Friday, December 17, 2010

2011 Music Resolutions!

My 2011 Music Resolutions:
1. Return back to Piano Learning with a Teacher!
2. Able to work out a more sustainable practice routine!
3. To complete my Grade 4 Theory (Music Theory in Practice & Past Year papers)
4. To learn and master at least 12 new pieces (1 piece a month):-
a) 7 new pieces from "Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book 2" to complete the Book
b) 5 new pieces from "John W. Schaum Piano Course F - The Brown Book", that is up to Page 17.
5. To complete the "A Dozen A Day Book 2"
6. To complete the scales and arpeggios needed for Grade 4.

Voce Studio Recital 2010

The Voce Studio Recital was held at the Arts House on the 12 Dec 2010 (Sun) and I played 2 pieces:-

Temple Bells
By Dennis Alexander
from Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book1

by Cornelius Gurlitt
from Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book2

Ok, I don't think I played that well, but I think it is still ok. Haha. Some hiccups here and there. But I really enjoyed myself. Yes, my hubby and my little girl were there to see me perform. But because it was on a Sunday, and by the time I finish my pieces, it was already around 10pm. Well, my girl usually sleeps at around that time. So, yes, she was getting very cranky. So, immediately after I finish my pieces, I went home. So, I didn't manage to stay til the end of the recital. But I really appreciate the effort that Jennifer had put in to give everyone to have a chance to perform. And some of her students were simply FANTASTIC. I really enjoyed their playing!

Some photos for you to see:
The Board outside...

The lights...ok, my hubby was finding things to take...
My girl very excited and happy that the recital is starting soon...
One of the MCees...
Jennifer and one of the young pianist. Think she is the same person as the MCee. Haha, for some reasons, my hubby like to take her photo. There were so many other performers.
Mummy playing...
For a moment, I thought Jennifer teaches violin.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Taking a break...

As I have moved on to a new role in my career, which had been very busy for me, I would want to spend more time to pick up and stablise first, I've decided to take a break from my piano learning, for about 3 months. Hopefully when I managed to pick up on my work, then I will be able to resume my piano learning. So, yes, tentatively planning to restart in Feb 2011. But which means I will need to rearrange the slot with Nancy when I am prepared to restart. Sigh, need to give up my 10am Sat slot, which is like, just nice!

Meanwhile, I am busy preparing for my recital which will be coming in Dec 2010. Hopefully this short break will also allow me to catch up with the pieces which I haven't have the time to really learn them well, and also revise and practice what I have learnt so far. Ya, slow and steady is my approach on pursuing my hobby. At the same time, I also need to work out a personal time-table such that I will have enough time to practice. Well, as one move up the Grades, I believe naturally you will need to spend more time practising! But I still hope this to remain as my hobby and don't want to feel stress about it. I'm also hoping Jennifer will be able to free up one weekend slot for me next year (2011), which I am not very hopeful actually. Hope I can hear good news. Haha.

Change of Venue for the Recital 2010

Just putting it here for own reference:-

There will be a change of venue for Voce Studio Recital 2010 as the Young Musicians' Society (YMS) is undergoing partial closure under the instructions from the Building Construction Authority (BCA). Although the YMS Auditorium is unaffected, all toilets are closed at YMS and the building might subject to complete closure should BCA considers the building unsafe. For the safety of the performers and those involved in this recital, the recital venue is changed t0 the following:

The Art House - The Living Room
1 Old Parliament Lane
Singapore 179429

By Car: Enter via 1 Old Parliament Lane. Parking spaces available at the current Parliament House, The Adelphi and the road side along Empress Place

By Bus: North Bridge Road (Opposite Funan Centre or Outside MITA Building): 32, 51, 61, 63, 80, 103, 124, 145, 166, 174, 195, 197, 603, 851, 961 Collyer Quay (At, or Opposite Clifford Pier; Fullerton Square; Opposite Singapore Cricket Club or outside Victoria Concert Hall): 10, 70, 75, 100, 107,130, 131, 162, 167, 196, 605, 607, 608

By MRT: From Raffles Place Station, take exit H and walk across Cavenagh Bridge. From City Hall Station, take exit B (in front of capitol building), turn left, walk towards Funan Centre and turn left again upon reaching the present Parliament house.

From Clark Quay Station, take exit E, cross the road in front, then turn left, upon reaching the Singapore River, turn right and walk towards the Victoria Memorial Clock Tower.

Date: Sun 12 Dec 2010
Time: 8pm

Date: Wed 8 Dec 2010
Time: 9.30pm (30 mins)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Feel rushed...

As I am not preparing for any exams now, the teaching method which Nancy is using now is very different from what she used when I was preparing for my practical exams. Now, I feel very rushed. I need to learn 2 new pieces for each lesson. And frankly, I find it very taxing, even when I have lessons on alternate weeks. I was told, her students are usually given 2 new pieces every week. So, I am already learning at half the required pace.

Due to my family and my work, I only get to really practice on weekends. Practising on weekdays is almost impossible though I do try to make an effort, without sacrificing too much time to spend with my baby and sleep. Also, usually I need quite a lot of practice before I can play a piece smoothly through without any notes error and with the dynamics and articulation needed at the correct tempo. Ok, may not be perfect, but I know I have learnt the techniques needed to play the piece well. But now, I can only merely play through the piece through sight-reading, much slower than the required tempo, pauses here and there. And the dynamics and articulations are not as what I wanted. Before I am ready, the next lesson comes, I need to play to my teacher, she comments here not good enough, there not good enough, replay it during the lesson, then she will pass it. And I need to learn another 2 new pieces for the next lesson. And this continues.

