Monday, October 09, 2006

Bernhard's posts on the PianoStreet

Bernhard is a well recognised figure on the PianoStreet forum.
I personally find many of his posts educating and informative.
More importantly, I truly respect his dedication and generosity to share his knowledge on the forum.
If one take some effort in looking at his posts, one would wonder how did he manage to put on so much details on his posts consistently over a long period of time.
He really needs to be commended

Also, I would like to mention here about Mayla, who has been writing personal messages to me giving me advice on how to start learning the piano and have given many resources to read on.

As I come along and read post that I like, I would keep a link to it

Music / Composer



Sight Reading


Repertoire / Grades





Other members
xvimbi, mayla

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Search for a piano

I have been going around to search for a piano for the past couple of weeks.

I have been to Yamaha, Robert Piano and some used piano dealers.

My observation of the market in Singapore is generally the same between the dealers.

Of course, firstly, we know that it is less frequent that we find a model produced 20 years back still in production today with the exception of Yamaha U series. I attribute that to the improvement of technology and piano making techniques.
What I try to compare is an entry level "Studio" or "Upright" (ie. 48" and above)

In my observation, a new upright piano of this size will generally cost around $7000 and above, and for every 10 years, the depreciation value of sale is around $1500++.
This observation comes from, for 20 years old piano, it is generally at the price of $4000, and a 30 years old will cost around $2300 to $2800.
But, do note that I have not come across any used piano with age of around 10 years. Thus, just by logical extrapolation, I would guess that a 10 years used piano will cost around $5500 and below.

However, do take note that this is the depreciation in sale price. Thus, if you buy a brand new at $7000, after 10 years, if you wish to sell the piano off to a dealer, you will have to further reduce from the sale of $5500 by say another $1000.

In my case, a dealer offer a buy back clause for a 20 years old piano that cost $4000 at a buy back price of $2200 after 2 years which is not very attractive but necessary as the dealer would still wants to make a profit from the buy back.

In the case of my search, personally, I find these three places worth a visit.
Asia Piano at Singapore Shopping Center
The Piano Passion at Exclesior Hotel
Century Piano at Liang Court

After a few sessions to try out some pianos, my search was narrowed down to a 20 years Kawai 125cm (49") model.
The model I have tried are NS-25, BS-20S etc
Personally, I like the warmth of Kawai compare to the crisp bright tone of a Yamaha.
With the warmth, the tone sounds bigger too. However, this is just personal liking, I would expect there are many more out there who prefer a Yamaha tone.

Finally, we decided on a 18 years od BS-20S
Still eagerly waiting for the piano to arrive

The piano has arrived!!!!

Looks great to me!!!!  


I am searching through and asking for opinion on the net in my search for more information on piano and Suzuki Method.

An incredible free piano practice book for free download at
The Fundamentals of Piano Practice
Hmm..... I'm still a guitar player in my core at the moment, so I can't help looking for review of the techniques on this book on guitars.

I learn about the "The Fundamentals of Piano Practice" link from ThePianoStreet
Definitely my greatest source of piano knowledge input at this moment.

An interesting thread on how many hours should you put into your practice,2265.0.html
which also links to

This looks pretty interesting, but I haven't had the time to check it out in details.
Links from Piano Hands

From Piano Street, Bernhard mentioned of a list of studies to progress
Check them out!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Deciding a New or Used Piano

I'm in the process of getting a piano for my children (and myself). So, naturally I'm faced with a decision to make, whether to buy a new or used piano.

I have to make a similar decision 12 years back when I started to learn classical guitar.
After all these years of experience, I thought the experience will help me in deciding and even sometime along the way, I have preached to buy the best classical guitar you can afford.
But, here am I, facing the same decision again, I simply cannot help but to consider all the options again.
This time round, the difficulty is the same, if not more difficult.

My primary consideration is

  • a good instrument will help and maintain the student interest
  • a beginner cannot determine what is the best tone for herself
  • budget constraint
The difference between now and 12 years back was mainly
  • the instrument cost this time round is higher
  • I am having a tighter budget this time
  • Probably, after many years of playing the guitar, there is a strong urge to start with a good instrument

So, you can see the contradiction here.

