Published on November 18, 2013, by Ivy Ngeow in Christmas.

Apologies to the King of Rock and Roll! The triplets are tricky. See also my
Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love for bass line technique. Practise bass (left hand) first before attempting melody.

Published on November 18, 2013, by Ivy Ngeow in Christmas.

Just for fun, I am showing you how to give a classic tune a  jazzy sound. You have to use chord substitutions. You can turn any song into a jazzy number. Even the Ramones at a pinch.



Spoiler! This post might be about parenting!

How to make a child practise piano?
One answer. With LOVE.

1/ Make sure that he or she absolutely LOVES music. There is no question about it. You can’t make music if you don’t love it.

2/ If you don’t know what they love, find out. Play all kinds of music to them. Talk about it. Music is for sharing. Share with them the music that you yourself love. They won’t and can’t practise if you yourself don’t love music. You may find that they don’t actually love music. If that’s the case, move on to Step 12 below. If they love music, then everything will fall into place and you can continue with Step 3.

3/ Once you know what they love, get the sheet music or if you play music, play it to them if you can play. If you cannot play, get them sheet music that is very simple so that they can play.

4/ Get them a teacher that is fantastic, enthusiastic, friendly and who loves children. The teacher is very important. If they don’t love the teacher, they won’t love the music and they won’t love what the teacher has to say. They will associate the teacher with the music which is a sad fact. Get the teacher to play them something fun and then teach them to play it. If they love the teacher but don’t love music, then you have to go to step 12 below.

5/ Once they play what is fun, play other things, widen their taste and their repertoire. Don’t ever sneak in stuff that they won’t like like scales, exercises and tuneless tunes. They can smell it. That will come with time. They will want to please you and want to play the stuff they don’t like.

6/ Let them play for only 5 minutes a day if they are very little. They don’t know it yet, but they are indeed ‘practising’. Practising is training the mind. If they are older children, they should practise for 15 minutes without flying tempers (yours or theirs). Of course it is easier said than done.

7/ Never raise your voice. Just stop and do something else so that they won’t see the piano as a torture chamber. Repeatedly making mistakes and playing incorrectly with an angry, bored and frustrated face is not practising. Remind yourself that music is joy.

8/ Offer rewards. We all love rewards. Each day of practising with a happy face for 5 minutes earns one sticker. After ten stickers, they can enjoy a little gift.

9/ Watch live gigs together. Also watch Youtube videos of other people or children playing music.

10/ Do music in school. The environment and peer pressure is important. Once there are other ‘cool’ children doing music, the magic will rub off.

11/ Routine, routine, routine. Remember those sleepless nights? Now they have a bedtime routine right? Make the practising time whether it is 5 minutes or 50 minutes part of the routine. It has to happen at a certain time of day.

12/ If the above ten steps don’t work, then give yourself a deadline as to when to give up. If you are not a tiger mum, and clearly, I am not, then you cannot break their spirit. These are your own children that we are talking about. Giving up is not a bad thing. Giving up means you and your child are now free to explore doing something else. Maybe David Beckham gave up piano to do football and his parents said ‘great stuff’ rather than ‘what?!’. Some children are not meant to be musicians. How can so many billion people on earth all be musicians? Some of us have to do something else. Maybe we will be fantastic at something else. Giving up is not a sign of losing or of failure. Giving up is a sign that you only want them to be happy and that’s because you love them.



Why do I play piano? And why should you and/or your child?

1/ Piano and guitar are the only instruments where you can play both the melody and the harmony at the same time WITHOUT any accompaniment from another instrument. You can play just one note or ten at any one time. You are the whole band.

2/ Playing music helps us create a “world” and enter it because it is a creative pursuit.

3/ Piano is the easiest instrument to start on because it is painless and you can play sitting down, all relaxed. You press a key and a sound comes out. In your first lesson you will already play a tune. With guitar, violin, trumpet or any other instrument, you can press or blow very hard and the sound will still be wrong-sounding and even unpleasant because it takes months or years to master a technique, not to mention calloused and burning fingertips from pressing down on guitar strings, twisted neck and bruised jaw from clamping a violin, drooling lips and aching cheeks from blowing a trumpet incorrectly, bad back from clutching a cello and so on.

4/ When we play piano we play with our mind, not our fingers. It is a total mental skill, a coordination of the senses and the physical self, a feat.

5/ Music is a social skill. Those who play are happier and more sociable than those who don’t. There are plenty of opportunities to meet and play with others to make even more music.

6/ Music is an academic building block. Those who can play do better at school.

7/ Performing music boosts confidence which is the key to success in life.

8/ Music builds passion, joie de vivre and a sense of well-being.

9/ Music is fun.

10/ It is so much fun I have to go and do it right now rather than sit down and type this blog post.


On a beautiful balmy night like last night, I was out with my old mate and fellow musician Rob from Sydney, Australia in London’s riverfront area of Sands End in Fulham. We caught a couple of acts for free! A lovely chilled festival.

Live at Imperial Wharf Jazz Festival Sat 21 September 2013 on stage:

Published on September 17, 2013, by Ivy Ngeow in Jazz.

Simply called Exercise No. 2, it is a great challenge to play and I don’t believe I have ever done 19 takes when recording a song, swearing by the end, and still it ain’t perfect, nope.