Month: June 2014

Piano Teacher Training Course (Level I)

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We help piano teachers to start teaching right away with all the basic skills they need and by using our method that is proven to be effective and systematic in not only teaching students but also building a private music studio practice.

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Excerpt from my piano method book: about weight training



I’ve been re-typing my piano method book recently – what a task! I don’t know how I lost the first draft in the first place, although I do feel like re-writing some part of it.

While it’s still in the process of completion, I would like to share some paragraphs with you from the draft as I was getting to where I mentioned about the weight-training method with which I acquired my technique a decade ago. This is an excerpt from chapter four, on Seymour Bernstein’s “With Your Own Two Hands.”


Bernstein’s Weight Training Method


The best thing I have ever learnt from this book is the use of arm weight. The method of weight training introduced by Bernstein revolutionized my way of playing and it has given me such freedom on the keyboard that I have never experienced before which still remains to date. I am greatly indebted to such practice. And now I want to share with all of you the magic and beauty of this method as well.


This weight training method is presented in Chapter 7 of the book, “You and the Piano”, under the subtitle “Arm Weight” (p.128-9). In the chapter, Bernstein mentions about his early experience of using weight for his piano practice when he was sixteen. Supplied by his father, Bernstein got some small steel balls and sewed them inside the leather pieces. He then attached the pieces around his wrist and practice on the piano. With such experiment he immediately felt the sensation of heavy weight from the arms and the fingertips to the keyboard with less effort, more control of touch and better control of sound.


Bernstein suggests using weight straps from athlete supplies store, using one pounds to five pounds of weight. So I did, during my graduate study at Indiana University, buy a couple of weight straps of around three-five pounds each with magnetic stripes originally for leg training to strap around the ankles, then used by me strapping around the wrists instead. I followed Bernstein’s suggestion quite strictly in order not to hurt my hands, so at first I started with using one weight strap around my wrists alternately, each hand practicing for no more than five minutes. Initially the weight was very heavy on the wrist, but I instantly felt and heard the difference under the fingers and the sounds I was producing on the piano. After a while I got used to it, I extended the practice time to a longer period of ten-fifteen minutes. I also compared the difference in feelings between using the weight and not using it, and the thing was, once I got used to having some weights on my wrist, there was much more feeling of the weight under the fingers to the keys, more control of the touch and sound produced, and thus more freedom in my playing, even when I was not strapping the weights around my wrists. I also used both weights on the wrists at the same time to work on not only the sensation of weight, but also for the weight transfer and the five techniques analyzed I am going to mention in the next chapter, as well as for the pieces I was working on for the different techniques etc, while still limiting the duration of each weighted practice to no more than fifteen minutes in order to protect my hands.


For you, my readers, who really want to adapt a new way of playing, the way that uses weight instead of force, you should definitely try this experiment. Just try the method with weight on your wrists and you can immediately feel the difference. Nonetheless, you have to be very careful with such weight training. First of all, don’t fight against the weight. Let the weight sink naturally unto your arms and wrists so that you can feel the heaviness under your fingertips down into the keys. Secondly, use a lighter weight, e.g. three pounds, or even just one pound to start with. Begin with practicing on one wrist first for a couple minutes, then the other wrist for another couple minutes. Practice it with scales or even just five notes back and forth (C-D-E-F-G and G-F-E-D-C). It is not important what you practice it with. Most importantly it is the weight you should feel in your fingertips and the transfer of weight from one finger to another. It is like Tai-Chi, there is only one energy and the energy is flowing back and forth, left and right.


Notice that when we say weight transfer, it means there is only one weight being used and transferred from one finger to another. For instance, when you are playing with your index finger on the right hand, you only feel all the weight under the index finger to the keyboard, while all other fingers are quite light and relaxed. Then when you play with the middle finger next, the weight is completely transferred from the index finger which is now relaxed. You can stand on the middle finger under which fingertip the weight is transferred to the struck key. There should not be any tension under the finger and in the hand. Remember, firmness and strength is different from tension and tightness. And only a fraction of energy is necessary to hold one finger on the key to keep the sound sustained when required.


Checkpoint:
For all the experiments in this and following chapters, please try them one by one with utmost patience and focus. Observe each of your movements very carefully. Analyze and enlarge every little detail like you do with a microscope. Practice each exercise with focus and confidence. Trust that each experiment and exercise is helping you move one little step towards gaining freedom in your piano playing. Only with such faith and confidence will this book work for you.


