We were really excited when we saw Lynn Tan’s new book, ‘Starting Your Musical Journey- An Introduction to Piano Learning’. With more than 15 years of piano teaching experience under her belt, Lynn Tan isÂ a Licentiate with Distinction of the Trinity College of London. She also holds a Honours in Pianoforte from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (UK) and a Diploma in Piano Performance, with High Distinction from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM).
M: What’s your story?
L: I have always loved music. As a child, I would compose tunes of my own and sing and dance to them. My parents were musical too, “ my mum was a dancer, and my dad, a choir conductor, in university. Seeing that I enjoyed music very much, my mum decided to buy me my first piano: a small wooden toy one, for my birthday one day. I loved it! Everyday, when I was home after kindergarten, I would spend hours playing on the wooden toy piano, key by key, and trying to play the tunes which the pre-school teacher has taught us how to sing during lesson.Â My mum decided I should get a real piano and got me enrolled in regular piano lessons â€“ starting me proper on my musical journey, so to speak. I still remember vividly the very first song I learnt to play on the piano: Amazing Grace (taught by my mum). It’s a beautiful song and every time I hear it, it still brings me back to those magical moments when I first began to discover the wonders of playing the piano.
M: Tell us a few things about the book.
L:Â The book is written for anyone who is interested to know more about having a musical education. It is a resource containing practical information that would be useful not just for parents first starting their children out on the piano, as well as those who have been learning for a while. It answers questions such as what is a good age to get started, what does the journey involve, how to select a good piano, what is a typical piano lesson like, how to maintain interest over time and master challenging pieces, etc.
M: What inspired you want to write this book? When did you decide to write this?
L:Â There are many factors. My dad majored in History during his University days and I grew up seeing many books at home. I guess I must have been influenced by my dadâ€™s love for books. So writing a book has always been on my to-do list since my younger days!Â I also get frequent enquiries from friends, relatives and parents on how to get their children started on music in general, or on the piano in particular. There is in fact quite a bit of information on the internet but it is quite dispersed, so it takes time and effort to search, and you also need to know where to start. So I thought, why not put together a book that could provide them with all the information that they might need.Â I suppose that in writing this book Iâ€™m also hoping that more children (and adults too!) learn music! I think it brings so much benefit to its students. There is the joy and accomplishment of mastering an instrument. Music also stimulates the brain.Â But beyond that, Iâ€™ve found that music helps to develop character. It teaches your child to be a better person. Learning and mastering a challenging instrument like the piano cultivates values such as humility, patience, discipline, perseverance, commitment, emotional sensitivity; qualities especially important in todayâ€™s fast paced society, where everyone wants a quick fix solution and it may be harder for children to understand the importance of disciplined effort and delayed gratification.Â So I hope this book in its own little way, will help to let more people know that music education goes far beyond exams, competitions and performances; it touches the student and changes him or her for the better.
M:Â Where did the ideas come from?
L:Â Most of what is in the book is based on my own experience as a teacher, as well as research Iâ€™ve done over the years. And, of course, from the numerous conversations I had with my friends, relatives and parents who asked me for advice!
M:Â What is the hardest thing about writing this book?
L:Â Editing and proof-reading the drafts! There were many revisions before it was finalized. However, I was lucky to have the support of a great publishing team, as well as many of my studentsâ€™ parents who generously took the time to look through the many different draft versions and also helped review the book
M:Â Who is the book for?
L:Â Anyone and everyone who is keen to find out more about an education in music (piano)
M:Â What are you working on at the moment?
L:Â The only hint I can give at this moment is that my students and I have put together something special for SG50 and yes, it involves music and it is a book too. But I canâ€™t say anything else as my students made me promise to keep it a secret
M:Â What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
L: Being a good musician is a never-ending journey, which can be very challenging but also immensely rewarding. Thereâ€™ll be tough moments but keep at it. Your teacher will play a very important role in guiding you; take advice to heart, work closely with your teacher, believe in yourself, and you will get there!
M: What is your favourite motivational phrase?
L: The important thing is never to let oneself be guided by the opinion of one’s contemporaries; to continue steadfastly on oneâ€™s way without letting oneself be either defeated by failure or diverted by applause.â€ (Gustav Mahler)
M: If you were a song, what would it be?
L: I can’t think of any song that captures the essence and diversity of humanity holistically.
M: Choose one. What helps Mozart unwind?
- A giant sizeÂ lollipop.
- The Unicorns.
- Mao Shan Wang (Durian).
- Fifty Shades of Grey.
- Stepping on a God damn freakinâ€™ LEGO.
- Little India on Sunday.
- Chese Egg Prata & Milo Dinosaur.
- Queueing up for McDonaldâ€™s Hello Kitty.
- Darth Vadar.
- Opening an Ang Bao.
L: A giant size lollipop.