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How To Score Better For Your ABRSM Piano Exams In Singapore

If you are a local Singaporean student looking to pass your piano ABRSM examinations, then here are some tips to help you score better for this examination. Anyway, I recommend that you take home music lessons over school lessons if you want to score better for your piano exams as well – reasons are provided here.

First of all, you should practise your singing. Many Singaporean students do not do well at singing, not because they do not know how to sing, but because they do not dare to truly sing out. Many Singaporean students dare to sing at karaoke sessions and in front of their friends, but due to the conservative culture, do not dare to sing out loud in front of strangers – e.g. the piano examiner. You want to practise singing in front of people. If that is not possible, simply care less about trying to impress others (e.g. the examiner) and instead try to impress yourself. Too many local students in Singapore mess up the aural part of the piano exam because they try too hard to impress the examiner, but at the same time, are afraid of messing up, and so do not sing properly and naturally. Although the overall percentage from the aural part of the piano exam is relatively small, you should work hard and use the tips I mentioned to score better. Every score is important to get the distinction for your piano exams.

Second of all, another weak point of Singaporean students is the sight reading. That is right. This is also due to the culture in Singapore – but instead of the conservative culture which affects the aural segment, I am referring to the perfectionist culture present in many top Singapore schools. Since most music and piano students in Singapore hail from primary, secondary and JC schools in Singapore, the students most likely suffer from a perfectionist syndrome. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time. It is an advantage because you will usually perform better for the three exam pieces. However, it is a disadvantage when it comes to more spontaneous piano playing like sight reading part of the piano ABRSM exams in Singapore. This is because nearly all local students in Singapore like to replay the entire piece if they hit one single wrong note, or are so caught up with trying to play the right note that they mess up the entire rhythm of the song. The rhythm of the song gets a much heavier weightage when it comes to the scoring for the sight reading segment of the piano ABRSM segment, so you must work much harder on getting the rhythm right, than getting all the notes right. This is something that can be deeply uncomfortable for many local students, but you must get used to this change if you want to succeed at the sight reading segment of your piano examination.

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Private Piano Teachers Vs School – What Is Better In Singapore?

If you are looking to send your child or yourself for piano lessons to learn to play the piano in Singapore, then it is important to consider whether you or your child should learn from a private home piano teacher or a music school.

First of all, when it comes to costs, there is no challenge at all. Learning from a private piano teacher will be significantly cheaper than learning from a public music school. One of the key reasons for this is because the music school has to charge significantly more to cover the high rental costs in shopping centres in Singapore. Rent is the main costs that music schools struggle with, as salaries to the teachers are relatively low in Singapore. As a result of these, when you pay extra at the music school, you are really just making the shopping centre owners richer indirectly, not the teachers! So if you want to save money as well as ensure that your dollars are going mostly to the music school and the teachers, then try to take lessons from a private home piano teacher instead. Additionally, the music schools have to cover the cost of their purchased pianos, and therefore charge you more as a student as a result of it. On the other hand, private home piano teachers usually teach their students, for example you, at their homes and there is already a piano belonging to the student. Therefore, the fees you pay to the private home music teachers are purely for their time and expertise in teaching you to play the piano, and not to cover any other kind of expenditures.

Second of all, when it comes to quality of the teachers, it is generally safe for schools if you stick to a famous music school like Cristofori or Yamaha. It may be more hit or miss if you or your child were to learn to play the piano from a less famous music school in Singapore. On the other hand, if you tried to look for individual private piano teachers, it is truly risky and really hit or miss. I recommend that if you want safety in picking the right private home piano teacher, so that you do not end up in a hit or miss situation. You want to engage a private music teacher through a reputable piano teacher-student agency. This way, you will get only good teachers, because they have incentive to protect their own agency name, only by recommending good private piano teachers. When it comes to bad teachers for agencies, they can simply them kick out. Whereas, for individual teachers, it makes no sense for a bad teacher to tell everyone that he or she is bad and get no students.

As you can see, it really depends on what you value more. The way I see it? Private home piano lessons are the best.

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How To Be A Piano Teacher In Singapore – 3 Steps!

Now, I am assuming that by you reading this post, you have already made up your mind earlier on that you want to be a piano teacher in Singapore. With that said, let us move on proper with the 3 steps I promised you in the title above on how to become a piano teacher in SG.

