Tag: GradedStudents級別學生

Five Steps to Effective Piano Practice

How do we practice effectively to improve our piano playing and perform well in concerts and exams?

Here is a simple guideline anyone can follow in every piano practice session.

Five Steps To Effective Piano Practice

1. Tone

Tone is the quality of sound, which is different from the volume of sound (when we talk about “dynamics”, the softness and loudness of sound, the piano and forte).

How do we achieve the different qualities of sound? By applying the right technique. Mastering the varieties in attack, touch and weight transfer is the key to a whole new world of sound. Therefore, working on gaining a solid technical control and variety in technical skills is of tremendous importance.

2. Elements

Sometimes my students say to me, “I don’t know what to do with the piece! I just keep playing it through to make it sound more smooth.” That is not a practice. That is simply playing through a piece.

Don’t know what to do? Find out what the important elements in the music piece are. What is going on in the melody? Listen to the different leaps between notes (“intervals“): a third is very different from a sixth or an octave, and a minor third is different from a major third. Pay attention to the subtle change in the melodic contour and show the nuance in your playing.

In the case of a fugue, where is the subject and what are the elements in the subject? Where are the beginning of the fugal entries in various voices? Are there any motives (melodic /rhythmic patterns) that recurs in the song in different voices/registers? And how about the tonalities? Are there any significant key changes? Or perhaps some special sounding chords (dissonance vs consonance)? It would be good for you to be able to identify the chord nature such as diminished /augmented /minor /major /dominant 7th/9th etc., but the first step is train your ears to differentiate the subtle nuance among different chords and harmony first.

One element many piano students neglect is rhythm. Really try to pay closer attention to execute the correct rhythm, for example, dotted rhythm is very differently than an even rhythm, and triplets or quintuplets need to be treated differently than regular eighths or sixteenths. If you can’t play them, clap them first. It’s about getting the rhythm in your body rather than at your fingers. Sometimes I ask my students to dance or tap to the music (of course I do that with them!) . It’s a fun way to practice and get the rhythm naturally easily.

3. Dynamics and phrasing

In general, it should be easy to show the dynamic changes and phrasing in your playing simply by following the markings on the score. But in order to give a more expressive performance, you need to interpret the piece yourself. Where is the beginning and ending of each phrase? After you have found the melodic sequences and the harmonic changes, what do you do to show them clearly to the audience? An expressive and musical playing can only be done by, on top of all the technical analysis, putting your heart and soul into the music, and that means feeling the music emotionally and physically. What do you feel about the rise and fall in the melody? Do you feel the difference between a rising minor third and a falling octave? How do you feel about them and what would you do to show them?

4. Articulation

Articulation expresses the more delicate nuance of individual notes while phrasing gives life and clarity to each musical phrase. Paying attention to articulate each note is like making effort at speaking every word so clearly, that your listener understand exactly what you want to express. And remember, it’s not just if it’s “legato” or “staccato”: there are many ways and combinations to “say” what you want at the piano!

5. Tempo

Having a steady tempo that you can control well under pressure is a major contribution to your success, whether it be in a performance, a competition or an exam. One thing any piano student should definitely pay attention to is establishing a steady pulse. Again, pulse is not the same as tempo, but without a steady pulse no one can hear exactly what your tempo is!

Sometimes it is wise to take the tempo down a few notches in order to present a well controlled and confident piano performance. And when it comes to a piece at a slow tempo, you might find playing it at a slightly more moving tempo helps the music flow along better. There is no hard or fast rule to the decision at tempo adjustment, certainly it’s best to express the music at its desirable speed (or marked tempo), but it is something a performer needs to think about from time to time. Moreover, even the “desirable speed” can be flexible in some cases (note: maybe not so much for standardized piano exams especially at graded levels): go listen to some recordings of the same piece (say a Beethoven sonata or Bach toccata) by different artists (or even same artist at different periods of his/her career), compare the tempi of the recordings, and you might be surprised just how different each artist’s approach is.

