Frequently Asked Questions
Do you go over to the student’s house or teach at home?
Due to my busy schedule and in order to maximize my time, I only teach at my place and DO NOT travel to student’s place. My schedule during busy hours such as weekday evenings and weekends tend to be back-to-back, leaving me absolutely no time to travel at all. While I am more free during weekday morning and afternoons, I’d rather spend the time with my family or to prepare for lessons. Click here for more details about my location.
Do you conduct lessons on weekends and Public holidays?
My schedule on weekends tend to be more packed and I may not be able to accommodate to your preferred time slot. I prefer not to conduct lessons on public holidays. However, I can conduct lesson on public holidays (half-day) if your lesson falls on a public holiday and are unable to reschedule to another day or if you really need an extra lesson due to coming exam.
Can I choose my preferred day to have the lesson conducted?
Yes, as long as it can fit into my schedule. My schedule tend to be more flexible on weekday mornings and afternoons.
What happens if I have to miss or postpone any lessons? What if I need to be away for a period of time due to personal plans?
You would need to inform me at least 1 day in advance. No fees would be charged if so and lessons will be replaced. Please inform me at least 1 week in advance if you need to be away for a period of time.
How is the payment like?
Payment is due on the 1st of every month. For more information about fees and terms & conditions, please click here.
If I take piano lessons, do I need a piano? How about an electronic keyboard?
If you intend to take exams, it would be advisable to have an acoustic piano at home to practice on. Otherwise, you would need at least a touch sensitive digital piano if you are taking the classical syllabus. An electronic keyboard would be fine for very young beginners but you are strongly advised to switch to a digital or (preferably) acoustic piano after half a year or so. I will be willing to help you if you need any help in buying or renting a suitable piano. Please note that I DO NOT take in students with no instruments to practice at home.
What is the difference between Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Digital Keyboard, Pop Piano, Classical Piano?
There are different types of instruments and different playing styles. The words, ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Digital’ refers to different types of instruments. An acoustic piano is a real piano that does not require electricity to work (except the heater), whereas a digital piano and a keyboard are instruments in which the sound is produced digitally. The main difference between a digital piano and a keyboard is that most digital pianos have touch sensitive and weighted keys and have more realistic piano sounds than keyboards. However, the sound and touch of a digital piano cannot be compared with an acoustic piano, even for higher end models. As with most electronic equipment, a digital piano’s lifespan is much shorter than a piano.
The words, ‘Classical’, ‘Pop’, ‘Jazz’, etc, refers to different types of playing styles.
Generally, classical piano emphasizes on playing techniques such as touch, tone and articulation. Thus, it is better to learn classical piano on an acoustic piano as a good acoustic piano is sensitive enough to allow one to develop good classical techniques.
For Pop and jazz piano, it doesn’t matter which type of instrument you learn on as they emphasize more on chord playing and improvisation. However, if you want to learn pop keyboard and the different functions that comes with the keyboard, then it is better to use a digital keyboard or electone.
I think I’m tone-deaf. Can I pick up piano if so?
Certainly. You don’t need to have good hearing (although it helps to have one) in order to learn the piano. Unlike the violin or other instruments, a piano can produce definite pitches by itself just by pressing any key. Thus, the emphasis on good piano playing is on accurate playing, good rhythm, touch, tone and articulation. Also, there is no such thing as being ‘tone deaf’. A person who is considered ‘tone deaf’ is only bad at differentiating between different pitches and with training, this can improve. And certainly there are some piano players who are considered ‘tone-deaf’ but have obtained grade 8 in piano.
What is the average starting age to learn piano? Is my child ready for piano lessons?
The average starting age for children to learn piano is around 5 to 8 years old. Of course, they can start younger, but usually at the age of 6 to 8 most children are able to understand the teacher’s instructions fully and can progress more steadily. The youngest age that I have taught is 3.5yrs old.
There are several indicators as to whether your child is ready for piano lessons:
Is your child interested in piano or music in general? Does he respond positively when to music – eg. Clapping, singing, humming, swaying to music
Does your child have a good attention span? Can your child be able to concentrate and sit by the piano for at least a 30 to 45 mins lesson?
How good is your child academically? Does he have a fast or a slow learning curve? It is better for children with a slower learning curve to start later at the age of around 7-9, however, you can start stimulating their interest by letting them listen music more and participate in musical activities.
Can your child practice regularly? (About half an hour a day is recommended for beginners in order to progress well) Note that practicing requires a lot of concentration and repetition and some children (especially extroverts) may not be able to do that well and would require more parental supervision in their practice.
- How much are you able to help your child? Are you able to practice together with your child? If you are able to go all out and sit in for lessons or learn piano together with your child so that you can help him, go ahead and start lessons at the youngest age possible, provided that your child has met the conditions stated above. If not, then start lesson at the age where you (or the teacher) think that your child can learn independently without much of your help. Even so, do note that parental involvement is of vital importance.
