Tag: TeresaWongmusic

(中文) 學彈琴是否一定要考試?

Sorry, this entry is only available in 中文.

Choices after grade 8 piano (instrumental) exam: Diplomas (ABRSM/TCL)

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.

Plan Your Piano Practice Strategy

How to set up your music studio: Purpose of your teaching

Enjoy your piano playing

You know, sometimes when I write, I get really worked up.

You know why? Because I care.

I care about how people teach, and how people learn.

Because I had “teachers” who screwed me up, never taught me anything, implied that I was bad at playing, trashed my confidence, without a care. And I vowed to myself I never would do that to my students, or hir any teachers who would do that to their students.

But I also had some wonderful Teachers who are great at what they do, who are good at their craft not only in playing but also more importantly in teaching. Those are great human beings who have inspired me to do the same for my students, every single day I teach and run my piano school.

So yes I might sound mean sometimes in my post, I am very straightforward and blunt about how I think and feel. And I think my readers would appreciate my honesty here.

Now, back to the main topic (which I always get derailed from for five paragraphs right from the start).

So, I want our students to enjoy playing the piano, and I also want you, my readers, who might not be our students (per se), to enjoy learning music and playing the piano. Why?

Because playing the piano is not a torture. It’s not a punishment. And for sure it’s not boring.

Certainly, it’s HARD sometimes. And sometimes it feels like HELL when you can’t get this one passage or a scale or a sight-reading exercise (gasp!! just think about that emoji that looks like “The Scream” by Edvard Munch) right. That can be a pain for a while. But that’s called struggle, and that’s how we learn and progress after we have managed that struggle.

So, I hope you have learnt something from me so far in the past seven and a half years on this blog – I know it’s hard to find it now as it’s sort of embedded in this complicated website of mine/my school. Anyone find it hard to find my articles on this site please let me know, I might separate this blog back to stand on its own if that helps. What I want to do here is to help you get better and enjoy more in your music/piano journey.

And forgive me if I have not been perfect – because I never said so. I might have made mistakes here and there and didn’t write all so eloquently at times because I was mad/confused/hurt/pained/wronged or whatever, but my intentions will always stay true.

Much blessings to all of you and happy playing,
TW

P.S. Hey, I have a new scales video (series) coming out, check out the first one here!

Some words of encouragement

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.

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!

New Piano Teacher Recruit

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:
marketing
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

Piano Connecting Lives

Life is about connecting with others, through something deeper and more meaningful, to touch others’ lives.

Music can do just that, and more. Through teaching, learning, playing, listening, performing, we connect with others – teachers, parents, students, fellow students, friends, public – through music learning and piano playing.

Therefore, piano lessons are not just a routine we go in week in and week out. They are many sessions of precious moments for us to share, explore and enjoy via the wonderful tool we call, “piano”.

Teresa Wong

 

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Music is for healing

I believe everyone likes music.

Everyone listens to some kind of music, whether it be pop music (western or local), R&B, rock, electronic, blues, folk, country, band, classical, world, jazz… Or you simply listen to some good music regardless of what genre the music is – the most important element in music is that you like it. That’s it. It is not other people’s choice but YOUR own choice.

The same should go for music learning, or more specifically here, piano playing. You should play the piano only when you want it. And then you would probably practice because you want to get better at the piano.

***

What is the first thing students usually say when they come in? (I am sure all of you piano teachers have this experience once in a while or too many a times.)  They say, “I didn’t practice (much) last week.” or similar version of this line. Now, what is your response and what would you say to them? You might be like this, “no, no again!”, either say in silently inside or voice this out loud to your students. Trust me, I get that “frustration” sometimes, I understand that completely.

I also understand why students don’t practice (enough) sometimes. And it’s not because they are lazy – it can be but I usually give them the benefit of the doubt. I like to treat people innocent before “charged” guilty (ok, it’s not like that serious like a crime, but you get what I mean).

Depending on the situation would I ask them why. They would tell me there has been a lot of “homework/work/test/exam/activities/weddings/social functions/business trips/projects/meetings”. I get it, I really do. But I would also stress to them it is of utmost importance that they keep their regular practice sessions in albeit less frequent or shorter than desirable. Let’s say you want your students to practice 1 hour every day, would you think it’s plausible for the lifestyle they have? Would you rather set a more realistic goal for them to follow and actually keep up with, for example, 30 minutes for 4-5 days a week? Or 20 minutes for 3-4 days a week? Depending on the level and age and time of each student?

I usually negotiate with them, especially when they are adult students who have a very busy work life. I say, “ok, well, I understand that you are pretty busy, but let’s try this, try to log in 15 minutes for 3 days first, use the timer on your phone, set it to 15 minutes and just sit down and go with it. Let me know how that goes in our next lesson.” Usually they would do more that those 3 15-minute sessions if they really want to improve their playing.

Of course, there are times when a student really has no time whatsoever that week to do any practice at all. Then what do you as a teacher do? You just have to be patience sometimes. Sometimes when we push the students too hard on their learning and practice it might get an opposite effect that they might not even want to continue learning! We all want to progress, we all do, whether our role is teacher or parent or student. But there is a life we are making right here right now. I think being considerate – I use the word “compassion” – for the student we truly care for is important. There might a lesson that might not be as productive as we want it to be, and that’s ok. If the student turns around, looks back at his/her own progress and says “oh maybe I should work harder”, then wonderful, let’s do it. Certainly the teacher always has to be there to remind the student of his/her practice and encourage him/her to learn more/better. I believe it’s always two-way street (or even three in case with the parent for younger students): both the teacher and student put in effort and work together. Then the student’s learning will definitely blossom.

I find more than often though, it’s that instead of the students having not done any practice at all, it’s rather they are afraid they didn’t get the practice done as well as the teacher want them to have. So nowadays when I hear the line “sorry I didn’t practice much”, I just smile and gesture them sit down and tell them to start playing right away. “I shall be the judge of it.” Most of them do much better than they thought they would.

Giving students more precise pointers and specific directions as to how to make an effective and efficient practice session is also a great way to guide them to not be afraid of practice and get more done on their own. I shall write more about this which I find a lot of students and teachers are not too familiar with this concept.

You all have a blessed weekend of music teaching and learning,

Teresa Wong

How to Practice a Fugue (II)

How to Practice a Fugue (I)

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

next,

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

etc.

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.