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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.
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.
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,
I know I have written something rather harsh recently, and some readers might feel offended (“look at what she wrote! So negative and mean!”). To that, I am not apologizing at all. I write what I think and I know those who have been reading my blog in the last few years know that; I know they are here to learn and want to become better; and they also know I am not here to kiss anyone’s bottom.
So today, I want to talk about why I wrote that and point out there are reasons why people complain why things don’t work out the way they want them to be. And therefore if you want to learn something new and completely life transforming today, here’s your chance.
I want to bring you – teachers and students and parents – whatever your role is – to your attention why you haven’t gotten what you’ve always wanted, be it the right students /teachers/results.
The reason is : you haven’t tried hard enough.
“What? That’s it? Don’t you know how hard I have tried all these years with time, effort and money? Are you kidding me?”
One thing you have never tried enough is to change your mindset drastically and stick with it.
What do I mean?
You think, whenever you can’t teach well, it is because you don’t have the right student or right tool or right education or right area, or even worse, you don’t believe you can do it.
You think, whenever you can’t play well, it is because you don’t have the right teacher or right piano or right environment or right schedule or right time to have lessons/practice or even start learning, or even worse, you think you have no talent and you don’t believe you can ever play better even you try.
But really, have you tried? Have you gone 100% all the way to believe you can and do something about your teacher/student/lesson/practice situation? If not, for sure you would never get what you want.
Also, you have to really suck it up even when you feel down or frustrated or depressed and upset or painful or lazy or whatever negative emotions that come to you. Don’t let them stop you and derail you from where you want to reach. If you do, success would never happen to you as well. And please keep sulking and get upset with what I just tell you too so you can stop working towards what you want to reach.
And oh, those people who tell you you can’t make it or can’t change or laugh at what you are trying to do? If you want to succeed, stop listening to them. But hey, if you want to take a longer route to success and complain about why they say what to sabotage you, then listen to them so that you can fail at getting what you want.
You need to believe that you can make it happen, whatever it is. The future is in your hands.
So, whatever it is you want to change, YOU are the one who is responsible.
It’s not your teacher or your student or your parent or your child’s teacher.
You can change all that (except who your parents/children are).
If you think your (child’s) teacher is not the right teacher for you, find another teacher.
If you think your student is not the right student for you, finds other student.
I do encourage you to talk with your teacher/student about the issues you might have if you feel it’s about communication. Being sincere and open about the problems is a key step to better teaching and learning.
If you think you don’t know how to teach better, that’s okay, just find a way to learn to be better. Go take a course or even just read and listen more online. Talk with other teachers and ask those who know how and where to get the resources. Learn from better teachers. That’s how we learn. Great teachers are always learning. That’s how they become good and better.
Don’t feel like you are stuck when you can’t solve your teaching situation or playing problem or practice issue. There is always another way to do it.
The point is, have you tried hard enough to change it?
You are the only one who can make it happen for you.
So if you want to succeed, you have to change your mindset and do things differently from now on. And trust yourself, you have the power and ability to do this, because you really can.
Trust. Focus. Believe. And keep moving forward, one small step at a time.
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!
Are you looking for a place to connect and grow as a piano teacher? Do you want to focus on your teaching while someone manages the fee and recruit students for you? Do you want to be free with your teaching location and schedule? If you say “YES” to all these questions, then look no further! Join our TWSOM music family today!
What do you get from us:
recruiting new students
managing student fee
receive monthly teaching payment on time
regular network support and mentoring
opportunities to get involved and participate in music events, workshops and social networking activities
Who are we looking for:
You should have these following qualities –
music degree holder or piano diploma holder
a couple years of piano teaching (and performing) experience
compassion and patience towards students especially kids
passionate about teaching, piano and music
determination to work and will to succeed
Contact us today for more details and how to sign up with us!
Teresa Wong School of Music Team
We are introducing new short intensive courses this year:
*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)
*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)
4-445pm fundamental sight reading training (Teresa Wong)
445-530pm fundamental ear training (Teresa Wong)
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 email@example.com for registration and questions!
NEW COURSE 2017: PIANO TECHNIQUE TRANSFORMATION INTENSIVE COURSE
This is going to be the BEST course I am going to teach, and you are going to take, ever (well until the next best one for sure :D).
I will “warn” anyone before signing up for this course, that you will get amazing result after completing it. BUT, there is a catch:
You must be COMMITTED to doing all the work and all the thinking while maintaining willpower during the whole course, RIGHT FROM THE START (Actually, BEFORE you start).
You must be DEDICATED TO YOURSELF when you take this course. You take it because you truly want to transform your piano playing (and subsequently your teaching too if you are a piano teacher) forever completely for the better.
I can even promise you on that one.
But only if you really make it happen for yourself. I can’t do it for you.
I will however do everything to help you achieve your goal.
So think seriously about it before you sign up, because it is going to take hard work, I don’t mean all the heavy lifting and muscle strain (quite the opposite: you are going to feel LIGHT and EFFORTLESS and EASY), I mean tough mental work, and keep your cool and keep working through the whole process.
If you are that kind of student, then I am the kind of teacher you have been looking for.
See you soon!
Course duration: 10 weeks
Course module: group or individual program
Group class (3-5 student small group setting) starts in February 2017. Early bird special deadline: January 21, 2017.
This is a ten-week course: it is the same for individual course (schedule arranged accordingly to meet individual candidate’s need). It focuses primarily on transforming candidate’s existing piano technique, therefore it is NOT a diploma exam preparation program. If you are interested in diploma exam prep course, please contact us for further information.
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.
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!
The First Time, The Last Time And The Precious Moment.
Tonight I had this wonderful chance to share music with my wonderful student in this wonderful piano lesson. I told her that in order to be fully engaged in the music she is playing, she must think about one of these moments/situations:
Think about this moment you play as if it’s the FIRST TIME. It’s like the first time you see this person you really like, this pair of shoes you really want, this place you really enjoy visiting, this activity you really enjoy doing…
Everything is fresh and new.
Think about this moment you play as if it’s the LAST TIME. It’s like the last chance you would ever have to feel this music, to play the piano, to see this person you love, to do this thing you really like to do, the place you really enjoy going, the food you really like eating…
You savor it. Every single note you have. You touch it, you taste it, you feel it, you listen to it, you breathe it.
Think about this moment you play as if it’s the ONLY TIME, in the HERE and in the NOW, this ONE PRECIOUS MOMENT in the present. You will never have the same moment ever again.
BE PRESENT IN THIS MOMENT OF NOW. BE ENGAGED, BE AWARE, BE FOCUSED AND BE MINDFUL.
ENJOY YOUR PLAYING AT THE PIANO!