Articles at Singapore Piano Lessons

Read more about learning the piano and music appreciation in the articles that we have put together.

How to Choose a Good Piano Teacher

What parents and students should look for when choosing a private piano teacher.

You already understand that there is a direct effect with learning piano and the development of your child’s intellectual capability. You are now at the stage of embarking on learning the piano, or wanting your child to start having piano lessons. How do you go about choosing a good piano teacher?

Good piano teachers should be:

1) Patient and Encouraging
Especially when working with children, patience and strong encouragement are critical qualities needed in a teacher. Children typically have short attention spans and believe that everything is quickly achievable. Frustration quickly seeps in when they realize that keeping a tune or getting the right note is not so easy after all. These are the times when the teacher must be able to make the piano lesson fun and engaging.

2) Showing Passion
There is a saying that passion is not taught, it is caught. A good piano teacher would be able to express the language behind the music, the life and the rhythms behind the sounds. A teacher does not have to be highly certified to exude the love for music and piano playing. A child that is exposed to such passion during the formative years will continue to maintain the learning journey for the instrument.

3) Firm but fair
Those of us that have been through piano practice during childhood would have fudged a little during the week. An experienced teacher would be able to spot between the lack of practice and the practicing of a mistake. It is as important to address the lack of practice in a firm way as it is to encourage the efforts in building the required dexterity.

4) Certifications
In the Singapore context, examinations and qualifications are the common ways of marking the level of achievement. A teacher that has gone through the paces of music certifications would better understand what is needed by the examination board. Beginners can still succeed with a teacher having a Grade Seven certification. For students of higher grades, Grade Eight should be the minimum requirement of the teacher. For students learning piano for recreational development, qualifications take a back seat to passion and expressiveness of the teacher.

The appreciation of music and the learning of the piano is a rewarding process that sometimes has its tough paces of practice and repetition. A good teacher will be able to bring that out in the child learner’s skills and capabilities. There will be a few situations where there is simply personality mismatch between the teacher and the student. This should be obvious within the first two months of piano lesson and should be addressed before the interest for the instrument is affected.

Tips For Preparing For Your Piano Exam

Whether you are a new piano player or a full-time professional, exams for piano lessons singapore can be a strenuous and often daunting task. Each exam has its separate challenges. However, if you prepare for your exams correctly, it could mean the difference between passing and failing.

This is an example for a student sitting for a Grade Six piano exam.

Three months before the exam

At this time you should be doing approximately one hour's worth of practice a day, five days a week. In your selected pieces you should be able to at least press all of the right notes. This is the time to start developing your pieces from a series of notes to a piano masterpiece. Concentrate on things like expression, dynamics and tempo. Put some feelings and emotion into your pieces.

You should also profusely study all of your theory and scales. Too often scales and theory are neglected at this time and are only revised about a fortnight before the exam. This is a terrible mistake! Remember the more you study now, the more you will retain this information, thus having a better chance of recalling the required knowledge during your exam.

One month before the exam

It is time to up the anti a bit. You should be spending one and a half to two hours practicing a day, six days a week. This is the time to smooth out all of the minor flaws in your pieces of music. Practice things like getting that tricky triplet sounding fluent and making sure you hit the F sharp with your fourth finger rather than the fifth. These issues might seem minor, but it will help you immensely with your exam.

Practice without the sheet music in front of you and see how well you go. During your exam if you rely too heavily on your score, I can guarantee you will stuff up. Learn your music off by heart.

Also, make sure that your exam becomes your number one priority. Do not be distracted by other issues in your life. Do not become distracted by relationship, financial or other issues that might divert your attention from your exam. You will become stressed and worn out, and you will not perform at your potential.

One week before the exam

Now is the time to just practice, practice, practice! I would recommend doing between two to three hours per day by now. You should have all of the knowledge required for the exam. It is simply a matter of revising it for your exam.

Whilst we are working and studying hard, we have to remain relaxed. Put it into perspective; it is only an exam. There is no need to worry about it 24/7.

