also ask themselves, “HOW can I do this better in the future to have less failure and hardship? How can I do it better to have more success and happiness in this journey?”

Caws6CAWEAAN8fCThey must TRY HARDER.

They must BELIEVE, in themselves and whatever this is that they are doing.

They must also have OTHER PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN THEM.

They might need different and better guidance.

They need HELP.

They must REACH OUT.

They must find SOLUTION.

A solution that is different from all those solutions that they tried before and didn’t work for them.

If they decide to continue.

But I would also emphasise again, “You don’t have to do this.”

Don’t do this because everyone is doing it.

Don’t do this because you have already invested all this time and effort and energy and emotion.

Don’t do this for anyone else, not your family, your friends, your peers, your partner, your parents, or your teacher.

YOU CAN STOP NOW. 

TODAY IS THE DAY TO SET YOURSELF FREE.

DO EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING FOR YOURSELF. IT’S YOUR DECISION TO CONTINUE OR STOP.

PLAY THE PIANO FOR YOURSELF AND NOT FOR ANYONE ELSE.

TEACH PIANO BECAUSE YOU WANT TO DO IT.

Peace,

Teresa Wong

P.S. I love this post. One line says, “Mastery is an awesome thing to have, but it comes at great price. The idea of having mastery, without the price, is deeply deeply appealing. ‘I wish I had learned is saying ‘I wish I didn’t have to pay the price- I wish it was already paid back in the days that are already behind me’.”

To that I would sum up with one simple 8-word idiom, “There is no free lunch in the jungle.”

[:zh]兒童鋼琴學習的障礙[:]

[:zh]兒童鋼琴學習的障礙

為什麼小孩子好像常常不想練習,又或者不想去上課呢?

其實,小孩子是需要很多鼓勵和支持的。[:]