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.
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.