by Khoo Hui Ling
I had a love-hate relationship with Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. Those consecutive thirds in the first movement, they eluded me. Almost everyday from 2013-2014, the practice rooms in the University of Oregon resounded with those thirds. They were like a majestic announcement of my presence, except I felt deeply apologetic to those practicing next to me, for having their ears relentlessly pulverised by those thirds.
It was during this period of time that I turned to journaling my practice sessions. I had run into brick walls before, but this time was different. This time, I felt like I was up against the Berlin Wall! Journaling was crucial in helping me overcome the practice rut I had strayed into.
Recently, I’ve found myself encouraging students, especially adult students, to keep their own practice journals. It helps to clarify one’s thoughts and objectives, and is an especially cathartic exercise if the practice session had been frustrating. And if the practice session went well, then journaling becomes a form of self-encouragement.
I was thus inspired to write this post on how I use my practice journal, and I hope it ignites some ideas pertaining to journaling your own music journey.
by Goh Ruyin
In light of the inclusion of teaching emotional intelligence in mainstream education in Singapore, here is the chicken-and-egg question that parents are probably burning to ask: does learning music really help your child’s emotional quotient (EQ)? Or do people with high EQ naturally find an affinity with music?
Let me respond with my own personal experience. Music, to me, was and is an essential partner in my emotional development.
MUSIC HELPED ME DISCOVER AND MAKE PEACE WITH MY EMOTIONS
I was a very emotional child. However, I was socially awkward and could not even look to my family for emotional support. Hence, I turned to the written word and music for solace. Pages after pages of diary entries were filled, and ballad after ballad was tinkled out soulfully (at least, I like to think) on the piano. I joined the choir in primary school, and the concert band in secondary school until junior college. I felt chills go down my spine as I made otherworldly sounds on my instrument. It was such a transcendental experience. It still is. Every day, my emotional connection with myself deepens, and music is like the vector that carries it through.
by Khoo Hui Ling
Opening up to music, which is Part 2 of What It Means To Have A Lifelong Friendship with Music, is very much like opening up to a friend. It is about connecting emotionally with music. It is about seeking to learn and understand first before making any judgement. The former requires humility, while the latter, curiosity.
Leon Fleisher, a pianist greatly revered not just for his commanding musicianship but his gentle soul, is a living embodiment of humility and curiosity. For those who may not be so acquainted with the pianist, in his mid-thirties and at the height of his performing career, Mr. Fleisher lost the use of his right hand due to focal dystonia. Resilience saw him through thirty or so years of experimental treatment, as well as a spectacular career as a teacher and conductor. Half his lifetime later in his seventies, he regained the use of his right hand and cut a CD Two Hands. Not too long ago, he celebrated his 90th birthday, performing in major music festivals.
In the article “Lessons I Learned From My Dad” written for the New York classical music radio station WQXR’s blog, Julian Fleisher calls his dad, Leon Fleisher, a “badass”. I think for many of us, we can only aspire to be that bad of an ass. It is an easy and humorous read which you can explore here: https://wqxr.org/story/lessons-learned-dad-leon-fleisher-piano/.
by Khoo Hui Ling
When starting The Music Studios, the dedicated team of teachers and I unanimously agreed that a lifelong friendship with music was the best gift a music teacher could give to a student. The tagline does have a nice ring to it, but what does it really entail? Since The Music Studios is a recent development and this is the very first blog post, I thought it meaningful to share some ideas about that. To all music teachers and parents, I hope this will provoke some thought into the worth behind sending children for music lessons.
I’ve found “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery to be an enlightening allegorical read that has inspired many facets of my life. It is about a little prince from another planet, and his encounters of adult life from a young child’s innocent perspective. The little prince learns many lessons from his love and pining for a rose from his home planet, which leads to my first point below.
PART 1 - FALLING IN LOVE WITH MUSIC
“People where you live," the little prince said, "grow five thousand roses in one garden... yet they don't find what they're looking for...
They don't find it," I answered.
And yet what they're looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water..."
Of course," I answered.
And the little prince added, "But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”