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I get a lot of enquiries about playing by memory. Here are a few useful tips:
1. Mark out the sections and phrases
It’s important to know where a section / a phrase starts and ends – this practice is not only important for memorisation but also in practice and knowing the music more deeply and securely
2. Repeat in small doses
It’s a very useful tool to memorise a piece in small doses first especially if you are new to the practice. Start with one phrase and then two, gradually working up to a whole section. Then work on two sections and more eventually leading up to the whole movement/piece.
Repeat each phrase 5-10 times. Then two phrases 5-10 times. Then three phrases 5-10 times and so on.
It’s also great to try starting in the middle of a piece – a lot of times when performers have a slip of memory it’s never at the beginning of a piece or not even the beginning of a section/phrase. I encourage my students to start playing /memorising in the middle of the music to see if they can start and continue from there – I call them “safety stops”. It’s like taking a train: it starts and ends at big terminals, but it also travels through and pauses by many small stations / stops in between the whole journey to pick up and drop off passengers. So throughout the whole music journey (the music piece you are playing and memorising), you also need some musical stops to know where you are at currently. It helps you keep track of where you have been, where you are at, and where you are going, until the end.
For me I even memorised from the end back to the beginning just to test my memory of the piece. Most important of all, try to be creative about your memorisation process and think/practice outside of the box – remember, there is no one way to do it right for you, and often, those “weird” ways of doing one thing are THE ways to get you closer and faster towards your goal!
Until next time,
We are now introducing new online courses and taking enrolment until the spaces are all filled.
Here are the courses and short description:
Course 1. How to prepare your students for diploma exams successfully
General criteria of exam requirement and repertoire choice
How to choose pieces for your students
Examples of repertoire choice and general background of genre/pieces
Viva voce questions and preparation
More on viva voce and programme notes
Student project presentation: examples of repertoire choices and viva voce questions
(Class 4/5 are subject to change if most of the teacher students are more inclined to prepare students for Trinity exams instead of ABRSM exams)
Course 2. How to improve your students’ technique
Piano playing and body utilization
Concept of Body weight and weight transfer
Application of body weight and weight transfer
Relation of body weight and weight transfer to arm/hand/finger movement
More elaboration on class 2 concepts
More on weight training and piano technique
Application and examples of different techniques
Student Project presentation: application of techniques with chosen music examples
Course 3. How to analyze and interpret advanced repertoire
General background of musical periods
General development of piano/keyboard instruments
Main genres and their characteristics of keyboard repertoire (Baroque and Classical)
Music examples: form, structure and analysis
Main genres and their characteristics of keyboard repertoire (Classical and Romantic)
Music examples: form, structure and analysis
More on genres and examples of keyboard repertoire
More on background and analysis of keyboard repertoire
Performance practice of each musical period in relation to the development and repertoire of the keyboard instrument
How to analyze and prepare a piece for performance and exam
Student Project presentation: application of knowledge learnt in the course with chosen piece of your own
Total Course time
Each class duration
1 hour in total: 45 minutes’ lecture + 15 minutes’ Q & A session
Total fee per course
Original course fee: $3000
Special course fee for early bird enrolment: $2500
Deadline for early bird enrolment: September 8, 2017
Deadline for all enrolment: September 20, 2017
Commencement of courses (Class 1):
Course 1: September 22 Friday 11am
Course 2: September 21 Thursday 10am
Course 3: September 21 Thursday 11am
Note: We might have more course times if there are more students than open spaces in any of the courses and if students are unavailable at the schedule given above. Contact us directly to request more schedule details.
Pay via PayPal or bank transfer to our HSBC account. (Details will be given after your enrolment – 100% confirmation of your enrolment will be completed after we have received your payment)
We are also organizing a new course to train new teachers to teach Miss Wong’s piano technique method, so that you can train your students to become a more accomplished performer with avid interest in learning music and playing the piano with confidence, control and dexterity! Stay tuned for this course.
I am going to teach you how to do a splendid scales in the upcoming video. Are you ready?
Do you want to play scales faster? Do you have a problem with arpeggios? Are you preparing for your graded exam in April/May? Do you want some advice for your ATCL/DipABRSM exam preparation?
Now it’s the time to contact me!
I offer a one-off consultation session for any non-students of mine. So whether you are piano students preparing for your graded exam, or improve your basic piano skills, or you are piano teachers helping your students to be successful in their exams, I welcome you.
This service can be provided in person at my studio or via skype.
Contact me at email@example.com for scheduling and more details.
We are introducing new short intensive courses this year:
*Piano teacher training
Whole course duration: 10 classes
Format: group courses, 3-6 people
Original Fee: $3600.
New student special price: $3400.