Step number 1: Get a piano Diploma instead of just a Grade 8 ABRSM certification. Not only can you charge higher as a result of this, it helps you stand out slightly more than the other ‘normal’ Grade 8 ABRSM ‘amateur’ piano teachers. By taking a Diploma, you will be seen more of an authority, and you can then charge higher and still get students, or charge the same as a ABRSM Grade 8 teacher would and get more students than they ever can due to students seeing you as a better pianist and hence teacher. It can be quite competitive to be a private piano teacher in Singapore, and you need to do everything to differentiate yourself and get more customers. You also need more than just a Diploma to get students quickly so you can kickstart your career as a music teacher. Check out steps 2 and 3 to find out more.

Step number 2: Apply for a job or rather, find a music teacher-student agency online and then work with them. These agencies, usually established ones (e.g. linkedin.com/company/sglearnpiano) tend to get a healthy amount of students requesting for teachers per week. This ensures that although they may take a big chunk of your initial first month income, you will get a steady rice bowl because of the steady inflow of student. My take? A good exchange for stability and quick growth in my student base.

Step number 3: Ask for referrals. That is right. At the end of the day, as a private piano teacher in Singapore, you are self employed. No one is going to put a fixed salary into your bank account or CPF at the end of the month. This means more freedom and also more work at the same time. You need to go all out and teach students as best as you can. But if you want to stay in the business, you need to ask for referrals, and get your name out there.

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3 Quick Lessons To Help You Learn To Play The Piano

In my previous article, I talked about how you can quickly master playing ABRSM piano songs. However, if you just want general piano lessons in Singapore, and not necessarily learning piano for only the specific purpose to pass the ABRSM piano examinations in Singapore, then you should check out the following piano tutorials. If you are looking for a private music teacher instead, then check out https://www.sglearnpiano.com.

I have compiled several great tutorials I have found on YouTube, and collated them all below for your easy reference. The following piano lessons are really basic and yet such explanatory by itself that any beginner will be able to listen to the lessons below and quickly become a decent pianist. Of course, you will still need lots of practice to truly become a great pianist and be able to bring out every music piece out perfectly like a professional. When it comes to music, practice still makes perfect. However, at least with the lessons below, you will quickly be able to a decent player, and be able to easily play chords and impress your less musically inclined friends!

The steps taught in the videos below will also help you master classical music songs, which are typical in ABRSM exams and very important if you want to eventually become a public performer at piano concerts.

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How To Quickly Master Playing ABRSM Piano Pieces

If you are a piano student in Singapore and want to master ABRSM piano pieces quicker, here are some tips from a person who has been playing classical piano songs in Singapore his whole life.

When it comes to mastering ABRSM piano pieces, it is important to note that the examiner will put much more emphasis on getting the overall rhythm and ‘feel’ of the piece right, rather than the individual notes (if forced to choose). Therefore, it is important to practise with the rhythm and ‘feel’ as the top priority, followed by the technical accuracy. This is something that many Singaporean students tend to mess up, as most Singaporean piano students are perfectionists, and keep practising the ABRSM piano songs by trying to get it technically perfect first, before adding in the right rhythm and ‘feel’. Although it may sound plausible in theory, it is not the case in real life. You need to make sure to practise with the purpose of getting the rhythm right first, followed by adding in your own interpretation and ‘feel’ of the piano piece, followed by the technical aspects of the piece. This does not mean pressing random wrong keys, but simply putting a higher priority on the rhythm and ‘feel/personal interpretation’ of the piece yourself.

An additional tip that I have for piano students in Singapore is that it is practice that makes perfect, not studying. Many students in Singapore, perhaps due to the national school / academic system, like to study instead of practise (regardless of whatever we are talking about). However, when it comes to acing the ABRSM exams, simply listening to the ‘perfect play’ on the ABRSM CD and reading the notes over and over again, or even reading this article won’t help you as much as actually practising it in real life. You need to practise over and over again, which then leads us to the next tip.

How often should you practise to see the best results and eventually ace your piano exams? I recommend approximately 5-7 times per piano exam piece per day. Yes, that may sound like a little, but you do not want to go overboard with the daily practice as well. Why do I recommend this? Because I want you to practise for every day, no days off, regardless of birthday, public holiday or school exams. 5 to 7 times per exam piece is the ideal so that you won’t be spending too much time practising that you feel that you do not have time to do anything else, but it is sufficient enough for you to eventually master the piece as long as you also follow the first two pieces of advice I have for you in the above paragraphs. The key to keeping each practise session relatively short is to keep your motivation high to practise again the next day, as the overall goal is to make sure that you are able to practise every single day without fail and excuses! This is the real key and everything is to support this – consistency in practice. So make sure to take this advice from me, do NOT play more than 5-7 times per exam piece per day. Do not go crazy with practice frequency for 2 weeks and then stop for 1 week. This is bad. You want consistency. The name of the game is consistency. Of course, picking a good piano teacher from a good piano teacher match up agency is necessary as well. Here are some tips to help you achieve that.