I feel like I am playing some catching games, and ya, I know this method helps in my sight-reading, but I do feel that I did not get the chance to train my playing skills, and appreciate each piece that I am playing. She did comment that I cannot expect to have 1 full month to learn 1 piece, which would be the case if I need to repeat the same piece for another lesson. And she does not expect me to play the piece perfectly. Most of what is needed of the piece is done, then we will move on. But I do really find the pieces that I am playing now is relatively much harder than what I was exposed to previously. Am I the only one feeling this way? Maybe I should also reflect to see if I really did not practice as much as I should.

I am ok when she rushed through theory. I mean, maybe after studying for about 20 years, I can still catch up for theory when she goes very fast. But practical is like, I just need to spend more time to practice and there is no short-cut!

So, sigh, either I tell Nancy that I really need her to slow down, or I really need to find more time to practice without affecting my family time, my work time and my sleep time. Playing the piano is suppose to be a relaxation for me turn out to be so stressful now. Haha, maybe I should ask for a demotion to Grade 3? Haha.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mark Sheet (Grade 2 Piano)

Here is the comments that were written on the Mark Sheet for my Grade 2 Piano Exam.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Got a Distinction for my Practical!!!

Okok, I must say the examiner was very lenient, and she was not very particular on the errors which I made. So, I am very lucky to have her as my examiner! Really, in my opinion, I did not do as well for the exams as I think I would be able to do. But well, maybe the exminer don't expect too much for a Grade 2 student!

But of course, I am very very happy! Yeah! I got 133 marks. Ya, not fantastic, but good enough. DISTINCTION!!! Hohoho....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Grade 5 and beyond...

Just wanted to see what it is like for Grade 5 and beyond, so went to look at the complexity of the scores and the music theory books:-

Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book3
John W. Schaum Piano Course - G - The Amber Book (Grade 5)
ABRSM Grade 5, 6, 7 and 8 exam pieces

They look scary! I mean, when I look at the books which I am currently using, at least I feel, ok they are difficult but it is still possible. But when I looked at the Grade 5 and beyond pieces, I have the "jaw drop" feeling. They look so complicated, with so many "bean sprouts"!

Then I also went to looked at the Music Theory in Practice. Shocked to realised that the books are so thick compared to the books which I am currently using. And different author. No longer Eric Taylor. The Music Theory Books are not longer binded together using staples! Ok, just roughly look through the syllabus, there is so much on music composition for orchestra and for different instruments, must remember each instrument's range, which clef to use. There are some numbers (which I don't understand) written below the scores to denote something. And really need to know the intervals very well and need to know what are the characteristics of the pieces in which period. Really not easy!

Haha, looking at those, I start to find Grade 4 not as bad as I initially thought. Guess is always good to look at something much more difficult to be mentally prepared for the challenges...

Salute to all those Grade 5 and above! You are wonderful! =D

New Book for Grade 4

As I moved into Grade 4, I have also started on a new book chosen by Nancy, which is:-

John W. Schaum
Piano Course
F-The Brown Book
Leading to Mastery of the Instrument

So now, I am working on 4 books
1. A Dozen A Day Book 2
2. Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book 2
3. John W. Schaum Piano Course - F (The Brown Book)
4. Music Theory in Practice - Grade 3 *

* I have finished the book. I will be doing some past year exam papers before moving on to Grade 4 Music Theory in Practice.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Voce Studio Recital 2010

This year, my ex-piano teacher, Jennifer, has invited me to play 2 pieces for the Voce Studio Recital 2010. Yeah! I was not able to play last year coz it was near my delivery date. So, how can I miss it this year right? Haha!!! Ok, though I think I did not do well for my practical exams, I hope I can play better for this recital! And of course, I want to gain more "performance" experience such that I will not feel so nervous when I need to play for others. But the thought of performing always stresses me a lot! Sigh! Must learn to overcome!!! Relax!!!

The details:-
Venue: YMS Auditorium (
Performance: Sunday 12 December 2010
Time: 7.30pm
Rehearsal: Friday 10 December 2010
Time: 8.30pm

And the pieces which I will be performing are:-
Temple Bells
By Dennis Alexander
from Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book1

by Cornelius Gurlitt
from Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book2

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grade 2 Practical Exams

On the 30 Aug, I went for my Grade 2 Practical exams at City Square Mall, which is near Farrer Park MRT. This is the first time I am there, and was expecting a very old building. To my surprise, it is a very new building and the music school is very nice! Ya, I didn’t book the studio to try out the piano before the exams. Nancy, my current teacher, told me that it is not necessary. She said that she did not book the studio when she was a student either. But the difference was that, she learnt piano from a school and the exam took place in one of the rooms of the school.

Ok, back to the day of the exams. I was there early, coz I wasn’t sure where the place was, and just in case I can’t find my way, I deliberately left home early. When I was there, I still have about 45 mins before my exams starts. I met a few students and parents there too. One of the parents I met is actually someone whom I seated beside during the Victoria Concert which I attended (The Chopin). She had a twin girls and one boy. All 3 are learning piano from my previous teacher, Jennifer. Her 2 daughters were taking the Grade 1 exams, one after another. I also met another teenage girl who is going to take her Grade 8 exams, after the 2 girls. Then, it will be my turn. I am glad that the arrangement is such that different grades take exams together, so I do not feel so out of the place.

For the twins, I looked at their exam pieces, and saw a lot of drawings. The mother told me that she liked Jennifer a lot, because she will help the student visualize the story line and use a story line to help them play the piece, which is very useful, which is when I feel I had missed out because I cannot learn under her because I cannot make it on weekdays.