This is just a very general guideline to give you as a piano student some pointers on how to have a more effective piano practice session. But if you really pay attention to start following these few rules, you would be pleasantly surprised by the improvement you make at your piano playing!

Have fun at the piano!

Teresa Wong

Honoring Music Teaching

Teaching is a service to others.

Teachers are the guides, to shed light for their students on the path of knowledge and learning, with wisdom, insight, compassion, patience and empathy.

Teachers pass their knowledge, skills and information, their ways of learning and problem solving to their disciples, so that they can adapt, modify and create their own principles and methods to apply wisely for their own learning and skills. It’s the kind of flexible and smart principle that helps one to apply in different situations accordingly, instead of a cookie cutter, one size fit all rigid method that can be used in only one fixed situation.

I have the privilege to have learnt from great masters and teachers, and the pleasure to have passed my knowledge to my wonderful students of many over the past one and a half decade. I am also grateful to have this platform to share it with you my readers here. I hope you have all learnt something useful and impactful, something that lasts and is applicable in many ways, which would be the definition of true knowledge.

As for the aspiring music teachers, I hope you have mustered all your courage, your passion as well as your patience, when you are just starting out and at times feeling frustrated, exhausted and simply, lost. Keep up with your great work, keep on with your love for music and teaching, I’m here to support you.

How to Build a Successful Music Teaching Studio Course Special Discount

Welcome New Subscribers to my YouTube Channel!

Hello everyone, welcome to my Teresa Wong Music YouTube channel! First of all I like to say hello to my new subscribers: “HI!!” Thanks for subscribing. So I just came back from Long vacation, so you haven’t seen any writing or recording from me lately. Now that I’m back, I’m back at writing your post and recording videos for you, And I’m hoping you are going to enjoy them as much as you have been.

This is the season of exams again so I’m back at providing online consultation sessions. If you are interested in getting some advice from you regarding graded piano exams or piano diploma exams you’re welcome to contact me.  Anything for me from piano performance, from recital repertoire to exam pieces, technique, viva voce, programme notes, I am here to help.

We are also running our “how to build a successful music teaching studio” course again. We are doing a special offer for you. If you’re interested in kickstarting music teaching career,  don’t hesitate! Take this great opportunity and get started! You were definitely learn to build a successful career for yourself!

I got a lot of great feedback from students who took the last course. They were very happy about it and excited about starting their music teaching career. One of the students tweeted me saying that she got fans from all over the world and I’m just really excited for her. So seize this chance and take on the special offer! And until next time, this is Teresa Wong, cheers!

學彈琴是否一定要考試?

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很多人學鋼琴都有這個問題:究竟學彈琴是否一定要考鋼琴級別試呢?

其實,我覺得,你要首先分清楚兩件事。

第一,彈奏鋼琴對於你來說,究竟是為了興趣還是責任呢?

第二,如果沒有考試,你會否繼續學習和練習鋼琴呢?

很多人學彈鋼琴是為了滿足別人,就說是成人也有這樣的問題。

這是什麼意思呢?什麼是滿足別人呢?

有很多人覺得,小時候學習彈鋼琴,然後因為沒有繼續學習,大個了覺得很可惜。於是重拾鋼琴課,主要是因為覺得「唔好嘥」。然後因為是成人,覺得如果沒有八級或文憑好像也「水皮」。於是迫自己不停的去練習考試歌,甚至要在很短的時間來完成考試,才保住面子。這樣做真是虐待自己,重複小時候被迫練琴的陰影。

那麼,你可能會問我,「你是不贊成考試吧?」

這也不是。其實我覺得考試有一定的好處。尤其是高級的演奏文憑考試,甚至是老師文憑考試,對學生老師的音樂教育和演奏修養有一定的水準提高。只不過,因為很多人見到考試二字,就只想盡方法去合格或拿到高分,忘記了學習真正的音樂知識,白白浪費了時間和機會,最後只是拿了分數,而沒有真正的得著。

