I am going to be quite blunt from now on, and also slightly more philosophical and spiritual with my writing than before. I feel I am running out of time here..
I find that most people like the idea of playing the piano but not exactly the action of it.
Why do I say that?
Have you ever heard your friends say, “I wish I could lose some weight”, then they would add, “if I had time to go exercise”, and “but it’s too hard, and I love eating!” etc etc.
Or, “I would love to go ______ (put any sports or hobbies there: e.g. golfing, fishing, hiking, reading, travelling, cooking…) “, BUT, “I don’t have time”.
IF they are some of those really lucky people in this planet that have TIME, and even when they take action to go do these activities, they actually find that it’s quite an exhausting task to fulfil.
AND if they so do decide and manage to keep this hobby going, they would find they don’t actually like it that much as they thought they really would before they started doing it. Usually it’s because it’s too HARD, and take too much TIME.
But now they are STUCK.. Why? Because they have already started doing this thing they have been wanting to do so long, and they have INVESTED TIME, MONEY and maybe some EFFORT, and also THEY TOLD EVERYONE THEY ARE DOING THIS! THEY CANNOT BACK DOWN CAN THEY NOW??
“CAN I ?!?!?!?” (I think that’s the voice screaming inside the back of your head)
Well, my answer to you is, “YES YOU CAN.”
YES YOU REALLY CAN!!! (I want to scream at that voice inside the back of your head too, if I have to. But no, I want to be gentle.)
Because I have been there.
It may not be playing piano (or music in general), because I realise “he” (I have to put a male gender just to be “politically correct” here) is the LOVE OF MY LIFE. I shall never abandon him.
It might not be teaching (piano), as I thought I have loved it for so long and changed my career for him, and devoted hours and hours developing skills for him and in him; although recently I did find my love for him has not been the same anymore and might need to shake things up and change directions in the most dramatic way…
But I do understand, yes I can and I have been there.
For instance, I tried to teach the way everyone was doing here: focus on training in the shortest time frame possible for the highest grade ever in a youngest student in the whole planet, having students competing in every single competition one can find and making them play some horrible music that would not help them to grow just so they could fulfil some exam/competition/performance/school requirements. Ok, I never have done most of them at all. I couldn’t bring myself even close to just do the first one. They did happen only because I focused on what really mattered to me: instil in students their love for music, inspire them to create music, to enjoy and play the piano, provide them with knowledge necessary to understand and enjoy music, all in the long run and for the long run. Again, I am not saying whatever others do is wrong. They are right for their own accord and in their own terms, as long as they are happy with what they want. But I know that was not what I wanted and it will never be what I want and who as a teacher I want to be.
So, I struggled, I moved on, I struggled more, I moved on again, I stumbled, I sat, I paused, I stood up and started walking again, I splinted, I jogged, I was exhausted, I rested.
Now, I am sitting still whenever I can.
My newest hobby is “chillaxing”.
I always understand I cannot make anyone do anything they don’t want to do. But I did not ACCEPT that fact completely. I still thought from time to time, “if I just TRIED HARDER…”
No, I realise it’s not about trying harder.
Everyone has their own journey and their time to grow or not grow.
Everyone has their own rate of growth and progress.
No one can push them. No one ever did.
The real reason for those would truly grow and progress much faster than anyone else is because THEY THEMSELVES WANT TO GROW AND PROGRESS THAT FAST, AND THEY DID A LOT OF WORK TO GET THERE.
Even if they fall.
Even if they struggle.
Even when they just want to sit there and cry and feel all this pain inside them and that voice saying “I don’t want to do this anymore, why are you forcing me to do this, are you insane???”
They sit there and start asking themselves, “do I want to do this anymore? Do I want to stop now?”
They might not have the answer they want to hear. Instead, they might hear, “I don’t know. It’s too hard. I don’t know how to continue.”
If they tell themselves instead, “Ok, I am not doing this anymore.” And then they feel pain, they feel sadness, that voice inside them whisper, “I don’t want to stop actually. I still want to do this.”
Then they realise, they do want to do it.
But they must also ask themselves, “HOW can I do this better in the future to have less failure and hardship? How can I do it better to have more success and happiness in this journey?”
They must TRY HARDER.
They must BELIEVE, in themselves and whatever this is that they are doing.
They must also have OTHER PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN THEM.
They might need different and better guidance.
They need HELP.
They must REACH OUT.
They must find SOLUTION.
A solution that is different from all those solutions that they tried before and didn’t work for them.
If they decide to continue.
But I would also emphasise again, “You don’t have to do this.”
Don’t do this because everyone is doing it.
Don’t do this because you have already invested all this time and effort and energy and emotion.
Don’t do this for anyone else, not your family, your friends, your peers, your partner, your parents, or your teacher.
YOU CAN STOP NOW.
TODAY IS THE DAY TO SET YOURSELF FREE.
DO EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING FOR YOURSELF. IT’S YOUR DECISION TO CONTINUE OR STOP.
PLAY THE PIANO FOR YOURSELF AND NOT FOR ANYONE ELSE.
