I have been in Taiwan for almost 10 months and within this time, I can count the number of times I have had
contact with an acoustic piano. Although I have a keyboard, but due to differences in mechanism between a digital and acoustic piano, I have lost a lot of my muscle tone. However, since having
started my semester as a music teacher at IShou High school,
I now have the weekly privileges of having access to a cute Kawaii baby grand piano.
I do miss the piano, and I'm glad I am experiencing this missing feeling. It makes me realise what I have as a pianist, and
what I have temporarily lost and can't wait to have back again. The last time I had this feeling was the time during my stint as a dental student in Melbourne, Australia, at a time when I was
fortunate enough to still have the occasional access to the pianos on display at the Allans Music Store on Bourke Street. Needless to say, after my acceptance into the Conservatory,
I used my scholarship money to rent a piano, which at one point I positioned in an unused, disable bathroom in my student accommodation - perhaps a story for another time.
As a temporarily displaced pianist, I'm using this time to share my passion for and knowledge on music with primary and high school students in Taiwan. I have the fortune to teach within the bilingual department of the school, and although the students do understand English, sometimes Chinese Mandarin may be useful to explore a concept further. As a result, my Chinese has improved I think!
Hours of teaching material preparations and PowerPoint presentations later, I can safely say that I really enjoy classroom teaching, especially sharing information with a bunch of wide-eyed students on topics that they never knew about or heard of. My main focus is to give them a spark of curiosity about the world around them through music, whether or not it is through listening to different styles, periods, genres and cultures of music, or just discussing how music is intrinsic in our society, way of life, identity, perspectives...etc. This is an important teaching philosophy for me, based on years of boring and uninspiring music classes I've experienced throughout my primary and secondary school.
So, interestingly enough, as much as I hadn't had the opportunity to play much piano, my musicianship has developed beyond that as a performer and more as an educator. Although back in Melbourne I have also worked as a piano teacher, the music teaching experience here this time has been beneficial for me to explore music on a general and academic level.
- Natasha Lin