A tribute to the Piano Mom’s

Children love to perform, but mostly do not like to practise. The first year of learning often goes slow, until their parents realise that daily practise is not going to happen, unless they (the parents) spend time with their kids and make it happen.

With my students, it’s almost always the Mom. It does not seem to matter what pressures she has – work, managing the home, looking after older family members – she still makes the effort. She’s around when her child practises, listening and appreciating good playing, and making sure her child knows she loves listening…..Sometimes, she even convinces her young child, that she can only truly relax when her child practises. So, i have children coming into class telling me they just have to play daily – cos their Mom needs it to relax!

She does this because, she understands that her child will gain some long term value from learning to play the piano – not just the achievement of learning to play, but the confidence and personality growth. She also understands, that eventually, her child will develop a passion for music, and will learn to play and practise without supervision.

Piano Mom works with the teacher, communicating with her regularly, when things don’t go smooth. She makes the effort, even when she and the teacher have differences of opinion, on what her child needs to progress. She works at understanding the teacher, and eventually finding a middle path.

It takes her anything between a month or a year of her child learning, to make her realise that she needs to put time aside, to support her child and she then, rearranges her schedule, to make this possible.

A heartfelt THANK YOU to you all – I really appreciate all the time and effort you put in..

The Mountains of Tasmania

Mountains tall as old as time, look upon the twilight gold.

Dark now, in the fading light, till moon-rise, and a sky so bright. Continue reading The Mountains of Tasmania

Dear Levi’s India,

Buying a pair of jeans in Navi Mumbai is mostly impossible for me.

The problem is that i am ‘the average woman’ – busy trying to find that ‘perfect imbalance’ that helps me do the things i would like to, and still manage to do the things i need to, and not always succeeding. I’m either too lazy or too busy to have a regular exercise routine. I weigh 20 kgs more than i did at 20, but in my mind, i’m really very slim..

The shops at Navi Mumbai simply don’t cater to ‘slim’, older women like me. They stop at size 34, and usually only keep the skinny fit!

So, i visited the Levi’s shop at the Phoenix mall, Kurla the other day, because i thought that you had taken the trouble to manufacture jeans to fit every woman. I was pleasantly surprised to find my size – only you now mark every size a couple of numbers below the waist measurement (for example : a 34 is now marked 30 or 32)?

However, i walked away without a pair of jeans, simply because the skinny fit just does not do it for me. Like i did before, i’m going to have to really really look around a lot, to get a pair of jeans that fit’s comfortable.

..A sad customer

😦

Possibilities .. a poem about my dreams for the future

Sometimes I sits, I sits and thinks, of things I’ve never seen,

Of places that I’ll never know, of what I may not be.

Of all the possibilities that seem so far away,

of all the lovely winding roads, that lead out from my gate. Continue reading Possibilities .. a poem about my dreams for the future

The best advice i ever got

I remember this doctor’s advice, years later and it still makes me laugh, to think that solutions are just so simple sometimes!

It was a couple of visits to the beach that did it….

I got some insect bites and my foot swelled up to 3 times it’s normal size each time. After that, it was a mosquito bite which gave me the same reaction, and my GP felt i needed to see a skin specialist.

The specialist gave a a good strong dose of allergy tablets, and i walked around for 2 weeks in a coffee-induced semi-wakefulness (no driving and walking very carefully, because i normally get drowzy with mild, anti-allergy tablets) But it worked, and i had to go back for my last visit, and this is what the doctor said :

“Since you have an insect bite allergy, you need to be careful :

  1. Wear long trousers or churidars – long sleeved tops – socks and closed shoes, when you go out to the beach, the park or anywhere with insects
  2. Cover all exposed skin with Odomos

There’s only one long term solution to an insect bite allergy – and that is – TO NOT GET BITTEN!”

 

So…who IS Luke Skywalker?

My husband is in a state of shock – i did not know i could do this to him. It all started a couple of days ago, when i walked in and saw a picture on the computer screen.

