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!
I trust you all had a great holiday and a fresh start to this beautiful new year of 2017.
As this new year begins, so do us – me and my teachers at TWSOM – get back to work.
This year we will kickstart with our annual student concert (January), followed by our re-run of our regular intensive courses, some new fun programs, as well as exciting one-off workshops!
So here, I would like to announce that we will re-run our Piano Teacher Training Course (Level I) in February, and the deadline of the early bird special discount is January 15, 2017.
Our upcoming workshops will include topics such as songwriting and piano technique. They will give you some more insights into how the real courses work.
At TWSOM, we always want to provide music lovers – new or seasoned – with fun, creative, and systematic music programs, so that students not only have fun but also truly learn to master the instrument and gain real and lasting musical knowledge they can enjoy forever.
I wish you all a great start to the new year, and hope to connect more music lovers, students and parents, teachers and fellow musicians locally and all over the world!
This is a studio recording of Chopin’s C# minor Nocturne I did in the States. Enjoy!
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.
(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.
“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.
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.