Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Note to Parents on Piano Lessons

Many parents tell me their kids don't practise or are reluctant to take piano seriously.

Ask yourself if you've ever put piano lessons as a top priority IN THEIR EYES.

Before you sigh about why your child isn't taking it seriously consider if you are ready to say to the rest of your family that you'll have to pass on a dinner outing because your child hasn't practised today. 

Because there is a marked difference in the families of the kids who do well, and those who barely get enough practice to scrape thru' each grade.

So parents,

-if you're not prepared to give up that birthday party, or go a little later, or leave a little earlier;

-if you simply MUST go to the airport (yes, all 14 of you) to meet a relative coming in from out of town;

-if everybody HAS to have dinner at the same time all the time;

-if same-age playmates drop in and your sense of fairness means everyone gets to play at the same time (despite there being undone homework)...

then don't grumble that your child isn't taking piano seriously. Because in MY eyes you're not taking it seriously either.

The secret to being a successful piano student? 

- if it's not urgent or critical, don't change lesson time. what's urgent / important / critical? If it's something that you would be prepared to forfeit your lesson for - out of town vacations, award ceremony, medical appointment, deaths, weddings, illness, other CCA exam / performances - then it's a valid reason. Having the day off and wanting to spend time with your kids isn't the best reason but if you let me know early I can make arrangements.

- if they've not practised, they don't get to go out or do anything that is "less" important than piano - including: reading time, tv time, computer time, play time, and yes, sometimes, mealtimes!

- set a fixed piano practice time and STICK TO IT. This means if maths homework is being done and 3 o'clock comes around, stop the h/w, practise piano, THEN resume maths homework.

Harsh? That's how you send a message to your child that PIANO IS IMPORTANT and not something you can put off when other things pop up.

It's not for everyone, I agree, but I'm just saying, if you want your child to think of it as being a priority, then YOU'VE got to make it a priority. If you don't, then they won't. And practising will be the LAST thing they'll do.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Singing Alone Together

I was thrilled to score an audition with the Singapore Symphony Chorus. I'd seen them perform a number of times and I thought it would be terribly prestigious to be able to say I was part of the SSC.

So I went for tryouts. The person-in-charge said I should just go and join them (informal audition maybe?) for a practice session before deciding if it was for me. I didn't understand what she meant by that, but I went anyway. 

It was a cool evening as I made my way to the Victoria Concert Hall. It had been closed for some time while renovations were carried out. And the chorus had been practising here and there and everywhere meanwhile. This was to be the 2nd Monday that they'd be back "home". 

Full of anticipation, I approached the security desk. Er, my name wasn't there. Great. Called the person-in- charge. No answer. Sheesh. What kind of operation do they run? Texted her - she replied that she was on the way and I was early. True, true. So I said I'd find a place to wait and could she let me know when she got there. Then I hopped to the Arts House across a little lane where there were seats. And shelter. 

It turns out that the person I saw loitering there a few minutes after I had gone to sit was the lady I spoke to had been texting. She sent someone over to where I was sitting to ask if I was me. Hi, I say. Are you person A? No, I'm person B, she replied, I help person A. She's over there. 

I was a little confused. She had been standing around at the front of the security desk and could have called or texted (since that was her preferred mode of communication) to let me know she had arrived. But instead I watched them la-di-da like school girls for a good 10 minutes before she got her "assistant" to come over to ask if I was me. 

Ok. Fine. I got up to the hall. No one was talking to anyone else. It was as if everybody was new to the group. I couldn't be more friendly if I tried. I introduced myself to at least 3 people. Every one of which had no clue how to carry on a conversation. Turned out the newbies were the ones looking around and smiling at the people around us, and the existing members were the ones doing their own thing on their mobile devices. 

What the? These people aren't friends with each other. They're all loner types. 

That explains the total silence in the elevator getting up there. Tsk. To think that I made the mistake of assuming all the shy, quiet ones were newbies. 

The bottom line is that it was an awful affair. The conductor didn't know the choir (are you a bass? tenor? where are my basses?); the choir didn't care about new people in their ranks; the person-in-charge seemed to only handle administrative things so she had nothing to do with choir rehearsals proper; no one talked to anyone else; it was just a cold, dead place. 

I'm amazed that the SSC managed to survive for such a long time considering there was no evidence synergy, no sense of camaraderie, no togetherness. 

As I was leaving (I was waiting for the lift, where at least 10 others were also waiting in total silence, like a bunch of strangers at a mall) Ms-Person-in-Charge asks : did you have any problems following along? Nope, I said. Oh, so will we be seeing you again next week? 

That was telling. They must not get a lot of repeat visitors, huh?  

