Yiyi Ku

Yiyi Ku

Yiyi Ku is a pianist and teacher. Born in Taiwan, she grew up in New Zealand and obtained her Master of Music degree with Distinction in Composition and Piano Performance from the University of Canterbury. Yiyi also holds a Licentiate in Piano Performance from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano from Music Teachers National Association and American College of Musicians/National Guild of Piano Teachers. She has also been certified as Advanced Specialist in both Theory and Piano from RCM. Yiyi has maintained a busy private studio for many years, and enjoys teaching students of all ages and levels.

Dear MTH blog readers,

I hope you are all having a fantastic holiday!

I realize it has been a while since I last posted. My 2-year-old daughter certainly keeps me very busy. She is very active, and enjoys exploring everything around her, including sitting at the piano and just having fun with the instrument. You can see her “progress” by visiting her Facebook page JingJingAria.

2017 has been an unforgettable year for me. I was actually pregnant again, but lost the baby at 6 months gestation. It was a very difficult time. I am sharing with you all here, because I know these things are rarely talked about, and there may be some of you out there that have experienced similar losses. It is easy to celebrate joy together, as I shared with you the birth of my first child. We all deal with grief differently, and for me, finally being able to talk about it brings a certain sense of peace.

Around the time I found out the baby had complications, I started teaching a new student who is blind and autistic. I will write more about him in a future post. He opened my eyes and heart. I had the option of terminating the pregnancy very early on, but teaching this new student was so inspiring that I knew as long as the baby had a heartbeat and even a 1% chance of making it, termination was not an option for me. In the end the baby did not make it, but I am grateful for the time I had with her and for all the lessons she taught me.

Every child that walks into my studio is a miracle. If they can learn to play the piano, that is a wonderful thing! What is our job as teachers? I still need to remind myself to be ever more patient, more encouraging, more inspiring, and more loving. It is difficult to do sometimes, when the student did not practice, when they have an upcoming exam and their piece is not memorized, when they do not remember how to do Secondary Dominants after you have explained it 100 times, and when you know they simply have not lived up to their potential. But in the end, what does it matter? The child is breathing. The child is happy. The child is going to have a meaningful life. What is our role? What will they remember from us 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years from now?

Of course our job is also to inspire excellence. To cultivate the idea that hard work will be rewarded. To challenge and help our students to accomplish new tasks. To help to raise good citizens that can discover and appreciate beauty. To teach the art of playing the piano or whatever is your chosen instrument. As 2017 draws to a close, I ask myself the question, if I have been the right balance of praise and criticism for each student.

Thank you for reading this post, and letting me share with you some of my thoughts and reflections. I hope you are enjoying your holiday break, and giving some time to yourself to do whatever it is you have been wanting to do but never had the time.

Happy New Year!

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Dear MTH blog readers,


It is back-to-school time! Have you started your Fall lesson schedule yet? Are you having headaches trying to fit everyone into their desired time slots?

What new ideas do you have this year to motivate your students? A while ago I came across the idea of “Practice Beads” on The Art of Piano Pedagogy Facebook group. Well, here is my version, and I call it “Practice PomPoms”.

I got the pompoms and chenille stems from Orientaltrading.com (treasure trove for teachers!) and the document clips from OfficeDepot (MTNA members get a really good discount!).

The way it works is that the student moves a pompom up or down after each practice. This helps them to keep track of how many times they have practiced their homework assignments. The number of pompoms on the stem depends on how old the student is.

Of course we all know the quality of the practice is far more important than the quantity, but for beginners, this helps them to establish a routine and build a habit of practicing.

If you have any back-to-school ideas, please share!

Happy Teaching!

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Dear MTH blog readers,

It has been a while since I last posted! I hope you have all been well. You may remember from one of my previous posts that I had a baby (which is why I have not been able to keep up with my blogging!) Well she is 20 months old now!

Anyway, I am still teaching, and I wanted to share with you one of my studio secrets. It is called the Music Teachers National Association Music Achievement Award Program.

What is it?

“The purpose of MTNA’s Music Achievement Award Program is to help encourage ALL the students in the teacher’s studio, especially the “everyday” students, to continue their music study and to strive to achieve goals that will not only help them become better musicians, but also will enhance their love and appreciation of music.

The teacher sets goals that are both realistic and attainable for each individual student according to the student’s needs, ability and motivational level.

The student achieves the goals over a specified period of time.” – MTNA Member Resources

I have been doing this program for the last couple years. Basically every student in my studio participates in it. If you are a member of MTNA, there is detailed instruction on how to implement the program in the Members-Only area of the website. The beauty of the program is that the teacher can tailor the program to suit each individual student. Some students may complete as few as one goal, while others may complete as many goals/events as the teacher’s studio offers.

Here is my studio’s goals/events list for the past year:

For the beginner students, the goals can include completing a method book, listening assignments, and even attending live concerts. MTNA provides a very detailed list of suggestions for goals.

At our annual studio recital, I award the students that have completed their program with a trophy. Here is what this year’s trophy looks like:

Having this program in place really motivates my students to work hard throughout the year. It also saves me time as I plan the program at the beginning of the school year for each student, and at each lesson we can see clearly what is our upcoming goal and what repertoire we need to focus on.

This is only one of the many benefits of joining MTNA. If you are not yet a member, now is time to join before the next school year starts!

Here is wishing everyone a great summer!


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