A picture of this guy Luke. I saw it and immediately asked my husband if it was Luke Skywalker and he said it was. It’s funny, cos i just knew the name Luke Skywalker, but could not remember who he actually was. So, i thought for a moment and then it hit me. I said  ‘It’s the Phantom isn’t it?’

My husband just looked at me blankly, so i elaborated ‘You know, the guy from the comic strip … The Ghost who walks?’

His blank look turned to shock and he just stared at me and i realised i’d got it wrong. After a moment of thought, it struck me that maybe Luke Skywalker is a character from ‘Star Wars’ and that he was the guy who turned into Darth Vader. I asked him if i’d got it right.

Shock turned into stunned disbelief!!

He’s had a couple of days to think and now realises he’s been married for over 15 years to a woman who does not know who Luke Skywalker is!!

🙂

2 minutes and 2 steps to Creative Piano Practise

….for piano students to make their practise spontaneous, yet regular and fun.

So, students, this is how it works :

  • Select a small section from a piece you like (a line or a phrase of music) – change the section every week
  • Play it for 2 minutes, when you take a break from some other activity (for example after studying, dinner, or tidying up your stuff at home) both with and without the book

After some time of doing this daily, students find that they really really want to play the piano as soon as they finish their studies or their chores. They start using piano playing to relax and to express their moods and emotions and therefore, piano playing becomes a need – not just something they have to do as homework.

 

Piano practise becomes more spontaneous and students tend to remember practise ideas they’ve been taught, and also use ideas of their own – simply because they’re so focused on playing something they enjoy well. They also often, WANT to play, when they’re tired or when studies get heavy, because it helps them relax and de-stress and therefore study better and quicker.

 

The 2 minutes are done separately from the regular practise homework, so to the student, it’s just having fun. It often it makes students want to  restructure their daily practise schedule – to allow flexibility, so they can play because they feel like it, rather than because it’s time for piano practise to be done.

 

 

 

I get it…my rant on driving while talking on the phone

… to the slightly insane driver’s who disrupt traffic, on the Sion-Panvel highway

 

I get it that you have important matters to talk about

So you drive slowly, and chat on your cell phone

 

I get it that you don’t care

That you’re slowing everyone down

That a lot of the driver’s behind you are switching lanes, because you driving at 30km/hr

And they’re stuck driving at a crawl behind you Continue reading I get it…my rant on driving while talking on the phone

Dear Change,

I am grateful for your constant and steady companionship.

I have not always felt that way about your many many visits, but as time goes by I’m growing to value them.

When you visit regularly, I sometimes wish you away, but you know that I really do not mean it.

You bring me joy and sorrow, rude shocks and pleasant surprises. Continue reading Dear Change,

The colour of gold

The inspiration for this poem

To the average Indian woman, gold is beauty, security and an investment in her future. Sadly, it’s also for many women, a way to determine whether another woman is well off enough, that they can consider being friendly with her.

I learned this because I don’t wear gold jewellery and I often wear no jewellery at all. I’ve had full conversations with women, with their eyes glued to my ears and neck – showing me that they notice the lack of adornment. 

Worse still, we lived on rent when we first moved to our current location, moving a couple of times, before settling down in our permanent home. And every move meant making new friends from scratch.  Initial friendliness from women neighbours can sometimes turn to reserve once they’ve conducted their brief interview and realise they’re talking to someone who does not own her own home! 

It’s a value system that is so accepted in our society that families invest in gold jewellery, leaving nothing for the comforts that make daily living easy.

I often get told I’m lucky that my daily life is relatively comfortable. But it’s not about luck. It’s about personal choices and priorities and spending on what we value most. That’s where this post comes from.

Gold is the colour of :

  • All the machines that do my house work for me.
  • The comfort I get in shopping for convenience and not necessarily for discounts.
  • The education that my parents gave me.
  • The investment of both time and money, that I make in my ongoing education.
  • The family support I get, so that I can work at what I love.
  • The time I get to spend with family.
  • The silence of the morning every day, when I’m having a leisurely cup of chai

Concerned friends, have asked if I own a set of jewellery and my answer is NO. It’s a waste as I’m not going to wear it anyway. Maybe someday, I’ll consider buying some bling that’s actually gold. I don’t know – maybe…

But it won’t mean anything more to me than all the lovely stuff at Archie’s.