Then, I started chatting with the girl which is taking her Grade 8 exams. This is her first time taking the Grade 8 exams. She is currently in LaSalle, learning Music Composing, which is her strength. She looks very confident. And when I looked at her scores, it was also filled with writings and drawings. Then I start to wonder why is it that Nancy insist that I erase all the markings from the score. Sigh.
Ok, the 2 girls went for their exams, came out, smiling, think they did well, and they left. Then the teenage girl went in for her exams. So, I am alone waiting outside for my turn.

When it was my turn, I felt very nervous. I think I was overly nervous. I went in, greeted the examiner, and sat at the piano. I told her that I would like to start from scales first, so this was how my exams progressed:-

Scales, Arpeggios and Broken Chords

I forgot to tell the examiner that I will be playing harmonic minors. When she asked for G minor both hands, I just played. Also, when she asked for A major, I started on the wrong key, but very quickly, I replayed it correctly. Arpeggios and Broken Chords went fine. So, I have moved on to the pieces.


I started with the Allegro Grazioso. It was ok when I started. But oh no, I played the last note wrongly, and it was very very obvious. Anyway, I just continued and pretend nothing happened. Then I played the Mazuka, same thing, I played the last note wrongly. But I told myself, is ok, just continue. Then came Mozzie. Sigh, I played halfway, then my mind just went blank. Maybe I was thinking too much on my previous errors. So, I requested to replay it again. Luckily, the second attempt was much better.


Sight-reading as usual, I pause at certain places while reading the score and figuring what to press. And I was pleasantly surprise that I can actually practice and play the piece aloud before I need to play it officially. I was told by Nancy that I could only read the score silently and cannot play it aloud. So, sigh, I think I didn’t make good use of the chance I have, coz I am not very “trained”.


Of all, Aural was the best, from my perspective, but except the part when I need to do echo singing, think I sang one of the pitch wrongly, but not very obvious bah.

So, on the whole, I don’t think I did well. Anyway, pass or fail, I have moved on to Grade 4 in Sep. This is definitely a good experience for me. Now I know what to expect when I take my next exams and practice harder! I am also waiting for Jennifer to see if she will have any weekend slots available next year such that I can switch back to her.

At the end of my exams, I chatted with a parent of another student who is taking the exams after me. Her son is also learning from Jennifer. However as Jennifer says she wishes to further study in Music and hence not able to make time for her son going forward. Hence, she decided to change another teacher instead of changing the time for the piano lessons. So, I gave her the contacts of Nancy. Though I told her honestly speaking, I really do think Jennifer is a much better teacher. But Nancy allows me to skip Grades which is not the case for Jennifer.

Anyway, at the end of the day, whether the teacher is for you or not, depends on what you expect and want.

I am glad that the exam is over. Although I know I didn’t do well, but am not feeling very sad, coz it is still a valuable experience for me. I am also very impressed by the fact that the young children are going through these at such a tender age. I hope parents are not forcing their children into the exams but rather let them enjoy the process. Success or failure is not only measured by the results exams, but by the passion they have =)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Baby Girl Playing with Pedals...

Just uploading for fun. Baby and Mommy can play piano together. Mommy plays the keys. Baby play the pedals. She saw me stepping on the pedals, and wants to be press them too!

Some questions I have...

I have some questions here, would be great if anyone can help me:-

1. My piano teacher told me to erase all the markings I have made in my Exam Pieces book. She says these markings are not allowed during the exams and I should be able to play the piece without the help of these markings. Is it true? Coz I remembered my previous teacher says markings and even drawings are ok. So, who is right? Anyway, I guess I will need to erase them coz now she is my teacher. =(

2. Grade 5 Practical is not complusory right? I only need to pass the Grade 5 Theory if I were to proceed to Grade 6 and beyond right? So, is it advisable that I take Grade 4 Practical exams, and skip to Grade 6 practical exams? And I will skip Grade 3 and 4 Theory, but go ahead and take Grade 5 Theory. Haha, I am trying not to take too many exams, coz preparing for exams is so boring and so exam oriented, and I need to keep playing the same piece over and over again, which makes the lesson not very interesting. I would rather spend more time learning and improving my overall musical ability. But ok, I want to take exams to certify that I have reached a certain level. I feel that I improve more when I don't prepare for exams. Haha...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Magic Fiddler Studio Booking

For those who are taking their practical exams at:-
Peace Room, Magic Fiddler 180 Kitchener Road #09-11 City Square Mall S208539.
You may call to book the studio, details are online, they even have a Web Calendar:-

Positive correlation between Grades and Teacher

With my Grade 2 practical exams coming on 30 Aug, and because it is time to register for the 30 Oct 2010 theory papers, I had a discussion with my piano teacher on how we will proceed after I am done with my Grade 2 practical exams. She feels that if I were to move and prepare for Grade 3 exams (both practical and theory) as the next milestone, it would be a waste of time, since the pieces which I am playing now (from the Keys to Stylistic Mastery) is already Grade 3 to 4 level, and that she feels I should be able to cope with Grade 4 requirements (but need to practice lah). So, it would make more sense to move direct to Grade 4. So, starting 1 Sep, I will be officially moving to Grade 4 and starting the following books:-