所以,我請大家問自己第二個問題:究竟如果沒有考試的話,你會否繼續學琴彈琴和練琴呢?如果你的答案是「是」的話,恭喜你,因為你就算沒有別人的逼迫,沒有死線在前面,你也會繼續上課,練習鋼琴,聆聽音樂,盡量吸取音樂和演奏知識的話,那麼你一定可以在鋼琴領域上邁進一大步,被那些只觀念考試的人在考試中更能考取更佳的成績。

那你可能會說,既然我不用考試的話,那就不用上課吧,只在家中自己學習、練習就成了一對嗎?

那我問你一個問題:如果我去學習瑜伽,而我不是去成為瑜伽老師或者參加瑜伽比賽的話,那我是不是不用去上瑜伽班呢?

我是可以在家自己練習的,自己看書就可以啦,對吧?但是如果我想有進步、需要別人指點的話,我可能需要一個有專業瑜伽知識的老師,去幫助改善姿勢、學習更多瑜伽方面的知識,那我應該是想去上課吧?

那麼究竟興趣是否需要學習進修以改善技巧和吸取更多知識呢?興趣是否需要以其他方法去量度呢(例如考試表演等等)?當然如果你是想去專業方面去做,即是如果我想成為一個專業的瑜伽老師的話,那麼我就要去想專業老師訓練吧,又或者我是想成為一個星級瑜伽明星,那麼我就要特別去進修瑜伽技巧,已成為一個出色的瑜伽明日之星。

所以彈琴也是一樣,處決於你想怎樣去對待這件事。個人認為,就算是興趣也好,我自己也想有一個紮實的根基,有良好的基礎去彈奏,明白基本的音樂知識,有好的視譜技巧、聆聽技巧等等。至於考不考試的話,就是個人的決定了。所以重點來說,我覺得你真的是喜歡去學習鋼琴、欣賞音樂,培養這方面的修養和技巧和知識,這樣做的話,學音樂起上來就會得心應手了。無論是成人和小朋友也是一樣,如果家長真的希望小朋友在這方面有一定的水準的話,請在一開始就給小孩子有一定的時間和心機去做好這件事。這樣做的話,小孩子的音樂修養和考試成績也一定有相當的水準。

黃頴妍 

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Words of Encouragement for You

I just want to write a quick note for all of you out there, who might be feeling a bit down or frustrated because you didn’t have the better result than you expected in your exam/concert/teaching/building your studio. Please read this:

You didn’t fail.

You tried your best and it wasn’t the result you wanted.

You can try again. But before you take that exam/performance/the next project, think about what went wrong.

Looking into yourself is very important, but most people don’t want to do it. Because it’s hard. It can be embarrassing to see why you made that mistake.

And, you are only human.

What you can do now is to think how to move forward and be better next time around. And to reach that goal you need a much better planning this time.

Because most likely, what didn’t work last time will not work next time either. And if you are just going to do the same thing again, you are simply setting yourself up for error and mistake one more time. Who does that? Some people do. You don’t want to be one of them.

Now, get up and tell yourself, you are setting up for success this time. And you are going to do your best you know how for it – this requires very careful and detailed planning and execution of what your plan is.

Stick with your plan is very important, second to having a great plan. But even if you have a great plan, if you don’t do what you plan to do, nothing will work for you, so remember that.

Great reward comes from great effort with persistence and time. Nothing substantial is achieved within a very short period of time. Teaching and playing is building knowledge, that’s very similar to building wealth, no one can do it in one day or even a year. It’s constant work and struggle. I have had my fair share of work and struggle. I get frustrated myself sometimes. But every time I get beat up by life and I get back up faster and faster. Because I know deep inside me there’s no point wasting more time on anything even slightly negative and unproductive, that is not contributing to my growth and success.

So here I encourage you to just step back, relax, take a deep breath, and get back up on your feet. I know you can do this and you have that power within you to make this work.

Stay motivated,
Teresa Wong