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 =)