1. Grade 4 Scales, Arpeggios and Broken Chords (there will be a lot more than what I have now)
2. Grade 4 Theory (after finishing the Grade 3 book, which is finishing and some Grade 3 past year exam papers)
3. Grade 4 Aural (doing it directly, no need to go through Grade 3, she says should be ok)
4. Grade 4 Sight-reading (so scary!!!)
5. Grade 4 exams pieces

and continue with:-
1. A dozen a Day Book 2
2. Keys to Stylistic Mastery 2

Not counting the 3 months which I rested when I gave birth and adjusting to the new member in the family. This is the start of the 24th month into my piano studies, which will also be the last month in Grade 2 whether I pass the practical exams or not.
So, summary of time spent on each grade (for those who are interested):-
Beginner ------ 6 months (no exams)
Grade 1 ------- 8 months (no exams)
Grade 2 ------ 10 months (theory & practical exams, 3 mths of weekly lessons & 7 mths of alternate week lessons)
Grade 3 ------ skip
Grade 4 ------ starting from 1 Sep 2010 (alternate week lessons)

But I am just thinking, most of the times, how fast you move across the Grades depends on your teacher right? If the teacher is someone who is not very demanding in terms of excellent performance and think you are ok ok, would tend to move a student faster through the grades. And for one who is more by the book, step by step approach and a perfectionist would tend to move you slower through the grade? Coz, I am just thinking, skipping Grade 3 is definitely a no-no to my previous teacher. I mean, I don't think I will be allowed to skip Grade 3 totally if I were still with Jennifer. But my current teacher thinks that she is comfortable moving me to Grade 4.

Anyway, I am glad that I will be promoted to Grade 4 next month. What an accomplishment! Yeah! But which means the lesson fees will go up. Aiyo!

Hedy King Robinson prizes

Thanks to Karmeleon "" for the info:-

Hedy King Robinson prizes
These prizes reward high achievement in Theory of Music exams. They are awarded to candidates worldwide who score 90 marks or above at Grades 6 to 8, and, additionally, to those in the USA who achieve full marks (100) at Grades 1 to 5. We offer our congratulations to the following candidates who were awarded prizes for exams taken in 2009.

For Grades 1 to 5, only those in USA who achieve 100 will be awarded. So sad. =( So unfair!!! Haha..

Monday, July 26, 2010

One more month to exams

Ok, with one more month to my practical exams, starting to feel the stress. Haha. How can I make my this one month as fruitful as possible? Ok, listing down all the weekends/public holidays I have left (5 weekends):-
31 July - 1 Aug ---- Week 1
7 Aug - 9 Aug ------ Week 2
14 Aug - 15 Aug -- Week 3
21 Aug - 22 Aug -- Week 4
28 Aug - 30 Aug -- Week 5

Week 1:
Sat (31 July): Lessons (Aural), out whole day.
Sun (1 Aug): Scales, Sight-reading, 3 exam pieces, Theory homework.

Week 2:
Sat (7 Aug): No lessons, out whole day.
Sun (8 Aug): Scales, Sight-reading, 3 exams pieces, A dozen A day, Keys to Stylistic Mastery.
Mon (9 Aug): Scales, Sight-reading, 3 exams pieces, A dozen A day, Keys to Stylistic Mastery.

Week 3:
Sat (14 Aug): Lessons (Aural), Theory homework, Scales, Sight-reading, 3 exams pieces
Sun (15 Aug): Scales, Sight-reading, 3 exams pieces, A dozen A day, Keys to Stylistic Mastery.

Week 4:
Sat (21 Aug): No lessons, Scales, Sight-reading, 3 exams pieces, A dozen A day, Keys to Stylistic Mastery.
Sun (22 Aug): Scales, Sight-reading, 3 exams pieces, A dozen A day, Keys to Stylistic Mastery.

Week 5:
Sat (28 Aug): Lessons (Aural), Scales, Sight-reading, 3 exams pieces
Sun (29 Aug): Scales, Sight-reading, 3 exams pieces, revise all terminology!
Mon (30 Aug): Exams!!!! Good Luck!!!!

Scales and Arpeggios/Broken Chords: --- 21
Pieces 1 ---------------------------------------------- 30
Pieces 2 ---------------------------------------------- 30
Pieces 3 ---------------------------------------------- 30
Sight-Reading --------------------------------------- 21
Aural --------------------------------------------------- 18
Total ------------------------------------------------- 150 (100 to pass, 120 for merit, 130 for distinction)

Important notes for students taking the exams:
1. Do arrive 15-20 mins earlier than your scheduled time. This will ensure that there are no last minute panics.
2. Sometimes examiners might finish examining the previous student earlier so you might have to go in slightly earlier than your scheduled time.
3. Do check the exam venue correctly. Different buildings and streets might have similar names.
4. Remember to bring your exam pieces book for the practical exam

5. Bring Candidate slip, NRIC & jacket.

Candidate Slip (Grade 2 Practical)

Exam Date: 30 Aug 2010 (Mon)
Time: 1648
Venue: Peace Room, Magic Fiddler 180 Kitchener Road #09-11 City Square Mall S208539
(Farrer Park MRT)

1. To book the studio and practise there a few days before the exams.
2. Need candidate slip in order to do the booking.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reviews of Piano Teacher

My previous teacher (Jennifer) passed me my Grade 2 Theory results slip and my Certificate on Friday when I meet her at the VCH just before the concert started. I opened it and did not find any cheque.