Teresa Wong

About our point system in lesson log book 有關課堂這個分數制度



Part of a Student Logbook
Part of a Student Logbook



I have a point system for every student in his/her lesson log book in which I write down everything the student goes through and learns every lesson and what s/he has to revise and practice at home every week.

There are five main areas and each gets a separate point, full point as 10.

The five areas are: attitude, posture, technique, musicality and practice.

I want to clarify the concept behind the point system.

My point system is NOT by deducting points from 10, rather it is be ADDING POINTS FROM 0.

I don’t believe in punishment, I believe in REWARD.

Student gets NO points from the beginning s/he starts the lesson. S/he has to EARN THE POINTS as the lesson proceeds. S/he has to perform some tasks to get more points.

Then by the points they get from each lesson, they get certain numbers of stickers. We have a sticker chart to keep the record. When a student gets to certain numbers of stickers, s/he receives a small gift.

And I am telling you, they LOVE this chart. Once I moved a couple years back and was absent-minded about moving the chart for a day or two, everyone was asking where it was!

I find that much more positive at the same time productive. Student is more willing to perform the task better and more efficiently.
Of course this is for younger children and teenagers only! Adult have another set of “rewards” and motivation system.


Our Sticker Chart!
Our Sticker Chart!




每一個課堂我會寫下學生上課學過的東西, 要練習的東西然後回家之後怎麼樣去練習等等。

我還有一個分數的制度。

這一個分數的制度有五個範疇,每一個範疇是十分:

態度、姿勢、技巧、音樂感還有練習。

有關這個分數制度我要解釋一下。

有人覺得這個分數是扣分計制的,其實我想說的是我這個分數是加分計制的

比如說有人覺得每個部分十分嗎,所以我就從十分扣下去。其實我想說的是每一個分數本來都是沒有分的,是零分的,然後就是學生做到了我的要求我就給分,一直從零分加上去的。

在我個人認為,我不相信懲罰,我相信獎勵

我們還有一個貼紙圖表。就是說是學生在每一個課堂得到了什麼分數,他們就可以得到幾多個貼子。然後就是他們有幾多個貼子以後他們就可以得到小小的禮物通常就是一些文具等等。不要小看這個貼紙圖表,我的學生確實是很愛這個圖表的。上一次我搬家的時候忘了將一個圖表搬到新家去,然後我的學生一直很緊張的在問我:「黃老
師這個貼紙圖表在哪裡啊,是很重要的,你沒有掉了吧??」哈哈,他們是很可愛的。

所以我覺得他們有一個分數的製度是很好的,只是說他們要做到一些我的要求才得到分,只是沒有不勞而獲的態度,要有分數有獎勵就要你做好一點。當然最後我還是想他們是為了學習、為了彈得更好、為了自己而做,而不是為了分數、獎品,或是為了我而做的。所以我一直是以正面積極的方法去鼓勵和推動他們做到更好,不是以懲罰和責罵的方法去教導他們。其實去懲罰和責罵他們是蠻容易的事,相比去鼓勵他們容易得多了!(沈著氣不發怒去教導不練習不用心的學生是一個極大的挑戰和鍛練!) 但是我覺得這個方法對於他們長遠來說是更有效、更有益的。這不單是為了現在的學習和彈奏,更重要的是要影響以後他們怎麼樣處事,無論在其他學習、自身、生活態度、工作方面、人際關係等,我也希望他們是積極向上、勇敢面對,不會因害怕失敗、小事挫折而跌倒、不再繼續向前走。彈琴除了是為了個人修養外,是對一個人意志的鍛鍊,少一點也不行。坐在鋼琴前面,你可以感到很無助,也可以感覺很有能力。每次在鋼琴彈奏一首曲目的時候就像走一次人生一樣,你在彈奏時候要一直向前走,彈錯了跌倒了還要起站起來繼續向前行,不能倒後去。從前的成功不是你的,將來的也不重要,最重要的是現在這個時間。沒有做好現在、沒有感受和努力現在的話,就甚麼也不用說了。

所以說學生們,現在是最重要的,就努力做好現在的自己吧!

Teresa Wong 黃頴妍