TEACH PIANO BECAUSE YOU WANT TO DO IT.
P.S. I love this post. One line says, “Mastery is an awesome thing to have, but it comes at great price. The idea of having mastery, without the price, is deeply deeply appealing. ‘I wish I had learned is saying ‘I wish I didn’t have to pay the price- I wish it was already paid back in the days that are already behind me’.”
To that I would sum up with one simple 8-word idiom, “There is no free lunch in the jungle.”
Why do pianists focus on performing? Or why do teachers focus on teaching?
Many people think that those who can’t play, teach. And if a teacher defends him or herself, they say that’s just sour grapes.
So why do the players play and why do the teachers teach?
It’s very simple.
Because they love what they do.
Sounds like a common sense, doesn’t it? But to most people, it seems not.
Most people still think the teachers teach because they can’t play.
Has it ever occurred to them that the teachers sacrifice themselves the time and opportunities in playing and performing so that they can focus on their teaching?
I guess not.
People still think it’s only because the teachers can’t play, so they make an “excuse” to teach instead saying how much they love teaching, to disguise the “fact” that the teachers actually rather play than teach.
And somehow, people seem to think that the players are better because they are the one playing and performing all over the world while the teachers stay at the same place to teach them.
Under this “logic”, the teachers are inferior. Then, to go along with such logic, why do these people want to learn from the teachers whom they regard as inferior?
Ah, because the players whom they admire so much simply don’t have time to teach. That’s make these players very precious commodities. Because scarcity is king (or queen, or diamond).
What a sad logic.
These people really want to learn from these admirable great pianists of all time and at the back of their heads, even they are learning from their own teachers, they still have this tiny voice in their mind that says, “I wish those pianists can teach me. And my teacher is actually not that great because s/he doesn’t play (much), that means s/he is not a good teacher.”
Yes you can read that sentence again.
You know what, I hate to bring it up to you, but, have you ever thought about that, those pianists actually don’t want to teach, and they are not as good teachers as those who dedicate their lives, hearts and souls and efforts and persistence into their teaching? That they are the people who actually cares about and can help you progress, improve your playing and achieve your goals? And that you should respect them and believe in their methods and try harder and be braver?
No. You still want to learn from those players, who choose to perform instead of teach. And that is why you haven’t progressed to where you should be and can be yet.
There is nothing wrong with either profession and the people who choose to be in them. There is however something wrong with those people’s (students’) mentality.
That’s my music rant of the day.
[:en]Teaching students, especially young children, requires a lot of patience and compassion on top of expertise. As a piano teacher, the way you communicate directly affects whether the student receives your message or not, regardless of how well qualified you are as a music scholar and piano performer.
One important idea I have learnt from the music workshop I attended last year in Tokyo is that, students can feel insecure and vulnerable at times in their lessons. When they feel unsafe – note: not physically, but rather, emotionally, as there are chances of being criticized and pointing out their mistakes they make in their playing (or answers), they stop focusing on their music and instead on trying to be “correct”. They spend more time and effort worrying about their potential failure rather than expressing and enjoying themselves and the music. They would stop trying because they do not want to make more mistakes (especially after being told they were wrong or even yelled at in a disapproved tone).
One of the teacher’s many responsibilities is to show the student (again and again) that s/he can feel safe and supported during the lessons and the music journey together with the teacher, that s/he can feel free to ask questions and explore in the playing and practice. Therefore, building a great relationship between the teacher and student is crucial for ultimate success in music learning and achieving great results. And in order to do that, the teacher who truly cares about his/her teaching would put in utmost effort and patience in every single lesson with each student s/he has, because every lesson/student matters, young or old, “talented” or not.
Watching the students grow, young or adult, beginner or advanced, is the greatest pleasure a teacher can have.
在教學上，特別是面對年幼的孩子，除了需要專業知識之外，更需要極大的耐心和同理心。作為一名鋼琴老師，不管你有多高的音樂和演奏造藝，你表達的方法直接影響學生是否接受你的教學和他們的學習進度。 我從去年在東京參加的音樂工作坊中了解到一個重要的概念是，學生在上課時有感到不安全和脆弱的時候。當他們感覺不安全 - 注意：不是身體上，而是情感上，為了避免在彈奏（或答問題）時有被批評的可能性時，他們就會開始努力做「糾正」錯誤而非專注於上的表達。他們花費更多的時間和精力去擔心潛在的錯失，而不是表達音樂和享受自己的彈奏。他們因為不想讓更多的錯誤發生而開始停止嘗試，（尤其是在語氣不佳甚至大聲呵斥的情況下被告知他們是錯誤時）。 老師的許多責任其中之一是讓學生知道他/她在上課和這個音樂旅程時可以感到安全和得到支持，可以很安心的嘗試，和老師探討、提出問題。這樣一來，建立教師和學生之間良好的關係和真誠的信任，在學生音樂學習的成效和得著方面會有很大的幫助。而真正在乎學生和自己教學的老師，不管那個學生是否年輕、年長，又或者是否「才華橫溢」，也會投入最大的精力和耐心去教導每一個學生。 黃穎妍