Kharghar is burning

I wrote the following poem many years ago, when I had 2 years of laryngitis due to the burning of garbage on the roads outside our earlier residence. It was common, so an ENT specialist had her clinic details posted on the society notice board!

Diwali, a festival of new beginnings, is the time I don’t walk down the streets. Firecrackers used to start well in advance of the festival, but this year seems better, and I’m grateful for it.

Still, roads don’t usually get cleaned immediately after Diwali here in Kharghar, and the remains of firecrackers and the strong smell is a health hazard for many. This year seems a little different and people are starting to realise that we need to change and find new, non-polluting ways to enjoy the festival. I hope this trend continues.


 

Kharghar is burning and nobody cares.

There’s often a strong smell of smoke in the air.

Garbage collection is not a routine,

And waste segregation still is a pipe dream. Continue reading

Start to explode?

The roads there for walking, the streets are for parking,

The footpaths where we sell our wares.

The junction is where we stop to chat,

Though the signal is green and we’re causing a jam.

 

We’re desperately eager to eat at the cart,

On the road mid the smoke from the bikes and cars,

We give our kids soft-drinks and call it juice,

We want sugar, and fat, and colour in our food.

 

We drive on the wrong side of the road,

‘Cos to follow the rules would be a  great load!

 

We walk on the inner side of the path,

With our kids on the outside. We’re as happy as larks!

 

We don’t stress the small stuff, we let it grow,

Till it’s heavy and big and things start to explode.


You’ve either got to laugh at the Navi Mumbaikar, or have a good cry 🙂

Piano Technique Concerns with Beginner Students

Many beginner level piano students struggle to learn. They find easy playing difficult, because they play the piano with poor technique.

Beginner level piano students need to have some basic understanding of the purpose of good piano technique. This helps them understand when it’s time to take their difficulties to their piano teacher.

Here’s a post that, I hope, explains all of this, in brief. Continue reading

A tale of two families

Husband No 1 :

Nothing to do, nothing to do!

My poor dear wife has nothing to do!

I come home from work and the house is so clean,

She’s sitting around reading a magazine!

The food is all cooked and our ironing is done.

She looks like her day’s been a lot of fun.

She has nothing to do ‘cos housework is easy,

She nags! Maybe, she needs some occupational therapy.

So I sit down and ask her to get me some water,

To bring me my kindle and the newspaper.

I sit down and wait while she serves dinner,

A little bit of work helps her keep her figure.

 

Husband No 2 :

Too much to do, too much to do!

My poor dear wife has too much to do!

I come home from work and she’s running around

The dinner’s on the stove and her work is not done,

The home and the family take all her time,

Her life is too busy, she needs to have fun!

I walk in and get a drink of water, then help her bring dinner to the table.

My wife needs a break cos there’s too much to do,

So I help her at home when I’m able.

 

Wife No 1 :

Too much to do? Too much to do?

My dear friend really has too much to do?

Nothings done ‘cos she works at a comfortable pace.

She takes the breaks that she needs.

I envy her style, how she does with a smile.

The help that she gets makes me burn up inside,

I do so much more but it’s always a chore.

I wish I had time, but there’s too much to do,

and there’s no-one at home who helps me.

 

Wife No 2 :

Too much to do, too much to do!

My dear friend really has too much to do!

She doesn’t know when to take a break,

and thinks it’s a sign that she’s really great!

She’s stressed all the time and she takes so much trouble,

But what is it worth, if she’s always nagging?

 

Child of Couple No 2 :

Too much to do, too much to do!

My poor dear mother has too much to do!

 

Child of Couple No 1 :

Nothing to do, nothing to do!

My poor dear mother has nothing to do!

I better find something for her to do.

 


It’s funny watching women who have totally different styles of managing their home. It has such an impact on the attitudes of their families and the appreciation they get for their work.

This play in a poem is fictional. It’s a lighter look at two stay-at-home women who have very different styles of managing their homes. I hope you enjoy reading it!

5 Thoughts to help you find the Piano Teacher that’s best for YOU

Families new to piano lessons can find the search for a new piano teacher quite confusing. I write this post to help these parents and students who have difficulty assessing which piano teacher or lesson format is the best for them.

Your child’s first piano teacher will set the foundations of his/her musical growth. The quality of learning at beginner level is important, as it determines whether the student will stay motivated enough to continue learning more. Continue reading

Respect and Effective Learning in Piano Class

Would you study Geography to prepare for History paper?

This is exactly what a couple of my students did, and the parents were upset. Really upset! That their child was so irresponsible and did not take the trouble to check what was scheduled before revising.

Something similar happens frequently with piano practise at home and piano parents often don’t understand the subject. So they think things are going well, when they might not be.

Students sometimes spend quite a bit of time at the piano experimenting with new stuff, or playing through pieces they enjoy. This is wonderful as it means the student it exploring and enjoying the instrument and this is necessary. Continue reading

The pot-stirrer

I could let the dal cook and not give it a look,

Let it stick to the base of the pot.

Then skim off the top, throw the burned part out,

And not worry about the waste, if what’s left suits my taste.

But the bottom of the pot holds the flavour,

That makes the dal taste divine.

And looking away is more labour,

Because scrubbing away the burn takes time.

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Continue reading

Pleeease dirty the mat!

A message to all our visitors. It’s about the floor mat that slants diagonally across our doorway during the monsoon, kept that way so everyone has to walk over it to enter our living room.

