Interview with Ashley Ng : From Part-Time Teaching To Full-Time Career
Hi! Welcome to our sixth series of our “Interviews with Teachers”.
In this series, we have interviewed piano teacher, Ashley Ng.
We have worked with Ashley for some time by recommending her quite a number of piano students based in the West. It’s always a pleasure working with her because of her outgoing and cheerful personality, which is also what most students like about her and her piano lessons.
She may be young, but she has come a long way in her music career. Hence, we interviewed her today to find out more about her music journey, her music experience, and some little tips how she keeps her students motivated and excited for her classes!
1. Share with us a little about yourself, and your music background
I started playing piano at the age of 7 in Yamaha Music School. It was not long after I switch to private music teacher to have lessons at home.
With guidance from my teacher, I obtained my Grade 8 practical by the age of 14. In addition I have learned Chinese instruments such as Yangqin and Guzheng from my CCA of Chinese Orchestra for 4 years.
At age 15, I was selected to play the piano accompaniment for our school choir. In Junior College at age 17, I learned the instrument Guitar in my CCA Guitar Ensemble.
In university my passion for music thrive me to explore more instruments and I have learned a wide variety of percussion instruments as well as Indonesia Gamelan instruments.
I also have learned some conducting skills with modules offered by NIE. Besides teaching piano, I am currently attending vocal lessons outside.
2. How did you get started learning the piano?
I started at the age of 7 when my aunt believes it is decent for young girls to have some musical talents. She encourages my mum to sign me up for classes.
3. What motivates you to teach piano?
I took up teaching piano initially as a job alongside my degree to earn some extra pocket money.
That was when I realized some of the students who came to me halfway do not have proper foundations.
Most play pieces with stress fingers and wrong playing techniques which is worrying in the long run.
Hence I kind of set a goal for myself whereby all my students should play with the correct foundations and techniques.
It may seemed boring to teach the same materials to different students, but each and every student learn in a different way. Hence in the end, I graduated from my university but pursue a music career as a piano music teacher.
I strive to ensure right foundation, techniques as well as correct learning and practicing techniques.
4. From years of teaching piano, what is the main concern students have while learning the piano? How do you help them to overcome it?
Some of the main concerns student have are the fact that most of them have no time to practice their pieces or even to practice before the next lesson. To me I believe that it is already a fact that students did not practice.
But I do not want them to feel less confident as this will also hinder how they play for me during class. Confidence is something I strongly believe in and strive to build in students.
I will ask them to do their best in class by slowly playing the piece, however I will encourage students to practice a little everyday.
It is better to practice piano a little everyday and maybe provide me a little schedule of what they have done for the day, than to crammed all the homework load one to two days before I come for the next lesson.
Finger strength and flexibility is also something students are concerned. I have my own methods in terms of tackling these problems and I believe these are not an issue as students young and old are able to learn piano.
5. Learning piano for exams vs learning piano for leisure. What’s your take?
Some teachers and parents like to sign students for exams as it is one of the way to gauge students’ standard.
It is also considered a short term aim for students who are less motivated or to have a sense of accomplishment.
However I believe that some lower level exams do not need to be taken and more time can be spend to build up a student’s repertoires.
I heard of students who are only able to play exam pieces and nothing else. I feel that learning piano should be learning how to approach a piece, what are the methods to practice to be able to play any pieces by students themselves.
I do have students who learn piano for leisure. But I would try to teach them most of the things that are also needed to take exams in case they decide to change route in the future.
For these students, I will also recommend buying of exam books for them to try out the exam pieces but not taking. No matter is it the exam routes or leisure routes, learning of piano require persistence as well as patience.
It is not possible most of the time to get pieces out quickly. Playing the correct way, having the correct foundations takes time to build. But with a willing to learn mindset, nothing is not achievable.
6. As a pianist yourself, you know that the journey is never sweet and easy. There are times feel down, and wonder why you are not progressing as well as you want. How do you keep yourself motivated along the way?
I always believe in seeing things till the end.
Whenever I feel down, I would sometimes rest for a while before heading back to playing. Sometimes I will also watch my favorite anime or short episode show to motivate myself.
My parents also play a large role by always encouraging me, teaching me not to give up something halfway. I believe sometimes taking a short break and coming back to a problem will allow me to see things in a different light.
7. If your kids student are feeling down from learning the piano, how do you encourage them to go on?
I don’t usually like the idea of giving sweets as a form of bribing.
I believe in talking reasoning with my late beginners. But for younger kids like 5-7 years old I will sometimes motivate them by giving small sweets and stickers to help along. But most of the time these are not needed unless necessary.
8. As a full time piano teacher now, I’m sure you’re helping many students to fulfil their dreams of playing the piano. What are your other plans moving ahead?
9. One last thing! Share with us something you love to do, not related to music.
We would like to thank Ashley for her generous sharing about her music journey and experience.
Ashley does graded and leisure piano lessons at her place at West Coast or around the area at student’s place. If you’re keen to find out more about her lessons, just drop a message in the form below.
We hope that you have gained lots of insights about learning and playing the piano.
Stay tuned as we will bring you more interviews of our piano teachers!
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