I have a love-hate relationship with piano. I stopped piano lessons shortly after primary school and did not have fond memories of those lessons. Besides dreading piano exams, I recalled that my teacher was rather strict and often had a dour expression. However, I grew to enjoy listening to piano music, and thankfully, I learned enough to be able to play simpler pieces on my piano from time to time (thanks to Mum for not selling it away!).
During one of my recent afternoons at a cozy cafe in Loft@Nathan, River Valley, I came across advertisements for VirtuoMusic. My interest was piqued and a quick visit to their website revealed that it was a recently established music school. They had beautiful décor and brand-new German-made pianos. Eager to learn more, I decided to visit them. Luckily, when I called, the principal was available to accommodate my inquiry that day.
Upon exiting the lift on the second floor, the school was right on the left side of a long corridor dotted with various enrichment centres. As I stepped into VirtuoMusic, I was immediately struck by its distinctive décor. I had seen the pictures from their website, but it looked even better in person.
I admired the walls adorned in soothing champagne gold-coloured wallpaper and teak-like wood furniture bathed in soft yellow light. It was a welcoming and inviting atmosphere that felt more like a fancy home compared to the sterile ambience that was usually found in a typical enrichment center.
Learning with VirtuoMusic
The principal, Charles Wu, welcomed me and would be giving me a trial lesson. I shared my previous musical experience and my wish to restart piano lessons to enjoy playing songs I loved with more confidence. I was worried that my fingers wouldn’t remember how to play the piano, and I’ve always struggled with sight-reading. I was assured by Charles that I would not be less capable compared to younger learners. Charles shared that he started learning piano as a teenager and only got his full-time music degree in his late 20s. In fact, a couple of VirtuoMusic teachers learned and passed Diplomas under his guidance as adult learner. Charles emphasized to me that all teachers in the VirtuoMusic teaching team shared the belief that learners of all ages are equally capable and would not discriminate against any student.
My experience as an adult learner
My lesson was conducted at the spacious main studio of the school (it also doubled as a small performance space up to 20 pax). I was seated in front of a shiny and stunning C Bechstein grand piano. I heard that this was one of the top piano brands in the world, equivalent to Steinway in quality and prestige. Charles said that he procured brand new German pianos for the school as he believed that every student deserves the opportunity to learn on high-quality instruments. I would definitely look forward to piano lessons even more if I had the chance to play on such a beautiful piano.
My first task was to play a short sight-reading piece on the spot. I gave it a try, but unsurprisingly, I fumbled as the years of childhood muscle memory faded from lack of practice. Charles offered insightful pointers to enhance my sight-reading fluency. The sight-reading exercises, he emphasized were integral to becoming a proficient pianist. He also helped to correct my poor finger posture issues with a simple yet effective tip – “Keep your elbows higher than your wrists”. I wished I had learnt this earlier in my youth, it would have set a better foundation for my posture. I remembered being rapped on the knuckles with a ruler by my childhood piano teacher, but Charles was patient in explaining and demonstrating this.
I then attempted to play a piece which I had long admired and took stabs at from time to time, Debussy’s Clair de Lune. I loved this piece a lot but struggled playing it. Charles shared invaluable tips on how I could navigate some of the more treacherous passages. And unlike my childhood teacher, he actively engaged me in discussions about the music.
My one-hour trial lesson passed by in a flash. It was a fun and informative lesson. I appreciated the friendly and encouraging interaction which made the learning experience truly enjoyable. I am still deliberating to continue further lessons because of my heavy schedule, but my experience at VirtuoMusic certainly made a very compelling case for it.
A school for both adult and young learners
VirtuoMusic prides itself on offering a holistic and performance-driven curriculum, distinguishing it from exam-centric approaches. It aims to produce musicians who are not only skilled but also independent in their musical endeavours. Your learning experience should be fun, engaging, and meaningful, guided by teachers who know how to bring out the best in your potential.
VirtuoMusic is the only music school to feature KinderMusik classes outside KinderMusik’s regular outlets, providing a strong foundation and joyful musical experience even from the earliest ages. (Available February onwards).
If you are ready to start your piano journey, check out classes at virtuomusicstudio.com today!
Brought to you by VirtuoMusic Studio.
By Julia Chan.
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