Tag: PracticeMethods練習方法

How to memorise a piece effectively

I get a lot of enquiries about playing by memory. Here are a few useful tips:

1. Mark out the sections and phrases
It’s important to know where a section / a phrase starts and ends – this practice is not only important for memorisation but also in practice and knowing the music more deeply and securely

2. Repeat in small doses
It’s a very useful tool to memorise a piece in small doses first especially if you are new to the practice. Start with one phrase and then two, gradually working up to a whole section. Then work on two sections and more eventually leading up to the whole movement/piece.

For example:
Repeat each phrase 5-10 times. Then two phrases 5-10 times. Then three phrases 5-10 times and so on.

3. Memorise from different parts of a piece
It’s also great to try starting in the middle of a piece – a lot of times when performers have a slip of memory it’s never at the beginning of a piece or not even the beginning of a section/phrase. I encourage my students to start playing /memorising in the middle of the music to see if they can start and continue from there – I call them “safety stops”. It’s like taking a train: it starts and ends at big terminals, but it also travels through and pauses by many small stations / stops in between the whole journey to pick up and drop off passengers. So throughout the whole music journey (the music piece you are playing and memorising), you also need some musical stops to know where you are at currently. It helps you keep track of where you have been, where you are at, and where you are going, until the end.

For me I even memorised from the end back to the beginning just to test my memory of the piece. Most important of all, try to be creative about your memorisation process and think/practice outside of the box – remember, there is no one way to do it right for you, and often, those “weird” ways of doing one thing are THE ways to get you closer and faster towards your goal!

Until next time,

Teresa Wong

計劃你的鋼琴練習 (I)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAEfolpgYr8[:zh]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCNpslH0u4s

How to perfect your scales (Part II)

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Please don’t “play” the piano

I am going to be as candid as I can ever be in this post, and from now onwards.

It’s not that I wasn’t being truthful or honest before. I was trying to be “kind” and “nice”.

There’s nothing wrong with being kind and nice, but when I was being “too kind” and “too nice”, I found out students become lazy and started to rely on me, meaning they always looked at me for directions, instead of thinking for themselves how to do it.

Playing the piano and perfecting the skills required needs a lot of brainwork, and to that I mean A LOT.

It’s not for those who don’t like thinking and analysing to the deepest.

It is also not for someone who don’t want to move their bodies.

What does that mean? There has ben a stereotype that playing the piano is to “tame” the kids’ temper, like it’s some sort of circus moves. Actually, it sounds more like the teacher is the animal trainer and the students being… you know.
Only I hope your teacher doesn’t have a wipe to hold on to..

First, let me tell you what playing the piano is not:
It’s NOT just for GIRLS
It’s NOT to train boys to sit still
It’s NOT for ANYONE to sit still and NOT move their bodies
It’s NOT just a finger movement

Now, let me tell you what playing the piano is about:
IT IS an activity that requires MIND, BODY, EMOTION , and SPIRIT. (Yes, it is that kind of activity.)
It is an ACTIVE activity, like a SPORT.
It requires BRAIN WORK. – LOTS OF IT.
It requires BODY COORDINATION – hands, feet, eye, torso (upper and lower, even when you are sitting) and oh yeah, brain again, you guess it.
It requires FEELING – yes it does, because it’s ART, an EXPRESSION of EMOTION – otherwise go do maths or play video games. I can’t imagine anyone filling in forms and studying tests with PASSION, that would be weird.
It requires not only feeling for music, but also feeling for your own body, that’s the ultimate way to transform your technique forever. So it requires the player to be in touch with themselves.
It takes FOCUS, DEDICATION, DISCIPLINE, HARD WORK, RESILIENCE, STRUCTURE, SKILLS, TIME, and PATIENCE. – I think there’s more I am missing…oh maybe, PASSION?
It requires FAST RESPONSE. REALLY FAST.
It requires A LOT OF THINKING -it needs a lot of rationalization and analysis, and is therefore NOT for anyone who prefers spoon fed everything.
It is NOT cost effective.
It requires PRACTICE, ON YOUR OWN.
It requires REFLECTION, ON YOUR OWN.
IT REQUIRES THINKING, ON YOUR OWN.

So I hope I have told you what it takes to be really great at the piano. Of course, if you just want to do whatever, keep telling yourself “it’s too hard”, “I don’t have time (for lessons and/practice)”, and “the teacher should tell me everything I need to know!”

Anything great in life requires hard work, resilience, time and patience, and A LOT OF THINKING.

