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 (at that moment) and it wasn’t the result you wanted. (If you didn’t try your best then thats really your fault and you have no one to blame it for.)
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.
But 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.
We now provide teachers all over the world to suit your needs, whether you want to take lessons in real time at the same place with your teacher, or via online platform – still in real time but in two different places.
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– Teresa Wong & TWSOM TEAM
I hope you all had a good holiday.
During my holiday, I did a lot of reading and thinking (besides resting and exercising!). I found a lot of focus and clarity when I could do these two things with clear head (thanks to my regular meditation practice).
One thing I want to talk about today is the desire to excel, and of course here I would apply that to piano playing and teaching.
Many say that passion is the key to success. I agree with passion – love for the thing we do – certainly helps a lot in motivating us to keep doing what we are doing. But only passion is not enough, as I will explain below.
During my many years as a pianist and teacher and mentor, I have met and taught students from all walks of life, whether they be amateur or professional musicians. When I first heard someone telling me that they want to “study abroad”, “go to Germany/Vienna/France”, “take a diploma exam”, “become a great piano teacher”, I warm heartedly encouraged them and gave them a lot of advice on how to proceed with that goal. They all looked very enthusiastic and genuinely interested in pursuing that goal they held dearly on to. However, after a few months/a year, there were no signs of no follow-up actions and the enthusiasm seemed to gradually fade away.
I thought about how I made things happen for myself in terms of piano performance or teaching career or building a business. Certainly there was a lot of passion involved. It’s the passion that prompted me to start with everything I did. I did more than having a passion. There was also the desire to succeed. And then I looked at how others succeeded in what they pursued, it’s the exact same way as I did only in different arenas.
So what is the desire to succeed?
There are two keywords in this question: “desire” and “succeed”.
Let’s start with the word “desire”. Desire is a very strong sentiment and commitment to the passion one has, whether it be playing the piano well, maintaining a harmonious relationship, making a decent living, or simply, having a nice meal at a fine restaurant.
When you have a very strong desire in anything you have in mind, you will figure out a way to achieve it, no matter how hard it is.
Now what would you do to fulfill that desire? There are steps you would make to “succeed”, which is the second keyword of our question.
Let’s say you want to have a nice meal at a fine restaurant, the procedure would be firstly you research about which restaurant you want to go. Then you have to make a reservation. You might even have to book very early in advance if the restaurant is very popular. You would do all that to have the nice meal you so strongly desire to have, right? And you also make sure you have enough money to pay for that meal, to make that goal complete smoothly. You might even buy a new dress/suit and bring someone you really fancy to make this fine dining experience more wonderful. Then you would feel you have “succeeded”.
It’s the same for piano playing. In order to have some pleasant outcome out of the time and effort we are going to spend in our lessons and our practice, we must have the desire to succeed before we decide we want to pick up our playing/practice/teaching again. You must have a very strong desire to make that happen for yourself but it for anyone else. You must feel very strongly that is absolutely something you are willing to spend time/effort/money/training in for a considerably sustained period of time. Otherwise all your time/effort/money/training are wasted for nothing.
So what exactly is the definition of having succeeded in fulfilling that desire and passion? That’s up to you. It might be learning to play one of your favorite pieces really well in three months, or attaining a piano diploma in a year, or becoming a great piano teacher in two years. The point is to make your goal as specific as possible. The time frame is for reference only. Of course it’s important to meet that as much as possible and do not create an impossible goal for yourself in a short time, that only adds to your detriment of being actually able to achieving it. And even more important is that you stick to that goal no matter how hard and challenging you find it is. If you truly have the desire to succeed, you will find help and adjust how you do it along the way.
You must commit to what you have started. That differentiates those who can achieve what they are passionate about and those who cannot and blame others for their failure.
People think talent/innate ability is the key. That’s only part of the picture. Most often than not those who succeed in what they do have put tremendous hard work with absolute perseverance constantly. It’s not that they don’t struggle or even at times fail, but they just bite their tongues and keep on moving forward.
I hope you all have a great start to the new year and find what you desire to succeed in in your brand new journey ahead.
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
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
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.
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 )
And his recordings:
Special thanks to our guest teacher Mr Polanski for this note.
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:
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!