I recently noticed that Chen Rui had not been practising violin much at home. I do regularly remind the children to practise piano. When I realised that Chen Rui hadn't been playing the violin much, I made sure she practised that day. I was shocked to find that her violin was very obviously out of tune. That meant she had been playing with an out-of-tune violin for a long time, including when she had her weekly lessons. Why did her teacher not realise it? Has he been paying attention? I was quite upset about this, and this made me doubt the violin teacher's sincerity in teaching, and his professionalism. This young man is supposed to be a good violin player and performer. Michelle and I asked Chen Rui about her lessons. It seems the teacher doesn't put much effort into teaching her. When she makes a mistake, he just tells her to play again, instead of spending time to guide her and to help her correct her mistake. He seems to be looking at his phone frequently. He seems to teach other students better, and Chen Rui sounds like a case he has given up on. All these may not be fully true, but I think they are at least partially true. These are my conclusions from what Michelle had heard before from Chen Rui, and also from our more recent chat with her. I did say to Chen Rui she herself also bears part of the blame, because she also hadn't been practising. We cannot just blame the teacher. She has a part to play too as a student. We are considering finding a different violin teacher. If things are as I suspect, then we are wasting Chen Rui's time. Michelle had a chat with the piano teacher. I'm not sure whether she will be able to help. Michelle had spoken to her about this issue before. The piano teacher herself is very different. She is passionate about teaching and helping her students learn and improve. This is what I want in a teacher. I cannot accept an indifferent teacher.
I said to Chen Rui I would practise with her. Since I recently started jamming with two Shell friends, I picked one of the songs we played (周杰伦的《青花瓷》) to jam with her. I taught her the melody. I played the guitar. I don't know how to play the violin, but I try to teach her some ways of playing based on guesswork and how guitar is played. I may be completely wrong. It turned out to be quite fun. With me playing with her, I can prod her to focus and to play. Sometimes she complains about her fingers hurting, or the song being very hard, but I teach her the song bit by bit, verse by verse, repeating short passages over and over until she knows them well. Quite often her finger position is not accurate enough, and the notes she plays are a little out of tune. They are often at a slightly lower pitch. I need to keep reminding her to press higher.
I find it quite enjoyable to jam with her. I think she feels a sense of achievement too, being able to play a song smoothly. When Michelle asks her whether she enjoys the jamming, she just shrugs. I guess she doesn't actively enjoy it, but it is probably better than how her current lessons go. Now I plan to get her to join the jamming sessions with my Shell friends. We've only had one session so far, but moving forward we will try to do maybe every first Sunday of the month. I will need to teach Chen Rui to play some of the songs first. The next session will be next Sunday. When I told Chen Rui this morning during our practice session, she was anxious. She said she was afraid she would make mistakes and she wouldn't be able to play well. Then later I found out she had misunderstood. She thought we were going for the jamming session in the afternoon. I said no, it was next Sunday. She still had time to learn the songs. I am planning to get her to play the bass part of the songs, and some accompaniment. I taught her 《甜蜜蜜》 today. Some intro, mostly bass, and a little bit of ornamental parts. I'm not sure what to do with 《青花瓷》yet. I have taught her to play the melody, but if we are going to jam, Mr Lim will be playing melody too. Maybe I get them to duet.
My colleague 小猪 asked me to teach him piano. Yesterday Edwin brought his keyboard, and I spent some time teaching 小猪. He was interested to learn more, and asked whether I could find the children's piano books from when they first started piano. Today when I looked for the old books, instead of finding them, I found my own piano books from when I started, and some of Mei's too. That was decades ago! The sticky tapes used to fix one of the books had dried up, and I had to remove it and apply new sticky tapes. I had forgotten that I had brought the books to KL. So I'm going to continue teaching 小猪 using these books.
This morning when I was looking for the piano books, Chen Rui found her old ballet shoes. She put them on. She walked about the house with those shoes on. She sometimes does crazy things like this. Later in the day I saw her playing with her ballet skirt - the black one. When the girls stopped their ballet lessons, Michelle had told them they could wear the skirts like normal skirts, but neither of them listened. They felt the skirts were specifically meant for ballet. So the skirts were stored away and never used. I think Chen Rui took hers out today because she saw some Youtube video about removing creases.
When Chen Rui practised A Thousand Years on piano today, I saw she practised while listening to the original song on Youtube. Last week I had pointed out to her that the way she played was wrong. She played the intro at a normal speed, but the actual verse at half the speed, because the left hand part of the verse requires playing very quickly - lots of semi quavers. I said she could play the intro at a slower pace, so that when she reached the verse, it was more manageable. However I felt it was wrong to play the two sections of the song at different speeds. I'm not sure whether the teacher had explicitly asked her to play this way, in which case then I should not have interfered. I am glad that she took the initiative to listen to the original and to try to play along with it. It means she is taking is seriously and is trying to play the song well.
Shee Yun had a school camp yesterday and today, and stayed overnight at school. We had to buy a sleeping bag for her. Throughout the school holidays she had been waking up late, but yesterday she woke up very early, I think even before 6am, because she looked forward very much to go to the camp. She really is enthusiastic about school. After she came back from the camp today, she told us the topics of the talks during the camp made her feel uncomfortable. E.g. LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals), dating. Michelle and I said she shouldn't feel embarrassed about these topics and she shouldn't shy away, or feel ashamed, or think them awkward. In fact we are happy that the school takes seriously educating students about these topics. There are topics that parents often find difficulties discussing, especially not knowing how to start. The school, being a missionary school, is against LGBT. I said to Shee Yun that I have a different view. Ultimately it is up to her to decide what her view is. She can listen to different views, and try to understand them, before deciding what she wants to believe in.
Due to Shee Yun's camp, Chen Rui went to the office with me yesterday. She didn't want to be home alone. She brought an iPad (Shee Yun's, since hers is wonky) and her phone (well, Michelle's old Xiaomi Mi3). She brought pencil and paper to draw. She brought earphones to watch Youtube. Sometimes I heard her giggle softly. She was picky about food, so I told my usual Thursday & Friday lunch group that if they didn't mind let's have pan mee. They teased me saying that I was using Chen Rui as an excuse. I do often like to go to Jo Jo's Kitchen because I like the spicy pan mee there (麻辣板面), which I always have together with Michael Jackson (soya cincau). Chen Rui ordered a second bowl of pan mee because she felt the first bowl was not enough. I quickly pointed that out to my friends, that she really did like pan mee.
Today when I brought Chen Rui to the kopitiam for lunch, we found that the 干捞面 stall was closed. Usually she wants mee kosong with soup, using the 干捞面 noodles. I asked her whether pan mee kosong with soup was OK, and she said yes. I went to the other stall, only to find that it was closed too. So we left and went to Burger King instead. She had 10 pieces of nuggets. After going home, she told me she was still hungry. So in the afternoon I bought another 5 nuggets for her. She has good appetite. She is growing.
26 Feb 2017. Pancakes for breakfast. Hakka: Man Foon Taat.
This is how Chen Rui eats her pancake - with Nutella. She says it tastes like the wafer which she used to have from Mulia Supermarket.
I am not sure why the children suddenly started liking pancakes. They weren't particularly big fans before this. One day when Michelle made pancakes for lunch, she brought out a first batch while still making the second batch. I only had one piece from the first batch. By the time Michelle was done with the second (and final) batch, the children had finished the first batch, and it looked like the second batch was barely enough for them. So we let them have the rest of the pancakes, and Michelle and I went to Burger King instead. Next time when making pancakes Michelle will need to make many more.