Month: January 2011

My Study Life in the States: Day 1


Recently I have been reading some “illustration books” drawn by a Japanese artist Takagi Naoko (高木直子)。Her books, especially those about her staying alone in Tokyo to fight for her career, remind me of some of my own experience living and studying alone for my master degree in the States. 


The first day I arrived in the states was already remarkable. After a long flight of somewhere between sixteen and twenty hours with layover and a few changes of flights, I took the shuttle bus from the airport to school. Another two hours or so I finally arrived school, where I would spend for the next two and a half years.

I applied for a school apartment (because I was a poor student and was not going to drive) but the request was declined. Instead I was forced to stay at the residential building for  international students. If there were a place called “hell”, I knew where it was now:  the very old and run-down building was like a prison settlement where each student was assigned to one single small old room (prison cell) with no bathroom inside. Just a small closest, a bunk bed, and an old study table close to a tiny window. 

I thought to myself, there was no way at the opposite side of heaven I would be living here for the rest of my graduate study.

After I left my belongings in my room (there was not a lot of luggage since I went there alone and did not want to bring anything too heavy to carry myself), I went outside to walk around and get familiar with the campus. It was all spacious and delightful, and quite a nice weather in the late August. I found my music school and there was a Chinese diner close by. It was called “Dragon” (in fact, all the Chinese restaurants in the States or even Europe are either “Dragon” or “Great Wall” or “Panda” etc). I went inside and decided to have some food. I looked at the menu that hanged up high at the register and found the price was not cheap compared to Hong Kong dollars (at the beginning of staying outside Hong Kong, I would convert all the prices into HK dollar and find everything expensive until I got used to it and started counting things in US dollar). I ordered a box of rice with a dish I could not recall quite clearly now; I believe it was something that resembled chicken pieces with celery. It was around five “bucks” (i.e. slang for US dollars). I did not eat it there as I was not used to eating alone outside yet, which eventually I did as that was the way to survive out there alone among many things.

The following detail might be disturbing to some so please brace yourself from the opportunity to be grossed out: I took the food back to my “prison cell” and ate half of it as I was not that hungry. I also intended to keep half of the food for the next day as, one, I wanted to save money, and two, I was not sure if I could find that diner, which was far from my residential building, again the next day.

After the dinner, it was time to take a shower. The floor which my room was on had two big bathrooms cum toilets. I went to check and find both to be bathrooms with “Men” ‘s sign at the door. I did not want to take the risk of using any of them and therefore had to bring everything for shower use and walk down the staircase in order to go to the floor below with a bathroom for “Women”.

It was time to go to bed. I did not bring any bedsheets or quilt. It was quite chilly at night and the one thing I had to cover myself up was that fat green coat I bought for winter purpose. It was however not big enough and I had to curl myself shorter to keep warm. 

That was the first day of my life in the States. 


P.S. Going downstairs in the middle of the night to use the restroom was scary. I did not find any other residents on my floor or the floor below.

Teresa Wong & Students’ Piano Recital 2011 黃穎妍與學生鋼琴演奏會2011


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Poster Design Courtesy of Ms Amin Lam


[anti-rclick] Original English Version: Make Some Mistake Please!

Jan 12, 2011


學生都很怕犯錯誤。 當我要他們試彈一首新的樂曲時,他們會說:「我怕會彈錯音。」即使他們已將某一首樂曲練習了一段時間,他們仍然很擔心會彈錯音。 為什麼只是音嗎? 節奏也很重要! 還有速度呢? 彈得越快並不代表彈得越好! 速度是跟作品的風格相對的!

當我告訴我的學生,不要這麼擔心會彈錯音或犯錯誤時,他們會感到困惑。 難道我們不應該是我們的彈奏完美嗎? 是的,我們是。 但問題是,如果我們害怕犯錯,在每逢我們有機會彈錯之前停住自己繼續,而並不是從錯誤中學習的話,我們永遠不會進步。 我們要勇敢面對自己的練習和彈奏。 請嘗試犯一些錯誤,並從中學習。 當然,你要知道自己是犯了錯誤,例如錯音或錯節奏。 但是當你第一次彈奏一首樂曲,或當你把一首樂曲當作一個表現或在考試中一口氣彈過時,盡量忽視錯誤的存在。 不要在這種情況下太過擔心犯錯。 彈奏時,留意有那些錯誤,然後再在你之後的練習中逐個改善它們。想想你為什麼作出這樣的錯誤。 犯每一個錯誤都是有一個原因的。 如果沒有這個推理過程的做法,你的練習是毫無意義的。 它只不過是盲目和不切實際的手部活動。 只有知道是什麼 (what),為什麼 (why)和怎樣 (how)才會帶領您突破自己在那首樂曲上的演繹、去到一個突破自己演奏的境界。

記住,每當你犯了一個錯誤,受到影響的是音樂,不是你。 如果你真的想要把音樂彈得完美的,忘記自己。 你不想犯錯誤,可能是因為你覺得當你彈錯的時候,你會感到尷尬,覺得會被聽你彈奏的人看扁。 有太多的「你」在這個音樂表演中。 請專注於音樂。 其他事情,比如按照老師的指導和完美你的演奏,這全都是去成就音樂的。 你在這裡面並不重要。 在您的音樂創作中,音樂是最重要的。

因此,從現在起,犯一些錯誤吧! 你會發現當你音樂道路上昂首前進時,錯誤的機會便會逐漸減少 。

Teresa Wong

Yes, My Students, You Can! 學生們,你們做得到的!