Am I too old to learn? Or is my child too young to learn?
As long as you have the interest and the desire to learn, nobody is too old to learn. However, please take note that you would require a certain amount of discipline to learn the piano as you are required to practice regularly in order to progress.
The youngest age to start lessons on the piano formally is about 3-4 years old. However, not all children are ready to learn at this age (Please refer to the answer for my previous question), but it would be beneficial to start with music appreciation classes or to start exposing them to musical activities.
How do I know if my child has the talent to do music?
Every child has the potential to do well in music if properly nurtured. As said by Thomas Edison, “Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration”. With the right kind of teaching, a hardworking child without any ‘talent’ in music would do better than a talented child with no interest.
How fast will my child progress?
Again, there are several indicators as to how fast your child will progress:
• Age: Older children usually progress faster than young children. Of all the students I have taught, upper-primary and teenagers have the fastest learning curve. However, I have some exceptions whereby some of my young students actually learn much faster than someone twice their age.
• IQ: Children who are better academically usually progress faster. However, there are some exceptions whereby students who are not academically inclined do better. Usually these students have a lot of interest in music, have good motor skills, a good sense of hearing, and they tend to do better in practical than theory.
• Interest: Children with interest in music would be more motivated to practice, and thus would progress faster.
• Personality: Introverts actually learn faster as they are able to concentrate better and can sit down to practice for a longer period of time than extroverts. They are also more patient in their practice and are able to accept good practice habits like slow practice more than extroverts. However, an extrovert with a lot of interest will definitely learn faster than an introvert with no interest.
• A Good Piano: This is an important but often neglected aspect. Many parents are reluctant to buy a piano until they think that their child is interested, but often children would not stay interested if they do not have a piano to practice on. Again there are some parents who buy poor quality pianos; pianos that can just produce a sound and not music when being played on. A good piano is essential to your child’s progress, because even a beginner can differentiate between a piano with a good tone and a bad tone and your child would be able to appreciate the music made by a good piano more when he practices on one.
• Parental involvement: Parental involvement is vital to a child’s progress. Parents who are supportive and are actively involved in their child’s practice will accelerate their progress, perhaps even more than any of the other factors mentioned above.
• Musical Exposure: All else being equal, children who had a large exposure to musical activities will progress faster.
Do students go through examinations?
Yes, but I only send my students for examinations when I think that they are ready for exams. Please click here for more information about exams.
Do you allow skipping of grades for your students?
Often parents come to me asking me if I can skip grades for their child because he/she has been learning piano for quite some time but previous teacher has not prepared them for exam yet. There are many reasons why your child is still not yet ready for exams. Usually, the main reason is insufficient practice. It can also be that the child has a slow learning curve, or that there is insufficient parental involvement (this is very important especially for young children). I regret that will only be able to help if the child has a slow learning curve, but is willing to practice and has sufficient parental involvement in his/her music learning.
With regards to skipping of grades, I actually regard this as acceleration in learning instead of skipping grades, because nothing is to be skipped (except the exam) and the student still learns everything that I teach to all my other students who do not skip grades.
To qualify for acceleration in learning, the following conditions must be met.
- The student has a reasonable amount of music background and foundation.
- The student has a fast learning curve, good memory and good motor skills and coordination.
- The student is an older beginner who can learn at a faster pace
- The student must be willing to practice hard for exams. (This is a very important factor) Please note that if you want to skip a grade (for example grade 1-3) in a year but your current standard is still at the previous grade, I am expecting your practice to be at least 1.5 times more than what you are practicing for the previous grade. Remember I regard this as an acceleration rather than skipping. Therefore if you want to reach a higher standard at a shorter time, the only way is to practice more.
- The student should be able to learn most notes by him/herself, especially at intermediate or advanced grades. They should not be the type who would require any spoon-feeding. Then, I can spend most of the time helping the student with the technique required for the grade and any other areas that they are weak in.
- For students who have taken exams before, he/she should have obtained at least a distinction for lower grades and a merit for intermediate or higher grades.
- Students who wish to skip grades should be good in at least 2 of the supporting tests (scales, sight reading, aural), especially sight-reading as it shows what level you really are at. (There are people who passed grade 8 but can’t sight-read grade 1 pieces). This is because even though exam pieces can be learnt by rote, supporting tests shows your proficiency in the instrument, your technique, and how fast you can learn a new piece with the same amount of practice. And supporting tests can easily pull down your total marks if you are not good in it and still want to skip grades.
- Maturity in musical awareness and willingness to practice very hard for students wishing to skip higher grades.
You might also like to read
Common Misconceptions about Learning Piano
When will my child be ready for the Grade 1 Piano Exam?
What you need to know about ABRSM Exams
How to get a distinction for ABRSM Performance Grade Exams
Click here to see my student’s achievements for past-year ABRSM exams.
Check out my past-year student concerts and performances