Tag: DiplomaExams文憑考試

Music is for healing

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,

Teresa Wong

How to Practice a Fugue (I)

how to practice a fugue?

1.play each voice separately.

e.g. if there are four voices,

Step 1. play only soprano voice

Step 2. play only alto voice

Step 3. play only tenor voice

Step 4. play only bass voice

next,

2. Play two voices together

Step 5. play soprano and alto voices

Step 6. play tenor and bass voices

Step 7. play soprano and bass voices

Step 8. play alto and tenor voices

etc.

It’s very important to hear firstly each individual voice before practicing them together.

The concept is very simple:

Imagine a fugue is played by a string ensemble, so it would be first violin + second violin + viola + cello. Do they practice together without practicing on their own? No! Only now YOU the pianist has to play every single line together yourself. Therefore, if you really want to know the voices well, you must practice listening and playing each of them separately. In the course of learning each voice, you get to understand how each of them works and how it sounds. Then, when you put them together, you would find it much easier to hear each voice and bring out whatever musical patterns you need to according to the importance of them respectively. 

The same concept can be applied to practicing any polyphonic writing or simply, left hand-right hand situation. In order for the voices / two hands to coordinate well together in harmony and balance, they must be able to perform on their own terms first. And to be able to perform on their own terms first, you must train them to do so separately. Often that’s the solution students miss out on taking (“too boring!” “too much time!”), and that’s the main reason why they don’t get familiarised with the piece they have been working on even for a long period of time. Drilling without strategy on how to practice and precision on details will never get to the point where one truly knows about the piece albeit hours spent at the piano.

How to choose a piano diploma exam program (I)

(中文) 什麼是「好聽」? (一)

Sorry, this entry is only available in 中文.

(中文) 貪心是可以的!如果你肯付出的話。

Sorry, this entry is only available in 中文.

Piano Diploma Program

Piano Diploma Program

ATCL

Course duration:

80 weeks in total

1 hour lesson each week

Course breakdown:

1st year : 50 weeks of lessons

2nd (half year): 30 weeks of lessons

Practice:

6 (-10) hours a week

25 (-30) hours a month

500 (-600) hours for the whole program

Prerequisite:

grade 8 high pass (minimum 110) to merit

must be committed to the program including all lessons and extra sessions and self-discipline on practice 

parents must also be responsible for scheduling their students for regular lessons and guiding them to conduct regular practice at home

Course content:

select the right program for the student

prepare the program with the student inside and outside the lessons

guide the student to write the program notes

organize performance opportunities and mock exam sessions for students to help them prepare for the real exam

dipABRSM

Course duration:

110-120 weeks of lessons in total

Course breakdown:

1st year: 50 weeks of lessons 

2nd year: 50 weeks of lessons + 10 -20 extra sessions for extra lessons, viva voce and recital preparation 

Prerequisite:

grade 8 merit (minimum) to distinction 

must be committed to the program including all lessons and extra sessions and self-discipline on practice 

parents must also be responsible for scheduling their students for regular lessons and guiding them to conduct regular practice at home

Course content:

select the right program for the student

prepare the program with the student inside and outside the lessons

guide the student to prepare for the viva voce and the program notes

provide a solid plan to improve drastically for the quick study part

organize performance opportunities and mock exam sessions for students to help them prepare for the real exam

(中文) 鋼琴文憑考試預備: 樂曲分析和口試 (巴哈觸技曲E小調, BWV 914: 第二節)

Sorry, this entry is only available in 中文.

(中文) 鋼琴文憑考試預備: 樂曲分析和口試 (巴哈觸技曲E小調, BWV 914: 第一節)

Sorry, this entry is only available in 中文.

References for Piano Music of Classical Period

Here are some great references for anyone who is serious in learning more in depth about piano/keyboard music of the classical era:

CPE Bach’s treatise: Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen (Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments)

It’s available in German and French at IMSLP: http://imslp.org/wiki/Versuch_%C3%BCber_die_wahre_Art_das_Clavier_zu_spielen,_H.868,_870_(Bach,_Carl_Philipp_Emanuel) 

For English translation: https://www.amazon.com/Essay-True-Playing-Keyboard-Instruments/dp/0393097161

Czerny’s Op. 500 Pianoforte-Schule

another historic treatise, in particular the second chapter concerning “the proper performance of Beethoven’s works”.  

