- Occupation: Piano Tutor
- Year of Birth: 1978
- Job Scope: Teaching, attending courses, practicing instruments, planning students’ recitals and examinations, accompanying, transcription, rescoring, analysing, babysitting.
- Current Hobby: Weightlifting, surfing (internet)
- 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. I presume that is why I bounce from one instrument to another frequently.
Western classical orchestra music always fascinate me. So I jumped at the opportunity to join the Singapore Polytechnic String Ensemble and Indooroopilly Chamber Orchestra 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.
- I like to troubleshoot and invent solutions.
- Children are intriguing. They say the damndest things.
- I like to meet my students’ families and pets. Sometimes, I feel guilty because I could recall their pets’ names better than their human family members.
- No peak-hour jams.
- I choose my ‘bosses’. Chemistry is important. Some find me strict, some find me lenient.
I aim to build a strong foundation, passion and confidence for my students to achieve either of these:
- Progress decently up the grades till ATCL,
- Learn to play contemporary pieces independently,
- Collaborate in an ensemble or jam setting.
I am not a strong believer of the yearly examinations. However, I do push my students to take an exam once in a few years for experience. It is mandatory for my students to participate in performance classes. The more serious students will 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 was flooded, 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 get nervous when they have audiences). My veterans walk off from the piano as if it was just an ordinary day after they under performed. (Sometimes, I wonder if their skins were getting too thick for their own good.)
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).
I do not prepare students for DSA. Just a note to parents, if you intent to push for this route, you need to commit yourself to groom your child from primary 1. Not as an after-thought in primary 6. It takes time and money. Those specialist teachers usually charge a premium. You need to pay for extra lessons, drive them to masterclasses, sit in with them, jot down their homework, revise their homework, practise daily together with them. Although most schools require a minimum of grade 5 to audit. It is not uncommon for candidates to complete their grade 8 and bag a few wins in competitions/festivals by the time they audit.
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. So please discard the myth about the piano teacher’s earnings. I need use part of my earnings to upgrading my skills by attending courses. Commuting also come with a high opportunity cost. I earn just enough to survive.
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.