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Archive for February, 2013

In the Aftermath….

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It’s over!

Halleluiah!  CM is finally over. All that stress and hard work was finally put to the test. Congratulations to all of you! It was a hard ordeal and I know many of your worked hard to make it work out. You won’t get the results until a few weeks’ time. But in the meantime…what now?

There are several things on the list here, but the most traditional one is the auditions in National Guild this summer. That’s right, you guys have another audition! YAY! Take the songs you’ve learned from CM, learn some more songs, and take that audition! You won’t have to take a theory test, but you will need to know more songs. You can audition at the state, national, and even the international level. Sign ups will start May 1st.

With that in the back of your head we also have a Duet/duo recital coming up on March 9th from 4:00-5:30. This has NEVER been done before! A mass of our very own teams all in one showcase for you to see. Save the date! This is going to come really soon.

And last but not least, time to get pumped for our next recital on May 18th. Have you guys heard of the theme? Submitted in by our very own students, the Anime/Video Game recital will be a smash!





Ready or not… Within a little more than a day’s gap between the start of CM, I’m sure all of you are jittery and nervous. Some of you are CM veterans down for another fight, while others simply don’t know what to expect. Either way, here are some tips that you might find helpful during the actual day.


  1. Wake up and dress accordingly
    Wake up a couple of hours before your scheduled time and get dressed. Remember be classy and professional. Men—shirts tucked in, suits, nice shoes, not too colorful tie, smart belt. Women—keep your dresses long and below the knees (when you sit down). Most of the judges are older and most likely prefer something more conservative. Tie your hair back and don’t wear heels (difficult to pedal with). This leads us to the next tip.
  2.  Play through your songs and technic in the morning.
    In your new attire, practice your songs. You want to make sure you’re comfortable, no messy sleeves, no big shoes. Make sure you can perform in your new clothes. With that being said, you don’t want to head in there cold. Give your fingers a little refreshment and get them moving. If it’s a cold morning run your hands under warm water to get blood flowing.  Do a mock audition where you play through all your technique and then your pieces. If you make a mistake don’t beat yourself up for it. This is the day of the audition, you need a calm mind. Stressing out and slamming your keys on the piano will not help.
  3. Get started an hour or so earlier than the time you’re expected to arrive
    Now this one should be obvious. You want to be safe of traffic. There are no make ups and if you run late you will be stressed. This will not put you in a good mind set for the audition. Also, don’t expect to be provided with practice rooms. After all, you’re expected to know them and some last minute practicing isn’t really going to help. Do this beforehand at home.
  4. Formality with the Judge—Greetings
    When you meet your judge make sure you say hello and smile. You’re friendly, they’re doing you a privilege by listening to you. They don’t want to fail you—they want you to pass. Give them a positive attitude.
  5.  Technique—Accuracy, Clarity, Memory
    I’m not sure but I think the judge gives you a choice on what to do first, technique or repertoire. Here are the tips for technique. It’s generally the same as the repertoire, as you will see later.Make sure your hands together, are perfectly in sync in your scales and arpeggios. Make it consistent and clear. After all technic is supposed to show how skilled you are in performing certain standards. Dynamics are not nearly as important as accuracy and clarity and memory.
  6. Performing—Dynamics, Tempo, Accuracy
    Before you actually perform, make sure the judge is ready and has given you the sign. Think about all the things you’ve learned—make sure to stay on tempo, show your dynamic contrast, and to try to play as accurate as you can. Make sure you take a deep breath and calm yourself. Calm all your nerves before you begin. If you know this song, this is just like any other run. However, if you do make a mistake, keep going! 1. It looks better because it doesn’t stand out as much. 2. It shows that you know how to recover and keep your professionalism. 3. The judge might not even notice it if you’re convincing enough. When you’re done, take a deep breath and relax your hands on your lap. Remember, your back should be straight at all times to keep good posture.
  7. If you happen to forget, make huge mistakes…Skip to the end
    Take a deep breath and try to get as far as you can. If you can’t, pick up on where you do know and keep going. If you absolutely have to, skip to somewhere near the ending and play the last few chords. Always remember the ending, it is better than nothing.
  8. Concluding remarks!
    You’re done now! Make sure the judge is done with writing his/her notes and sit patiently. He/she will tell you when to start the next piece or that you’re done. Thank the judge sincerely.



  1. Review the night before and the morning
    Before you sleep, review. It helps your brain process it before the day of the test. In the morning, quiz yourself and see if you remember. Then review further by going through all of your practice exams, concepts, terms, periods, composers.
  2. Eat breakfast! Get in comfortable clothes
    Get your brain whirring. You don’t want to take a test on an empty stomach. You’re going to be sitting there for several hours, make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing. It might be cold so bring a jacket!
  3. Be prompt
    Arrive to your location at the time you see comfortable (that is within the bounds of the day). Make sure there is enough time for you to finish the test without hitting the end of the day where they must conclude.
  4. Go to the bathroom
    You don’t want to have to go to the bathroom during the test. This is horrible. You’re going to be sitting there for several hours wishing you were on the toilet instead.
  5. Bring lots of tissues
    There is most likely a tissue box up at the front but it is good to keep some in your pocket. A lot of kids sniff during the test and you don’t want snot running everywhere. Save yourself some embarrassment, stress, and uncleanliness by having several soft tissues in your pocket
  6. Bring your required materials—pencil, good eraser, ID just in case, and your sign in sheet
    You want your best pencil and a good eraser. This much is obvious. NUFF said.
  7. Take your time!  – Answer the question and TRIPLE CHECK
    You have a lot of time, especially if you get there early. Don’t rush through or you’ll miss some careless mistakes that will cost you a bunch of points.  For ear training, don’t be afraid to push repeat until you are quite/absolutely sure on an answer.  Triple check all of your work and make sure you didn’t do anything you didn’t want to do. Make sure you ANSWER the question (do what they’re asking)
  8. Treat yourself to some good food after
    Relax! You’re done now, there’s nothing you can do about it. Your brain is tired and you might have a headache. Relax, eat, drink, you’ll need it.