January 10, 2011

Nowadays students, from children to adult, are not brave enough to try new things. They always say, “no, I cannot”. They are lack of courage to take the next step and take the opportunity to make progress. Or they are just plain lazy and do not bother to work harder whenever they can get any excuse to. All they can think of is the risk of making mistake, before they even take the chance to try it out. It is like making mistake equals to lose and they think they become losers.

I wonder why. What has happened in their learning experience that makes them behave this way?

Perhaps it is our education system. Or our society. The way that people keep scoring. Only the mark or the result counts. The process, how we get there, does not matter. The less work and time to get the result, the better. So the faster track to get to grade 8 or diplomas, the smarter achiever and the better playing. That is what “people” think but not the way it is in reality. It might work in other arenas (or even in career) but certainly not in the field of attaining knowledge.

But let me tell you this: don’t be a lazy bone, and be a brave person. If you want to play better, you have to make effort from the start. Build a good solid foundation right from the beginning. Otherwise, your playing would be like the building that collapsed after fifty years of construction. But in this case of piano learning, no one but you would suffer. Of course, that is when you want your playing to last. If you only need it to pass some exams, then go ahead and take the fast track. But find some other teachers to help you achieve that goal. I do have students who can advance much faster and excel in exams quickly, but it is because we took time to work on the basics. And it just happens, almost like magic.

Take time to build your technique. In a society of such fast pace like this, we like to rush things. But just as Rome was not built in one day, technique does not come after one day, one month, or even one year of practice. Train your technique with much patience and attention. Little by little you shall see the result.

Therefore, My Students,

Be Courageous, and Stay Positive.

Be Patient, and Stay Focus in your own practice.

Do not be afraid to make mistakes. It is only through the mistakes you make that help you learn.

Sometimes it takes more time to get something done. Other times it takes less. You just have to keep trying.

And gradually you will succeed in making more beautiful music.


現今的學生,從兒童到大人,都沒有足夠的勇氣去嘗試新的東西。 他們總是說,「不 , 我不能」 (或者係,「我唔得呀,我唔識呀,好難呀」)。他們也缺少足夠的勇氣藉此嘗試的機會取得進步。 或者,他們只是純粹的懶惰,用盡任何藉口,也懶得去努力練習。 他們甚至在還沒有嘗試之前,便滿腦子想著彈錯的風險。 他們認為犯錯就等於失敗,而他們就成為失敗者。


也許是我們的教育體系。 或是我們的社會中,人們不斷計分的方式。 只有分數或結果才是最重要。我們如何到達那分數或結果的過程似乎無關重要。 越少的工作和時間得到結果越好。 因此,以越短的時間考到八級或文憑級就似乎代表那人越好。雖然這不是事實,但卻是很多人的看法 。俗套來說,我們稱為「走精面」。這樣的行為可能在其它領域可行(甚至在職業生涯),但肯定不會在獲取知識這方面。

讓我告訴你們: 不要做一個懶骨頭,做一個勇敢的人 。 如果你想彈得更好,你必須從一開始作出努力。 從一開始建立一個良好堅實的基礎。 否則的話,你的彈奏就會像那棟建築了五十年後倒塌的大廈一樣。但在彈奏這件事情中,只有你會受到影響。 當然,建立基礎這事是假設你想你的彈奏持續。 如果你只需要通過一些考試,那就勇往直前,走捷徑吧。 但是請你找那些和你擁這有同一目標的老師來幫助你實現吧。 我是可以讓學生更快進步和很快通過考試的,但那是因為我們花了時間來建立良好的技巧基礎和基本知識。 而這樣的方法就幾乎像變魔術一樣神奇可行。

請你們花時間來建立自己的技巧吧。 在這個節奏急速的社會中,我們喜歡趕忙。 但是,正如羅馬不是一天建成,技巧也不是一天、一個月、甚至一年後的訓練便一定會練出來的。 訓練技術需要極大的耐心和專注。 慢慢地,一點一滴的,你便會看到成果。




不要怕犯錯誤。 只有通過自己犯的錯誤才會學習到新的東西、有新的體會。

有時候你們可能要花費更多的時間來完成某項練習。 其他時候某些練習則可能需要較少時間。 你們只需要沈著應戰,繼續努力。


Teresa Wong