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Tips for practising piano

Ms Tan was recently interviewed by The Happy Pianist as below. Read on to find out more about our piano teacher and for tips on how to practise the piano more effectively!

"Interview with Multi-Talented Music Teacher Gresilda Tan

Hi! Welcome to our second series of our “Interviews with Teachers”.

For each interview, we hope to find out more about each piano teacher, their experience, and other interesting insights that will help you become a better pianist!

In this series, we have interviewed Ms Gresilda Tan.

Ms Gresilda is not your ordinary piano teacher you find in any music school. She not only plays the piano, she also plays the flute, violin, guitar, and ukulele. Not only that, she is also trained in voice, and gives vocal lessons too!

We have worked with Ms Gresilda since the start of 2016, and all the students we referred to her, be it for kids or adults piano classes, are all happy with her lessons and teaching style. And that’s why we thought we have to interview Ms Gresilda to find out a little more about her!

Here you go, Gresilda!

1. Share with us a little about yourself, and your music background.

I have always loved music since young, but picked up classical music quite late. I started with the Chinese Flute in the Chinese Orchestra as a CCA in secondary school, and auditioned into junior college through Direct School Admission. I then decided to skip grades to take my Grade 8 exam in Chinese Flute in JC1.

It was only during university where I started learning western music and concurrently learnt Flute, Piano, Popular Vocals, and Music Theory and I managed to get these 4 Grade 8 certificates within those few years. At the same time, I also managed to gain a few years of music teaching experience in music schools.

However, after which I had to stop learning and teaching music for 1 year because of my Masters programme overseas in London. After returning to Singapore, I worked for a few months in an office since I thought that was the “right” path I should take since I specialized in Business studies.

However, as I did not enjoy what I was doing, I decided to continue learning and teaching music. I recently opened my own music studio in Marine Parade to teach, and also completed my Diploma in Vocals. At the same time, I am also learning the violin, guitar, and ukulele, with the aim of reaching minimum Grade 8 standard as well.

2. What motivates you to be a teacher?

Initially I started teaching music during university as a hobby and to earn extra pocket money.

However, what made me want to continue full time now is how I feel about teaching what I love – music.

I remember once when I came back from overseas during the school holiday to visit a music school I taught at before, my ex student (a 6 year old girl) saw me, ran towards me, gave me a hug, and asked if I was back for good to continue teaching her. I felt so bad at that time, and it made me miss teaching again.

So I think my motivation is being able to play a positive role in each of my students’ lives.

3. Comparing music lessons when you were young, to music lessons today. What has changed?

I wished I could compare, but I started learning music quite late. In my opinion, I do not think much has changed in terms of the syllabus, but more of the emphasis of paper qualifications.

Parents today place more emphasis on exams rather than learning for leisure.

4. One common problem among piano students is the lack of motivation. How do you keep your students encouraged or motivated in piano playing?

Well I bribe my younger students with sweets and cute stickers if they practise! (just kidding) For exam preparation, I always let them hear and choose the pieces they like so that when they practise, they are practising something they like.

5. What else do you do differently in your piano lessons to help your students learn better, and love piano playing more?

I don’t think the way I conduct my piano lessons is any different from any other music teacher, but I would always ensure that my student takes away something new at the end of the lesson.

I think when a student is able to play a music piece fluently when he or she initially could not, the student will naturally start to enjoy playing the piano more.

6. I saw that you played quite a number of instruments! The piano, the flute, the violin, the guitar, the ukulele. What motivates you to learn the instruments? What other instruments would you like to explore?

My love for music is the main motivation. I also thought it would be cooler to be proficient in various instruments than to be very proficient in only 1 instrument!

It also helps me in my teaching as some of my students have learned others instrument before the piano and when I explain certain terms with an instrument they are familiar with, it helps them learn more effectively as well.

However, other than these instruments, I do not think I will be exploring anymore as I think it’s more than enough!

7. Can you share with our readers who are learning piano, 3 tips that will help them learn and play the piano better?

1) Go slow to go far

For learning or practising a difficult piece, most students would just play the entire piece over and over again, often gaining little or no improvement.

It is usually best to practise one bar at a time, and at a slower tempo, and only proceed to the next bar after mastering the preceding bar.

2) Play your favorite songs Choosing pieces that students like is also important as interest can be easily lost if the pieces are boring to the students.

So it would be good if students let their teachers know their favourite music pieces so they can learn them concurrently with their exam pieces for example if they are preparing for grading exams.

3) Practice less, frequently In terms of practice length, I do not subscribe to long hours of practice as I have a short attention span. Though depending on individuals, I feel that it may be better practising 10 minutes a day as compared to 1 hour all at 1 shot once a week.

This is because with a shorter practice duration, we are forced to focus and ensure that we make the best out of the practice time. It is also easier to find the motivation to practise 10 minutes as compared to an hour.

This allows it to become a habit more effectively as studies have proven that it takes 21 consecutive days for a habit to form.

8. How can others find out more about you and your piano lessons?

Yes, I do give one to one piano lessons at my music studio at Roxy Square, Marine Parade. If you are interested to find out more about piano lessons, either leisure or graded, or at any levels of learning, you can fill up the enquiry form below to let me know about your needs."

We hope you have enjoyed reading this post, and do enquire now if you wish to learn from Ms Tan!

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