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Cheaulyn Ng

B.A. (Psych); Dip. Mus.; A.Mus.A.; Registered Music Therapist (AMTA)
Music Therapist, Piano Instructor

Tell us about your own music education!

When I was four, my mother enrolled me into the Junior Music Course at the Yamaha Music School, Singapore. Upon graduation, I took individual lessons from a number of frustrated and inexperienced teachers. My mother had to constantly nag at me to practice and was about to let me quit when I won a piano scholarship that she had forced me to enter in Melbourne, Australia. When I realised that I was actually good at the piano, I decided to get serious. I decided to take up the ‘cello and passed the audition for the school orchestra the same term I picked up the instrument. When I was reading a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology, I also enrolled at the Melbourne Conservatory of Music the first year the Diploma course was offered to only a handful of students. After a year teaching at the Yamaha Music School, Singapore, I returned to study Music Therapy in Melbourne. At the same time, I was one of six teachers selected from over one hundred applicants, to teach at the Yamaha Music School, Melbourne.

These days, I continue to enjoy making music by practicing my jazz improvisation skills and participating in jazz jams, and composing and writing songs for young children. I am always thankful that I am able to combine my love of music and children into a satisfying and fulfilling career!

What makes a good teacher?

A world-class pianist isn’t necessarily going to be a world-class piano teacher. On top of competency in the instrument and musical knowledge, I believe one needs to have had training or developed one’s own special set of skills in working with children. Many instrumental teachers do not have a progressive approach, but simply follow the pieces on the graded examination systems.  A strong background or interest in Education (not just the instrument you play) and knowledge of the different teaching (music and non-music) methods available are essential. In order to keep abreast of the latest education theories, I continue to attend professional development workshops and conferences, and read up on Educational Journals. Instrumental teachers also need to realise that students and parents have their own lesson goals and expectations, which may be vastly different to those of the teacher. A good teacher will facilitate the attainment of these goals, as well as introduce a wide range of music styles (pop, classical, jazz) to the student.  To achieve this, the teacher would be a well-rounded musician.

Lastly, a good teacher practices the cycle of implementation, testing, reflecting and revision. If a student is not progressing the way I expect him/her to be, then I would reflect on the methods I have been using, and try another approach. I have a range of students who learn visually, aurally, by reading, and by rote.