Let’s Flip and Explode a Classroom

Grace LamSometimes I’m sitting at the piano bench, playing a familiar piece, and I expect my dad to peek his head around the door.

“Was that you, playing?” He’d say, chuckling.

I want him to peek around the door when I’m playing, just one more time. So badly.

Maybe it’s cheesy, but it feels like no time has passed. I still play the pieces he printed, and I still remember. It feels like no time has passed.

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Ask This Music Teaching Question to Avoid Student Frustration

Grace Lam Vancouver
A coworker sits in my office to show me mysql database queries and jquery.

When I ask a weird question, he says, “What makes you think that way?”

That’s such a clever way to make someone realize they’re being stupid. It forces them to walk through their thought process, so you can understand how they think.

It’s a good strategy for teaching music: Instead of giving the answer to the student, help them realize what’s wrong with their thinking. I’m going to start asking this question.

At the end of the week, I send my javascript and php code to him so he can point out what I’m doing wrong and I expect to rewrite 80% of it.

Then he says, it’s well-written. Beautiful and compact.

It makes me so happy that he doesn’t think I’m stupid–or maybe he does, and stupid people can still write beautiful code.

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What Happened at Lumohacks 2016

LumohacksI am reading through the notes for Lumohacks and it makes me so excited for the next one. Thank goodness we live in a time where anyone can start something they care about.

I wanted to create change in the healthcare sector using technology—this turned into Canada’s first major health hackathon.

Located in Vancouver, BC, engineers and entrepreneurs explored the underlying issues of living with major health issues. They were given the cutting-edge technology needed to make a difference (including twelve 3D printers plus hardware), and mentored by top industry leaders in the health and technology sectors.

I put together a few notes about the event below, that might help you run an event with a few hundred attendees! (Side Note: Here’s the behind-the-scenes of Lumohacks.)

LumohacksA lot of people outside of the tech sector weren’t familiar with hackathons. A hackathon is an event where teams of 2-5 people come together to collaborate on a project, and prizes are awarded to the most creative or useful projects. Sometimes there’s a theme, but nonetheless, it’s a great way to innovate because you are putting people into a pressure cooker.

The overall topic at Lumohacks was “Improving a Cancer Patient’s Life”; hackers were given 5 specific underlying topics to work on, such as Mobility or Prevention.

On Saturday morning, we started with talks from healthcare professionals (such as Dr. Rob Fraser, PhD, CEO of PMI and Dr. Melisa Hamilton, BC Cancer Agency Researcher), who presented the challenges in their work. For example, Dr. Rob Fraser’s challenge was Prevention: synthesizing the droves of data collected for patients to prevent cancers and other health issues.

We divided the speakers into two groups, who presented the challenges in two different locations, to speed up the process. We encouraged teams to split up and get to know all the challenges.

A lot of attendees come from a technical background, so we also asked oncologists to give talks on the basics of cancer as well.



Lumohacks 3D Printing

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16 Timeless Love Songs for Piano

16 Timeless Love Songs for PianoIt’s the season of love!

This would be a good time for someone to declare love for me or push me out a window. Maybe I’ll watch Netflix and chill with ice cream on Valentine’s Day and invite Megz over for Lord of the Rings.

My friend Matthew approves of this and sends me a bunch of love songs for the piano.

“They’re from the past 5 decades,” he says.

“Do you mean the past 5 years?” I say.

“Uh, no? Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love is from 1961.”

Perfect. That’s exactly how long I’ve been thinking about my loveless life.

If anyone proposes this month, or does anything super exciting and lovely with a love song, I want to hear about it! Leave a comment below! Better yet, send me pictures!

Ladies and gentlemen, these are timeless romatic love songs on the piano, from the past five decades. I hope you like them as much as I do.


1. Nat King Cole – L.O.V.E.

Sheet Music

Note: YouTube link is not the full version of song


2. Elvis Presley – Can’t Help Falling In Love

Sheet Music

This is a nice, simple arrangement of the classic song by Elvis Presley.

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Is Being “Self-Taught” Good Enough?

Grace Lam
I’m working in web development for a bit.

I wanted to see if I could do it because I taught myself all the web languages I know. People are surprised that I wanted to code all day, but it’s like a test:

Am I good enough?

Would I spend my days throwing my keyboard out the window? HR might eventually tell me, “Now, use Siri to recite your code.”

Does being a self-taught developer, musician, engineer–anything–work? Or are you always subpar to everyone who pursued a formal education in the subject?

I’ll spend the next few months discovering this.

There are like twenty guys for every girl in a software company. Last week in the kitchen, one guy tried to sell me protein powder—so I’ve probably met the resident drug dealer.

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Favourites of The Year

This was one of my hardest years by far. And though I try to be strong and resilient, all I’ve been doing is chugging on, really.

So, I thought I’d recap some of the ways I’ve pushed myself this year, along with some of the community’s favourite articles, and my top articles about piano.


I started lifting weights.

Many girls ask why I lift.

When you lift, it takes a lot of concentration to not injure yourself, so it’s a great distraction, plus it comes with a sense of accomplishment when you lift heavier weights each week.

Girls can’t look like a bodybuilder “by accident,” because it takes a lot of work to build muscle mass. It’s like saying you don’t want to learn piano because you don’t want long fingers like Rachmaninoff.

I like feeling stronger, and I’ve been spending up to four days at the gym each week. Here’s how I motivated myself to start going to the gym.

How to Practice Smarter, Not Harder

I trusted my own strength again.

“Can you demonstrate some acro-yoga?” I ask Matthew.

Acro-yoga has cirque-du-soleil style poses. He positions me on the ground like a cat on all fours with my back against the ground, then climbs on me so I hold his entire body.

I feel like it doesn’t matter how many pounds I lift at the gym, because there are tiny muscles that deadlifts and squats don’t work; but these are the muscles you need to lift someone on your legs.

This is a great reminder that even the best musicians and athletes can find room for improvement.

Here are a few ways to get stronger fingers, quickly.
Beat Mapping: a technique to improve your rhythm and timing.
How to cram for a music performance.

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Why You Should Do a Social Detox

Why Musicians Need a Social DetoxThis weekend we woke up early to go skiing again. I’m still pondering whether people who are happy with their lives crave escape, though I’ve discovered small ways to escape the drama and busyness of daily life.

Recently I’ve felt there’s been too much going on. If you’re feeling it too, I invite you to follow along as I clear my head with a detox.


In our first 15 minutes on Cypress mountain, my friend skis up a tree packed with a wall of snow and I copy him because it usually works when I follow someone else’s path.

He stands there watching, and I end up flying.

Later, we discuss my flight:

“I was trying to slow down, not ride up a tree.”

“At one point, your body was horizontal with the mountain,” Marinah says.

“I was thinking, wow, this chick is hardcore.” He says.

I fall less often on these icy conditions than on Whistler, but the falls are more impactful. Like, I rip my jacket at one point.

We’re often so focussed on others that we don’t notice that our own lives are just as spectacular to a passerby.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, we will only start to realize our own worth when we focus 100% of our attention on ourselves, and not on comparing ourselves to others.


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