Browsing Tag


Why Pianists Need to Ask for Help (When it Feels Impossible)

Hiking at Elfin Lakes.If you blindfold someone who can see, and give them a cane to walk to a new room, they always overreact when the cane brushes something.

It turns out, giving a sighted person a cane is asking them to use a muscle they haven’t developed yet. It takes practice and patience.

My dad had always given me guidance on how to deal with obstacles. He was a quiet kind of person who made people feel assured when they were next to him. Slow down, he always said. Do what you enjoy. Mind your own business and stop comparing to others.

He would peek his head into my piano practice room every once in a while to ask if the music was coming from me, so I felt like he was always listening to my playing.

In the past while, I’ve had to figure out how to navigate the world without my dad.

Continue Reading


Travelling Doesn’t Fix A Musician’s Problems

Surfboard shot.

Two months ago I was in Tulum. This was my first time travelling with a close friend, and I’ve learned a few things about myself and leadership. Here are a few tips that might help you.


On the way to Tulum, I am silent.

“Do you like this place? Are you glad we didn’t go to Cuba? Do you like the hotel?” Megz asks.

“Yes,” I say.

“What’s wrong?” She says.

“I’m just tired,” I say. It’s 3am and I could’ve been playing beach volleyball back home. Somewhere in my body there is excitement about Mexico, but overall I’m craving a shower and bed.

The next day, she says: “I thought you were angry.”


“Because you were quiet.”

For better or worse, each of us is setting performance benchmarks for people around us and we can create a lot of stress for someone.

Continue Reading

Add a Comment

How to Make a Change

Making a Change

I wasn’t always a pescatarian. I’ve stopped eating meat for probably seven years now, for a slew of reasons. This is something I’m not very vocal about, but people catch on and ask the following questions, without fail:


“How long have you been vegetari–er–pescatarian?”

“Do you eat eggs?”

In the past year or so, I’ve noticed that people are less surprised at my alternative diet.

If you are trying to make a social change, here are a few things I’ve noticed.

Continue Reading


How to Enjoy Training Your Fingers & Other Boring Tasks

How to Enjoy Training Your Fingers & Other Boring TasksOne evening after work, I wander into the new Tom Lee store that I see from my office everyday and slip into the fancy glass room that’s filled with acoustic pianos. No one pays attention to me in my t-shirt and jeans.

I play cadences on pianos that I pass by, until I stop at one to play for a short while.

“Can I help you find something?”

“No, I’m just looking,” I say, gesturing with my chin. “Baby grands.”

“You are obviously pretty good,” he says. “That was, you know, Liszt.”

I nod. I didn’t know that was Liszt. I thought I got lucky pressing the keys.

He gestures to another piano nearby — which happens to be a cheaper Steinway brand. I play it for a little bit and realize the keys are too light.

“Want to play a Steinway?”

He walks over towards one and pulls out the bench, like at a restaurant. How do I get rid of him?

Continue Reading


Ann Makosinski & Grace Miles on Public Speaking Tips

Ann Makosinski and Grace Miles

“This girl is unbelievable.”

That’s what I first thought when I discovered Ann Makosinski and her work. Plus, she can rock a stage.

As an introverted girl (and naturally on the shy side), these are skills I wish I had when starting out, before the dealing with music students’ parents and design pitches.

Today, I’m THRILLED to share this chat with Ann Makosinski. She is awesome, as in full of awe. Not only did she invent the body-heat powered flashlight at 15 years old, but she easily commands a theatre-full of people. For musicians, this skill is especially useful for teaching music classes and workshops.

In this video, we’re chatting about public speaking tips, and other big ideas, like how to be “yourself” when you don’t fit with everyone else.

The ideas for public speaking transfer to other types of performance as well, especially piano playing and teaching.

Let’s jump right in! Here are the public speaking tips that Ann goes by:

Continue Reading


How to Increase Your Productivity and Feel Free

How to Be More Productive

If you’re like me, then you have a mile-long to-do list. All the time.

Though sometimes I am scolding myself for trying to shorten it given that this list is basically my life laid out.

In any case, to-do lists can get stressful. Here are 3 ways to increase your productivity and feel free.

1. Convince yourself first

When the US government wanted citizens to consume animal organs (like liver), because most conventional meat was sent overseas in WWII, an interesting experiment ensued.

Housewives were the food gatekeepers in charge of planning meals, so psychologist Lewin and his team gathered two groups of housewives.

They lectured the first group on benefits of consuming animal organs, like many health campaigns do today. The second group discussed ways of convincing other people to change their diet. Guess what happened?

They discovered that nearly five times more families in the second discussion group changed diets. By taking objections off the table, the second group had successfully convinced themselves that organ parts were worth consuming.

We can use this in our own lives as well.

YES you have a to-do list and you’re going to get this done while feeling free.

Take the first item on your list and tell someone how you’re going to do it. If you sound confident, they’ll believe you. When you’re persuading someone else, you’re essentially persuading yourself– you’ve just skyrocketed the chances of getting it done.

Continue Reading

Add a Comment

How to Be a Music Teacher and Superstar

Teaching Music: How to be a Music Teacher

People say things like, “I don’t have these extra university degrees [or qualifications], so I won’t get hired to teach here.”

Enter the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t believe it, then it’s probably not going to happen because you’ve given up already.

Getting the job you want isn’t about coveting qualifications you don’t have, but presenting what you have, in the best light.

Here are my top 4 tips for getting hired to teach:

1. Help people for free

Let’s say you’re a piano teacher whose students are mostly middle-school kids. You want to teach college students, but you don’t have the time nor money to get the music degree that increases your chances of getting hired at a conservatory or university. We know those jobs are diminishing anyways.

To get hired, you have to show that you are better than everyone else.

There should be something that you aspire to– not that you’re discontent with what you have right now, but you want to be constantly evolving, to your best self that is ever-changing.

Getting to your next goal might mean sharing your skills for free.

When you help someone for free, you have the freedom to explore different sides of the same task. You can break into new territory.

You only need to work with 3 people before you instinctively know whether you’re a fit for teaching that type of student. I gave free lessons to beginner pianists through Skype and realized that beginner piano needed to be taught in person, there was no way around that.

Continue Reading

Add a Comment