Month: January 2012

Let Go and Let Live

Jan 22, 2012

Some people might think I am the lucky one and I live a very smooth life. I don’t and certainly didn’t.

During my first year in the United States, I encountered my first life-threatening experience.


It happened quickly within the first three months of my stay as a graduate student in the States. I didn’t know it would happen like this. In fact, I was not aware of certain condition happening.

I fell ill. I thought it was just something simple, so I went to school as usual, did my long-hour practice, studied and rested at late hours.

One weekend I was trying to go to school to do my practice. I felt really sick, so I had to lie in bed and took rest. I was frustrated by the situation, that I couldn’t return to my daily practice. I lied there and thought it would be better very soon. It didn’t. There had been pain developing in my body for couple weeks or so but I just ignored it. It didn’t go away and gradually grew without my noticing. It was painful. No, it became excruciating eventually.

I would never forget that day. I didn’t know it was day, or night, or it was the whole day. But I just lied in bed, feeling excruciating pain in my body. And then fever developed. But it was no ordinary fever. In fact, if that was called a fever, I had never had one in my entire life. One moment I felt like I was dipping in a pool of iced water, the other moment in burning flame. They took turn for many rounds that I couldn’t keep count of. Should there ever be an inferno, I was certainly in the middle of it. I felt almost unconscious, and it was then I felt my life was drifting away slowly, that I was dying. In that blurry moment, I kept thinking how much I had left unaccomplished, and how come I was to be deceased, alone, in a foreign country. Was I about to die?

It was the next morning that my roommate found me in such horrible condition that she drove me quickly into the hospital. I was rushed in for check-up. The doctor told me that should I be sent in even a bit later, my condition would really be life-threatening and I would have to be sent to the emergency room for surgery. So I survived and lived.

From that moment onwards, I knew I had to take good care of my physical health and always went to the doctor for consultation whenever I felt sick. On top of that, I started doing physical exercises (that I never did before) to further promote my health.

And that went my little story of survival.

How about yours?

Teresa Wong

P.S. My positivity is hardly innate. But I make it happen.

Positivity, Courage & Persistence

January 21, 2012

中文譯文: 積極態度、勇氣及堅持

Recently I have been reading (among a few others) a book entitled “The Flipside” *. It tells about stories in which all the protagonists have been through great trauma but they somehow turn those mishaps around, take those incidents as opportunities, and even reach big breakthroughs in their lives or careers.

Okay, the tone of the book is very assuring and to some even too corny or positive, because it contains a lot of stories in which the protagonists had gone through serious car accidents and had their legs amputated, yet went on to lead very prosperous lives and have successful careers.

Sure, not everyone can be strong enough to hang in there and accomplish such things. But there are also stories as simple as seeing the other side of the coin.


“It’s neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare

One simple story that particularly impresses me is the story of a rose dealer. She was supposed to grow fresh roses to supply to the florists in her country as she saw the big opportunity that very few was doing the same business like hers, but the first crop of rose that she grew was found to be diseased and thus unsaleable.

Now, if thing happens like this, one would normally think, “I am doomed. What can I do now that there are only dead roses when I am supposed to sell fresh ones?”

This rose dealer flipped to the other side of the coin. She went on to a detailed research and found there was a huge dried petal sale industry that was pretty much untapped into and was developing (dried petals were in growing demand in wedding ceremonies and events alike). Needless to say, with her ceaseless effort in pursuing her new career, the rose dealer’s business with a new twist in direction went well and became a thriving one in the country.

“Every setback in life, every trauma, has two sides, but it takes a special type of person to find the flipside.”

Students, I just know you belong to the “special type of person”, because you are under my tutelage. Therefore, be positive, courageous and persistent, especially when you feel you just hit the rock bottom, because you know what, you cannot go much further down than this new low, and all you have to do now is to rebound and set a new high.

Teresa Wong

“The Flipside”, written by Adam J. Jackson, was bought during my Christmas trip, when the weather was at the time horribly bad much to my dismay. By grasping the very idea of this book quickly, I regained control of how I felt in that terrible situation and enjoyed my holiday as much as I could. And I did. And all I had to do was to think otherwise, that I didn’t want to ruin my holiday. I just opted to enjoy activities indoor instead of outdoor ones and stop thinking about how terrible my luck was encountering bad weather in a place supposedly tropical and all. If we don’t even want to waste the few days of our holiday, then why waste our precious days in L.I.F.E. and regret what we have done and not done, or be worried and anxious about something that hasn’t happened yet, like playing badly or wrongly?

Afterword to Student Concert 2012

January 15, 2012

Last Sunday, exactly one week earlier, was our student concert 2012.

It was the third student concert I have organized so far.