Tips for CM!

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At least. For those of you taking it. And for those of you who procrastinated. I’ve talked to a lot of my peers and they are just high on stress. In addition to this audition there is also the Fullerton Ensemble Competition this Saturday, which for some is on the same day of their CM test…

Well I offer you some tips a week before doomsday:

1.) Practice in moderation.
if you over practice you risk injuring yourself before the actual audition. And I promise you this can put you in an even worse situation. Set aside a certain hours each day and don’t strain yourself. Take breaks in between and take care of those fingers. (Ironically I have 3 bandaged fingers…)

2.) Play through all of your songs every day.
You want all of your songs to be the best as can be. If you’re not good in some songs, you don’t want to focus too hard on one and forget to work on the other. This brings us to the next tip.

3.) Practice your problem areas
While you should play through all your songs every day, if there are parts you MUST practice on, major flops, indescribable errors, for the love of piano focus on those and make sure you can fix it. Don’t start from the beginning, make the error, and then start over. No, focus on those areas themselves. Playing stuff you already know is just a waste of time.

4.) Get your teachers to run through your whole list of your pieces and your technique
This is your chance to make a mock audition. Pretend that you’re in the actual room and play your parts accordingly. Your teacher will know how to do this and act as judge. After, she will provide you with last minute touches and criticisms and bid you good luck.

5.) Study your practice exams for the theory test and come in for ear training
The practice exams are the closest things you can get to the actual test, so study this! Make sure you know your terms and a couple of composers from each period. Also, come in for ear training during extra hours and make sure you know what’s expected of you on the last page.

I will post on Thursday tips for when you’re in the actual room. Most of these tips are good for any other exam! As for now, good luck! Those who work hard will be rewarded.

Valentine’s Day!

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How was YOUR Valentine’s day?

Fun? Exciting? Sweet?

OR LONELY! That’s because YOU didn’t serenade the girl/guy of your dreams with your piano skills. And if you did, and you’re still lonely, it means that you’re not good enough. Yeah that’s right. Work those fingers and give me some loving action!

…No not like that.

But rather…

Like this.

CM Evaluations on February 16th-17th

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We’ve opened the workshop sign-up form for the upcoming CM Evaluations on February 16th and 17th.

These evaluations are for CM students only. Thank you!

The End is Nigh!

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is so close. Don’t tell me this cat practices more than you.

Schedule for Lunar New Year Concert posted

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Happy Lunar New Year! We’ve posted the schedule for our Lunar New Year concert. As a reminder, students will need to arrive 30 minutes before their scheduled performance time to check-in. Thanks everybody!

Tomorrow, tomorrow!

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Do you know what’s tomorrow guys?
You’ll get a free red-envelope! Hint hint…

The Chinese New Year’s Recital! Here are some quick reminders…

The first program starts on SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9TH from 2:00PM – 3:00PM
The second program starts AN HOUR LATER, specifically at 4:00 PM till 5:30 PM on the SAME DAY. Note that this program is half an hour longer.

Make sure you attend to the right one listed on your sheet or listed by your teacher. Last time some people attended way ahead their scheduled times and trust me you don’t want to hang around—you could be using that time to practice!

On a heavier note…there were also people last time who requested if they could practice AS the performance went on because they weren’t prepared and it wasn’t their time yet. To those of you, let me tell you this: it is your responsibility to have your piece memorized and perfected to the best of your ability by your schedule time. Do not ask if you have permission to go practice while you’re supposed to be in your seat, doing your part as the audience as you wait for your turn. It is absolutely rude, disrespectful, irresponsible to your teacher, your host, and your principal—and more importantly to yourself. Because you’re the one who put yourself in that situation.

Anyways. On a lighter note, have fun tomorrow! Practice hard and you will be awarded.

The Keys

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I think after playing the piano for so many years, my ears have begun to develop an ability to recognize the sound of the piano, whether it tickles my ears with its faint flutter or whether it echoes in the caves of my ears and down into my heart. Something draws me to it, and makes me want to follow the notes as they divide their way through the air, touching all ears and hearts within reach. For a brief moment, all other things are hushed, time is slowed; the audience not only watches, but they feel. They watch the pianist and his hands glide over the contrasting keys, they watch the pianist as his passion becomes visible. The music is a manifestation of not only talent, but time, determination, and heart. That’s what it is: the heart. I play the piano because it has the keys to my heart.

1st of February!

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It’s the first of February guys! You know what this means….it’s the month of CM!!!

Why do I hear these moans and groans? It’s time to show your skill and all the HARDWORK that you’ve put into piano playing (which I’m sure you’ve 100% do everyday!). It’s tempting to play other songs, but that month is not now!
On other news, if you do not know of this piece and you are a pianist, you are not a pianist! That is all there is to it.

As for the piano performer–this is Yund li, the youngest pianist ever to win the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition, at the age of 18.