Tuning Students In To Life

By Ernie Chang
Wednesday - May 24, 2006
| Del.icio.us | Share

Chang’s future pianists of America (from left): Bolin Chang, Tiana Li, Mandy Nakamura, Albert Jiang and Ernest Chang
Chang’s future pianists of America (from left): Bolin
Chang, Tiana Li, Mandy Nakamura, Albert Jiang and
Ernest Chang

I taught my first lessons in my brand new piano studio in Makiki on Labor Day, 1963, and have been “laboring” ever since then. This has truly been a labor of love for over four decades!

Our profession is unique - most of us begin at a very early age to study for this career. We impart our craft in close one-onone situations which often develop into wonderful, long-term relationships between teacher and students. It’s like growing up together with your students and their families.

Piano teaching is not the type of business where you become a millionaire if you are successful, although I consider myself a very rich man in so many other important ways. Thankfully, I have always been very busy. In 42 years, I have never taken a vacation of more than 10 days, and rarely have even taken an entire Sunday off.

I feel fortunate to be working with three other fine professionals (Ann Ogino MacNeill, Beverly Nagel and Deven Kono) in a studio complex of five rooms and a lounge area. We have eight top-quality pianos (six grands and two uprights) for our students to play on. Our yearly calendar offers 50 to 60 events including five fall recitals, an elaborate “Christmas in Ensemble” concert, two spring recitals, numerous other informal and public programs, National Guild of Piano Teachers auditions, master classes, competitions, performances with orchestras, a monthly recital at Pohai Nani Retirement Community and more. We really live up to the saying, “A teacher is like a candle - it sheds light while it consumes itself.”

You don’t need to be a Juilliard graduate to be a fine teacher, but “If one dares to teach, one must not cease to learn.” It is vitally important to learn as much as you can about how to make that very mechanical “Sherman tank-like” instrument sing, dance, laugh, cry, etc. One must learn to be more and more skillful at imparting this craft to the student. A good piano teacher must be a good troubleshooter, a psychologist and psychiatrist, a motivator, a friend, and a little bit crazy.

In my very biased opinion, I believe that studying to play piano is among the finest extracurricular activities parents can provide for their children. Piano students learn to use some of the smallest muscles in their bodies to perform very intricate and exact movements. This develops discipline, concentration, meticulous attention to details, long-term thinking and perseverance, patience, emotional control and many other important qualities that can benefit them beyond the piano studio.

So much for my vocation. My advocation is volunteerism: To give back and help others who need help. I became a member of the Lions organization soon after I began teaching. In this side of my life I have also learned so much. I have experienced the fun and satisfaction of working with others to share the load so that the load of others less fortunate would not be so heavy. I think my greatest wealth is having so many Lion friends here and worldwide whom I admire and have much aloha for.

I even had the great privilege of serving as the Lions’ district governor in 1990 and 1991, and I am looking forward to serving as president of my “home den,” the Honolulu Chinatown Lions Club, beginning in July.

I hope all of this does not sound like boasting or complaining. On the contrary. I’ve been having the time of my life!

Next Week: Byron Kitkousky, Bears Carpet Care

E-mail this story | Print this page | Comments (0) | Archive | RSS Comments (0) |

Most Recent Comment(s):

Posting a comment on MidWeek.com requires a free registration.



Auto Login

Forgot Password

Times Supermarket




Tiare Asia and Alex Bing
were spotted at the Sugar Ray's Bar Lounge