"Mus"letter January 2017

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Below is the January 2017 Newsletter

This “Mus”letter has two parts

Part ONE

College Application Myth and how Piano can help:

Most information were taken from this book - Little Dirty Secrets Getting Into a Top College by Pria Chatterjee

Yes, I read this book and I recommend it to all parents!!

Page 134 to 137 will tell you semester by semester what you supposed to do to create an outstanding college application portfolio.

College application focus are THREE A




Academic - A GPA of at least 3.6 and up, plus the best SAT scores that you can get

Athletic - Represent school or region in any sports such as cross country run, basketball, swimming etc……..

Activities - PIANO! Dance, drama, community leadership, politics, clubs in school, volunteer, student government etc…...

Myth One - My daughter will be very busy in high school, so it is better that she finish CM Level test before high school and she will be able to concentrate in school work during high school.

Wrong -

College application will not consider anything lower than high school. So if your child finish CM Level 10 by Grade 8, it is useless. All colleges look what have you done in high school only (High school means Grade 9, 10, 11 and 12). If your daughter already finish Level 10 in Grade 8, you can still fix this by letting her take CM Level 10 again (repeat) in Grade 9 so that she can use it in her application portfolio.

Myth Two - My son will need to complete CM test all the way to CM Level 10 to be recognized as a piano player.

Wrong -

College application recognized Level 7 and up. So, if you have a CM Level 10, it is better than 7, but if you can’t, you no need to finish all the way to CM Level 10. Some children started piano older, so they will have the disadvantage of not being able to finish CM Level 10 for college application, but don’t be discourage! As long as you have Level 7 and up, you are in good shape!

Myth Three - Since the admission office don’t consider anything lower than high school, can I let my daughter take piano lessons for 7 years then enroll her in Level 7 test when she is in Grade 9?

NO -

You will shock your daughter! It is better to take the test a few times in these seven years, so that your daughter knows the format and being trained to handle the test. Even if those lower levels and grades don’t count, it is better to take them so that students can get used to the test.

Myth Four - Okay, since the lower levels are important, should I enroll my son every year in CM Test? Should I let him skip a level if he is capable of?

Depends -

Enrolling every year in CM test is the best way to burn out your son’s interest in piano. Skipping a level every year will help to make your son lost interest in piano too. So, don’t do it! My suggestion - if time permit (if a kid started piano very young), let him take test every other year. If your son is working very hard, always practice 30 minutes without starting a fight with you, always complete theory homework, I will say, yes, let’s skip a level. If your child already show sloppiness in her practice or theory homework, or, taking piano lesson as granted, it is better not to skip any levels.

Myth Five - Since my piano teacher agreed to let my daughter skip a level this year from Level 4 to Level 6, should I not buy Level 5 books?

NO -

We are skipping a level in test, but students still need to cover whatever is in Level 5. In this case it means students work harder and faster to finish the material, and sometimes it means to increase the piano time from 40 minutes to 50 minutes.

If you need time for a parents conference to develop a plan for your child (only for kids who are age 10 and up), please make appointment anytime at snapappointments.com/piano, select 20 minutes time slot. Email me to tell me that the appointments are for parents conference.

Part TWO


The most popular topic in new year is new year resolution - it will be always - oh, I need to lose ten pounds, save more money, eat healthy, and….yes, practice piano!

I read this book - Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin

The Essential Seven New Year Resolutions:

  1. Eat and drink more healthfully

  2. Exercise regularly

  3. Save, spend and earn wisely

  4. Rest, relax and enjoy

  5. Accomplish more, stop procrastinating (practice an instrument, work without interruption, learn a language, maintain a blog)

  6. Simplify, clear, clean and organize

  7. Engage more deeply in relationships with other people, God and world, friends, relatives, volunteer etc

In this book, you can take a tiny test to find out which type you are (it has four types - Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, Rebel). Once you find out your personality type, then you can read about how you can help yourself to build a new good habit in new year.