Sometimes visitors see that it’s clean and try not to dirty it, trailing all dust and the wet from the rains into our home! The funniest is those who can’t bear to see it slant across the grid of our floor tiles and feel compelled to take the trouble to straighten it out!

This poem is for them 🙂


You can step on the mat that lies across my floor.

Wipe your feet as you enter the door.

Don’t try to save me the washing,

‘Cos all it does is increase my mopping. Continue reading

The Illusion Of Education – literacy in rural India

A lot of children in Navi Mumbai who attend English-medium schools have difficulty with English language comprehension and with thinking. I recently wrote a post Remedial teaching in piano lessons to highlight this issue.

Here’s a post by Untravesty, with detailed information about the quality of education in India and real issues that need to be addressed – The illusion of education literacy in rural India.

Un-Travesty.

What if I tell you that India has the world’s largest youth population? What if I also tell you that less than half of our students in class 8th can solve a class four division problem and barely 47% of children in grade 5 can read a grade 2 level text? Our students have been caught in the clutches of our government’s ignorance. Someone once rightly said that most ignorance is “vincible ignorance”. We don’t know because we don’t want to know and people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed. To secure India’s future, providing a better education to India’s youth is imperative.

I believe only education fundamentally can change our current scenario. It can help make people independent because all the wealth in the world cannot help our people unless they are not taught to help themselves. All they need is moral and…

View original post 1,603 more words

Remedial teaching in piano lessons

The changing face of piano lessons

My early years as a piano teacher were about teaching music. My young students got music concepts easily. They ran rings around me those first few years, until I had enough teaching experience. Because they could remember what was taught even without practise and I’d get fooled into thinking they’d done their work!

They were flexible thinkers and asked questions when they couldn’t understand. I had a few students with learning issues later, and I wrote a post about them –  ‘Coping with the overscheduled child in piano class’.  But mostly, it was just about teaching music.

It’s so very different these days, as a lot of beginner level piano teachers now need to be skilled in remedial  teaching. Because the percentage of children who struggle with learning and comprehension grows each year. Teachers in different parts of the world often notice the same trend. Continue reading

The missing link in piano practise at home

Apply apply, no reply?

If you’re the piano student who listens, follows instructions and basically does what your teacher asks you to, and are getting nowhere, then this post is for you.

A student like this came to his piano lesson the other day. He’d been practising at home, but it really didn’t sound like it, as not much had been accomplished during that time.

Just one practise session at class and there was a difference in the quality of his practise. In terms of his posture, hand shape, playing gently rather than banging on the keys, and playing smoothly. A section with mistakes that had been corrected in the last piano lesson was still troubling him and we worked on it slowly and carefully and he played it correctly in pretty much one go.

So what happened differently at piano lessons?

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The difference was that in piano lessons, I listened, observed and gave him some feedback. He did not just repeat, playing the same thing again and again, the way he does at home.

Instead, he played, I assessed his playing and he thought about it. THEN, he played again.

Did he actually follow my practise instructions?

All, except for the big one – to think and assess in between repetitions. And that was what got him stuck in actually practising errors again and again.

The mistake piano students practising at home often make is focusing on the ‘playing’ part of piano practise, forgetting the ‘aural’ and ‘mental’ activity that is needed before repetition.

Another factor to consider

Why is the aural and mental activity so hard for some piano students to ‘get’, and so easy for others? This is a question I constantly ask myself, in an effort to get through to my students, and here’s some part of the problem…

For many beginner piano students, the only exposure they have to piano music is at piano lessons. Many of my new students don’t even listen to music daily, or listen to an extremely limited variety of music.

And that’s a HUGE factor, because these students often learn in a very bookish way and the ‘feeling rhythm’ or ‘hearing/singing pitch in their minds’, so important for progress, is neglected.

Sadly, students and parents often don’t understand that the piano is learning a new language, and needs language exposure/listening to music to learn. That it’s not always about practise or being ‘good’ and working, but about a learning environment that supports music and makes time for regular and disciplined practise at home.


The missing link in piano practise at home is the listening, assessing and thinking

  • Self-assessment, so the student realises what needs correction. And so that the next repetition is better.
  • The student also needs to notice what went well, so that it can be remembered and built upon. This is how students gain confidence in their ability to teach themselves.

The problem here often is that the student thinks he/she is playing right and the focus needed for the ‘playing’ part of practise occupies the student fully. 

One very easy way for students to learn to ‘observe’ themselves and know what they actually did – rather than what they thought they did – is for them to record their practise.

Just once in a way is good enough. Even just once, at the first session of piano practise after their lesson, when the piano teacher’s guidance and assessment during lessons is still fresh.

Recording is just a tool to help students develop awareness. And they learn pretty quick once they know what to look for.


An important factor in effective piano teaching is the ability we piano teachers have to teach our students to teach themselves. This independence in learning to play the piano often flows into other areas of a piano student’s life, and it’s a joy to see.

Piano teaching : Why I moved to No-Make-Ups

No more Make-ups when students miss piano lessons

I recently switched from 100% Make-Ups for missed lessons, to No-Make-Ups with ‘Flex Slots’.  Each student who practises regularly qualifies for un-charged extra class time each month during my ‘Flex Slots’.

In this post, I discuss my decision to make this change and tell piano students and their families a little more about what piano teaching means. I hope this post helps other piano teachers who are starting out teaching in this locality, where the role of the piano teacher, and the role of the teaching community in general, is vastly underrated.  Continue reading