English translation:  http://imslp.org/wiki/Pianoforte-Schule,_Op.500_(Czerny,_Carl) 

Second chapter on it’s own here: http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/356510     

Rosenblum’s Performance Practices in Classic Piano Music

This is the go-to reference for all aspects of historically-informed performance at the piano Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Performance-Practices-Classic-Piano-Music/dp/0253206804 

Brown’s Classic and Romantic Performing Practice: 1750 – 1900

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Classical-Romantic-Performing-Practice-1750-1900/dp/0195166655/ref=pd_sim_14_4?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCN6Dra0L&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&psc=1&refRID=MZ31B06KHX63PDSB2767

Malcolm Bilson’s DVDs on performance practice:  

(If you don’t know who he is, go learn here )

https://www.amazon.com/Knowing-Score-Malcolm-Bilson/dp/0801444845/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1466971031&sr=8-18&keywords=malcolm+bilson https://www.amazon.com/Performing-Score-Malcolm-Bilson/dp/B006IVOTWU/ref=sr_1_20?ie=UTF8&qid=1466971031&sr=8-20&keywords=malcolm+bilson 

And his recordings:

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1/277-5565438-5991311?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music&field-keywords=bilson+schubert 

Special thanks to our guest teacher Mr Polanski for this note.

Teresa Wong

Afterthoughts about our masterclass

(中文) We had a wonderful masterclass conducted by Mr David Polanski yesterday, on a Sunday afternoon: when most people take the time relax and go out with their friends and family to enjoy their day off, we gathered together at the studio to listen to each other’s piano playing and talk about the great music of Mozart and Beethoven. I thought, what better way to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon together than that.

Ten Levels of Piano Practice

“Practice is objective, organized, and rational.”

-Teresa Wong, “Piano Freedom”, p.73

Piano practice is a creative and step-by-step process. Here are the ten stages a piano player would go through in his/her practice, with no.1 being the most basic to no.10 the last level to reach the final destination.

About my second book, “Piano Technique Transformation Exercise Book”

I am thrilled to announce that my second book,  “Piano Technique Transformation Exercise Book” is also published and available for sale now! You can find them on the following platforms:

Amazon paperback

Kindle ebook

Createspace

You can also purchase it on my website here.

With this book and my other book “Piano Freedom” – on top of my YouTube channel and of course my teaching! – I can assure you that your piano technique and playing will be better forever. Most importantly, you will enjoy your playing and music in a new way you would never imagined you could ever achieve. I can promise you just that.

Any question about the book and its application please do not hesitate to write me!

Cheers,

Teresa

Piano Technique Transformation, 鋼琴技巧改造

Control of Weight in Our Piano Playing (Part II)

In the last post I wrote about how the application of force in striking the piano keys down would drastically affect our piano playing. And there are two ideas you must understand. The first idea is: “We apply different level of weights for different dynamics.” Which I have explained in the last post.

In this post I continue to discuss about the second idea, which is “We apply different level of weights for each key – even in the same dynamic level.”

Welcome, Maestro Polanski!

I am beyond delighted to announce that Mr Polanski, a Beethoven specialist, is our guest teacher now for consultation sessions and will be available for regular lessons after June! He will also be conducting small masterclasses and workshops with us. How exciting!

Here is a little glimpse of Mr Polanski’s impressive music experience:

In a career of over 20 years, maestro David Polanski has been sharing the gift of music with students of all ages. A former student of world-renowned pianist Malcolm Bilson (Cornell University), maestro Polanski holds Master of Music degrees both in Fortepiano Historical Performance and in Musicology (Boston University), as well as Bachelor of Science degrees in Piano Performance and Pedagogy (Hofstra University). He is a specialist in the music of Beethoven as well as 18th and 19th century performance practice and aesthetics. In addition to piano tuition, he has been an active performer, accompanist, and composer working with many prestigious organizations including Harvard University, the Boston Ballet, Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung Berlin, Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Universität Bonn, Universität Nürnburg-Erlangen, and Boston University. Incorporating rigorous music theory, history, and philosophy in his approach to performance practice, maestro Polanski brings an historically informed method to his dynamic conservatory-style teaching and coaching.

Mr David Polanski
Mr David Polanski

 

 

Summary of DipABRSM Viva Voce Posts

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