I found out that my husband is a Rebel and I am an Obliger. Accountability works for me. For example, I been not very good at going to gym because I cannot wake up early enough for it. However, I been wake up 5:50am every Thursday to meet with my small group at Panera Bread for coffee and small talk for at least five years now. Conclusion, I am an Obliger, in order to get myself to gym everyday, my solution would be finding a gym buddy to go with me. I most likely able to wake up at 5:50am because I know someone is waiting for me at the gym. Anyway, I have not found a gym buddy yet. :(

My husband is a Rebel - if you read this book, it means, there is nothing I can do to make him wash dishes, lol! If you find out your kid is a Rebel, let it go! There is nothing you can do to make your child to practice piano!!!!!

Summary of these four types:

Upholder - meets outer and inner expectation

Questioner - resists outer expectation, meet inner expectations

Obliger - meet outer expectations, resists inner expectations

Rebel - resists outer expectations, resists inner expectation

Upholder and Rebel are in small percentage of people. Majority of people are Questioners or Obligers.

You will also find out which type are you?

Are you Lark or Owl?

Are you Marathoner or Sprinter?

Are you Underbuyer or Overbuyer?

Are you Promotion-focused or Prevention-focused?

Are you Finisher or Opener?

All these different types of personality will help you to decide which method to solve your habit building problem!

How to build habit of practice piano into your everyday routine?

After reading numeral books and websites, here is three C that I personally summarized:

Chain of events



Chain of events

When you are starting out a new habit, it can be really helpful to pair it with an old habit and make a chain of events. For example, if you like to grow a habit of taking a short walk everyday, pair it with something else you do everyday, like eating lunch. Right after you eat lunch everyday, take your short walk. Your new habit is more likely to stick because you are connecting it to what is already established in your day. To get going, you need to create a chain of events for your piano practice. The most common one I heard would be - after school - do homework from school - practice piano - shower - dinner - bedtime. It is a chain that cannot be broke. Or if your child’s brain is not functioning after a long day, you can pair piano practice with shower. Right after shower, your child will sit down to practice piano.


Now your child decide that he will practice piano every day --- He come home from school, eat a snacks, do his homework, take shower and ready for piano practice….but wait! Piano is dusted, he has to clean it, daddy is watching TV in the living room with loud noise, your child played one page and realized that he needs to get a pencil to mark his practice, he cannot find a pencil and he found ipad instead ……..

Okay! If your piano is located at an inconvenient place in the house, your child most likely not going to practice it. Have everything ready when you want to start this new habit. Conclusion, if it is not convenient, the habit will not last!


Create a practice chart to write down the minutes that you practice piano. Or use the one that been widely used in my studio here. The magic of having charts are two folds -

--If you been very good, without missing a day, good job! You should celebrate! Talk to your parents about ways to celebrate. You can create a goal such as if I practice piano 10 days in a row without my parents nagging, then ______, you fill in the blank. Use the chart to help you to keep track.

--If you been slipping away from your new habit that you want to form, then don’t be discourage! Don’t let blank spaces get you down, dust yourself off and start fresh tomorrow.

If you decide to use the chart above, make sure you hand it to Teacher Sue when you reach 100 days, I will send it to Piano Explorer Magazine and you will see your name on the magazine!

There is also a new chart cost $20 but you can get it from me for free. Just email me.

Paper and pen chart is better than the Apps on your cell phone - Here's why it's awesome

  • It is a physical thing -- no buzzing, alerts, or screens required. It acts as a visual cue (next to your bed, on your fridge, or wherever you want to put it) to remind you to think about your habits every day.

  • You get that satisfying feeling of checking something off your to-do list. Sometimes the only motivation you need to floss or stick to your bedtime is knowing you can check that box at the end of the day.

  • Once you have a few check marks in a row, you won’t want to break your streak.

  • The Habit Calendar helps you stay accountable to yourself. It’s one thing to talk about making a change, but actually writing it down on paper makes you more committed to it.

I hope you read it to the end here. As I thrived to be a very good piano teacher, my service to you is to provide any information that I know that is related to piano or piano practice on the top of the time I spend in studio with you or your child.

Thank you!

New website - grouponpiano.com

My 20-month-old son compose a thrilled music for movie! Notice that he changed the instrumentation half way to make it sound even creepier! Enjoy!