Tag: adultpianobeginners

Adult Piano Beginner Learners

Adult Piano Beginner Learners

This year we have quite a number of adult students who have come in to learn to play the piano for the first time. I am very glad to see this phenomenon.

I still remember we had this amazing student who came in last year, and the first line of his email wrote, “I am a 51-year-old man who has never learnt to play the piano…”. My eyes beamed with joy when I read that line. I couldn’t be happier! Someone at this mature age wanted to play the piano! Why would that be a problem?

Any age is a good age to learn something new. Any age is a good age to challenge oneself and do something fresh for the first time. Any age is a good age to be nice to oneself and give oneself a Gift.

I believe Music is such a Joy for anyone of any age, and playing the piano is a great gift to receive that joy.

I understand the “awkwardness” for adults to pick up an instrument (or simply learn some new skills) for the first time:

“Can I actually do it?”

“What if I can’t? Would I look stupid or embarrass myself?”

“Am I too old to do it?”

“It’s okay, I don’t really have to do this. Why bother, why waste time and money to do it?”

The list of doubt goes on and on.

I get it. I have that moment too.

Like I couldn’t swim or bike for most of my life – I learnt to do that just a few years ago. I am not good at it, but I can move! And I enjoy them.

Or I remember the first time I saw people run on campus when I was studying for my graduate degree in America. I thought to myself, “Oh! People RUN here.” I never exercised when I was in Hong Kong, almost never. No one told me I had to exercise! I only knew I had to study and practice a lot of piano. So I started running on campus too, and went to the gym and took cycling classes and did circuit weight training. I didn’t know how to do it but I just followed the instructions and that’s it! It was a lot of fun and so I never stopped exercising ever since.

Or I love traveling on my own, a lot. People say, “Oh but it’s dangerous (for a woman) to travel solo” or, “Oh but it’s so boring to travel alone”. I never feel any danger at all. A woman can protect herself just like a man does. And when you travel alone, you can talk with the locals and meet new friends. It’s a lot of fun and a different kind of traveling experience. When you travel alone, you would notice a lot of things you might not otherwise.

Or I never wrote a book. And now I did. I am happy that I finally published it, now I can make it better for the second edition, and work on the Chinese version. And also the course books. I never thought I wanted to or could write an instruction manual (it sounds so boring!). But I did, and I am glad I endured the boredom at the beginning of drafting it.

What I am trying to say is there are a lot of things we thought we didn’t want to do and tried to make a lot of excuses not to of them, and the main reason is most likely this:

We are scared.

We are scared to fail.

We are scared to make mistakes.

We are scared to be ridiculed.

But, what if we make it?

What if we succeed?

What if we are actually good at it?

Or what if, what if we actually enjoy doing it, regardless of how good or bad we are at it?

Isn’t that the most important point of we doing something, that WE ENJOY DOING THE THING WE DO?

Yes, that’s the whole point of we learning to play the piano.

Because PLAYING THE PIANO IS FUN.

So, Adult Piano Beginner Learners, keep coming! We are ready!

Peace,
Teresa Wong

On becoming a great teacher

On becoming a great teacher

The Secret to Instantly Improve Your Piano Playing

I have found THE SECRET to drastically improve anyone’s piano playing in no time. Do you want to know what it is?

Of course you do.

And when you have it, you can improve ANY AREA* in your playing, whether if be your performance, technique, and even sight reading and aural ability.

What exactly is it?

Ok, I give you the secret here, and it is only one word.

Are you ready?

FOCUS.

There you go. The secret is revealed.

“What? That’s it?”

Yes that’s it.

The principle is simple, but to achieve it might not be so.

Let me explain it further.

Focus is an essential component for anyone who wants to achieve greatness in anything he/she does. It is required in work, sports, reading, dance, and in this case, piano playing.

Why is it important and how does it work?

Do you find young children always have a hard time concentrating at the piano or even at school? Because they are always fidgeting, they like to move around, they are easily distracted. They have not been trained to focus at such tender age, at anything they are required to have full concentration. And the modern technology is definitely not helping, with the rise of smartphones, everyone is at it, ALL, THE, TIME. Even (/ Especially?) the adults are guilty at it, browsing through the internet with it, playing games on it, texting/whatsapping on it, constantly. You can think about how many hours you are NOT using your phone when you are awake…probably, not that many, not even one hour I reckon?

 

FOCUS

Playing the piano requires full attention. It promotes focus in the long run, therefore, when people say they want their children to take piano lessons because they want them kids to learn to behave and sit still, there is some truth to it. But at the same time, we need the players to acquire focus to be able to play well as well.

Absolute focus is not an option at the piano. FOCUS is a MUST.