I mentioned in my previous post that I met a Piano Teacher (Jacqueline Cho) and almost had to do my lessons with her ( She told me that if I get full marks for my theory papers, I will get a cheque of the same amount as the exams fee back as a form of "scholarship", such that effectively the exams is free. So now, I have gotten full marks but no cheque found. So, she must be imagining things and talking nonsense. My impression of her, is very bad. Effectively talking and telling students and parents stuff that she is not aware of, pretending to be an expert just because we layman do not know. I WAS NOT TAUGHT BY HER. SO, MY FULL MARKS IN THEORY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HER! Really, I still prefer Jennifer as my piano teacher. But too bad, Jennifer is too busy. (

My current teacher (Nancy) is ok. Not very organised. Always forgeting what are the assignments that she had given me. But at least able to point out areas to improve further after I played the same piece a few times (so a bit waste of the lessons time), such that she will not be able to go through all the sections. Ideally my lesson should have the following components every week (or at least do it on alternate lessons):-

1. Theory:
Nancy keeps forgetting the assignment she assigned, and always forgetting to mark, even after I left the book with her during the week for her to mark. And does not really teach, but more of asking me to read and try myself. Last time Jennifer used to sit down and slowly go through the theory and explain and always noting down my areas of weaknesses. Thumbs up for Jennifer on this.

2. Scales/Arpeggios:
We will only go through IF Nancy remembers. And she is very particular on which octave I start my scales from. I was like, does it matters? Afterall, she admits that the examiner are not particular. And Nancy even read the temp marking wrongly, and keep asking me to play the scales faster! I was like, last time when I played that same speed, Jennifer would ask me to slow down and focus on my techniques. Jennifer used to make sure she goes through this every alternate week very systematically. Thumbs up on Jennifer on this.

3. Sight-reading:
Nancy focus quite a lot on this. And always 3 to 5 exercises at one go. She is very encouraging but also keep emphasizing on the importance of sight-reading. As for Jennifer, she progresses on the sight-reading very slowly. I was still halfway through the Grade 1 book when I was sitting for my Grade 2 theory exams, and less than 6 months to my Grade 2 practical exams. So, thumbs up for Nancy on this.

4. Aural practice:
Nancy focus a lot of this, which is good. I get to practice this every lessons. Jennifer, on the other hand, seldom touched on Aural, but it could also be because she feels that my aural is ok. Thumbs up for Nancy on this,

5. 3 Exams pieces:
I have never sit my practical exams with Jennifer, so I have no chance to do a comparison. But Jennifer did run through the pieces with me when I first got the exam pieces. As for Nancy, she focus quite a lot on these 3 pieces, but slow in catching my areas to improve. Always requiring me to play the same piece again and again during the same lesson, so that she can identify what areas to improve, which waste quite a lot of precious time during the lesson. But Nancy is patient and do not impose stress, and does not hold high expectations from her students, which is both good and bad. But for this, I prefer a teacher who hold higher expectations, coz I can improve more in this case. Ok, maybe I should say, both are on par.

6. A dozen a day:
Nancy almost did not even touch on this. Ok, to be fair, this book was introduced by Jennifer with the intention of improving my techniques and I used to practice it very faithfully, but now, is like rarely part of my practice. I included it during my day to day practice just because I remember how Jennifer emphasize on this. But the focus on Nancy is not on this, and until now, I feel I am not playing the practices correctly. Thumbs up for Jennifer on this.

7. Pieces from Keys to Stylistic Mastery
Nancy almost always forget about the assignments which she assigned, and she do not go through the history behind the pieces which I was about to play. Her expectations is very low on this. So long as I can play out the tune, she will pass it. Jennifer on the other hand, used to be very particular on my techniques, on the dynamics and on my expressions. She also explains the pieces, played sample of it, to help me get a better understanding of the pieces, the period and helping me to appreciate the pieces better. Jennifer's expectation on this, is high. I had to spend a lot of time in order to pass her assignments. Thumbs up for Jennifer on this.

But good to try a different teacher, so that I can better appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of each teacher. But really, at the end of the day, it all depends on how much I practice. So, focus and practice more! Exams are coming!!


Went for the concert on Friday 25 June 2010 at the Victoria Concert Hall. It was the piano performance by Benjamin Grosvenor. And the pieces which he played were:-

Concert Study No. 6 -Pastoral
Concert Study No. 7 - Intermezzo
Concert Study No. 3 - Toccatina

Piano Sonata in B minor, S.178

Nocturne in F-sharp major, Op. 15 No. 2
Scherzo No. 3, Op. 39
Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. post.

Gaspard de la Nuit

Though Chopin is suppose to be the "main lead" in this performance, but personally, I prefer the Piano Sonata in B minor, S.178 by Liszt and Gaspard de la Nuit by Ravel. Haha. I like the way his hands move and hit the keys. So nimble, so fast and so accurate! And he changes the mood very nicely. From something jumpy to something soft and smooth and back again. I enjoyed myself!

Also, I only realised that it has been 12 years since I last step into the VCH! And the last time when I was there was when I was performing during my JC days when I was in choir. And is not the same as what I remembered. Nice to be back again after so many years. =)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Beginner/Intermediate/Advance = Grade?

Saw this classification somewhere, which is a rough gauge of the piano repertoire for different levels. Just putting here for my future reference, and for the ease of choosing books...
2.Late Beginner
3.Early Intermediate
5.Late Intermediate
6.Early Advance

Monday, May 17, 2010

Perfect Score of 100!

My previous teacher messaged me last night! And she had received my ABRSM Grade 2 Music Theory exams results. Hurray! I scored a perfect score of 100! Full marks! And yes, is a Distinction! Haha, I seldom score full marks during my mock exams. Sure to have mistakes here and there, so actually I am very surprise to that I can actually get perfect score. I was like, are you sure no mistakes?

Ok, I am an adult, so what is the BIG deal? But I am still very happy with my results! Haha, and I think this will be the only time I can ever score full marks for my music exams, so let me boast a bit! As I move on to higher grades, it will get more and more difficult, so I would be happy to pass at my first attempt subsequently...

Continue to enjoy my music learning journey...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Progress Report...

