Our Song For 6th Singapore Performers’ Festival & Chamber Music Competition.

I’ll be playing a duet piece with my fellow piano teacher friend Alicia at the upcoming 6th Singapore Performers’ Festival & Chamber Music Competition at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.

There are various categories for this competition, and I thought why not play a duet together with Alicia, instead of just playing solo (like other pianists). It is more fun too!

So we decided to play this song:

Moszkowski’s New Spanish Dances Op.65 No.1 Duet 

And we did perform for our students in a recent music bootcamp we conducted.

And here’s our video performance. Enjoy!

Update: 

Here’s our shot before we enter the concert hall for the duet performance!

Will upload the actual performance video once we got it!

Can I Still Learn Piano At This Age?

Playing the piano can be one of the most lovely skills you can learn. When you know how to play the piano, you can play any music you like, you can play when you are stressed, you can play when you are happy, and if you like, you can also play for others.

Many people wished that they can play the piano. Some learn when they are young, some want to learn when they are older. After having giving piano lessons in Singapore for more than 7 years, I realized that piano is an instrument that is loved by all ages! I have taught kids of 5 years old, and adults of 60 years old and above, their first piano lesson. Both lessons are equally enjoyable for them, and for me.

I understand that many adults would love to learn the piano, but one big question they have is this:

“Can I still learn the piano, at my age?”

I truly understand where they are coming from.

In Singapore, especially in this ‘kiasu’ (scared-to-lose) culture, parents send their kids to multiple enrichment classes as young as 3 years old. Yes, I do have parents requesting me to teach their 2 years old child too. When you see so many kids attending piano lessons, the common assumption would be that ‘piano lessons are for kids’.

Not only that. Often, you will see awesome videos of young children winning piano competitions, or playing incredibly difficult pieces at a very young age of 4 to 5 years old. This is one really talented child:

We have to give credit to these children. They are really good in their playing, and they will become world-class pianists in no time.

When we see all these around us, we will always think “Wow, what did I do when I’m at that age?” , “Why didn’t I learn something when I was young?”, and it will slowly lead to “It’s too late to learn piano now as I’m not young anymore”.

STOP.

All these thoughts are just holding you back. No one says the piano is only for kids. No one says adults can’t learn piano.

In fact, I’m going to tell you why you will learn piano faster and better than a child, even if you have ZERO music background.

1. As an adult, you have longer attention span

You’ve been though school, and you’re probably okay with sitting and paying attention for 20 to 30 minutes. Take a break, and continue for another 15 minutes or so.

But kids can’t sit for long as their attention span is short. As the teacher, you need to keep engaging them, take little breaks here and there. Or worse, you have to discipline them for walking around and not focused on lessons.

2. As an adult, you know what discipline is

You know that if you want to achieve a goal, you need to put in hard work, and practice consistently. In my experience of teaching adults, I can say that 90% of adult learners are self-motivated to learn and practice. At most, you just need a little reminder, that’s all.

On the other hand, kids may not know what discipline is. Sometimes, parents have to enforce a strict practice regime to get them to be discipline. Hence, as adults, you’re likely to learn faster than kids as you have less of these discipline issues.

3. As an adult, you know more tunes and songs

You would have love some classical or pop songs, and that’s why you’re interested in learning piano. And because you know the tunes inside you, you can pick up sounds easier. You learn to recognise notes faster too. And needless to say, if you’re learning to play songs you love, you will naturally love to practice and play it perfectly.

However, also because as an adult, you may have some disadvantages as well.

But don’t worry, they are not that bad.

1. You have other commitments

You may have completed school, but you may have to work, or juggle family and personal time. That’s where it can be challenging sometimes to have piano lessons.

Sometimes, because of your work, you may need to skip a few lessons. Hence, if you want to learn the piano, do set a fixed time and day of the week for lesson, and commit to it.

2. Your fingers may be a little stiffer

Many adult learners will say that their fingers are not as flexible as the kids, hence, they may not move as fast, or play as good as kids. It’s true that if you never play piano before, your fingers will seems rigid and stubborn.

However, your fingers will become more flexible once you played the piano over time. The constant movement and finger exercises in your piano lessons will get your joints loosen up and be more flexible. So don’t worry about this.

3. You may have pre-conceived ideas about learning music

You want to learn the piano, but you think that you may not be able to play it, because you think you’re tone-deaf. You attended a few piano lessons, and you realise you took some time to understand some musical notes and playing. You feel like giving up as you think you’re a slow learner, and not talented for music.

That’s the real issue that will hold back many adult learners. Kids don’t think that way, because they don’t know if they are not talented, or if they are slow learner. They just go for lessons, practice, and they improve. (By the way, playing music is not about talent. But that’s article for another day!)

So if you really want to learn the piano, throw out all these pre-conceived ideas about yourself that holds you back from learning the piano well.

Conclusion

So if you’re an adult, can you still learn the piano? The answer is absolutely yes. And it’s not because we want you to sign up for our adult piano classes right away. It’s because it is entirely possible for anyone to learn piano at any age, and we’ve seen many adults of all ages fulfil their childhood dream of playing the piano.

