AJ's Music Journey

On 20th July, we received the results of AJ’s ABRSM Grade 8 piano exam, which he took on 3rd July, from his teacher. It was indeed a result worth celebrating. I did not dare pin too much hope in this exam, because he is only 8 years old, I know I needed to be practical. I was also afraid to set too high a hope lest I get disappointed, so I had only hope for a Merit. The father was more concerned about the adverse impact to AJ's motivation, should his efforts fail in meeting the high expectations. Thankfully he did better. Our family was very happy to receive the news, but I wouldn’t say we were overjoyed beyond words.
It is just that we have to keep our feet on the ground. Over the years, we have seen so many outstanding talents in this field, and in comparison, his achievement is really not that extraordinary. Besides, as our faith grows, over time, we learn that all good things come from God. Whether it is a Merit or a Distinction, as long as AJ has done his part to put in his best for the glory of God, we accept whatever outcome God chooses to bestow.

We are thankful to the Almighty for seeing AJ through. This year has been a very busy and hectic year for him and will continue to be until the end of the year. Beside the additional load from his school since he has transited from honeymoon years to Primary 3, he has this graded piano exam, Sing50 mega concert and a year end piano competition to cope with.

When friends got to know that AJ has completed his Grade 8 piano exam, they asked how we/he did it and what is the next step. What’s the next step?  He is most likely to continue this music journey and do his diploma in 2-3 years’ time.

As to how we/he did it, well, I think it is good for me to share it here, not to boast about his achievement, but more so as an encouragement to those who are learning music.  It will also serve as a good reflection in the future when we look back.

AJ started group music appreciation with Seimpi School of Music when he was about 2.5 years old. I signed him up for this lesson because I noticed that the little boy seemed to have a sense of rhythm even at a tender age of 1. See one of the videos I have taken here

We played music pieces often at home (mainly classical music or spiritual music), and by the time when he was able to stand and walk, I noticed that he was able to move his bum to the beat of the music. So we decided to send him for music classes. True enough, he was able to pick up really fast. Within 6 months, the teacher in the class told us that he was ready for one-to-one piano lessons.

We continued with Seimpi, under the protege of teacher Hara Hernado, with one-to-one weekly piano lessons. Each lesson was 30mins, and I got to sit in in every lesson to observe what was taught so that I could follow up with him at home. It continued for about half a year and teacher Hara told us that we could consider their fast track programme SMART for AJ. SMART is an alternative route for Seimpi’s students who are more advanced. We sent him for this audition and he passed it. The next step was for us to consider whether to ‘fast track’ him, and whether to continue in Seimpi.

After much consideration, we decided not to take the SMART route. We left Seimpi and engaged another private teacher for AJ. Through that teacher, we got to know of Adrian Tan, the music director of the Singapore Wind Symphony, Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra and the Saigon Philharmonic, and he introduced us to AJ’s current teacher.

AJ has been with this current teacher for 4 years and we have seen him grow musically. Under her tutelage, AJ took his piano Grade 2 at aged 4, Grade 5 at 5 and Grade 8 at 8, all with distinctions. We are grateful to have met her. Indeed a good teacher who can strike a chord with her/his students is very important in grooming them.

Some friends also asked if we would consider sending him overseas to pursue Music. I think it is still too early to decide as he is still very young. He also hasn’t expressed a burning desire to become a musician. To us, he must first have a strong interest and the passion, otherwise it would be really pointless to plan for any specialisation.

Of course, this journey wasn't exactly smooth sailing. Please don't think that he was so discipline in practising his pieces that he would do so automatically. But we did incorporate a daily routine, so it has formed an expectation and that he knows he has to do a 45-60mins practice daily. I shared some tips on how we get it going here and how we get him to persevere on here.