You must attend to your music at ALL TIMES, at THAT MOMENT, not past not future. When you make a mistake, MOVE ON. If you dwell in the past, even just one bar ago, it’s gone, you cannot fix it, you must focus at the bar RIGHT NOW, in order to DO THE BEST here. You must also know what is going on in the future, while focusing at the NOW. You must feel your movement, knowing how it helps to control, coordinate and improve your technical skills and make the most efficient and effective move at that execution of note/chord/phrase.

Without FOCUS, there is no AWARENESS. There is no awareness of mistakes, there is no judgment on what is better and what is worse move, what is nicer sound and uglier sound, what is the right pitch/rhythm and wrong pitch/rhythm, there is no control of a steady tempo.

With FOCUS, everything is clearly revealed. You would know what is going wrong, and how to make it right.

FOCUS requires SILENCE, that silence of self-criticism/worry about being criticized. With that SPACE in your head, you allow yourself to grow and improve. With PERSISTENCE, you will go very far. You will become more and more successful in achieving what you want at the piano.

 

Teresa

*In fact, with FOCUS, you can improve any area in any aspect of your life instantly, but that’s another story for another blog.

Our New Piano Course: Special Offer for New Students! 專業鋼琴初學者課程三月優惠

Special Offer: $2250 for whole 10-week piano course!
特別優惠: 整個鋼琴課程(十堂)只需 $2250!



Our school is now doing a promotion. As we have written a new systematic syllabus for the beginners (children/adult), we are now offering a special discount for the new students, the original 10-week course is $2500 and now after 10% discount is $2250. The course is one on one lesson and is taught by my teachers who are under my training and mentorship. In the first semester each student gets to learn 8-9 songs and scales, note reading and rhythm training.This offer ends by March 31 and for limited space. Please pass this to your friends who might be interested.


我們學校三月優惠課程專業鋼琴初學者課程(第一學期)。全期十課,每課30分鐘,原價$2500, 現特價$2250. 截止日期3月31日,名額有限,先到先得,報名從速。

More information at our school website.


Check out our school website for more information on our courses and teachers.


Chinese:


English:




Common Questions About Piano Lessons

[anti-rclick]中文版:『常見的鋼琴學習問題』
April 13, 2010.
Latest Update: March 25, 2015.


Here are some of the most common questions I always get from enquiries. I feel I should answer them here for quick reference. More would be added gradually.


Q1. How old should my child start taking piano lessons?

I would say usually no younger than age 4. It is very hard for a child to sit quite still and concentrate through even a 30-minute lesson every week. It is also difficult for him/her to be able to understand the teacher’s direction, react to it and perform it. It takes time for a child at such a young age to adapt to such a new learning concept, but it is a very good training. It requires much patience from the child, the parents and the teacher, especially during the first six months. The progress might be slow and minimal during the first year, depending on the learning mode and maturity of each student. Do not expect a child to play something very fancy quickly at the beginning: quite on the contrary, we should take time to build a solid foundation of piano playing and musical concept right from the start. Naturally the fancy things will come later.


Q2. How long is a lesson for my child?

I suggest for young beginners, a 30-minute lesson every week to start with. As said before, a child cannot sit still and concentrate for more than 30 minutes (as a matter of fact, even adult’s concentration span is less than 30 minutes!). But a 30-minute lesson goes by really fast (I like it when a student tells me with a disappointed face, “wow, are we finished? I want to play more!”, than when a student feels bored and refuses to play, wishing the lesson can finish earlier.)

Depending on the progress, students usually proceed to 45-minute lessons after 2-3 months. Young beginners may even take longer time to go through the 30-minute lesson period (e.g. 4-6 months). Most importantly, we want your child to enjoy the piano lessons but not to detest them. However, some brilliant students who are fast learners would even take 1-hour lessons when 45-minute lessons are not enough to go through everything.

Some students who are siblings would take an extra lesson together for theory and composition. It is a wonderful thing to do so since they can learn more with less cost and time. There are many ways to improve and progress on piano playing away from the piano, and this is one of them.
Students of grade 8 and above must take 1-hour lesson every week. Some would take 1-and-a-half-hour lessons if resource and time are allowed.


Q3. Do you teach adults?