After some thoughts, I think it is probably best for me to start with a 42" (or longer) used piano.

The reason for using 42" as a guide is a thought I have after reading the different classification of piano mentioned in Larry Fine's book, The Piano Book.
I do like to have a 43" as a base, but found that the price range is substantially different for that 1", thus, I thought I might not want to restrict myself to 43" and above only.

The only concern of getting a used is the condition. Thus, hopefully, after 12 years of listening, playing and choosing guitars, I can do a relatively acceptable job with the help of a piano technician.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Suzuki Method Repertoire

I am still trying to decide whether to let my children to use the traditional or Suzuki method to learn piano.
So, for a start I search into the repertoire of Suzuki method and will try to compare with the repertoire of any music school I can get on hand.

The list of repertoire for Suzuki method is listed as below

Book 1

1Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star VariationsSuzuki
2The Honey BeeFolk Song
3CuckooFolk Song
4Lightly RowFolk Song
5French Children's SongFolk Song
6London BridgeFolk Song
7Mary Had a Little LambFolk Song
8Go Tell Aunt RhodyFolk Song
9Clair de LuneLully
10Long, Long AgoBayly
11Little PlaymatesChwatal
12Chant ArabeAnon.
13Allegretto 1Czerny
14Good-bye to WinterFolk Song
15Allegretto 2Czerny
16Christmas-Day SecretsDutton

Book 2

2A Short StoryLichner
3The Happy FarmerSchumann
4Minuet 1Bach
5Minuet 2Bach
6Minuet 3Bach
8Cradle Songvon Weber
12Sonatina (2 mvts)Beethoven

Book 3

1Sonatina, Op. 36, No. 1 - Allegro; Andante; VivaceClementi
2Sonatina, Op. 55, No. 1 - Allegro; VivaceKuhlau
3Themearr. from Beethoven
4The Wild RiderSchumann
6Sonatina, Op. 36, No. 3 - SpiritosoBach

Book 4

2Minuet I from 8 Minuets with TrioMozart
3Minuet III from 8 Minuets with TrioMozart
4Minuet VIII from 8 Minuets with TrioMozart
6Sonata in G major, Op. 49, No. 2
Allegro, ma non troppo; Tempo di Minuetto
8Minuets I & II from Partita in BbBach
9Gigue from Partita in BbBach

Book 5

1Für Elise, WoO 59Beethoven
2Arabesque, Op. 100, No. 2Bergmüller
3By the Limpid Stream, Op. 100, No. 7Bergmüller
4Sonatina in F major, from Zwei Sonaten Nr. 2,
K-H Anh. 5 Allegro assai; Rondo - Allegro
5Old French Song, from
"Album for the Young", Op. 39, No. 16
6Prelude in C major from the Well-Tempered
Clavier, Vol. 1, BWV 846
7Sonata No. 48 in C major, Hob. XVI/35
Allegro con brio; Adagio; Finale - Allegro
8Siciliano from "Album for the Young", Op. 68, No. 11Schumann
9First Loss from "Album for the Young", Op. 68, No. 16Schumann

Book 6

1Le coucouDaquin
2Little Prelude in c minor (for lute), BWV 999Bach
3Sonata in C, K. 330
Allegro moderato; Andante cantabile; Allegretto
4Sonata in C, K. 545 - Allegro; Andante; RondoMozart
5Sonata "Pastorale" in d minor, K. 9, L. 13D. Scarlatti

Book 7

1Sonata in A, K. 331 - Andante grazioso;
Menuetto with Trio; Alla turca - allegretto
2Prelude from Suite No. 14 in G major - AllegroHändel
3The Harmonious Blacksmith from Suite No. 5 in E majorHändel
4Minuet, Op. 14, No. 1Paderewski

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Suzuki Approach

The Suzuki Approach is based on the Mother Tongue Method.
This means that we should approach the teaching of music to young children as if we are teaching them their mother tongue.

The steps we have taken in the process of teaching our children their mother tongue as mentioned in Suzuki Method are as follows :-

  • Expectation of Success
  • Early Beginning
  • Listening
  • Nuturing
  • Social Environment
  • Parent Teacher
  • Repetition
  • Performance
  • Review
  • Natural Reading

A personal observation in my daughter, and now my son, learning mandarin is almost an exact replication of the points mentioned above.

