Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good Friends

A good friend is one that you can open the door to wearing pajamas, bed hair, eating a mid-morning snack of noodles without embarrassment. Timo, Yara and Marjolein visited and we had a divine time playing, picnicking, relaxing! If only we could do this more often....

Sunday, April 18, 2010


It's time: the heady days of too-cold sunshine. Stubbornly putting away the woollen tights. Freezing because of it. But it's sunny, for the love of all things yellow, it's SUNSHINE. Hanging out the laundry in chilly 8 degree mornings. Bringing back damp clothing that have half-dried by the end of the chilly sunshiny day. Shifting the garden chair to keep up with the shrinking sunshine wrapped up in a fleece blanket because it's SPRING. It's really fabulous, it really is!!!

Our first Spring BBQ

Finally out in the spring, what a relief!!!

Our eating club

Kinderdijk; Ma, AUnty Doris & Kaemon in the Hyacinths; Family; me & the boyz

Douwe's Banana Choc Birthday cake (copied from Zang Toi's in Sungei Wang), Hot cross Buns, Kaemon's Easter Breakfast @ Kindy (he was the only one to stay seated and eating the entire time...), @ Kinderdijk.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

In memoriam

When Aunty Lena took me as a student, I had already been lazily drifting through many years of piano lessons with the periodic burst of last-minute, pre-exam panic. When Aunty Lena took me as a student I woke up. Her music lessons were one of the significant influences on my adult character.

A good music teacher is never really just a music teacher. The majority of children who receive music lessons don't carry on their relationship with their instruments into their adult life, and even fewer become professional musicians. But, as any good teacher will know, that's not the aim of teaching. Naturally, the love of music is something desirable to foster but the most potent characteristics and skills learned through music (or another discipline) are the ones we hope our for children.

Discipline, and a focus on your goals: for someone who is by nature not disciplined nor focussed I actually enjoyed the repetitive exercises bar by bar to perfect difficult passages. Aunty Lena shared her passion for music by introducing the stars of classical music to me (Itzac Perlman, Murray Perahia, Jacqueline du Pré) and the lesson that music is not just created by the composer, but also a living creation of the artist...her lesson was that I could be that artist too! With such grand motivation those mindless bar-by-bar exercises were transformed to clearly representing the steps towards achieving that goal of playing that piece perfectly.

Passion is something that will take you a long way, personally it's ranked higher than my will power! It also is infectious. For a teacher it is a weapon that disarms and inspires students. I once followed her to a performance that was a marriage of music and art from the Impressionist period. It remains one of the most moving and illuminating experiences in memory. Aunty Lena showed that learning was just a part of studying: learning is fairly prosaic but to studying something is to appreciate its beauty and intent. She explained WHY this had to be repeated this way or that, she created exercises that were not mind-numbingly boring but enjoyable. She was a gifted and intelligent teacher that turned learning into studying. This is what I try to show my students.

Aunty Lena was a strict teacher and that meant disapproval if promises to practise were not fulfilled. Perhaps back then I might have appreciated it a little, but in hindsight, I definitely value the pressure of expectation she exerted. After all, without potential, there is no expectation. Expectation, is the embodiment of someone else's faith, hope, concern, love for you. Without it, they don't care.

These characteristics and factors- discipline, focus, passion, expectation, care- are things I've come to value in people, want for our children and strive to develop in myself. Aunty Lena was instrumental in teaching those things to me.