- Occupation: Piano Tutor
- Year of Birth: 1978
- Job Scope: Teaching, attending lessons, practicing piano, preparing and sourcing teaching materials, planning students’ recitals and examinations, accompanying, transcription, rescoring, shopping, babysitting
- Hobby: Weightlifting, Trolling students, Practising trumpet
- Favorite Genre: Renaissance, Classical, Orchestral, Jazz
- Education: ATCL, Bachelor of Economics, Diploma in Architecture Technology
When I was young, I disliked practicing the piano and went to most of the lessons ill-prepared and sleepy. My first teacher invested a lot of effect to pull me through my grade one examination. Feeling hopeless about my progress, she finally threw in the white towel and had me expelled.
I wasn’t a fan of the piano until I completed my ATCL diploma. The piano was and is still a toy for me to explore techniques, harmony, voicing and etc. It’s like solving Calculus: challenging, additive, frustrating and occasionally very fulfilling. No, I am joking. Advance Mathematics still gives me nightmares.
Western classical orchestra music always fascinate me. So I jumped at the opportunity to join a social ensemble when I was younger. Since my mother wasn’t impress by the screeching noise violin beginners make, I opt for the viola, which is a malnutrition version of the cello – it’s smaller and sings at an octave higher. I often suspect that the viola was meant to be held between the knees too. But somewhere in history, on an April Fool Day, someone convinced an influential violist to lift his instrument up to his chin. And voilà: that was how it is played since then. Anyway, that was a bad decision. I bought a 15.5 inch viola and discovered that my hands are smaller still. They stopped growing since I was nine. Unfortunately, I could not swap it for a smaller size….. any tinier, it would sound like a possessed violin screaming to be release of its agony.
Being a private tutor is cool because:
- I will not suffer unemployment. Piano teachers work till they drop dead in their studios from old age. But then musicians seems to age very, very slowly. Except for those on drugs.
- I like to troubleshoot and invent solutions.
- Children are intriguing. They say the damndest things.
- I enjoy commuting, hopping into MRT at the very last seconds and chasing buses. It gives me the thrill.
- I like to meet my students’ families and pets. Sometimes, I feel guilty that I could recall their dogs’ and cats’ names better than their fathers.
- No peak-hour jams. I usually get to choose my seat on public transportation. This is good. Because I do not know how or why it happened, but I tend to end up carrying my viola case around to piano lessons.
- I choose my ‘bosses’.
I aim to build a strong foundation and passion for my students so that 1) they can progress up the grades till ATCL, 2) they can teach themselves to play contemporary pieces independently, 3) they can collaborate in an ensemble or jam setting.
I am not a strong believer of the yearly examinations. However, I strongly encourage all my students to participate in my concerts and performance classes regularly. And the more committed students to join some festivals and masterclasses. Performing is an essential for growth. It teaches commitment, professionalism, reliability, forgiveness. it also develops one’s ability to handle failure or imperfections, nerves and pride. For example, if a student commit the participate in a concert, s/he is expected to show up, even if the only part s/he has is the hit a triangle once in the entire concert. Even if the whole island is flood, s/he should already be at standby mode when the concert begin. Perfectionists gradually learn to forgive themselves and pick up from where they slip, should they fail to perform well. (normal people play below their best when they have audiences). It is best for students to perform when they were still young, before they have a chance to develop their definition of failure. My veterans walk off from the piano as if it was just an ordinary day after they under performed.
Sometimes, my most difficult students are those that excel academically. They experience success with little effort, they have very limited concept of linking hard work with musical ability. Basic 101 pianistic skills require a good brain, agility, listening and vision co-ordinations. Merely having a good brain does not cut it.
My most interesting students are those with learning disorder because I have to adjust my teaching method on the spot. ADHD kids give me heart attacks. The young ones seem to have certain rituals they need to perform before they could settle down. Sometimes it takes them an entire lesson to complete the ceremonies. The more mature ones do not speak much. I seem to attract them like a sacrificial goat.
The students that most teachers respect are the unbreakable spirits.
One of my previous piano teachers refer to them as cockroaches. Submerge them in water for 24 hours, they will come back to life once the water is drained (I am referring to the insects). They work many times harder to catch up with their peers (I mean the diligent students).
Talent and curse are different sides of the same coin. Without adequate investment in time and labor, the curse wins. The most ‘teachable’ kids are your average students: One solution can almost fix all their problems.
Finally, here is a small request. Kindly pay your fees on time. My insurance agents, CPF, charity organisations, etc are very punctual when it comes to GIRO deduction. Please discard the myth about the piano teacher’s earnings. Commuting comes with a high opportunity cost. I earn just enough to live.
My biography is littered with grammar and spelling errors. They enjoy playing hide-and-seek. This web is designed, maintain and written by Yours Sincerely, a dyslexic who has been revising this single page for more than three hours. It is 3am and she will call it a night. Thank you for your tolerance.