3 Reasons Why Hire A Private Piano Teacher

In Singapore, if you want to learn the piano, there are two ways you can go about it. You can sign up for a piano class in a music school like Yamaha or Cristofori, or go for piano lessons with a private piano teacher.  For classes in music schools, there can be individual or group piano classes, and in private lessons, it is usually one-to-one lessons with the teacher.

Are you thinking which type of lessons you should go for? Let us help you!

Here are 3 reasons why we recommend you take up lessons with a private piano teacher.

1. Lessons catered to your needs

When you do lessons with a private piano teacher, the teacher knows you better, as compared to group lessons in a school. When the teacher knows you well, he or she can design the lessons in a way that help you learn better. And since it is one-to-one, anytime you want the teacher to slow down the teachings, it can be done.

However, if you are in a group classes, lessons are catered to a group of students. The teacher can’t slow down, and you have to catch up! On the other hand, you may want to learn faster, but your teacher can’t go fast because of other students in the class. This will slow you down.

So if you are looking for lessons that catered to your needs, go for private piano lessons.

2. Flexibility in Curriculum

To add on to the above point, if you are having one to one piano lessons, your teacher can teach you different things outside the curriculum. Do you have a favourite song that you want to learn (like Disney’s Frozen)? Do you want to learn how to play by ear? Do you want to write your own song and play it on piano?

A private piano teacher can choose to teach you the new song first, before moving back to the curriculum.

However, it is difficult to do things differently in a music school. There is curriculum to follow, and the school may not allow their teachers to deviate too far from the main syllabus. Hence, you may find that the teacher may not meet your requests.

3. Flexibility in Schedule

This can be important for some students. For Singapore kids, we know they are involved in many enrichment programs. Sometimes they may have competitions. Sometimes they may fall sick. Shifting of class schedules can be very frequent. For adults, there may be delay in work, or family outings and so forth. Hence, there may be postponing of lessons too.

If you have a private piano teacher, when you shift lessons during the week, most teachers are okay to do makeup for you. On the other hand, some music schools can be strict in their schedule. If you miss a lesson, you may have to pay for the lesson, without any make ups.

4. Music Recitals and More!

One more reason!

If your teacher is experienced, he can get his students come together for a musical performance for all his students. This allows opportunities for you to perform. (Something like this student music concert).

It’s not a competition among students, but is more of a performance to showcase what you have learned.

Some schools organize recitals too, but some schools can be too caught up with pushing students for exams that they neglect all these performance opportunities.

There you go! 3+1 reasons why private piano lessons are more suitable for you. If you are looking to start piano lessons, you can check out Valerie Piano Studio, where I conduct home piano studios at my place in the east. If you’d like me to recommend other private piano teachers to you, you can send in your request too!

Say It With Music 2014

I shall start the year by looking back at this successful event which I’ve organised with teacher Marcus Ng from www.ViolinMusicSchool.net. Say It With Music 2014  is a students’ concert in which we give them a stage for them to gain confidence and exposure in performing in front of a crowd.

say-it-with-music-student-concert

We gather both our students and prepare them for a concert. I have my piano students, and teacher Marcus has his violin students. How about the audience? What more could be better than having the support of our loved ones to watch us play?

I’m glad that after a year in teaching, I can inspire them to go up the stage to perform for their loved ones. And this is the reason why we organize this concert! You see, practicing a song and performing a song are two different things.

Most of the time, when students come to practice a song that they have learnt, they can do it without much difficulty. As long as they practice correctly and regularly, they can play the song well.

However, everything will be different when it is about performing, even if it is performing the same song. The nerves will appear, stage fright might come in, ‘mind can go blank’ anytime. These are some of the common worries students have when we ask them to perform.

If performing is that scary, why do we still want to organize a concert to put them in a spot? We want them to gather experience in preparing a song for performance! And that can only be done if we give them a stage to do so, and not countless of hours of practicing without a single minute of stage time.

I’m glad that everyone had a great time! Whether or not that performance was perfect isn’t the most important thing, the fact that everyone had something to take home from this event makes it memorable.

Big cheers for my students!

valerie-piano-studio-students

valerie piano studio adult students

I’m looking forward to hold another concert soon in the year 2015. Do check out the video highlights of the concert we have compiled below. Happy New Year! (:


Hard to say goodbye

You were not my first and you will not be the last, but what you gave me was beyond all I could ask.

Not everyone will understand how I feel about you but for sure you hold a special place in my heart, you grew up with me and have seen me through my ups and downs for the past 18 years.

Dad first brought you home without knowing if my interest in you would be for the long term, he kind of took a risk in that but it’s all for the better. Of course, my interest and passion for you grew as I grow up, you have seen me through the various exams that I took, the performances that I need to prepare for, the rejections I faced in life…

And in the recent years I got to see how my students came to love you as well! It is really a joy to see their happy faces as I watch from the side during lesson time.

It’s about a week since you’re gone, the empty corridor always reminds me of you, the bright tones you have, how good you sound even though you’re 18 years old.

It was definitely a hard decision to let you go because it’s like letting a big part of my life go…but I hope you will be well loved by your new owner somewhere out there.

Here’s my song dedicating to you, the music resembles our journey through the years, how we started small and young, as we grew together we experience more depth and joy and towards the end of the music, how you’re going away but it ends on a solid note, just like saying that you are always here.

 

Thank you for being my constant companion, my piano.