Tag: MusicAppreciation

ABRSM Grade 8 Music Exam: Comprehensive Aural Test Course

I know a lot of ABRSM grade 8 music exam students have trouble with their aural test preparation – they are really worried about taking this test and don’t know what to listen to and how to prepare for it!

Fear no more! I have decided to create a comprehensive aural test course specifically for ABRSM grade 8 purpose. And since it’s the same for ALL music instruments, it benefits every candidate taking the grade 8 music exam (not just piano students!).

In this course, I will teach you step by step – with a lot of detailed explanation and examples! – on how to listen to the music elements and know how to  answer each part of the aural test accordingly, so that you as a grade 8 music exam candidate won’t be lost again! I know how frustrating it is to try to listen to the chords and cadences, or what exactly to talk about in terms of music features and styles! With proper training and guidance, I am sure you would feel confident in taking your grade 8 aural test!

The comprehensive grade 8 aural test course covers ALL aspects of the standardized test. I will definitely spend more time on A because I can see that’s the hardest part for most candidates judging from years of experience preparing students for the grade 8 music exam! But I still cover all parts of the test so you won’t be lost with Part D for example when it comes to talking about music you’ve never heard of before! When you know what you should be listening to though, you will have confidence in taking the grade 8 aural test like you’ve never had before!

The course has 10 lessons in total including 2 mock tests. You will get access to the course via phone or computer anytime you want with a unique login.

Stay tuned and I’ll update on this very very soon.

Of course if you want to sign up for the pre-sale, you will get it sooner than anyone else and get ready for the upcoming exam sooner! And did I mention you get a special discount for pre-sale sign up?

How to memorise a piece effectively

I get a lot of enquiries about playing by memory. Here are a few useful tips:

1. Mark out the sections and phrases
It’s important to know where a section / a phrase starts and ends – this practice is not only important for memorisation but also in practice and knowing the music more deeply and securely

2. Repeat in small doses
It’s a very useful tool to memorise a piece in small doses first especially if you are new to the practice. Start with one phrase and then two, gradually working up to a whole section. Then work on two sections and more eventually leading up to the whole movement/piece.

For example:
Repeat each phrase 5-10 times. Then two phrases 5-10 times. Then three phrases 5-10 times and so on.

It’s also great to try starting in the middle of a piece – a lot of times when performers have a slip of memory it’s never at the beginning of a piece or not even the beginning of a section/phrase. I encourage my students to start playing /memorising in the middle of the music to see if they can start and continue from there – I call them “safety stops”. It’s like taking a train: it starts and ends at big terminals, but it also travels through and pauses by many small stations / stops in between the whole journey to pick up and drop off passengers. So throughout the whole music journey (the music piece you are playing and memorising), you also need some musical stops to know where you are at currently. It helps you keep track of where you have been, where you are at, and where you are going, until the end.

For me I even memorised from the end back to the beginning just to test my memory of the piece. Most important of all, try to be creative about your memorisation process and think/practice outside of the box – remember, there is no one way to do it right for you, and often, those “weird” ways of doing one thing are THE ways to get you closer and faster towards your goal!

Until next time,

Teresa Wong

Short Online Courses for Piano Teachers/Diploma Students

We are now introducing new online courses and taking enrolment until the spaces are all filled.

Here are the courses and short description: 

Course 1. How to prepare your students for diploma exams successfully

Class 1:

General criteria of exam requirement and repertoire choice 

Class 2:

How to choose pieces for your students 

Class 3:

Examples of repertoire choice and general background of genre/pieces 

Class 4: 

Viva voce questions and preparation 

Class 5:

More on viva voce and programme notes 

Student project presentation: examples of repertoire choices and viva voce questions 

(Class 4/5 are subject to change if most of the teacher students are more inclined to prepare students for Trinity exams instead of ABRSM exams)

Course 2. How to improve your students’ technique 

Class 1:

Piano playing and body utilization 

Concept of Body weight and weight transfer 

Class 2:

Application of body weight and weight transfer 

Relation of body weight and weight transfer to arm/hand/finger movement 

Class 3:

More elaboration on class 2 concepts 

Weight training 

Piano techniques 

Class 4:

More on weight training and piano technique

Application and examples of different techniques

Class 5:

Student Project presentation: application of techniques with chosen music examples 

Course 3. How to analyze and interpret advanced repertoire

Class 1:

General background of musical periods

General development of piano/keyboard instruments

Class 2:

Main genres and their characteristics of keyboard repertoire (Baroque and Classical)

Music examples: form, structure and analysis

Class 3:

