Frequently asked questions - about anything!
How long does it take to master piano?
Interestingly, this is the number 1 question in FAQ. Unlike learning "how to boil an egg" or "doing math problem like 1+1", piano/music is not something that one can "master" - Music is a way to communicate, like writing a book. How long does it take to "master" a language? When you have "mastered" the language, does that mean you can write a book that deserve a nobel prize for literature? Is there a thing called "the best book in the world"? Certainly not! Although there are great writers, like great musicians, "the best" does not exist, because everyone has a different opinion at a different time. If you are looking for mastery in a certain time frame, you may want to reconsider what I said. I always tell my students that certificate/prizes/exam scores do not necessarily reflect one's ability - the realm of knowledge is endless, even a doctorate degree does not mean one knows every single thing in his field. We play piano for the love of music, enjoy the process.
What's the appropriate attire to lesson/practice?
Anything that you feel comfortable wearing. However, of course, formal attire is required at performances.
My child is 4-year-old. Is he too young to learn piano?
This is a very controversial question. In my opinion, starting a 4-5 year old on piano is not impossible - some of these young children start with group class first, then switch to private lesson when the teacher feels he/she is ready. Every child is unique - I don't have a definite YES or NO answer to this question. You are welcome to set up a free interview with me, and I will access after meeting your child. Generally, the child should be able to count numbers (1-10) and know the alphabets before starting piano lessons. However, if I think the young child is ready for private lesson, parent's attendance in the lesson is required. Also, parents are required to practice with the child daily.
What do you listen for in a performance?
Artistry. NOT merely the accuracy of notes. Few weeks ago I talked to my dad, and I told him how I admire the great pianist Alfred Cortot. I told him how great his playing was, although his performances are often full of mistakes. My dad asked "How could you say it's a great performance if it's full of mistakes?" The answer is simple - because it is musical. Using the metaphor of literature again - if you can spell all words correctly, does that mean you are the greatest writer in the world? No. When you read a great book, one that deserves a nobel prize, do you mind if there is one or two misspellings? It is the content of the book that matters, that's what people admire and enjoy, not the perfect grammar and spelling. Playing piano is the same thing. Playing all notes correctly is just like spelling all words correctly; playing a piece musically is like reading a great book with soulful solid content. I can ask a robot to play the piano, guarantee 100% accuracy, but it wouldn't be musical because a robot is a robot!
I am an adult, I am embarrassed to take piano lessons like other kids.
Don't be. It's never too late to start learning! I teach adults differently than children (of course). Adults commonly have advantages over the children, however, from my experience, the biggest challenge for adult students is to find time to practice. Children can sacrifice their TV time to practice, but adults obviously can't skip work to practice. Commitment is very important - as a piano teacher, of course I would encourage more practice. But I also understand how hard it is to find extra time out of the busy schedule (everyone just wants to spend all the weekend time on the bed, right?). We can certainly talk about your situation during the interview.
Do I need a piano? or keyboard?
Well, if you want to learn piano, YES a piano/keyboard is required! And it is required from the first lesson! If you think you can come to have lesson and play on a piano once a week, go home and do no practice at all, and assume you can still keep learning new things in the next lesson, SORRY YOU'RE WRONG.
For beginners (children or adults), starting with a keyboard is okay. But I would STRONGLY recommend buying a full-size (88 keys) one with weighed keys. Eventually, you would need a real acoustic piano. Yes it is expensive, however, there are piano rental options (contact your local music stores), and also, the rewards you can get out of it would make it worthy.