You know you’re 40 when :

  1. You no longer feel like you’re just out of college

  2. You are 20 kgs heavier than when you were 20 but you feel very slim

  3. You will never have time to do all that you have to or want to

  4. You are wise and you have given up trying – there’s a long long ‘To-do’ list which will never go away

  5. The Loreal representative at the local mall tries to get you to buy more natural looking hair dye – even though you don’t dye your hair

  6. Even the Bhaji-walla who used to call you Baby, then Didi, then Bhabhi, now calls you Auntie

 

For the non-Indian:

The Bhaji-walla is the vegetable vendor

They call all children Baba(boys) or Baby(girls), all young women Didi (elder sister), the not so young women Bhabhi(sister-in-law) and Auntie is just one step away from Nani – which means grandmother – a title you get when you look like, or are a senior citizen.

We have a keyboard at home – why should we buy a piano?

Digital Piano with X Stand
Non-weighted keyboard

Many students in Mumbai & Navi Mumbai start off in piano class, with a basic 5 or 7 octave keyboard to practise on at home, realise they need a piano & then invest in a digital or an acoustic piano as soon as their budget permits.

There are 2 important reasons why piano teachers always recommend students buy an acoustic piano :

  1.  Weighted keys
  2. Responsiveness to touch, with a a capacity to produce variations in tone. 

How key weight affects playing technique

Students who practise on an instrument with weighted keys learn to keep their shoulders, arms & hands in a relaxed position while playing.

The weight of the keys allows them to do this, as the keys are heavy enough, that they can transfer the weight of their arm (this is done in varying degrees, depending on the tonal effect required) to the piano keyboard.

Students who go for piano class and practise on non-weighted keyboards often struggle to adjust. They realise very quickly that their playing technique is being affected by practising on an instrument that is so very different from the piano, that it hinders their learning. And they start budgeting to buy a piano.

Acoustic vs Digital upright pianos

Digital pianos have weighted keys. The degree and quality of the key weight as compared to an acoustic piano vary with different models & budgets. Digital pianos have the following advantages over acoustic pianos :

Yamaha Clavinova Piano
Digital Piano
  1. Digital pianos are budget friendly – you can get a reasonably good digital piano at Rs70,000/- to Rs 1,50,000/- approximately (Refer * below), depending on the quality, brand & functionality you choose.
  2. Headphones for practise. This is really great in small homes.
  3. Recording to MIDI or recording audio directly to a USB or computer, without background noise.
  4. They don’t need regular tuning the way an acoustic piano does, and don’t get affected by temperature fluctuations. It is advisable however, to keep them away from moisture and the direct heat of the sun.
  5. Easy & reasonably priced dismantling, moving and re-assembling. This is an advantage for families who live on rent & have to move every couple of years.

There’s one major disadvantage to having a digital piano, and that is that the responsiveness of the instrument to touch & the capacity to produce variations in tone is limited. So, piano students who wish to move beyond Grade 4/5, & eventually to advanced level pieces, need acoustic pianos to practise on. 

The cost of buying an acoustic piano

  1. You can get a very basic level acoustic piano  Rs 2,50,000/- budget (Refer * below). An instrument with reasonably good tonal quality suited for an advanced level student costs between Rs 4 to 5 lakhs.

    Acoustic Piano
    Acoustic Piano
  2. Acoustic pianos need to be tuned 3 times a year. If you live in a smaller town, check whether there are piano tuners available in your locality & what they charge. And whether they will be regular with appointments, because that can be an issue. Check out whether your piano dealer offers a service contract for piano tuning.
  3. You will need to install a de-humidifier to keep the inside of your piano free of moisture during the monsoon. Price & buy this when you buy your piano.

I hope this post is clear and helps you make a decision on which instrument to buy. Good luck!