So there you have it – the three tips which will help you master the ABRSM piano exam pieces in Singapore!

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How Do I Pick A Good Private Piano Teacher In Singapore?

If you are looking for a private piano teacher in Singapore, here are 3 big tips in 2018 for you to help you find the best piano teacher.

First and foremost, I strongly recommend that you pick a piano teacher from a teacher-student match up agency. A quick example of such an agency in Singapore is SG Learn Piano. The reason you should pick from a teacher-student match up agency is because they have a pool of teachers which you can pick from. This means that if the agency is large enough, they will have a large enough pool of teachers, such that their recommendations can be unbiased. However, if you were to look for independent and individual music teachers, do you think they will be able to give you recommendations to other teachers and tell you that they are bad? No, they simply wouldn’t due to conflict of interest. However, when it comes to a teacher-student agency, they still make the same money regardless of the teacher they actually match you up with! This means that their interests are more in-line with yours and will not make bad recommendations – take their advice if they recommend you to/against a particular teacher they say is good/bad.

Second of all, most of your problems will be solved if you had gone to an agency. However, there are some things you should also raise up to the agency so that they can find a more suitable teacher. Make sure to tell the agency whether you or your child intends to learn piano lessons for leisure or for the purpose of passing the formal ABRSM exams. Some teachers specialize only in teaching students who want to learn for the purpose of acing the ABRSM exams. However, other teachers teach both leisure and regimental lessons.

The third and last tip I have for you to pick the best private piano teacher in Singapore is to make sure to tell the agency where you stay and that you only want teachers who stay near you. For instance, if you stay in Jurong West, ask for a teacher who also stays in the West. This is because if the teacher stayed too far from your home, they will charge you a transportation fee. Additionally, any last minute rescheduling with the teacher will need much earlier notification if he or she stayed too far from you. Also, trust me when I say that if the teacher is near you, he or she will be more motivated to teach your or your child music lessons.

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How Much Do Piano Lessons Really Cost In Singapore?

If you are intending to let your child learn the piano, then it is important to understand the financials being making it work out for you as well.

So how much do piano lessons cost in Singapore if you want your child to reach ABRSM grade 8 level proficiency level?

First of all, there are basically 3 parts to the financial aspect of learning the piano:

  • Purchasing the piano
  • Piano lessons itself
  • Registering for the examinations

Part 1: Purchasing the piano

Depending on whether you are living in a landed property or an apartment (be it HDB or condo), you may want to opt for either an upright piano or a grand piano. A grand piano can cost upwards of $20,000, while a usual upright piano costs around $8000. Purchasing a piano is a must, because practice is the one of the main things which will allow your child to truly master playing the piano. Purchasing a mid to high tier model from a good piano brand like Yamaha or Cristofori will usually already allow your child to use the same piano till he or she reaches grade 8.

Part 2: Piano lessons

Monthly costs of piano lessons for four lessons per month starts from around $150 in grade 1 and up till $350 in grade 8. Taking an average of $250 per month, that will be around $250 x 12 months x 8 years = $24,000. This is the average cost you can expect to shell out for your child’s piano lessons over 8 years if your child passes each piano exam the first time he or she takes it and only takes 1 year to master each ABRSM grade.

Part 3: Registering for the piano examinations

The ABRSM practical grade 1 examination registrations cost around $185, and increases until around $480 at grade 8. The ABRSM theory grade 1 examination registrations cost around $105 for grade 1 till $195 for grade 8. If your child were to take each exam once and pass it on the first try, it will be around $3640 as of today, if there is no major changes to ABRSM’s fees.

This means that all in, it will be approximately $35,000 for your child to reach grade 8, or approximately $4,375 per year.

Therefore, make sure to find out if your child is truly interested in learning the piano first. Although playing the piano has great benefits and correlation to higher IQ in children, it is still important to seek the understanding of your child before proceeding.

Despite the high price tag, if your child is able to reach grade 8 piano proficiency level, your child can easily earn $30 per hour by teaching others to play the piano! This means that your child has the future option to work part-time as a piano teacher to supplement his or her income.