I will be taking my Grade 2 Practical exams this coming September. So, another 3 months plus. Have learnt my 3 exam pieces and still touching up on the little details of the pieces. And need to practice enough such that even with the exam stress, I can still perform reasonably well. Sight-reading is still an area that I need to work on. Scales are ok, need to practice more. Aural, tried a few exercises, so far ok, but my teacher comment that I am too slow in realising if the piece played is 2 beats or 3 beats, though I ultimately got it right. So, on the whole, I feel that I should be ok by the time my exams is here. But definitely need to find more time to practice!!!

I have move on to "A Dozen A Day Book 2", continuing my "Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book 2" and have started on my Grade 3 Theory. Grade 3 Theory is still ok at the moment, but I can feel that it is getting more and more complicated. Especially with more sharps and flats. Really wonder how the little kids can manage to understand these at such a tender age. Is that the reason why usually kids can advance very well in terms of practical, but lags behind when it comes to theory? But for adults, it becomes the other way round?

Glad that I am still making progress even with my baby and work. But definitely is at a much slower pace than before.

Suddenly have the thought that I may want to become a piano teacher one day as my retirement job. Something that I enjoy and yet not too stressful, as I can choose to teach how many students (Haha, provided I have students in the first place...). And at the same time, earn a little money to cover my old age expenses.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My baby girl plays on my Hailun

Took a few pictures while my baby girl played on my Hailun...enjoy! =)
Reading the scores....

Start her "performance"...

Striking the keys with strength...

And even crossing over her hands....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

17th Singapore International Piano Festival

The 17th Singapore International Piano Festival is coming performed by professional concert pianists. I will be there!

Venue: Victoria Concert Hall (VCH)
Time: 8.15pm
Date: Friday 25 June 2010

My previous teacher has selected Benjamin Grosvenor's performance as she thinks the programme is interesting and it's on a Friday. Below is the link to the piano festival website. You can find out more about the pianists and their respective programme (what they are going to perform for that night). Students are given a discount of 30% off (those with concession passes) and adults will enjoy 10% off (she am still trying to work this out) and she is looking at Category 3. She has the privilege to order the tickets earlier than public ticket sales so we will be able to get better seats at VCH. The sales of tickets to public starts on 19 April 2010!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

First Lesson with New Piano Teacher

Had my first piano lesson with the new teacher on the 3 April. She was ok with the pieces which my previous teacher chose for me for exams after I played the 3 pieces for her. I have learnt the notes, but a lot needs to be done to add in the dynamics and the feel. However, as she does not want me to overcook the pieces, so she will be continuing the pieces which I have in the "Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book 2" and also will proceed with the Grade 3 Music Theory In Practice. I might want to skip Grade 3 exams and move on to Grade 4.

Generally, I find her not bad. Her baby will be coming to Singapore to stay with her starting from the middle of this month. Will need to see if she will be able to cope with the baby and teaching by then. I guess there will be a lot of adjustments that will be needed going forward. However, I feel comfortable with her and hope she will be able to manage it well.

Oh...I need to find more time to practice the piano! I hardly have time now in the weekdays! Need to find time!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

3 exams pieces selected...

The 3 pieces which I will be playing for my Grade 2 Practical exams (chosen by my previous teacher) are:-

A2: Allegro grazioso - Biehl
B1: Mazurka from Coppelia - Delibes
C2: Mozzie from Easy Little Peppers - Elissa Milne

Will see if my new piano teacher is ok with the selection...and when confirm and when I have practiced them enough to be presentable, will upload the video =)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Found a New Piano Teacher!!!!

Hurray! I finally found a new piano teacher!!! She also just gave birth to a baby. But hers is a baby boy! She gave birth on the 21 Dec 2009. Well, that will make it easier for her to understand the commitment that I have.

Great news is that she is willing to let me have lessons alternate week, at $30 per lesson for Grade 2! (so much more reasonable!) Her piano is ok, nothing to complain about. The house is clean and tidy. And I can have lessons at 10am on Saturday mornings! And I will have lessons in one of her rooms! With aircon! Wow! So good!! =) She also played some short pieces for me. Generally ok. Will start with her in April and she will see me through my Grade 2 practical exams and onwards.

But coz is quite a distance from my house, so I need to get a bicycle to ride there. Anyway, I look forward to starting my class with her, a very down-to-earth person. I like her, not pushy. My first feeling is good =)

I AM SO HAPPY!!!!!!! =D

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Piano Teachers Wanted!

Piano Teacher Wanted! Please quote me. My personal email is

1. Qualified Piano Teacher.
2. Able to prepare me for ABRSM exams practical and theory. I am in Grade 2 now.
3. Able to have lessons on Saturday/Sunday.
(alternate week - 2 lessons per month). Preferably Saturday mornings.
Lessons to be conducted at the Teacher's Home.
5. Stay in Sengkang, Punggol, Hougang or Buangkok area.
6. Have a well maintained acoustic piano, frequently tuned.
7. Willing to continue the books which I am currently using. I am ok if I need to change my books after I finish the ones which I have now.
8. Free interview session is allowed.


Friday, March 19, 2010

New Piano Teacher...

I used to have my piano lessons every Wednesday evening after work. However after my little princess arrived to this world and me going back to work after my maternity leave, I no longer will be to make it for weekdays classes. Sadly, my current piano teacher will not be able to take me on Saturdays as her Saturday is fully packed with students who are unable to swop with me and she is not teaching on Sundays. However, I want to continue my piano learning journey, hence I have change my piano teacher.