Next post, I would write about “teachers” who think they are teaching, but they are really not!

The Desire to Succeed 

I hope you all had a good week. 

During my down time, I did a lot of reading and thinking (besides resting and exercising!). I found a lot of focus and clarity when I could do these two things with clear head (thanks to my regular meditation practice). 

One thing I want to talk about today is the desire to excel, and of course here I would apply that to piano playing and teaching.

Many say that passion is the key to success. I agree with passion – love for the thing we do – certainly helps a lot in motivating us to keep doing what we are doing. But only passion is not enough, as I will explain below. 

During my many years as a pianist and teacher and mentor, I have met and taught students from all walks of life, whether they be amateur or professional musicians. When I first heard someone telling me that they want to “study abroad”, “go to Germany/Vienna/France”, “take a diploma exam”, “become a great piano teacher”, I warm heartedly encouraged them and gave them a lot of advice on how to proceed with that goal. They all looked very enthusiastic and genuinely interested in pursuing that goal they held dearly on to. However, after a few months/a year, there were no signs of no follow-up actions and the enthusiasm seemed to gradually fade away. 

I thought about how I made things happen for myself in terms of piano performance or teaching career or building a business. Certainly there was a lot of passion involved. It’s the passion that prompted me to start with everything I did. I did more than having a passion. There was also the desire to succeed. And then I looked at how others succeeded in what they pursued, it’s the exact same way as I did only in different arenas. 

So what is the desire to succeed? 

There are two keywords in this question: “desire” and “succeed”. 

Let’s start with the word “desire”. Desire is a very strong sentiment and commitment to the passion one has, whether it be playing the piano well, maintaining a harmonious relationship, making a decent living, or simply, having a nice meal at a fine restaurant. 

When you have a very strong desire in anything you have in mind, you will figure out a way to achieve it, no matter how hard it is. 

Now what would you do to fulfill that desire? There are steps you would make to “succeed”, which is the second keyword of our question. 

Let’s say you want to have a nice meal at a fine restaurant, the procedure would be firstly you research about which restaurant you want to go. Then you have to make a reservation. You might even have to book very early in advance if the restaurant is very popular. You would do all that to have the nice meal you so strongly desire to have, right? And you also make sure you have enough money to pay for that meal, to make that goal complete smoothly. You might even buy a new dress/suit and bring someone you really fancy to make this fine dining experience more wonderful. Then you would feel you have “succeeded”. 

It’s the same for piano playing. In order to have some pleasant outcome out of the time and effort we are going to spend in our lessons and our practice, we must have the desire to succeed before we decide we want to pick up our playing/practice/teaching again. You must have a very strong desire to make that happen for yourself but it for anyone else. You must feel very strongly that is absolutely something you are willing to spend time/effort/money/training in for a considerably sustained period of time. Otherwise all your time/effort/money/training are wasted for nothing. 

So what exactly is the definition of having succeeded in fulfilling that desire and passion? That’s up to you. It might be learning to play one of your favorite pieces really well in three months, or attaining a piano diploma in a year, or becoming a great piano teacher in two years. The point is to make your goal as specific as possible. The time frame is for reference only. Of course it’s important to meet that as much as possible and do not create an impossible goal for yourself in a short time, that only adds to your detriment of being actually able to achieving it. And even more important is that you stick to that goal no matter how hard and challenging you find it is. If you truly have the desire to succeed, you will find help and adjust how you do it along the way. 

You must commit to what you have started. That differentiates those who can achieve what they are passionate about and those who cannot and blame others for their failure. 

People think talent/innate ability is the key. That’s only part of the picture. Most often than not those who succeed in what they do have put tremendous hard work with absolute perseverance constantly. It’s not that they don’t struggle or even at times fail, but they just bite their tongues and keep on moving forward. 

I hope you all have a great start to the new year and find what you desire to succeed in in your brand new journey ahead. 

Teresa Wong

鋼琴導師訓練課程(第一級):
https://teresa-wong-music.teachable.com/p/piano-teacher-training-course-level-1/
 
成功的音樂教學課程:
https://teresa-wong-music.teachable.com/p/how-to-run-a-successful-music-teaching-studio
ABRSM八級聆聽測驗課程:
https://teresa-wong-music.teachable.com/p/abrsm-grade-8-aural-test-training-course-chinese
 
ABRSM Grade 8 Aural Test Training Course (English):
https://teresa-wong-music.teachable.com/p/abrsm-grade-8-aural-test-training-course-english1