Category: Piano Performance

Music Healing

Lately I feel particularly overwhelmed by what is going on in this world, and I am sure many of you feel the same at times.

I can try to relax, watch TV, do something to distract my mind, or do nothing. But I find the best way for me to really feel more at ease is to either play the piano or listen to some calming and meditative music.

I’ve been practicing meditation in the past few years, mostly frequently, lately more sporadically. When I first started, it was very difficult. I tried and gave up. Then a few years later, during my trip in Thailand in a yoga retreat, finally, I found out how to meditate. It required focus, focus on not to think and be distracted. And breathing in, breathing out, nurturing the mind and soul.

It’s very hard to not be distracted these days, with all the technology and online activities you can easily do anytime, anywhere, with so many electronic devices surround you within reach.

Back in when I was still studying music, I practiced 8 hours every single day, and I mean, every single day. Even in the summer, Christmas, any big holidays, and even during my travels (usually music-related anyway). Now, I can hardly find the time and focus to even practice one hour a day!

Recently, I’ve been trying to play the piano an hour every evening after dinner. Mostly I use that time to create new music, improvising and composing. I find the evening hours particularly great for such purpose, as I find myself much less distracted by the daily news (and stock market activities!). I can really enjoy my piano and work on my music in these quiet hours – last night I found it especially meditative at the piano. Of course it depends on what I am playing (it can be dramatic at times), but just having that focus and time at the piano soothes my mind and soul very much.

I encourage you to find a time for yourself at the piano, even when you feel there is no time at all for you to do so. It can be just 15 minutes. Just you and your piano. Give it time, or rather, give yourself time, to be not distracted by the worldly (and human) matters. It is the time for you, the time to explore and heal yourself, to enjoy your playing at the piano. I believe music is a much better way to heal your soul and emotion than any therapy combined. It’s definitely worth it.

Until next time,

Teresa Wong

Life with Music is Beautiful

Of All these years I have been organizing student concerts, this is definitely a very special one. Of course, in my mind and heart, every concert is unique, just as every one of our students at my school is.
Everyone gets nervous before, during and even after they perform on stage; it’s a normal reaction. Who isn’t worried about their own performance? But in order to get more comfortable and be better at it, one must go up that stage over and over again, sometimes even they have performed rather poorly in their last act. It’s the same in life: you get back up again and again after you fall. That’s how you grow and become better and successful in something that matters.

In all these years I have been teaching, building my own studio and school, one thing that is always dear to my heart is, that I inspire my students to believe in themselves, to truly shine as who they are meant to be. Today in one of my lessons, I told a student that she must “own it”, that she must truly believe she was performing in a way she and her audience would enjoy. That’s simply the only way for a pianist to perform on stage: to be completely comfortable in their own skin and show people what they’ve got.

As a woman myself, I want to especially encourage my female students to be confident in themselves and their own playing. Whether they be young or adults, female students have a hard time owing up to what they’ve got and show it. They feel intimidated and are lack of confidence, trying to be “humble” and not “showing off”. That kind of performance sounds however just like the way the performers feel: intimidated and lack of confidence. It’s not a kind of performance an audience would enjoy and can appreciate.
It is a “good” quality for one to be “humble” in traditional sense, and therefore being confident in oneself seems to the others rather arrogant or “too full of herself”. I would like to stress nonetheless that being confident in oneself as a performer is an important quality one must possess. Either you have it or you don’t. And when you don’t, you should simply refrain yourself from going up the stage. If you feel you are lack of skills, then you must go practice more before you go up on that stage. And there you must go back up there again and again.

I hope you all are having a wonderful new year. May this new year bring you prosperity, harmony and above all, joy.

Much love, many blessings,
Teresa Wong


Ten Levels of Piano Practice

“Practice is objective, organized, and rational.”

-Teresa Wong, “Piano Freedom”, p.73

Piano practice is a creative and step-by-step process. Here are the ten stages a piano player would go through in his/her practice, with no.1 being the most basic to no.10 the last level to reach the final destination.

My Music Experience: Italy (I)

A few years back I was invited to Italy to work as a piano accompanist in a music festival. Back then I was still studying at the graduate school. That was the second time I went to Italy because of music (the first time was when I went there with the school choir). I loved everything about this country: its language, its culture, even its cuisine. Before I went there again, I also revised my rusted Italian a bit so that I could communicate better with the locals.

I left the States for Italy during my summer break from study. There were a few layovers in three to four European cities during my flight to Italy (as I was trying to get the best deal for the air ticket). In fact, I loved flying alone for some unknown reason so there was no problem about stopping and going. I still clearly recalled that in the airport at Brussels, Belgium where I discovered this “ski-style” toilet (just use your imagination to think how that works). After this long flight, I finally arrived in Bologna, Italy, where I met up with other participants, and took a coach bus to the smaller town in which we were going to stay for the next three weeks.

In Italy that year, the weather in June was very hot and dry already. I was absolutely thrilled to be there in my favorite country. The place we stayed was an “albergo”, which means hotel in Italian. But to me it was more simple like a motel.

In the following three weeks my daily schedule was almost identical: every morning I had Italian class for three hours, then we had vocal coaching classes for the whole afternoon after lunch break. I was responsible for the piano accompanying work mainly with my voice professor. After dinner, we would sat around at the patio of the only ristorante at our hotel.

Teresa Wong