Category: The Unashamed Piano Teacher

To My Old Piano Students

Dear Students,

How are you? I wonder how you’ve been doing. When’s the last time you played your piano? When’s the last time you shared music with others?

I think about you often. I do. 

I remember how our first piano lessons together, and how that evolved to become a long-term relationship as teacher and students, as well as friends. 

I remember we had the first breakthrough in one of our lessons, it was amazing.

I remember how I felt so emotional and touched when I heard you play in some occasions, thinking I was really blessed to have all these lovely students who wanted to share music with me for so many years.

I remember how I told you to have a haircut because your hair was frankly, messy (you see, your teacher, aka moi, also have the same problem from time to time when life gets hectic, still do).

I remember we had that talk, and I really hoped it resonated with you and helped you through.

I remember we had all those performance classes, masterclasses, concerts, all the rehearsals and performances – some frustrating moments, but always so many more good ones. 

I remember we would go to concerts together, and discussed about the concert afterwards with a drink each in our hands.

We also had lunch, dinner, barbecue and all sorts of gathering. There were never short of laughters. 

We had a lot of music gatherings and parties at my place.. it was a lot of fun. I love having parties and you all come over. 

I remember I cared. And I still do.

Frankly, I really miss all of you.

I hope you are good, and still play the piano.

Have a happy Chinese New Year,

Your Teacher,

TW

Honoring Music Teaching

Teaching is a service to others.

Teachers are the guides, to shed light for their students on the path of knowledge and learning, with wisdom, insight, compassion, patience and empathy.

Teachers pass their knowledge, skills and information, their ways of learning and problem solving to their disciples, so that they can adapt, modify and create their own principles and methods to apply wisely for their own learning and skills. It’s the kind of flexible and smart principle that helps one to apply in different situations accordingly, instead of a cookie cutter, one size fit all rigid method that can be used in only one fixed situation.

I have the privilege to have learnt from great masters and teachers, and the pleasure to have passed my knowledge to my wonderful students of many over the past two decades. I am also grateful to have this platform to share it with you my readers here. I hope you have all learnt something useful and impactful, something that lasts and is applicable in many ways, which would be the definition of true knowledge.

As for the aspiring music teachers, I hope you have mustered all your courage, your passion as well as your patience, when you are just starting out and at times feeling frustrated, exhausted and simply, lost. Keep up with your great work, keep on with your love for music and teaching, I’m here to support you.

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A New Beginning I

Hi all,

I apologize for not having been here or on any social media channels lately.

I just came back from a wonderful trip in Hawaii. It’s beautiful and just a great time there. It actually made me miss Hong Kong a little bit regarding all the food selections! Hongkongers are definitely spoiled with their food choices.

During my holidays in Hawaii, I tried to do a couple things that scared me, both of them required me to be in the ocean. I don’t know if any of you read what I wrote all this time, but I did write about my fear in water. I took swimming lessons and so far I am somewhat better in the pool but if you ask me to go do some water sports in the big ocean I would definitely think twice (or more like hundred times!).

I think I didn’t write about this for some reason, but I went on a diving trip (yes, diving in deep deep water under many feet) a couple years ago in Taiwan, after I tried this “discover diving” thing in Okinawa. I thought it was fun and easy (!) and therefore I decided to venture out to get the open water diving certification after my Taipei stay to finish my Music Together teaching certification (oh yes that’s another story for another time).

That diving trip was gruesome three whole days of me being in the cold open murky wavy water, floating on top of and diving in deep in the ocean. I am not sure if I want to do it again soon, but I do think I will get back at it in the (far) future, perhaps at some place some time with clearer and warmer water.

Anyway, back to the Hawaii trip. I went snorkeling for a few times and I saw some amazing sea creatures! It was not a really fun thing for me to do – like I said, I do not like being in the ocean or somewhere deep. But I made myself do it and I thought that was good.

The other thing I tried actually changed my mind of me being in the ocean and that I actually could enjoy AND have fun about it. It was surfing.

I have seen people surf in TV shows and movies, thinking “wow, that looks so cool”, and especially when I see girls doing it, I am like, “that just looks hot”. Like for me girls doing anything I normally won’t do is “hot”, like driving (which I do now), and being athletic and lifting heavy weights (which I also do now). So being great at water sports is just something that blows my mind and I cannot fathom I can even manage to do it, let alone being good at it.

And there I went surfing.

Needless to say I had this HUGE anxiety before the morning to take my surf lesson, which was like two hours (“Why do anyone want to take surfing lesson for two hours straight? Is there a break in between?”). So with much anxiety (imagining I might drown or thrown out in the ocean without my surfboard and hit my head on the rocks etc) and sleepiness (it’s 8 in the morning! and hey it’s holiday), I arrived at this truck full of surf boards, standing nearby a fit young lady. I thought she was one of the surf students, but no, she’s my surf instructor!

I put on a tee shirt and water shoes my instructor handed me, and we were off to do some practice on the grass nearby with the surfboards. I watched intently what she was demonstrating to me and then I copied. The instruction lasted for 15 minutes. And then she said, “let’s go to the water and try it out!” “What?! That’s it??” I was shocked inside. But I took up the courage and picked up my surfboard and there I went with her into the water.

(…to be continued)

Some personal sharing and thank you to you all!

I’d like to thank all of you for your support in the past years and share with you about my journey to get here. I also want to encourage everyone of you, keep going and be confident of your own ability! You can do it too!

Some words of encouragement

[:en]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.
[:]