I will start with my new piano teacher in April. She is Jacqueline Cho. Her blog is here:

I had a close to 2 hours interview session with her. To get to know her better, and to let her know me better. When I played a few pieces for her from the "Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book 2", she didn't have any much comments on my playing, just said that I played well. Also, she mentioned that the Book 2 which I am using is actually for Grade 3 to 5 range. And says that I should not have any problems preparing for my Grade 2 exams which will be coming in July - Sept. Her piano lessons fees are more expensive than my current teacher's one. I paid $140 for 4 lessons with my current teacher, and will need to pay $160 for the new teacher. Also, my current teacher allows me to have lessons on alternate week, but this new teacher does not allow. And even if she is ok, I will still need to pay $140 for the 2 lessons a month! So expensive =(

Not only that, the piano which the new piano teacher is so lousy =( When I played on it, the keys were not of the same touch. And when I highlighted to her that the piano is not correct, she just said that oh ya, it has yet been tuned. It is not only not tuned, it is also very badly maintained! Sigh, my current teacher's piano is so nice to play on.

And her house is so messy! So many pets, hamsters and dog! Ah!!! Ok, I am not someone who like pets actually, but I find the whole place very messy, dirty, smelly, noisy and dark! Actually I am very reluctant to change my piano teacher. But if I don't change, I will not have the chance to continue my piano learning journey. Well, between the two, I just have to accept the not so good teacher lor. =(

Hope my first lesson will help me change my negative impression lor.

SPH Gift of Music 2010

Just put them in my blog for my easy reference. The admission is free. Visit for more information.

SSO @ Toa Payoh Central
20 March, 6pm, Open space in front of Toa Payoh Library

SCO Community Concert
3 Apr, 6.15pm, Bedok Reservoir Floating Deck

SCO Community Concert
4 Apr, 6.30pm, Bishan CC

SCO Community Concert
10 Apr, 7.45pm, Nee Soon East Sports Park (opp blk 243, Yishun Ave 9)

SCO Community Concert
24 Apr, 6.30pm, Japanese Gardens

Jack & Rai’s Little Rockers
7 - 9 May, Esplanade Outdoor Theatre

SSO Rush Hour Concert @ VCH
21 May, 1pm, Victoria Concert Hall

Opera in the Park by the Singapore Lyric Opera
10 June, 6pm, Singapore Botanic Gardens

SSO in the Park
15 August, 6pm, Singapore Botanic Gardens

Hip Hop Festival
13 – 15 August, Esplanade Outdoor Theatre

The Philharmonic Winds - Blast from the Past
5 Sept, VivoCity Amphitheatre

Celebrate December with Gift of Music
17 - 19 December, Esplanade Outdoor Theatre

Christmas with The Philharmonic Winds
26 Dec, Esplanade Concert Hall

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Theory Exams...

Went for my ABRSM Grade 2 Theory Exams today at SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business. I left home at 8am and reached there at about 9am, 1 hour before the start of the exams. I am one of the first few students to reach, so I took this opportunity to tour round the school.

They have seminar rooms, which looks like lecture theatre to me, but a much smaller version compare to the ones which I have been to. They also have classrooms, where the tables and chairs are arranged in groups, instead of the usual straight rows. And what surprises me is that they have many study group rooms. I find the place very conducive. Also, other the classrooms and seminar rooms, there are tables, chairs, power socket and even LAN lines, with aircon. Nice to have the chance to visit the school. Even had chance to chat with some of the students. They are indeed very vocal. Best wishes for the SMU students =)

Ok, back to my Theory Exams. There are also some adult students, but I think they are doing higher grade theory exams. And as expected, there are a lot of children taking the exams. They look so adorable! Hope they enjoy the exam and the process and not doing it because their parents say so.

Frankly, I feel so happy while doing the paper. No stress at all. I guess this is the difference between taking up something as a hobby and as a must-do. Enjoyed the whole process. Haha, and I look so BIG size compared to those little kids. And ya, I completed the papers very quickly. Left the exam venue after 40 mins. Haha, checked through 3 times, think there is nothing else I can do there =)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

ABRSM Singapore Website

Grade 2 Exams (registered)

My teacher just registered me for the 2010 ABRSM Grade 2 Practical Exams. My practical exams will be coming soon between July to September! So starting from March onwards, I will be busy working towards my practical exams!

At the moment, I am busy preparing for my ABRSM Grade 2 Theory Exams, which is coming soon on the 13 Mar 2010. Starting at 10am. I will be taking my exams at SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business Level 3. Any other adult students will be there too?

Hohoho! Very excited. First time taking music exams. Haha, hope I will have fun preparing for them and doing the exams! Hope I don't 'malu' myself during the exams! Jia You!

Monday, February 8, 2010

I am playing Grade 4 exam pieces?

I am currently using the "Keys to Stylistic Mastery Book 2", and as I was learning and playing one of the pieces for my teacher, she found it almost exactly the same to one of the Grade 4 exams pieces.

I was playing the Baroque piece: "Prelude" by George Frideric Handel

which is almost exactly the same as:

The Grade 4 exam piece: George Frideric Handel: Allegro in F, HWV 488

But mine is in G major, while I think the Grade 4 exam piece is the original piece, which is in F major. And mine has more performance directions, I think they were all editorial. But of course, my playing is not yet of performance standard, but good enough to pass the assignment by my teacher's standard. I was like, no wonder I find the pieces in the book so challenging. I used to be able to clear each assignment every week when I was using Book 1. But now, I am stuck at each piece for weeks! Ok, hope as time passes, I can clear the assignment in this book with a breeze =)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Music Bookshop

The shop in Bras Basah Complex was renovated and had a new shop name:-

Old Address:-
Swee Lee Company
Blk 231 Bain Street #03-27/29
Bras Basah Complex
Tel: 63367886

New Address:-
Tempest Music
Blk 231 Bain Street #03-27
Bras Basah Complex

Tel: 63366518

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bought a Digital Piano

Yesterday, my hubby bought me a digital piano Korg SP-250.

