Interview with Ms Jenny Liu : How To Cultivate A Great Pianist

by | Interview

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

In this series, it is a little special. This time, we are not interviewing a teacher.

Instead, we are interviewing an unsung hero, who played a big role in cultivating a piano teacher whom we worked with.

She is Ms Jenny Liu, mother of Ms Shirley Lo, a young piano teacher who give kids and adult piano lessons in Punggol. We have referred students in Punggol to Ms Shirley since start of this year, and parents have feedback to us their kids are learning well under her.

And as we talked, we realized that her mother, Jenny, plays a huge role in cultivating interest and skills in piano playing since young, for her and her sister too. Jenny has also published a book “How To Cultivate A Great Pianist”, which is available for sale on Amazon (but you need a US account to purchase it). 

In this interview, we seek to understand how Jenny cultivates interest and support her two daughters in their pursuit of music. If you’re a parent with kids learning piano, this interview is definitely for you how you can cultivate your child’s interest in music, to be a great pianist too!

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

Hi, I’m Jenny. I was born in Wuhan, China. I was working as a F&B supervisor in a hotel before I met my husband. After getting married and immigrating to Singapore, I then gave birth to my 2 beautiful daughters.

From then on, I have accompanied them throughout their piano journey for over ten years. Shirley and Linda have achieved their ABRSM Grade 8 Certificates and Trinity ATCL Diplomas. Linda has even obtained her LTCL Diploma with extremely high marks at a young age of sixteen years old.

Being a mother of two kids who have spent their entire childhood on learning to play the piano, I was exposed to a vast variety of music. My interest in music grew over the years. Hence, reading up on music history, composers’ biography, listening to music recordings and doing research on pieces are some of my favorite things to do as my hobby.

2. What motivates you to write the book?

A book consolidates one’s knowledge that he or she would have taken years of experience to accumulate. After researching and reading over fifteen years, the thought of writing a book to share my valuable experiences with both the parents and children came to me one day.

How do we help our children to have a strong foundation and unwavering interest in playing the piano? As parents, how can we cooperate with the teacher to assist our children in achieving exemplary results for their ABRSM and Trinity piano examinations? With these in mind, I finally completed this book after three years, and have the pleasure to publish it.

3. There are many students learning piano these days, but most of them lost interest after a few years. Based on your research, what are some of the reasons why students lost interest in piano?

In today’s world, there are plenty of kids who are fortunate enough to have the opportunity and means to learn and play the piano. However, some would eventually opt to quit due to their dismal piano examination results.

Others might quit learning the piano as their parents think it is more important for the student to focus on schoolwork. In many countries, learning how to play an instrument might just be a way for students to enter their desired school.

As a result, many students choose to quit in their age of 10-13 as piano might not be their priority anymore.

4. We all know practicing is key to improve piano playing. What do you think are some of the mistakes made by pianists when they practice, which is not helping them to improve? 

Some pianists play music monotonously without pulsing. A sentence with different punctuations has different meanings. It is the same in music; different punctuations will produce different expressions.

The correct punctuations will enhance our expression and convey the right meanings and emotions to the audiences.

Also, some pianists play music with no feelings, causing the piece to sound dull and lifeless.

Creating a convincing story for each piece will make our performance more interesting.

Lastly, some pianists play blindly and repeatedly when they practice, ignoring the mistakes that they made. When they are playing, they might also tend to miss out on some of the details.

Hence, recording down the music and listen to it afterwards might help them to realize their mistakes and make amendments to it accordingly.

5. You have assisted your own daughters to do well in piano and achieved excellent results in piano diplomas. Can you share a few things you did that helped your daughters to do so well? 

I would bring them to concerts, musicals, dance performances etc to allow them to appreciate music in different aspects.

Being able to express yourself freely through music requires imagination. Hence, going for overseas trips allows them to be exposed to more sceneries and cultures, which they could incorporate in their musical interpretations.

When my daughters were still young and could not relate to many emotions, I would tell them stories or show them movies. By doing so, they can better interpret the music.

Moreover, I would listen and watch renowned pianists’ recordings of the piece, do research and analyze the scores etc. to further help my daughters understand their pieces well.

Most importantly, as a parent, I gave my daughters enormous amount of encouragement and support.

6. If a piano student wants to go far in his/her music journey and do well like your daughters, what are the 3 advises you will give him/her? 

I believe deeply that preserving our children’s music interests require long-term cooperation amongst the piano teacher, parents and children. Not all children have the discipline to practice daily on their own. Thus, my first advice for them would be to listen and follow their teacher and parents’ guidance.

Secondly, set a goal or target and work towards it. You would definitely face setbacks or failures along the way. Despite so, never give up and continue to learn from your mistakes and move on.

Last but not least, learn to enjoy and have fun while playing the piece. It is the process that matters, not the end result.

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We would like to thank Ms Jenny Liu for sharing her experiences in playing a supporting role for her daughter’s pursuit of music. We believe her sharing is beneficial to many parents out there who would love to see their kids pursue music with great interest!

Feel free to share this interview with someone who will benefit greatly from it!

Stay tuned as we will bring you more interviews of our piano teachers! 😀

 

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