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. =)