Today is the last day of 2021. Last year, we did a review of the crazy things we did in 2020 because of covid.

So what did we do in 2021? What are the things we did to make our students and teachers happy throughout this covid-delta-omnicron year?

Let’s review!


1. First, Choose Your ‘Lucky’ Number

What are the 3 numbers that gives us lots of stress this year?

They are 2 5 8!

2020 ended with covid measures allowing a maximum of 8 people to gather. This gives us lots of hope into 2021, and I start to imagine a new world without covid.

But all plans got crushed again in May when government announced new measures.

Sad and angry?

Of course! Even the happy pianist also become sad. Why restrictions again…argghhh!!

But I can only be sad for 5 minutes, because I need to get back to work, as teachers and parents are paging me for support.

We quickly revise my online piano lesson set up guide, and include them with photos of set up to help parents and teachers continue lessons for learning.

Most teachers have already resumed normal face to face lessons for months since late last year. Some also forgotten how to set up zoom. But luckily this guide get the teachers back to teaching quickly.

So June comes, restrictions lifted! 5 persons can gather!

But then.. it’s 2 persons again in September.

and 2 persons extended to October…

And right now Dec 2021, is 5.

Most of my teachers used to panic when we see new measures introduced by the government since last year.

But the ‘2-5-8’ this year has trained us to adjust immediately regardless what number they throw at us. We are so used to it.

It is like doing so many past year exam papers, you immediately know the answer when you see the question.

Having said this, we are at 5 now. Can we have 8 soon in 2022? Or even better, no more restrictions? We shall see next year!


2. Restrictions Are Not That Bad After All!

2021 is the year of restrictions.

But 2021 is also the year we created our branded merchandise! Because of the extra time during ‘mini lockdowns’, we have the time to work on the ideas we have.

Let me share with you how they come about.

First, we have the Happy Music Folder!

The Happy Music Folder is designed to make musicians’ lives easier. Secures music sheet perfectly, writes notes easily without taking out, and read music scores without annoying reflection.

Above that, I also design the folders to have 4 colours – Black, White, Blue, Pink.

Most of our music folders are black. Ask any music teachers and they can show you.

So I thought… if we have different colour folders, then our piano shelves will be colourful, and the music folders will stand out and students will love to open their scores and play piano more.

White, pink and blue will definitely be popular.

But guess which is the first colour that sold out after launch?

Yes, Black!

Sold out within the first few weeks!

Most teachers and students still prefer black after all.

The first batch of other colours also sold out, but after few months.

But right now, all colour folders are back in stock!

>> More details about The Happy Music Folder here.

Next, is the Happy Music Card Game.

I’ve always thought of creating a music card set that students can play and be familiar with music through games, but I don’t have the time to sit down and plan properly… until the May-June restrictions! 

I’ve been running The Happy Pianist for 7 years now, speaking to teachers, parents and students every single day.

And one of the struggles music students face is note reading. Recognising music notation.

Yes, I know there are many learning methods and some people claim they can make you play piano without learning to read a single note.

Of course you can, like rote learning through memory, memorising finger pattern and tunes by playing repeatedly the same song over a year, or learning a few chords in one class and say “you can now play the piano!”

But what I’m referring to, is learning to be a real musician, able to read music, and play any music pieces given to you.

Last year I had a FB live with Ms Vivian, and she shared one tip on improving note reading and sight reading – which is to read often!

The more often you read music notes, the more you can recognise them. That’s why Ms Vivian suggests students to try learning new pieces frequently, compared to just learning 3 new exam pieces a year.

That also get me thinking… what if students can immerse themselves with music and read notes frequently, through games?Because through the fun nature of games, students will willingly improve their music note reading, in order to win their friends or even their teachers.

This motivation to read music faster becomes intrinsic, something that they will want to do themselves, and not forced by parent or teacher to memorise music notes.

And that is how the Happy Music Card Game is born!

Along the way, some teachers also shared with me they are using the card set to teach music theory, and work well for young children as a visual aid.

>> More details about The Happy Music Card Game here.

So the above 2 products are born out of restrictions.

Moving forward, we plan to materialise more ideas we have, into products that make music learning fun for our students and teachers.

And hopefully, we won’t need another restriction or lockdown for the next product 🙂


3. Restrictions Or Not, The Festival Has To Go On!

Last year, we organised our first ever music competition, The Happy Pianist Festival 2020.

We had 137 contestants across 4 piano categories.

And with gatherings opened up to 8 persons in Dec 2020, we thought 2021 will be the end of restrictions.

So while planning for the 2021’s festival in early January 2021, we plan to do more… maybe more categories? piano 4 hands? maybe duets? maybe live in person?

But May-June restrictions throw all the plans away.

Piano 4 hands and duets are already in the plan, but in the end we decided not to, because of the uncertainty of restrictions.

Because if visiting is not allowed, then the two musicians can’t meet and practice. How are they going to compete?

So we keep our categories to just solo performances, just like 2020’s festival.

But we make it a better one, with introduction of violin categories, more awards, more prizes, more trophies.


But new restrictions in September almost disrupt the festival!

Together with my partner at The Happy Violinist, we announce the festival registration in July 2021, and received active participation for all piano and violin categories.

In total, we have 234 contestants for The Happy Music Festival 2021! We have a few contestants from overseas too.

This year’s festival looks so promising!

But in end September, the government introduce another restriction to limit visiting (again).

Many teachers’ lesson schedule is disrupted (again), and their preparation for the submission is also affected.

We went to look at the timeline, and we also discussed with the judges. To help the teachers and contestants, we extended the submission deadline to allow them to adjust their schedule, and have a little more time to prepare for submission. Phew!

In the end, they are happy and they submitted their performances on time!

Not only that, we also secure a venue sponsorship with Bechstein Music World, for us to hold a Live In-Person Concert as a finale of the festival.

Live performance is what many musicians crave for throughout this covid period, so we are very happy to provide this opportunity for this year festival.

We split up the performers into two sessions, so we can maximise the audience attendance, while staying below the limit of 50 people. The entire concert was also live-streamed on our Facebook page for many others to enjoy.

All the performers gave their best, even thought it may be their first time performing in front of live audience in 2 years! Well done!

We are thankful to Bechstein Music World with this opportunity to our festival winners and contestants.

You can watch the highlights of the live concert here again. 

And here’s the full results of the Happy Music Festival 2021. 


Motivational Quote For 2021?

In 2020, I ended with this quote:

“Life Isn’t About Waiting For The Storm To Pass. It’s About Learning How To Dance In The Rain”

In 2021, I will give you this motivational quote to sum up the year:

“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When life gives you shi*t, you make fertiliser”

Who knows covid-19 will become delta, and then now omicron?

Who knows when is 2, 5 8 or 0?

Who knows when we can all perform openly, attend live concerts freely like what we used to do?

No one knows.

But whatever situation or restriction we are in, we will make the best out of it.

How will 2022 be like?

2 5 8 or 0?

It doesn’t matter.

We will face new challenges, adapt and support all our teachers, parents and students.

And will continue to make you a Happy Pianist, a Happy Violinist, a Happy Guitarist and a Happy Vocalist!

Thank you for a wonderful 2021.

See you in 2022!

~ Mark
The Happy Pianist


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