Tag: piano teacher training

Focus on The Good

Recently I did a concert at a private residence my friend so graciously hosted. I had never done a concert like this before. I actually really loved it: an intimate setting for a closer connection between the performers and the audience.

I played some classic pieces such as Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Piano Sonata and Chopin’s Nocturne in C# minor, as well as a couple compositions of mine. I also played a couple chamber pieces with my friends, including Brahms’ and Dvorak’s piano quintets. I had a few of my piano students perform too. It was a lot of fun.

After I finished the concert, I had a reception in which I got to interact with my audience and friends. I felt pretty good about how I played in general. There is always room for improvement. But this time I tried not to focus on that.

I recorded the whole concert (video and audio). Usually I don’t really want to watch or hear how I played after the concert. I would just leave the recordings there until I gather up the courage to look/listen to them. But this time I might watch it soon to see what I did good and what didn’t work.

I find, as most of us musicians and piano students do, that we focus on how bad we did, or how we could have done better. “I could have played that phrase more clearly”, “I could have controlled the left hand line better”, “I could have made less mistakes” etc. Often we forgot to think about what we did right: “I played it with good control”, “I did great dynamic contrast there”, “I have improved so much!”.

I am not saying we should not improve ourselves, not at all. But we need to shift our focus to what we have done right more. It’s the good part that keeps us move forward, knowing that we did something good, so that we can continue on our journey to play more and do better next time.

If we keep beating ourselves up, we would feel frustrated. “I’m not good enough”, “I would never do better than this”, “this is a waste of time”, “I don’t have talent/what it takes to succeed”, or simply, “I’m not good at the piano!”.

Focus on what you’ve been doing good so far. See what you’ve done to do those right things, and how you can apply that to the not so right things. Focus on the accomplishment. Then comes the improvement. There is always room to be better next time, whether it be in a piano lesson, piano exam or piano performance.

Do the best you can, and move on to the next (lesson/exam/performance).

Of course, you can always consult someone on where you are at and how you can improve.

Now would you excuse me, but I am going to do some brainstorming on the next project.

Teresa Wong

Mozart: Piano Sonata K.311

The Piano Sonata in D major K.311 is in three movements. The Allegro opens with a theme that is orchestral in conception. After a modulation to the dominant, there is a secondary theme that sounds much more like a keyboard solo with its Alberti bass figures and scale-like melody. Mozart slowly increases the rhythmic intensity of the development section until a sudden stop near the middle, where piano and forte dynamics alternate. The order of events in the recapitulation is unusual.

Training Piano Teachers

Lately I have been preoccupied with training piano teachers on my online teaching platform and one-to-one private consultation basis.

I find it very fulfilling and satisfying to train piano teachers (and music teachers) to become successful in their teaching career. After years of my own training and teaching students in the area of piano performance, I realized how important it was to help piano teachers to become better in the way they understand and teach music/piano. I personally can only teach that many students privately; but if I could train others to teach well, we would have a lot more wonderful piano teachers out there to educate, inspire and encourage students to learn, enjoy and flourish in their music journey.

The first thing I want to get piano teachers understand is that they need to get themselves “out there”, especially when they are new in their teaching career. What that means is that they need to find their own channels to promote their teaching. It can be a blog, a Facebook page, or a YouTube channel. It is important for the teachers to share their thoughts, knowledge and experience on piano teaching and performing. It is a great way for the teachers to not only let new students know about their availability, but also to educate and connect with current students outside their lessons.

Another thing about training new teachers is to show them that there is a huge difference between learning to play piano and learning to teach piano. Surely there are some similarities between the two, but knowing how to play doesn’t mean one knows how to teach. There certainly is a lot to learn when it comes to the art of teaching. Other than all the music books I have studied throughout the years, I have also educated myself by reading a lot of books on communication and psychology. Learning how to communicate with students (and parents), encourage them and inspire them to learn and succeed, and above all, understand each student’s personality and their strength and take advantage of that knowledge in one’s teaching are all very powerful tools for a successful piano teacher.

Before I teach my piano teachers anything, I always ask them this question, “why do you teach?”. I want them to really think and feel deeply, and understand the reason they want to start their teaching career. For me, I was inspired by a couple of the most amazing piano teachers during my formative years: their passion in piano, their expertise in teaching, as well as their compassion for students (which I truly cherish till this day). They showed me how a real teacher could dramatically change a life for the better.

A real teacher is inspiring, caring, and respectable. I hope I am one and I can train many more in years to come.

Teresa Wong

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

Do you want to teach music?

“You should give up now – it doesn’t pay well.”

“You should get a real job.”

“You can’t make money being a musician/music teacher.”

“You should just get a teaching job at school or a government job.”

“You can’t make stable income teaching (enter any music instrument name).”

“You should study something else than music.”

 

Have you heard these questions – or insult – before?

I have, many times, directed towards me or towards my teaching staff and music friends.

At one point I thought that’s not working for me either. So I thought of doing something else or doing it differently. But I always came back to it.

I don’t give up easily. When I want something, I make it happen.

So I started playing piano, I studied abroad in piano performance, I worked as a pianist, I taught piano, I started my piano studio, and then piano school. I wrote books about piano teaching and playing. I consulted piano performers and piano teachers and music teaching studio owners online. I ran an online music teacher training platform, etc., etc. The list was endless.

And I made money teaching music and piano while enjoying my work. I love teaching, I have immense passion in helping people, I do.

When I get exciting and joyful feedback from piano students/parents/piano teachers about how much they’ve enjoyed my lessons/courses and how I’ve changed their lives for the better, I become so touched sometimes I would even cry with joy.

But hey, this is not about me, this is about YOU.

Being successful in music teaching requires hard work, in some ways more than having a regular job. Especially when you are teaching freelance or on your own. You don’t have the benefits that most people do: you don’t have the paid holidays, the health benefits, the regular time off (because you perform/teach piano on weekends/holidays). People think it’s so great to have your own work! Yes but they don’t see how hard it is for you to maintain your own students, plan your own work schedule, annual student concerts, piano exams, competitions, lessons, fees, parents, the list goes on and on. Wait, did I say no paid holidays so every time you take a vacation you cringe on how much money you didn’t earn on your trip to Japan/Thailand/Italy? And you can never take the same days off to hang out with your family and friends who have a regular job schedule? Heck, you sometimes even forget it’s public holiday because you are working on that day! And if the weather’s bad and everyone gets to stay in and cheer for the extra time off, you are upset because you don’t get to work and get paid?

Ok, that may have gone a bit too far and too much details – I personally had thought about all of the above and that’s why I can write them out easily in one minute.

But still, I love teaching, whether I am teaching piano students or piano teachers or other music instrument teachers. I simply love sharing knowledge and helping others, from teaching piano students how to play better, to teaching piano teachers how to teach better, then to teaching other music instrument teachers on how to build their music teaching career. It is important for the piano students and piano teachers and other music instrument teachers know how they too can be successful in their piano playing and piano/violin/flute/cello/erhu/singing/guitar teaching.  

When I teach a piano student, I influence one person (and perhaps a little on the family too). But when I teach a piano teacher or double bass teacher, I influence someone who can influence many students of their own. I really like the idea of that.

So if you are out there still thinking about my training program “How to Build a Successful Music Teaching Studio”, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me today. I am giving away a very special offer with some freebies on my online training program. Contact me now and get the gifts already!

Teresa Wong