Well, I told her I'd think about it, but by the time I got home that night, I had made up my mind. No, sorry, you won't be seeing me again next week. Or ever. 

This is NOT what they looked like.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Doing Like Nike Says

Everyone has a mantra. Mine is a Nike tagline. It might be a telling sign of my age that the company's 1988 slogan, 'Just Do It', is one I apply in my own life. I am not ashamed to say that it is just as meaningful to me now as it was more than two decades ago.

Recently I got to thinking about a new business idea. I admit, it was a stolen idea. While discussing possible new ventures with people over a cup (or 7!) of tea, it occurred to me that some parts of the plan could be taken and modified to suit a very viable almost-similar enterprise, while steering clear of any conflict of interest. 

So I got on it. Research is currently underway; excursions to suppliers have been planned; market surveys are being done- albeit in an extremely casual manner; necessary people have been given a heads-up and asked if they are able to provide services I'll need.  

Am I certain it'll be a success? Not at all. But that's ok. "If you don't try, you've already failed. But if you do, there's a chance you'll succeed." Good advice that was given by a BFF also more than two decades ago. 

And that folks, is how every business in existence today got started. Someone just went ahead and DID IT!

I'm not sure this new baby will even make it from planning to execution, let alone become a success. But I'm sure sitting on my behind and wondering and thinking and twiddling my thumbs aren't going to help it take off either.

What is it? That's not relevant to the story. What *is* is that it's something I feel strongly about. Something I have a passion and drive for. Something I am committed to making work because I believe in it. 

And that's half the battle won. Success comes from achieving what you desire. The hard part is figuring out what that desire is. But once you do, Just Do It!

Hey, that slogan must be something special if it's enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution, right?

What's YOUR passion?

© 2014 Nike, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 13, 2014

Everything Has a Price

That's what I used to believe. That everyone has a price, and everything could be bought for the right amount - however big a sum that might amount to. 

But I was wrong. And I'm glad I was wrong. 

Today someone offered me a full-time job. He hadn't said how much he'd be willing to pay me to give up my piano teaching and part-time writing, it was just a simple question. "Would you be willing to take on a full-time position?"

For half a second my mind hollered "YES if you pay me triple my current salary!"

This was immediately followed (pity it wasn't in slow motion!) by a montage of the past week's activities including taking mum to visit her old friends from Cold Storage days, accompanying her to Ikea to buy candles where we ended up sitting for more than an hour just chatting away over tea and siew mai, and telling dad about the stories I was reading on FB while we sat for over an hour in the waiting room of Clinic Q at CGH. 

Just one week. And the week isn't even over. That's all the stuff I've done with them this week. Stuff that I do because I CAN. 

And NO amount of money can convince me to give that up. 

So I said no to the guy offering me the job. There was nothing more to ask. I would never give up what I'm doing now for anything in the world, because the time I spend with them is way too precious to put a price tag on. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

X-men, X-code, X-terminate

I haven't written in years. Ok so I'm prone to x-aggeration.

Here's the update. 

HAWT right?
I watched x-men last night. It was fun, only because it's a Wolverine-is-the-star movie. And I love me my wolverine. But I thought it could have been more fighting and less talking. Altho to be fair I suppose the talking was necessary to the plot. They should just have given us (fine, ME) more crash-boom-bang for my buck. 

Speaking of, did you know if you buy tix online with DBS / POSB cards you get a dollar off per ticket? In this day and age, one's gotta take whatever discounts one can get. After all, we need to start saving to fight against the minimum sum policy no?

Ouch. Yes. That was my tiny reference to the political situation in SG that one reads about on FB everyday. And it HAS to be true, I mean, it's on FB innit? 

On to other things. I've been helping my BFF with her game development business... writing and editing and just all round checking for grammar mistakes and stray apostrophes.  I won't say I'm awesome at it. But I do what I can to help. Recently we were collateral damage (I'm being kind and gentle and mellow) in a report that someone (who claims to be a game industry professional) wrote attacking Asiasoft. It sounds like she has a personal agenda, considering she's admitted to being in a long-term relationship with someone who is part of another indie outfit in SG. And I'm just annoyed. No facts, no numbers. Just this is bad, that is bad, this sucks, that's ugly, and that she was simultaneously horrified and terrified (verbatim). Tsk. You don't like it, that's your problem right?

So I'm thinking of starting up another blog - one that will be affiliated with the company - where I can say all the NICE stuff I want to, and all the BAD stuff I want to (in my super duper snarky not-sure-if-I'm-sliming-them way). All I gotta think of is a really cute and/or catchy name. Always the hardest part eh? 

And then I'll write and I'll write and I'll be satisfied that I got to say my piece. And then I'll be able to sleep easy.