We started off by teaching her to recite the classic 三字经 (san zi jing). We had some early success by an Early Beginning, with her Listening intensively, and with constant repetition in small amount daily, she began to pick it up very soon.

It was in fact our inability to persevere that she did not manage to recite the entire text.

A second attempt was initiated when her child care introduced a similar teaching method.

Started off by a constant recital of phrase, it progresses to recognizing character, then organizing the characters into phrase, and subsequently writing it.

It was during my search for the definition of Suzuki Method and Mother Tongue Method that I see the resemblance between Suzuki Method and the learning of a Mother Tongue.

On another site, it stated that Suzuki Approach consists of the following points

  • Develop the home environment so that the child can be exposed to Suzuki repertoire and music as a whole
  • Begin as Early as Possible (typically at the age of 3)
  • Move in small steps
    Just like when we are teaching them 三字经, we typically only let them learn 3 to 6 character every few days.
  • Parents to attend all lessons.
    I, personally, has some view on this.
    I put the priority of being able to have constant practise above the parents to attend the lesson, thus, I believe in committment to practise is more important than whether the parent do attend the lesson or not.
    As in the case of my daughter learning mandarin, I feel that daily practise (given by the teacher) is more important than whether the parent is around.
    However, in the case where the child only attend teacher led lesson once a week, I do see the importance of the parent being able to pick up the instructions by the teacher and guide the children through the daily practise
  • Create an Enjoyable Learning Environment
  • Group Lesson
    The above 2 points are basically to motivate the child so that he/she enjoy and aspires to do what the other children do
  • Foster an Attitude of Cooperation
  • Begin Music Reading when the child's aural and instrumental skills are well established.
    To me, this is similar that we teach our children to speak, read, and finally, write
  • Follow the Suzuki repertoire Sequence
    Again, to me, just like a children going through a primary, secondary or tertiary syllabus, the syllabus has gone through a series of careful planning, following a well structured syllabus is definitely better than randomly choosing the repertoire for the child to practise on.
    Moreover, with a structured syllabus, you will have a much better focus target to achieve. Just like should you use a standard classic text to start off your child in learning or simply pick up a book and start teaching her the words in the book.

Finally, just a reminder that this is by no means the 'correct' implementation of Suzuki Approach, it is just a personal thought when I learn about the Suzuki Approach.

History of Suzuki Method

Suzuki Method is founded by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki (17 October 1898 - 26 January 1998)

Dr Suzuki was borned in a family of violin maker.
He settled in Berlin during the 1920s and had an exceptional circle of friend, of them including, Albert Einstein.

In Germany, he studied violin under Karl Klinger.

In 1928, he married Waltraud Prange and they moved back to Japan.

During this period in Japan, he performed as a quartet with his brothers and began the study of the Mother Tongue Method.

After World War II, Dr Suzuki moved back to Japan, Masumoto, near Tokyo.
In Masumoto, he founded the Talent Education Institute and continued the development of the Mother Tongue Method.

For the next 30 years, Dr Suzuki assembled the repertoire of the Suzuki Violin Method.

The method then gradually expanded to Cello, Viola, Flute, Piano, String Bass, Recorder, Guitar, Harp and Voice

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Start!!!

I'm creating my blog for a record to some of the information I am reading into about child education and music.

Basically, the area I am reading into are
  • Montessori
  • Suzuki Method (Piano)

I would like to post more information about these topics and also on music as a general topic.

For a start, I'll list the books I have set on reading and probably will write a summary of it as I am reading them

On Montessori,
Montessori Read and Write: A Parent's Guide to Literacy for Children
Montessori Play And Learn: A Parent's Guide to Purposeful Play from Two to Six
Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child

On Suzuki Method (Piano),
Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education
Ability Development from Age Zero (Suzuki Method International)

On Music,
Music: An Appreciation

But just a note here, the content presented here are mostly summarizing other people work, so it's nothing new and it's not likely to be something that I have cleverly created.

But if I have breach any copywrite law in the process, do feel free to let me know and I will be most glad to take it off.