Tag: Compassion

The Responsibilities of a True Piano Teacher

Teaching students, especially young children, requires a lot of patience and compassion on top of expertise. As a piano teacher, the way you communicate directly affects whether the student receives your message or not, regardless of how well qualified you are as a music scholar and piano performer.

One important idea I have learnt from the music workshop I attended last year in Tokyo is that, students can feel insecure and vulnerable at times in their lessons. When they feel unsafe – note: not physically, but rather, emotionally, as there are chances of being criticized and pointing out their mistakes they make in their playing (or answers), they stop focusing on their music and instead on trying to be “correct”. They spend more time and effort worrying about their potential failure rather than expressing and enjoying themselves and the music. They would stop trying because they do not want to make more mistakes (especially after being told they were wrong or even yelled at in a disapproved tone).
One of the teacher’s many responsibilities is to show the student (again and again) that s/he can feel safe and supported during the lessons and the music journey together with the teacher, that s/he can feel free to ask questions and explore in the playing and practice. Therefore, building a great relationship between the teacher and student is crucial for ultimate success in music learning and achieving great results. And in order to do that, the teacher who truly cares about his/her teaching would put in utmost effort and patience in every single lesson with each student s/he has, because every lesson/student matters, young or old, “talented” or not.

 

 

Watching the students grow, young or adult, beginner or advanced, is the greatest pleasure a teacher can have.

 

Teresa Wong

 

 

 

Let’s Build this School with Love



From establishing a studio with me maintaining a group of students for the past years, to slowly building a school with other teachers under my training and teaching other students than mine, the road has not been easy. During the first three months, we have gone from photo shoots, video recording sessions, setting up the place bit by bit (purchasing new equipments, furniture and extra pianos, building new sound-proof curtains), to starting new courses, taking in new students, and struggling to maintain student concert and classes in the midst of the protest. Everyday is a whole new battle. Sometimes I wonder if I can survive through it. But I did, every single day.

Some have asked me, “Why do you start the school? What’s the intention of it?” Sometimes I don’t know where to start to explain it. If I tell you it’s just a hunch, then you might not want to come here or bring your children here for lessons. This “hunch” though is realized by a very conscious decision perhaps submerged from a subconscious level. I can go on to explain this in much details (which is what I should and would do for our mission statement for the school and the academy), but I can also use one word only : it is out of “love”.


From the beginning (not of the universe or the mankind), it was my love for music and piano. I loved the way I could express myself through the instrument, the almost surreal and out-of-body experience one can get only through music performance or other performing arts performance. And through this channel I was starting to live and experience life, learning not only music itself but the culture brought about in terms of history, literature, language and other arts. I travelled and studied abroad, learning and experiencing music in the most diverse ways. Understanding and studying music through the instrument is one way, probably the most obvious way, but understanding music in greater depth requires much more than that. Interacting with others from other cultures through music and other means is one of the most amazing ways a real musician can get. It is the true way to develop a musician’s soul with much more depth.


The love for music and piano brought about the love for teaching in me. I always felt the compassion (or compulsion?) to help and guide others. With that goal achieved from time to time I would be very satisfied. At the beginning it was just teaching students to teach a certain performance level in playing and understanding. Sometimes I would be very frustrated when students did not put enough effort to achieve what they were capable of doing. Later I came to realize the real reason why such happened: there was not enough love in them for music.


Gradually I moved on to teaching students who had more passion for piano. Some might not have been developed and nurtured properly when young. I had to put in a lot of extra effort to bring out the interest and the better in them. But I could see the more satisfying result and therefore such effort was worth every sweat and tear of it.


I started to gain more students of higher performance levels and some of them were piano teachers. As I always said, teaching the teachers was one of the best thing a teacher could do. When I helped a teacher to gain more knowledge and skills on his or her own, s/he would be more capable of teaching his/her own students who would become better musicians. The tree of music knowledge was slowly growing.


The love for music and piano cannot be forced or taught but instilled and help grown in another person. It is like a seed needed to be soiled, watered and taken care delicately and mindfully. One wrong step can cause a lot of damage along the way especially at the initial stage of growth. So now, my goal is set to train more teachers whether they be experienced or aspiring ones. I hope that because of my training, the teachers will be more equipped to help their students learn, grow and blossom in music. Most important of all, I hope the teachers will become more caring and compassionate towards their students, and help nurture the next generation, so that they the youngsters would grow their own plants of love and joy for music and piano for many years to come.



Teresa Wong



Our music fun class for the younger kids!
Our music fun class for the younger kids!