[:en]This is a studio recording of Chopin’s C# minor Nocturne I did in the States. Enjoy![:]
I have run my piano teacher training course for a while now. During the whole course, there is one session in which I ask my student teachers what they want to achieve and who they want to be in their teaching career. I still recall one student teacher asked me what kind of teacher I regarded myself to be – she actually asked me if I thought I was/wanted to be a star teacher. At that time I could not pinpoint who I exactly was as a piano teacher. I just thought I wanted to be the greatest teacher I could ever be for my students, that’s it.
But today I know who I am and want to be.
I am a mentor for piano teachers and piano students. And I want to be a top-notch one.
What does it mean to be a mentor?
I believe there are many fine qualities that a true mentor (and teacher : note, it’s not limited to “piano teacher” but “teacher” in essence) must possess. But I have discussed about them in many of my posts already, so I don’t want to repeat myself here again. Instead, I want to talk about four essential qualities a true mentor must possess: inform, encourage, empower and inspire.
Here I must stress that I deliberately use the word “inform” in lieu of “instruct”.
I personally believe in providing as much knowledge as my students (piano players and piano teachers) would need continually and gradually in wide varieties of topics and angles possible, with consistent support and guidance (again, instead of “instruction”), rather than spoon-feeding them and telling them that limited pool of knowledge would be all they need necessary to pass some exams or competitions or performance etc. There is certainly a structured framework and solid foundation I would provide and inform my students of their importance, yet there is also freedom and space for my students, even the young ones, to explore and discover for themselves in this music journey. In fact, it is exactly the essence of music learning: the spontaneity and creativity supported by a solid foundation and knowledge via a mastery of polished tools available for use anytime.
A lot of parents and teacher believe that in order to help students improve they must scold the kids and be mean and strict with them , or else there would be no or not enough progress. I beg to differ.
Personally I always believe in positive reinforcement and help in students to build an internal self-sufficient system that the students are the one to motivate themselves to work hard and diligently because they want to do it for themselves but not for others or to get out of blame, ridicule or punishment. Instead, the students are in for improving, progressing and achieving their own goals because they want it so bad they won’t do it otherwise. My role therefore is there to encourage them to keep doing it even when there is failure and obstacle. I am there to guide them and give them some guidance and solutions (or rather, help them to create their own solutions) so they know what to do on their own even when I am not around. They must know deep inside that they can do it because they have the ability, the willpower, and the drive to make it and to succeed, and I am there for them always.
(To Continue: The Four Qualities of a Great Mentor (Part II) )
I am thrilled to announce that my second book, “Piano Technique Transformation Exercise Book” is also published and available for sale now! You can find them on the following platforms:
With this book and my other book “Piano Freedom” – on top of my YouTube channel and of course my teaching! – I can assure you that your piano technique and playing will be better forever. Most importantly, you will enjoy your playing and music in a new way you would never imagined you could ever achieve. I can promise you just that.
Any question about the book and its application please do not hesitate to write me!
I always get asked about how much time a student should spend on practice. For me, I understand the busy schedule of a kid /adult, and frankly, I do not expect anyone to spend lots of time only at the piano as there are just so many things to do every day! Also, I am all about efficiency and effectiveness now, that I want the maximum result in the shortest time. But that can only be achieved by maximum level of focus, awareness and determination to succeed. So, it is not just about what the teacher can do in a lesson, but also how the student would do in a practice session!
Now here is a rough guideline to those (students AND especially parents) who are new to this whole music instrument learning journey.
For our Piano Beginner Course, I recommend this:
15 minutes a day, 5 days a week
E.g. Monday to Friday
Instructions: Set a regular time for daily practice
It is a very important matter that students know they need to have a regular routine for their practice, so setting the same time for daily practice is a great way to go. When sometimes it might not be plausible to log in the same time every day (like 5pm SHARP is completely ridiculous and out of line probably, we are not in a military camp here!), simply set a time for piano practice after a certain daily task is completed would do the trick.
E.g. 5-5.15pm (after homework /before dinner) or 8-8.15pm (before bed)
I never try to pressure anyone into having a DAILY practice, which really means seven days a week. Certainly I would be glad that any student would do that, but it is not really necessary or strict like that (unless of course you are getting trained to become a professional musician/your child is a music prodigy! But then you/your child would just do it out of the love and passion for music without anyone urging you/him/her to do so already). So here is a sample practice schedule:
Sample practice schedule-
M T W T F
T W T F S
Students should go through all elements in each practice session, and that includes songs, scales, and sometimes writing/reading (as in our piano beginner coursebook). We have a very clear guidelines in our student book on what and how much time to spend on each element, so both student /and parent can follow the guidelines and practice accordingly to get maximum results.
I hope this is clear enough for anyone who has just started with us (or with someone else) on their piano journey, and even to the teachers who feel lost when telling their students to plan their practice routines. I am always glad to see anyone starting to play the piano NOW, from 4 to 104!
*This is a minimum requirement of daily practice routine. Students are encouraged to either do two 15-minute sessions (morning and evening) or one longer sessions of 20-30 minutes if keen to learn and progress faster, and have more fun at the piano!