Piano Teaching

Teresa Wong: My early piano learning experience (1)

A lot of people asked me when I started playing piano. I was around 5.

It wasn’t like I knew I loved playing piano and I asked for piano lessons. Not at all. I have two brothers, one elder and the other younger. My elder brother started taking piano lessons, so I followed suit. Then my younger brother also played piano (my brothers also played the violin).

Sometimes we played together, either at the piano or piano and violin. We helped each other practice for piano exams (huge deal in Asia – mostly that’s all they care(d) ). It was not something I thought I wanted to do, it just came naturally, like going to school and study.

I had quite a few piano teachers when I was younger, no one really memorable, except a couple who were actually blind. I personally don’t think it’s good for young piano students to take lessons from blind piano teachers (no offense), it’s just that they couldn’t see how my posture and technique and therefore couldn’t really help me improve or fix them.

Anyway, my older brother was doing better than me at the piano, accordingly to this one piano teacher, because he was getting much higher marks than me in piano exams. I was (and still am) the one who had perfect pitch, but I don’t think that teacher even noticed it. When my older brother finished his grade 8 piano exam (that’s usually the point when most stopped piano lessons), this piano teacher told my mother that she had no time for me anymore. I think it was that she thought my less than stellar success in piano exams was hurting her star teacher reputation (she’s really not a star teacher, but oh well).

Granted, we were very respectful of her teaching, we always paid tuition fee and be in lessons on time, we never took any leave, we did whatever she told us to do – lessons, concerts (she made me play the keyboard with another student at the piano one time in a performance, it’s very odd but I did it). We even gave her gifts on all those holidays and seasonal celebrations. But yes, she decided she didn’t have time for me.

There came the good part here : this piano teacher stopped teaching me, and it was supposed to be my fault (I know, doesn’t sound very logical, but that’s the traditional Asian thinking, not like we’re going to go on social media and rant about it!), so my mother didn’t tell my father about it. And she went on this whole adventure of looking for another piano teacher for me.

(to be continued)