1 day before the exam

Most people on the night before an exam practice for 5-6 hours, studying until some ungodly hour in the morning. This is a big no-no! At maximum you should only play through your pieces once. What I like to do is pretend I am actually sitting for the exam. So I would do my scales first, then my pieces in order, and then do some sight reading.

Don't try to do any last minute revision for your exam. Chances are that you will only put unneeded pressure on yourself and more importantly you will only have a small chance to remember it for your exam. Do not get distracted by other things in your life. Your piano exam is tomorrow - everything else can wait another day.

Relax! It is essential that you get a good night's sleep. I would recommend that you get 8 to 10 hours solid sleep if you can afford the luxury.

Morning before the exam

Do not do any work, whether it is piano related or not. Do something fun that doesn't require a lot of brain power. Watch a movie. Kick a soccer ball. Do whatever that suits you.

Try to eat a healthy breakfast. However, if you suffer from butterflies in the stomach, which I suffer from immensely, don't try to force anything down. It will only comes straight back up! (Trust me!)

I will say it again, RELAX! Try not to think about your exam. Don't try to think about your theory, scales, pieces, fingering etc. etc. Don't think about what you have and haven't done for your exam. This is only going to get you all frazzled and this will seriously hinder your exam.

30 minutes before the exam

By now you should be at the venue where your exam is being held. Do some ultra-light revision. Look through your music sheets and visualize yourself playing it as you read the notes. Play some 'air-piano.' Test yourself with a couple of theory questions.

Do not under any circumstances talk to other people about the exam. Do not ask each other theory questions. Do not discuss your pieces. Do not talk about previous exams or examiners. This is nothing more than an unwanted hindrance. Take a few deep breaths, relax and focus on your exam.

5 minutes before the exam

Close the books for a moment. Take three deep breaths and focus. Think to yourself that this is just like any other piano practice session. Go into the exam with positive thoughts. Whether you have prepared yourself for the exam as I have discussed above or not, it does not matter now. All you can do now is concentrate on the upcoming task of your exam.

During the exam

Two things will be happening to you about now. Firstly, you think you are doing well. Great! Ride on this wave of euphoria until the end of the exam. But you must not slack off! You still have a couple of pieces or a couple of scales or some theory to do. You must concentrate until the end of the exam. A lot can happen between now and then.

The second thing that could be happening to you during your piano exam is that you think you are performing badly. Forget about it! It doesn't matter what has happened. You still have the rest of the exam to impress the examiner. A lot can change between now and the end of the exam.

Another point worth thinking about is just because you think that you have done a bad job, doesn't mean that the examiner knows you've done a bad job. He/She will not pick up every single mistake you make. Just forget what has happened, clear your mind and start again with your next task. Think about what is going to happen, not what has just happened.

After the exam

Congratulations! You have completed your exam! You can now breathe a huge sigh of relief! It's finally over!

Carefully analyse your exam. What did you do well? What do you do badly? What could you have done to improve? Make notes so you can use them as a reference for future exams.

Be careful not to be too confident with your exam. You might be disappointed when you see your results. Conversely, do not be too negative with your exam and think that you have done badly. More often than not you will get a nice surprise!

Receiving the results

After waiting one to two weeks for your results to come back, you would be naturally excited, or at least inquisitive to see your results. Have you done well and/or better than you expected? Have you done worse than you have thought? Either way, read your examiner's comments at least three times. See what they liked about your piano examination and what they didn't. No matter how well you did, you can always improve! Next year's exams are guaranteed to be harder than this year.

Take the assessor's comments on board, but also take your own thoughts on board. Was your preparation leading up to the exam as good as it could have been? Nine times out of ten, if you have done badly you generally know why. Think about why you did badly and improve! Learn from your mistakes. Do not get depressed! It is not the end of the world. There is always next year.

Classical Music can help to Stimulate Learning, Enhance Concentration

Recent research by OnlineCollege.org, an online college education provider, has found that high-anxiety students who listen to classical music with 60 to 70 beats per minute while they study, score 12 per cent more in their maths exams on average, she said.