Every single time before a student concert, I would be very nervous on top of being occupied with organizing it. And after each concert, I pondered whether everything could have gone more smoothly. But each time it got better, in terms of physical and emotional preparation.

I don’t really know for sure what my students and their parents think about having such event every year. Certainly for those who have chosen to participate in the event would appreciate such opportunity as well as my effort in making it happen, and I cannot thank them enough for taking part all the same. However, I just want to make it very clear that I do not earn any money from it. In fact, this year especially, I have paid much extra out of my own pocket for the concert.

Many might not know all the details and the pain of organizing a concert. First and foremost, there is the cost of concert venue, which is the biggest part of the cost. Every part of the venue costs money. For instance, other than the venue of the concert day, fees are charged for the rehearsal, the piano (and tuning, which is of separated cost), the microphones, the sound recording, the video recording (the electricity provided for the video!- it’s true), the photography, the guest etc. Then there are brochure design, brochure printing, ticket printing, chop making…etc etc. One just cannot think of how many items that can cost separate fee to them (many helped with a “friendly” price, big thanks to you all).

I am not good at administrative work at all(after all I am a pianist and a teacher), and those back-and-forth emailing and communication with the brochure design company and the venue coordinator (who both were very helpful this time, fortunately for me) can be very frustrating. However, from organizing a concert each year, I have learnt quite a lot of such matter and am getting more used to it, and each time I know there is still room for more improvement to make the next concert better. Of course for me, I would rather play music and teach instead of doing administrative work, yet in order to save cost and make the organization go more smoothly, I take up this task every single time and do it on my own (next time I will hire a concert manager to administer the whole project, otherwise I cannot perform more and take care of the whole situation more smoothly).

Now, some might wonder why we have a concert every year, particularly now understanding that I am even losing money in it. Well, to begin with, it is a great opportunity for students to perform in public. Some people might think that this is not necessary, because it is not useful for exams or competitions etc. As a matter of fact, it is. Some students are shy in particular, and they need to build up their self-confidence to play in front of other people. If we only wait until that one exam or one competition every year for the students to play before others, it would take a long time for them to gather up their courage and confidence of themselves (of course just one concert a year is not enough; we also have gatherings and other performances lined up). That is also why I ask some of them to be the MCs. Being able to speak in front of the public is just as scary as to play the piano. I do know beforehand that some of the students are not good at speech (in fact, a few have been quite bad). But that is exactly why they should be doing it more often. How is one supposed to get better if s/he has never gotten a chance to practice doing it? The same goes for music performance as well. One can only go further and play better with more practice and performance opportunities – that means one cannot hide away from the risk of making mistakes in performance and think the fear and nervousness would go away on their own.

I know it is nerve-wrecking to perform in front of others. I have been there and done that, many a time. The nervousness doesn’t just go away completely for good, but after countless occasions of performing on stage and publicly, the nervousness diminishes, and I learn to live with it and have it under control. I understand that it is perfectly normal to be somewhat anxious about my own performance, after all, I get nervous only because I care! It is actually good to have some anxiety over one’s own performance, because I did perform in situations which I did not care of at all and I found my playing was not as good as those I cared to worry about.

Now, as usual, I have asked my students and their parents to give me some feedback on our concert. If you have also come to our concert last Sunday, please, send me some comments. I would love to hear from you. Or those who did not come but would be interested in listening to us next time, you are welcome as well to give me some ideas as to what kind of program you would like us to perform.

Until the next post,

Teresa Wong

Students and Me, before our Student Concert on Jan 8, 2012, taken outside agnès b. CINEMA, Hong Kong Arts Center

Photos of Our Student Concert 2012

January 15, 2012

Please go to our Picasa album for all the photos taken during our student concert 2012:

The uploading is in progress. More photos will be added very soon.
Photos of Teresa Wong’s Piano Studio Presents: Student Concert 2012

Thank You Notes on Student Concert 2012

January 8, 2012

Thank you so very much for your coming, my dear audience. Thank you especially to those who are not my students but did come to support us.

Thank you to Richard, for your amazing cello performance as usual. I am tremendously glad to play with you again!

Thank you to my students’ parents, who have come to listen to us and support us today. Without you there will not be a concert today. Thank you to Vivien and Priscilla especially for your help today. I cannot express how thankful I am for your support.

And to my students who performed today, I am so very proud of you all, especially my adult students! You are just great!

Many have done great today, especially Karim, Yanie, Shanie, Yan, Joy, Julian, Mae-Z, Annie, Gillian and Jeannette. I am particularly proud of those who have gathered up much courage to perform today. I can see you are all improving one way or the other. With practice and persistence,
we can perform better and better! Keep working and have passion for your music and playing!!

Teresa Wong