*  Images (excluding the header image) are provided by Furtados Music, Jer Mahal, Dhobitalao. Approximate budgets are based on their showroom prices as on May 2017.

To all my Teachers

Thank you,

For teaching me with love and patience. For believing in me on the days that I did not believe in myself. For giving me confidence to try even when it meant risking failure. For picking me up after a fall, and teaching me how to accept failure and move on.

Thank you also, to those of you who went out of your way to make things difficult for me. I look back and realise that I needed the obstacles you threw in my path – either by chance or by design, to make me realise that I had the ability to go over some of them on my own. And to learn to go around at those I couldn’t go over.

I feel blessed to have been taught by you all.

Our adventures with an IFB Neptune DX dishwasher

We purchased an IFB Neptune DX dishwasher, through Vijay Sales, Khargar, last year, as our previous dishwasher was old and no longer usable. I had a couple of friends who had IFB dishwashers and were very happy with their performance and I convinced my husband that it would be better than our previous brand Siemens, as the Siemens technicians would take very long to arrive, even though when they did, their work was excellent.

3 IFB machines and a 11 months later, we purchased a Siemens dishwasher, which we use daily, with no problems at all.

So we now are the proud owners of 2 dishwashers

  • A Siemens machine which runs

  • An IFB machine which does not (fortunately we have got rid of the tiny little cockroaches which IFB sent back along with the machine when they took it for repair)

This is our story . . .

A video of our IFB Neptune DX Dishwasher in action – mostly audio, with a visual at the end

Machine Number 1

Our new dish washer arrived on the 7th February 2012 and the piece had visible damage to the body. So, on our request, IFB gave us a new machine, within 48 hours, and this was installed at our residence.

Machine Number 2

This one worked well for almost 1  month and then started to give an F5 error, and stop mid cycle. We recorded this and showed it to Vijay Sales and the IFB technician, as the error would not happen every day.

We made many complaints as the machine would run normally when the technician visited, and they were not able to assess the problem just by looking at the recording. We also spoke to Mr Abhishek Sharma of IFB and the customer care at Vijay Sales, Khargar.

The IFB technician said that the water supply to our building had grit and particles in it, so we needed a filter, which they installed for us at the cost of Rs 2500/-

They also advised us to change the flexible water inlet connection we had to a metal pipe, even though the water pressure was high, which we did.

They then advised us to change the drainage outlet, even though the existing outlet was as per manual specifications.
So we changed the drainage outlet as per the technicians instructions

Finally, on April 19th, the IFB technician accepted that the machine had failed.

Machine Number 3

So, end April 2012, the third machine arrived. On 23rd July, 2012, it failed with the same error.

We filed a complaint and also spoke to Mr Kevit Patil and Mr K Rajendra both from IFB. A senior engineer visited and replaced the pump in the machine.

However, the machine did not start working, and the engineer said that the replacement pump was defective

Finally, on 11 November 2012, IFB took the machine for repair, after an assurance from Mr Kevit Patil that the machine would be delivered and installed at the same time, to avoid further inconvenience. In fact we especially requested delivery and installation at the same time, as we were unable to get further leave from work to be home, and IFB had inconvenienced us a lot already, for their many many visits.

On December 30 2013, after a reminder to Mr Kevit Patil via email and calling and demanding that the machine be returned, only then, did the company deliver the machine back, with filter broken, the cutlery tray missing and in such dirty condition that we had to treat the kitchen for cockroaches as tiny cockroaches kept coming out of the machine. Also, the engineer did not turn up for installation of the machine.

Through this whole one year, IFB has not visited as per our convenience morning or late evening, but only at 4 pm, which meant that one of us had to take leave each time. Also, we have had the stress of repeatedly following up to get any progress as Mr. Kevit Patil would often not accept calls or have his phone switched off. Since we could not longer bear this or take further leave for more repair work, we finally purchased a Siemens dishwasher and since then life has been much much easier, as it works!

We have filed a complaint with the Consumer Guidance Society of India, however, there has not been any response from them.