What To Do When You Can’t Practice

For my next stage of life, I decided that I want to travel spontaneously. There will be a gym bag in my closet packed with clothes and a toothbrush for last-second trips. I will drive to remote islands to lay underneath the stars on my SUV’s roof and grab my surfboard when I feel like it.

I will be away from my piano so often that my fingers will not be as light for Liszt anymore, but I will befriend someone who plays a ukulele so I can enjoy live music during my travels. I will still tune my piano every year so I can play whenever I can.

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A Unique Sight Reading Challenge

Pan and I spend hours waiting in the emergency room for a scan he has to do and while I’ve done more exciting and pressing things in my life, I’d also rather know that my best friend is okay. I am writing this on my phone in the emergency room and thinking back to all the times my piano students had trouble sight reading. Ironic, but I really liked the non technique parts of a music exam—sight reading, ear testing, clapping, you name it. It felt like a game to me.

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How did I start sight reading?

Sight reading is the skill that lets you learn a piece of music the first few times you play it.

Some genres of music rely so much on playing by ear and improv that a lot of musicians don’t find the need for sight reading until later on and the catch is that by then, they expect themselves to be just as good at sight reading as they are playing the instrument.

A lot of readers told me they’re looking to improve their sight reading, so I’ll share with you how I started sight reading in piano, and you might find ways to improve on your own sight reading journey. Please note that there may be affiliate links below when describing technique but I only recommend something that I would use, and Artiden may receive a commission when someone purchases using that link.

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4 Little Sight Reading Tips

I started playing piano at an age where I had nothing more important to do, and I didn’t care that I couldn’t play much piano at all. One day, I found a sheet of music titled Good Morning to All placed in my folder by mistake. When I played it, as I tended to do with any sheet music, it turned out to be Happy Birthday. Ten year old Grace unlocked a new level of playing! It’s the feeling of accomplishment you get from playing the music to your favourite movie or video game.

In any case, sight reading takes deliberate practice and patience. The interesting thing about sight reading is finding the balance between almost feeling hopeless and being fully engrossed in the piece.

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It’s my birthday again

Grace Lam

I’m another year wiser! I haven’t lost my driver’s license even once this year.

Thank you to everyone for your support and keeping me accountable. When I don’t write for a while, I get emails in my inbox asking where I am! I read every comment and email. Even if I can’t respond to everyone, the comments are important to me. I’ve been through some pretty tough times and you guys continually support and encourage me

I was feeling down on myself that I hadn’t done anything impressive this year. But in situations like this, it’s best to keep your head up and stop comparing yourself to others, because you set your own benchmarks.

Here are two significant things I’ve done this past year, and two that I will do in the coming year.

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When to start a new instrument

When people invest a lot of time into a genre of music, that genre becomes a template for everything they listen to. I have played classical music for so long that I almost guess which chord comes next. So, it’s refreshing to listen to a new genre and instrument.

After all, things that scare you also push you.

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What to ask yourself before moving for a job

What to Ask Yourself before Moving for a Music JobAbout a year ago, I wanted to see if I was smart enough to be a developer. It was a chance for me to see if could you teach yourself something (music, basketball, coding), and excel to be on par with everyone who received formal training.

On the first day, I stood next to the other developers and engineers, where everyone was dressed in their best first-day wear. We smiled over our coffee cups and eavesdropped on the mundane small talk conversation that was really the most interesting thing in the room. I went to the washroom to adjust my awkwardly-fitting shirt a few times.

I didn’t have an engineering degree and I was not male. But you know what? I ended up doing fine in that job.

As a coder, it’s hard to differentiate your own code from other people’s code in a large code base, but I worked on a smaller code base with 2-3 other developers and it was not hard to see which code was mine.

I often worked through lunch and my team made me feel ridiculous about working too much, so I started going to the gym at 2pm and blasting rock music for an hour. No one else in the team remembered that the hallway lights and heating turned themselves off at 7pm but I figured it out in my first week.

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