After a few trial and error, we notice that our dear baby is very sensitive to the Hailun piano sound. Whenever I attempt to practice on it when she is asleep, she will be awaken by the piano sound and will cry very loudly. But she can sleep with the TV on or the radio on. Maybe TV or radio are white noise to her, but not piano.

But my supportive hubby thinks I should continue my hobby, and hence decided to get me a digital piano as an interim solution. A digital piano can allow me to choose to use the headset or adjust the volume of the digital piano, hence the intent is that we will slowly increase the volume until the baby can accept the loudness of a piano, and then I can play on my Hailun even when she is asleep. The digital piano is never good enough a substitute for my Hailun piano (the feel, the sound, the way the notes resonates is so different), and so I can only hope that my baby will be able to accept the Hailun piano soon.

I can install the silent mechanism into my current Hailun piano, but I have decided not to do it, as I wanted a portable solution, and one that can allow me to adjust the volume. When my baby can accept the Hailun, I plan to move this digital piano to my in-laws place (my in-laws will be helping me take care of my baby when both my hubby and myself are at work) so that both sides have a piano, which my girl can play on and appreciate when she is older.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Visitors during my maternity leave...

As I have mentioned before, I have moved my Hailun piano in the living room, in order to free up the room for my newborn. And I have lots of visitors during this period since my baby girl arrived. Visitors who come to give us their best wishes and obviously, they all noticed the Hailun piano sitting proudly in my living room.

As the visitors are all my friends, colleagues' kids, ex-colleagues' kids, relatives, nieces, nephews, little cousins and of coz the kids love to play the instrument. And there are kids trying to show off their skills on the piano, with the encouragement from their parents, and some shy ones, who dare not touch it at all. Then they start comparing who is in Grade what. You know, kids are just kids.

But I do think it is a nice chance for them to try on a Hailun piano. They seems rather impressed by it, though they have not heard of this brand before. Most of them actually own pre-owned Yamaha pianos. Some had brand new Yamaha pianos. And some parents are thinking what to get for their kids as they want them to learn piano when their kids are older. And getting a China made piano always seems out of the norm. And as usual, parents asking me about the piano, the price and so on.

I do think that it is important that pianos are maintained in the best possible condition all the time, as I would think visitors do judge the quality of the instrument in this kind of informal visit, with no intention of promoting a piano, and might form an impression, which would affect their decision making in future. And from a pyscological perspective, people tends to believe that what a person (who have gone through much research) have chosen, will be the correct choice, coz not everyone has the luxury of time to go test one piano after one piano in various shops, especially when they do not even know what is considered a good or bad piano.

Back to Piano Learning?

After 2 months break from piano learning to deliver my baby girl, getting to know her better and getting used to life with her, I wish I can continue my hobby. However, currently I have some medical condition which might require a few operations to get well again. I have went for the first operation (minor) last Wednesday, and will go for my check up tomorrow to see how is my condition and decide if I need more minor operations. Hope that I can get well soon as it is affecting my life and my family's life, especially because of my condition, I cannot carry my baby and my hubby have been the one helping the baby to bath and hugging her. I miss hugging her and bathing her. And it has been very tiring for my hubby as this has already been for 2 weeks or so, and it might potentially be the case for a few more weeks. Ok, don't worry, the medical condition is not life threatening.

Anyway, my piano teacher had registered me for the ABRSM Grade 2 Theory Exams on the 13 March 2010. It costs S$83. I have completed the syllabus before I went on maternity leave, but have yet have the time to revise. I am suppose to resume back to my piano learning in Jan 2010, which is this month, but because of my medical condition, I decided to postpone it till I have fully recovered. Trying not to introduce too many things into my current life to create unnecessary stress. So, hopefully, I can resume back to piano learning latest by Feb 2010.

Motherhood seems more challenging than I thought. The nurses whom I have been in contact with, my confinement lady, my sisters and even my sister's maid all said that my baby girl is much harder to take care compared to most babies. Coz she cries a lot, need to feed a lot (every one to two hours), have problems going to sleep and gets very agitated when she can't go into sleep. And the greatest invention for her is the "sarong". But she needs to be constantly shaked for over like 1 hour plus in order to fall asleep. Else, she needs someone to pat her to sleep. Not a baby who can put herself to bed. So basically, my hands are not free to do what I like, without her crying for attention and security.

So, actually, I feel that to resume back to piano learning would be a challenging task. I could not even have the time to practise my piano without another person (usually my hubby) to comfort the baby. And as I am writing this entry, I have to constantly shake my baby who is sleeping in the "sarong". And it is impossible to do the same when I am practising the piano.

And when I am back to work, say if I am able to move to the role that I am hoping for, then I would not be able to work from home that often as compared to when I was pregnant. Ok, actually I do prefer going to office rather than working alone at home, and work with a team where everyone is in the same Singapore office, so that there is better teamwork and stronger relationship. But that would also mean that I have less time to spend practising the piano.

So, I actually do doubt that I will have the time to continue my hobby with my teacher, given that now, I need to spend more time on my little girl and I will also be focusing more on my career. And I still want one more baby. Maybe I might have to postpone piano learning until my kids are much older and they have their own friends and activities. As of now, my focus will be more on my family and my career.

Nonetheless, my Year 2010 Piano Resolution is to pass the ABRSM Grade 2 Theory exams with Distinction. And to be able to take the ABRSM Grade 2 Piano Practical exams with a pass is a bonus!

Happy New Year to all!