Main genres and their characteristics of keyboard repertoire (Classical and Romantic)

Music examples: form, structure and analysis

Class 4:

More on genres and examples of keyboard repertoire

More on background and analysis of keyboard repertoire

Performance practice of each musical period in relation to the development and repertoire of the keyboard instrument

How to analyze and prepare a piece for performance and exam

Class 5:

Student Project presentation: application of knowledge learnt in the course with chosen piece of your own

Total Course time

5 hours

Each class duration

1 hour in total: 45 minutes’ lecture + 15 minutes’ Q & A session 

Total fee per course

Original course fee: $3000

Special course fee for early bird enrolment:  $2500 

Deadline for early bird enrolment:  September 8, 2017

Deadline for all enrolment: September 20, 2017

Commencement of courses (Class 1):

Course 1: September 22 Friday 11am

Course 2: September 21 Thursday 10am

Course 3: September 21 Thursday 11am

Note: We might have more course times if there are more students than open spaces in any of the courses and if students are unavailable at the schedule given above. Contact us directly to request more schedule details.

Payment method:

Pay via PayPal or bank transfer to our HSBC account. (Details will be given after  your enrolment – 100% confirmation of your enrolment will be completed after we have received your payment)

We are also organizing a new course to train new teachers to teach Miss Wong’s piano technique method, so that you can train your students to become a more accomplished performer with avid interest in learning music and playing the piano with confidence, control and dexterity! Stay tuned for this course. 

(中文) 計劃你的鋼琴練習 (II)

Sorry, this entry is only available in 中文.

Please don’t “play” the piano

I am going to be as candid as I can ever be in this post, and from now onwards.

It’s not that I wasn’t being truthful or honest before. I was trying to be “kind” and “nice”.

There’s nothing wrong with being kind and nice, but when I was being “too kind” and “too nice”, I found out students became lazy and started to rely on me, meaning they always looked at me for directions, instead of thinking for themselves how to do it.

Playing the piano and perfecting the skills required needs a lot of brainwork, and to that I mean A LOT.

It’s not for those who don’t like thinking and analysing to the deepest.

It is also not for someone who don’t want to move their bodies.

What does that mean? There has ben a stereotype that playing the piano is to “tame” the kids’ temper, like it’s some sort of circus moves. Actually, it sounds more like the teacher is the animal trainer and the students being… you know.
Only I hope your teacher doesn’t have a wipe to hold on to..

First, let me tell you what playing the piano is not:
It’s NOT just for GIRLS
It’s NOT to train boys to sit still
It’s NOT for ANYONE to sit still and NOT move their bodies
It’s NOT just a finger movement

Now, let me tell you what playing the piano is about:
IT IS an activity that requires MIND, BODY, EMOTION , and SPIRIT. (Yes, it is that kind of activity.)
It is an ACTIVE activity, like a SPORT.
It requires BRAIN WORK. – LOTS OF IT.
It requires BODY COORDINATION – hands, feet, eye, torso (upper and lower, even when you are sitting) and oh yeah, brain again, you guess it.
It requires FEELING – yes it does, because it’s ART, an EXPRESSION of EMOTION – otherwise go do maths or play video games. I can’t imagine anyone filling in forms and studying tests with PASSION, that would be weird.
It requires not only feeling for music, but also feeling for your own body, that’s the ultimate way to transform your technique forever. So it requires the player to be in touch with themselves.
It takes FOCUS, DEDICATION, DISCIPLINE, HARD WORK, RESILIENCE, STRUCTURE, SKILLS, TIME, and PATIENCE. – I think there’s more I am missing…oh maybe, PASSION?
It requires FAST RESPONSE. REALLY FAST – so if you like slow motion, go do tai chi in the park with old ladies and men, no offence.
It requires A LOT OF THINKING -it needs a lot of rationalization and analysis, and is therefore NOT for anyone who prefers spoon fed everything or everything shuffled down their throats – or did I mention this point already?
It is NOT cost effective.
It requires PRACTICE, ON YOUR OWN.
It requires REFLECTION, ON YOUR OWN.
IT REQUIRES THINKING, ON YOUR OWN – oh I think I am getting dementia or something, here I am repeating myself again.

So I hope I have told you what it takes to be really great at the piano. Of course, if you just want to be mediocre, keep telling yourself “it’s too hard”, “I don’t have time (for lessons and/practice)”, and “the teacher should tell me everything I need to know!”

Anything great in life requires hard work, resilience, time and patience, and A LOT OF THINKING.

Next post, I might start bashing on “teachers” who think they are teaching, but they are really not!