Tag: GradedExams級別考試

(中文) 學彈琴是否一定要考試?

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(中文) 計劃你的鋼琴練習 (II)

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One-off Piano Consultation Session

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 twsomusic@gmail.com for scheduling and more details.

TW

New Short Courses 2017

We are introducing new short intensive courses this year:

Sight reading
Ear training
Song writing
*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)

Schedule

*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)

Saturday
4-445pm fundamental sight reading training (Teresa Wong)
445-530pm fundamental ear training (Teresa Wong)

Wednesday:
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 twsomusic@gmail.com for registration and questions!

皇家音樂學院八級(鋼琴)考試聆聽考試: Part A 練習 II (cadences)

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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

(中文) 貪心是可以的!如果你肯付出的話。

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How to Use the Piano Pedal (I)

Often students ask me how to use pedal(s) in a piece they are working on. To that I am quite surprised at first, but I understand where they are coming from. They were never taught about the real application of pedaling – just as they were never taught anything about piano technique.

Let’s focus on the right pedal, the so-called “loud” pedal. It’s the sustaining pedal which maintains the resonance of fuller sound produced by keeping the whole set of dampers lifted off the strings when being kept down.

First of all, we rarely step to the very bottom of the sustaining pedal. More often than not, we step half way or at most 3/4 way down of the depth of the pedal. What does that mean? 

Watch the video here (it’s in Cantonese for now, will make one in English soonest!)

Imagine you are driving. Once you start the car, you step on the gas pedal, you never really step all the way down because that would be you are going on a fast-and-furious speed you cannot control! It’s just the same as using a pedal at the piano. 

In the same theory, you never release the pedal all the way up too, just as you never fully release the gas pedal in order to keep the car going. At the piano, when you have to change the pedaling, you always release until just a bit of leeway before you feel you fully release the whole pedal all the way up. That means you still feel some pressure holding just a little bit of the pedal down.  You would of course however release the whole pedal all the way up when you have finished the whole pedaling process, or you are playing the next passage or chord that does not require pedaling, or the chords (e.g. Staccato  notes or short block chords) that require very clean separate sound instead of very legato and lyrical one. 

Other than pressing the sustaining pedal most of the way down, you can also press half way down, a third or a fourth of the way down, or something we called flutter pedal, which means you only press very little of the pedal and change it very quickly to keep very very clean yet connected sound with more resonance than otherwise. 

In the next post, I shall talk about when (the timing) to apply the sustaining pedal. 

Balance is the Key

“Do we have to take exams for our piano lessons?” My student of 9 years’ old asked me today after finishing his lesson.

“No, of course not.” I was surprised to hear him saying that. Sometimes this little boy would give the most intelligent comment unexpected of for his young age.

“Why did you ask that?” I asked.

“Well, I have a friend who now lives in America, and he is also taking piano lessons there. He told me he never had to take any piano exams, and at his school they only taught two subjects: English and Maths.” He explained.

“That’s interesting.”

“You know, you also don’t have to take exams too for your piano lessons. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. But everyone here loves to take it. And it’s actually not a bad thing.” I continued.

My student has taken grade 5 exam recently and received a merit result, which made him and his mother very happy. But that happy effect didn’t stay long and didn’t help him with realizing the fact that he’s capable of doing more and that he’s not playing the piano just to fulfill his “duty”. 

***

I do think there is a merit to taking some tests for a subject you have learnt and worked hard on,  just to see how well you do it so far, but it’s only good for the student if it’s just part, and not all, of the whole learning process. What I mean is, for example, if we learn to be good at English only because we can pass the tests that we are given, we would focus on how to get a good score instead of how to be good at English. By the same token, when we learn to play the piano, if we focus on how to achieve a good score in piano exams instead of learning how to understand music and play the piano beautifully, we have already lost the essence of music learning and piano playing. 

I do see there is a phenomenon that if the student is not expected to take any piano exams for their piano lessons, they have a mentality of taking the piano lessons very lightly almost as if something they can throw away anytime they want. Certainly that goes a long way by tying a close relationship between piano lessons and piano exam results. If they are children, then it is because the parents focus way too much on getting a good result in piano exams and so the children are heavily influenced to think the same way as well. If they are adults, they have had this idea of “achievement equals to exam scores” deeply ingrained in their mind long time ago and it is sadly hard to be erased. I certainly do think there are high hopes for such eradication of false beliefs and new development of positive and growth mindset in each and everyone of them, only if they believe in it /me. 

***

My student happily received the photocopy of a new piano duet I assigned to him.

“Go work on this, and be brave ok?”

I said with an encouraging smile as I handed over the copy to him. 

“Sure thing!” He returned with a big smile and left the studio. 

Teresa Wong

(中文) 八級鋼琴考試預備: 聆聽考試 (ABRSM Grade 8 Aural Test) (第二節)

(中文) 黃穎妍老師講解一下有關英國皇家音樂學院八級鋼琴考試聆聽考試 (Aural Test) 的預備需知。

(中文) 八級鋼琴考試預備: 聆聽考試 (Aural Test) (第一節)

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(中文) 音樂和旅遊遊記 (一)

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Scale Videos on My YouTube Channel

If you are working on your scales and forget about how the fingering works, here are some references on my YouTube Channel (Teresa Wong School of Music)!

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.”