*Piano teacher training ($6000 whole course 10 weeks)
**sight reading + ear training ($4600 whole course, special: $4400)
*1030-1145am piano teacher training level I (Teresa Wong)
*12-1245pm fundamental sight reading training (Teresa Wong)
*1-145pm fundamental ear training (Teresa Wong)
*715-830pm sight reading + ear training (Teresa Wong)
4-445pm fundamental sight reading training (Teresa Wong)
445-530pm fundamental ear training (Teresa Wong)
4-450pm sight reading for kids (Carol Yip)
5-550pm ear training for kids (Carol Yip)
6-650pm church pianist training (Carol Yip)
Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org for registration and questions!
I trust you all had a great holiday and a fresh start to this beautiful new year of 2017.
As this new year begins, so do us – me and my teachers at TWSOM – get back to work.
This year we will kickstart with our annual student concert (January), followed by our re-run of our regular intensive courses, some new fun programs, as well as exciting one-off workshops!
So here, I would like to announce that we will re-run our Piano Teacher Training Course (Level I) in February, and the deadline of the early bird special discount is January 15, 2017.
Our upcoming workshops will include topics such as songwriting and piano technique. They will give you some more insights into how the real courses work.
At TWSOM, we always want to provide music lovers – new or seasoned – with fun, creative, and systematic music programs, so that students not only have fun but also truly learn to master the instrument and gain real and lasting musical knowledge they can enjoy forever.
I wish you all a great start to the new year, and hope to connect more music lovers, students and parents, teachers and fellow musicians locally and all over the world!
I believe everyone likes music.
Everyone listens to some kind of music, whether it be pop music (western or local), R&B, rock, electronic, blues, folk, country, band, classical, world, jazz… Or you simply listen to some good music regardless of what genre the music is – the most important element in music is that you like it. That’s it. It is not other people’s choice but YOUR own choice.
The same should go for music learning, or more specifically here, piano playing. You should play the piano only when you want it. And then you would probably practice because you want to get better at the piano.
What is the first thing students usually say when they come in? (I am sure all of you piano teachers have this experience once in a while or too many a times.) They say, “I didn’t practice (much) last week.” or similar version of this line. Now, what is your response and what would you say to them? You might be like this, “no, no again!”, either say in silently inside or voice this out loud to your students. Trust me, I get that “frustration” sometimes, I understand that completely.
I also understand why students don’t practice (enough) sometimes. And it’s not because they are lazy – it can be but I usually give them the benefit of the doubt. I like to treat people innocent before “charged” guilty (ok, it’s not like that serious like a crime, but you get what I mean).
Depending on the situation would I ask them why. They would tell me there has been a lot of “homework/work/test/exam/activities/weddings/social functions/business trips/projects/meetings”. I get it, I really do. But I would also stress to them it is of utmost importance that they keep their regular practice sessions in albeit less frequent or shorter than desirable. Let’s say you want your students to practice 1 hour every day, would you think it’s plausible for the lifestyle they have? Would you rather set a more realistic goal for them to follow and actually keep up with, for example, 30 minutes for 4-5 days a week? Or 20 minutes for 3-4 days a week? Depending on the level and age and time of each student?
I usually negotiate with them, especially when they are adult students who have a very busy work life. I say, “ok, well, I understand that you are pretty busy, but let’s try this, try to log in 15 minutes for 3 days first, use the timer on your phone, set it to 15 minutes and just sit down and go with it. Let me know how that goes in our next lesson.” Usually they would do more that those 3 15-minute sessions if they really want to improve their playing.
Of course, there are times when a student really has no time whatsoever that week to do any practice at all. Then what do you as a teacher do? You just have to be patience sometimes. Sometimes when we push the students too hard on their learning and practice it might get an opposite effect that they might not even want to continue learning! We all want to progress, we all do, whether our role is teacher or parent or student. But there is a life we are making right here right now. I think being considerate – I use the word “compassion” – for the student we truly care for is important. There might a lesson that might not be as productive as we want it to be, and that’s ok. If the student turns around, looks back at his/her own progress and says “oh maybe I should work harder”, then wonderful, let’s do it. Certainly the teacher always has to be there to remind the student of his/her practice and encourage him/her to learn more/better. I believe it’s always two-way street (or even three in case with the parent for younger students): both the teacher and student put in effort and work together. Then the student’s learning will definitely blossom.
I find more than often though, it’s that instead of the students having not done any practice at all, it’s rather they are afraid they didn’t get the practice done as well as the teacher want them to have. So nowadays when I hear the line “sorry I didn’t practice much”, I just smile and gesture them sit down and tell them to start playing right away. “I shall be the judge of it.” Most of them do much better than they thought they would.
Giving students more precise pointers and specific directions as to how to make an effective and efficient practice session is also a great way to guide them to not be afraid of practice and get more done on their own. I shall write more about this which I find a lot of students and teachers are not too familiar with this concept.
You all have a blessed weekend of music teaching and learning,