For now, he will focus on his year end competition, build up on his repetitore and play piano leisurely. He is interested in pop and jazz music (not the types from Jay Chou or Taylor Swift, more like those from Richard Clayderman or Kenny G), so spending time to widen his appreciation of the various genres may be useful, but we have to be vigilant that AJ keeps a distance so as not to be influenced by any negative or worldly elements. Next year will definitely be a more relaxed year for him.

Here are some past posts I have written which you might like to read: 

We also have a youtube channel which you could subscribe to.

If you have any questions that you would like to ask, please feel free.  I am not an expert and will definitely share with you what we have been through, and hopefully shed some lights.

Before I end, I'll share a contemporary piece that AJ has picked up from hearing (no music scores).  Yes, it's the NDP 2015 Theme Song. It's not perfect, but it showed his eagerness to learn. We didn't even have to push him, he automatically went to the piano and practised it.  This is what I meant, if the child is interested, we don't have to push. The youtube link is here.


  1. Thank you for sharing his journey. Congrats on his latest achievement and all the best in the future too!

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  2. Amazing; he's truely talented! (I only reached Grade 8 when I was 18 :-p) As for studying music when he's older, I think the important thing is to let him decide if that it is what he truely wants :-)

  3. Thanks for sharing! Really talented, and inspirational to read his journey!!

    Do you mind sharing with me on how to find a good teacher? We've tried my son on a music journey with a school in his early years as he showed keen interest since a young age. He attended Richard Clayderman's concert and wanted to learn the piano since. However, we haven't had luck in getting him a good teacher. After the music appreciation year with the school, we went with a piano teacher who wasn't committed (lessons were cancelled due to staycations, parenting talks, maternity leave, etc). We didn't have avenues in getting other teachers, and took a break for about 6 to 8 months. Now, we are with another teacher, but the same things are happening (this teacher holds a masters and seem to have a better rapport with my child, but the cancellations are disappointing). I'm just sad that my boy never got a good rhythm in his lessons even though he had the interest initially. Am worried that very soon, this will make him lose interest.

    Do you have any guidance or tips on how I can look for a good teacher?? Any sharing you can give, will be deeply appreciated!

    1. Hi Alicia, may I know how old is yr boy? You mentioned that he was with a school. Usually there will be replacement teacher if current one is not available. You could also request for a change of teacher.

    2. Hi,

      My boy is turning 7 this year. He was with a school only for the music appreciation year. He went with a Private Teacher through the school's founder initially. At that point, the school was being sold as the founder had some health issues. Subsequently, after we stopped the lessons with the first private teacher, we had a break of 6 to 8 months and is now with another Private Teacher. Both teachers' lessons are just not regular, and it is frustrating to say the least. :'( Should I opt for a school instead? Sigh...

    3. In my opinion, it would be gd to start off with a school if a child just started off learning music. A school environment is more fun as the school will have (should) concerts for their students and everyone gets to mingle. Once a child becomes more serious in his progress, it would then be time to consider continuing in school or go private. Whichever the case, teacher-student chemistry is very impt.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts and sharing. Will communicate more with his current teacher, and if it still does not work, will probably try him out with a school then.

    Thanks so much!

  5. Thanks fpr sharing. I have goosebumps listening to how AJ played it. Well done boy. My son like dancing and music. Can advise me? I wanted to let him try on piano but I have no experience on piano I think would be difficult to guide him at home. Currently my boy is 2 years 2months.

    1. Hi! I don't know how to address you because you indicated yourself as '90'. I also don't understand what do you mean by 'having goosebumps listening to how AJ played'. Since your child is only 2, it is good to start with music appreciation lessons first.

  6. Wow, Your boy is a true talent. Grade 8 at this age is praiseworthy! I was showing my kids the piece he played on this year's Theme song, they were singing along as he played. I had better be more religious in their music journey too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for popping by, Karen! Thanks for yr kind words too! I hope yr children enjoy the theme song!

  7. The 月亮代表我的心 ... we should let the boys perform together! Mine & Yours? Can be other pieces too.


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