As Henry Adams famously explained, “A teacher affects eternity; she can never tell where her influence stops”. This belief extends to all teachers, including piano teachers.
A firm believer of the profound impact teachers may have on their students, Founder and Director of ThePiano.SG Sng Yong Meng holds and hosts frequent gatherings for these unsung heroes. His hopes are that these meetings may motivate the piano teachers of Singapore to continue to inspire one other in what they do as well as continue to influence the next generation of pianists and piano teachers alike.
The most recent piano outing is the third of its kind, the first having being held on 1 May 2016, in Orchard Central and the second, on 6 June 2016, at The Esplanade. The meeting was greeted with a cozy enthusiasm as familiar faces gathered at Maxwell Food Centre for a pre-outing catch-up and dinner. Food were shared and laughter was spread as Yong Meng and the teachers discussed the topic of the day – sight reading, firmly agreeing on the importance of the skill in any piano students’ life.
Sight reading, also known as a prima vista (“first sight” in Italian) is the ability to read and perform a piece of music that has not been previously revealed to the performer. Once mastered, pianists will be able to save time on learning new pieces and focus on polishing up other skills instead, significantly balancing out the learning curve.
Apart from discussing the challenges in a student’s life, the teachers also discussed the difficulties of being a piano teacher. As interest drifts from serious to more leisure playing, a teacher can only struggle to keep a student engaged in the art of piano playing. After all, a good teacher is only as good as a student who is willing to learn.
Once dinner was done, Yong Meng and the teachers were quick to proceed to The URA Centre, Maxwell Road to carry on the fun, where two donated pianos by the Play it Forward initiative has found their permanent home (the third piano resides at NUS UTown). The beauty of a public piano park was truly realised by the group when they saw two men already engaging with the instrument when they arrived. Not wanting to disrupt the moment, they instead chose to wait and share with one another about the scores that were brought, all while appreciating the melodious atmosphere created by the lovely gentlemen.
Some exciting tunes were played by the group of teachers that night, including 3-man-6-hand pieces from "10 Intermediate to Early Advanced Selections” – "Bolero" by Streabbog, Jean Louis and "Valse", by Sergei Rachmaninoff, as well as sight read and improvised pieces by Yiruma, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, Final Fantasy IX's Melodies of Life and Leroy Anderson's "Blue Tango”. Despite the heat, perspiration, and stale air, Yong Meng and the teachers carried on well past The URA Centre’s closing time, using their phones as sources of light, illuminating the scores as they continued to play, concluding the night’s activities only at 10pm.
It is evident that the group’s passion for their art is strong and will continue to be for the fourth outing is already well underway. If you are a piano teacher or simply passionate about teaching and the piano, and wish to join all the fun during the next gathering, you can apply to be part of the group.