Yes, I do teach adults, from absolute beginners from scratch to diploma-level students. If you have never learnt playing the piano, start NOW! You have probably heard the old saying, “late is better than never”. It is true. Have you ever regretted that you never had the chance to learn playing the piano when you were little? Or you have stopped playing because of study, work or simply too many other things to learn or do? Do not think, “oh, but I am much older now, I cannot compare with the young children who start learning from early age!” Why do you think you have to compare yourself to them? You are you, you have your strong points and individuality. And you know what? Adults have their advantages in learning the piano. First of all, it is YOU who want to take lessons, not your parents. That is why you are here reading this. Second of all, adults know much better than kids, right? (Well, not in that tone as you think). But you have learnt much more during these years, you can process datas quicker, you can associate different materials easier, your hands and feet can coordinate better, you can read and understand faster, etc, etc. So start today, start now. Do not even hesitate for another second. Because, before you know it, it would be another month, another year, and another decade past, and you still have not started playing the piano.


For adult beginners, I suggest you start with 45-minute lessons first. Depending on the progress, you would proceed to 1-hour lessons when appropriate. Adult students with some experience should take 1-hour lessons weekly.


Q4. What do you teach in a lesson?

This is a simple question with a complicated answer. Although I have a teaching philosophy and methodology, I do not teach every student the same way. Every student is different and unique. I have to understand the way that is most effective for him or her to learn easily and efficiently in an enjoyable manner. Of course, sometimes there would be obstacles and difficulties in playing and students just have to deal with them, tackle them, and move on.


In general, I teach the classical repertoire as the mainstream but add music of various styles and genres (e.g. jazz, pop, musical etc.) to it on the side. I focus on building a solid foundation of piano technique and musical knowledge pertinent to a beautiful and individual playing. I also emphasize developing a good sight-reading ability and improvisation skill; these are the most neglected, ignored and underrated capacities so far among teaching nowadays, yet they are crucial for piano playing that lasts for a life time. For every student, I have a personal and detailed learning progress report. I make yearly plans for each student of what techniques and repertoire they have to learn and what goals they have to achieve (e.g. performances, competitions, exams). I review my reports frequently and communicate with the students and/or their parents regularly.

Last but not least, I am lenient but strict.


Q5. Can I buy an electric keyboard instead of a piano?

I understand the concerns behind buying a piano: one, buying a keyboard is much cheaper; two, you are not sure if you or your child is serious about piano playing or how long you will be staying in Hong Kong; three, Hong Kong’s homes are way too small to even fit in an upright piano! Yes, I understand all of these, but I do not suggest buying an electric keyboard. If all you want is to be able to play some music on a keyboard, an electric one would suffice to perform such trick. However, if you want to “play the piano”, then you need a real piano! The action of a piano is totally different from an electric keyboard (in fact I do not see any action there in the latter but an electric one) and it thus requires a special kind of technique and touch to play it and produce the diverse and beautiful nuances from it. The sound of a piano produced is also unique of its own that that of an electric keyboard cannot compare (the “grand piano” sound from a keyboard is so fake!). The technique required to play an electric keyboard is limited and therefore much simpler. Students should definitely buy a piano as soon as possible. And for those who haven’t bought an instrument and are considering about getting one, I suggest buying a good quality second-hand piano when there is a limited budget. You only have to be very careful about finding a piano company that you can trust. Even the so-called “new” pianos sold at some prestigious piano companies are not that well-maintained. You should ask your teacher or someone who knows piano to check it for you if possible.


For the parents are not sure if their young children are serious about learning the piano, I suggest you rent a well-maintained piano from a local piano company. You can use a decent quality piano at a lower cost. And when you like to buy it, the rental fee paid can be deducted from the selling price as well.


Q6. Where do you teach?

Our teaching location is currently located in Causeway Bay, close to the Victoria Park and Excelsior Hotel.


Q7. Do you teach at students’ homes?

My answer is NO. I strongly suggest students take their lessons at my place, for: 1. I have all my teaching materials and equipment here; 2. Students concentrate and learn much better at my place; 3. I don’t have time to travel to students’ places.


Q8. Can I take a trial lesson?

Yes, you can. I am flexible on this issue. I call this an “evaluation lesson”. Although I do not think you can see how I teach and how you or your child learn in one lesson, I think a trial lesson is good for us to meet and know each other a little before we venture into a long-term teacher-student relationship. In the trial lesson, we first share about our beliefs and goals for your/your child’s piano learning, then I assess the potential student’s playing and conduct a mini-lesson.

The trial lesson fee is the same as the fee for one regular lesson.


Note: All new students are required to take a trial lesson before I officially take them in as my students. (updated July 12,2011)


Q9. What is a consultation session?


A consultation session is a session in which we focus on solving specific problems regarding student’s playing or teaching. Examples are selected technique training, advices on exam pieces, preparation for diploma exams, etc. Such consultation is an one-off session, while a trial lesson is suitable for students who wish to take further lessons from me in a regular basis.


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In case of any discrepancy between the Chinese translation and the original English text, the English text shall prevail.



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