Beats per minute indicates the speed of a piece of music. The more beats per minute, the faster the music.

The idea of the "Mozart effect" - that listening to Mozart's music can make the brain work better - originated from a study carried out in 1993 at the University of California by researchers GordonShaw and Frances Rauscher, she said.

Ms Nicole M. Charara, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Psychology in Singapore who is not involved with Spotify, said: "Studies have shown that classical music targets the part of the brain that stimulates spatial-temporal reasoning, which is useful in solving maths problems."

It is mainly the left side of the brain that is used to process factual information and solve problems.

Classical music for mathematics

1.Piano Concerto No. 2 - Mozart

2.Fur Elise - Beethoven

3.Waltz in D-Flat Major, Op. 64, No. 1 - Chopin

4.Largo Xerxes - Handel

5.Adieu To The Piano - Beethoven

6.Swan Lake-Scene - Tchaikovsky

7.William - Rossini

8.Spring from The Four Seasons: Violin Concerto in E Major - Vivaldi

9.Toccata And Fugue in D Minor - Bach

10. Morning From Peer Gynt - Grieg

Does Music Make You Smarter? Brain Imaging Technology Says Yes.

Music teachers everywhere are going to print this out and read it to their students: A study out this week shows that executive brain function — the strongest predictor of academic success — is better in musicians than in non-musicians.

Of course, mounds of previous research has also suggested that playing music makes people smarter, but proving a direct link isn't so easy. Socioeconomic status is a predictor of school grades, but it's also a predictor of being able to afford clarinet lessons. Or maybe people who have the patience and aptitude for music are the same people who have the patience and aptitude for getting good grades — correlation isn't causation.

For example, one study in 2011 tested the intelligence quotient of musician and non-musician children, ages 9-12. They also tested the children for indicators of executive brain function, that is, their proficiency at high-level thinking. Some of these indicators could include their ability to multitask, make good decisions, inhibit bad behavior, and solve problems.

The author, E. Glenn Schellenberg, of the University of Toronto Mississauga, found that music and IQ were correlated, but the relationship between music and executive function was inconclusive. "These results provide no support for the hypothesis that the association between music training and IQ is mediated by executive function," Schellenberg wrote. Yet the neuroscientists behind the current research weren't so sure about that.

The team from Boston Children's Hospital wanted to compensate for the shortcomings of other research. So they removed two important variables: matching the 57 study participants in their control and test groups for equivalent IQ and socioeconomic background (things like the education level of their parents and family income). In the end, they had two groups of children and two groups of adults, similar in many ways — except one group had significant musical training like piano lessons, and the other had very little.

The doctors hooked everyone up to an MRI while administering a series of quizzes — like brain teasers — using things like letters and colors. Meanwhile, they took pictures of their brains in action. The image, above, shows what the scientists discovered. Musicians' brains were more active than the non-musicians' brains, and they performed better on cognitive tests. The results appeared Tuesday in the journal PLoS One.

"Since executive functioning is a strong predictor of academic achievement, even more than IQ, we think our findings have strong educational implications," said lead author Dr. Nadine Gaab in a summary of the findings. "While many schools are cutting music programs and spending more and more time on test preparation, our findings suggest that musical training may actually help to set up children for a better academic future."

This study also furthers the notion that musical training in children with learning disabilities and the elderly could improve their brain function. In a separate 2007 study, 16 adults in a senior home took piano lessons for six months. By the end of it, those 16 had better working memory and multitasking skills than 15 seniors who weren't given piano lessons. "Future studies have to determine whether music may be utilized as therapeutic intervention tools for these children and adults," Gaab said.

But what about causation? This study doesn't actually prove that the musical people weren't predisposed to their talent. In other words, their exceptionally quick thinking and problem solving might be the reason they're so good at music, and not the other way around. The team says its next study will be more like the senior home study, testing people over time to determine which came first, the music or the brains.

Source: J. Zuk, C. Benjamin, A. Kenyon, N. Gaab. Behavioral and Neural Correlates of Executive Functioning in Musicians and Non-Musicians. PLoS One. 2014.
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