How to overcome one's weakness

by Suzanne Omar
(Shah Alam Malaysia)

Hello. I am Suzanne.

As stated above ... I have gone thru a lot. Most recent is having bad asthma attacks. But I am OK ... I am now on meds and hope to get better.

I took my Grade 8 pianoforte and sadly to say ...
I failed. My pieces were good but like I said ... I blank out 2 scales as my brain just went blurr.

The question is... "How do I better myself with scales as sustaining lessons taught is my flaw now"..

Even though I have recovered almost 90% from the accident in 2008, I do get bad migraine headaches which can last up to 5 days and all that I learn will super-fly away.

Once i take my meds ,,, I am stone coz its strong as I have a blood clot in my brain. I know that it is my problem but I would like to try for the exam again n would appreciate ALL the help I can get.

As of now I have to stop classes for a few months coz I cant afford it as some personal finances needs to be attended to urgently i.e car and meds. So my best bet is to try to learn online and get up and go again..

At least I am trying and not just sitting on my laurels for I do strongly believe that Everything Happens for A Reason........ Thank you

Kind Regards


Maria's Reply:

Wow! First of all I must congratulate you! You have progressed to grade 8 exam already?! You are a tough lady! And that's the name of the game- never give up.

You say you forget everything you learn after the lesson. Unfortunately I don't have enough knowledge, and no experience with your specific problem.

But, having said that, I do have some ideas that may prove useful, (and now a reason to finish a project I've been doodling with!)

Maybe you could try to see the scales as colors and shapes instead of notes, and even associate each scale to a color?

Instead of looking at regular sheet music notes, try learning the scales by heart by memorizing the patterns of black and white keys.

I assume you are doing the ABRSM exams? In their syllabus for scales and arpeggios:a href="

The scales required are:C, D, B, F#, F, Eb, Ab/G#, Db/C# both in major and minor.

Print the PDF files with scales below. They have colors and patterns instead of notes:

Scales starting from a white key: C, D, F, B

Scales starting from a black key: F#, Eb, Ab/G#, Db/C#

A simple way to memorize scales is to first learn the major key pattern for each scale. Then(using the same pattern); lower the 3rd and 6th. This makes it a harmonic minor scale.

For the Melodic minor when ascending, keep the harmonic pattern, but raise the 6th. Finally, when descending, lower the 6th and the 7th.

Or, you might see it like this, starting from a major scale each time:

  • Lower the 3rd and the 6th step = Harmonic

  • Lower the 3rd only when Ascending, and lower the 6th and 7th and 3rd when descending = Melodic

Let me know if this was of any help!

Good luck!

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Frustration Overcome
by: Suzanne Omar

Hello, I'm Suzanne.
Ever since I got my Grade 8 results which I fail, I have move back into my cocoon thinking that its all a waste of time... shoot! I fail. M nothing. How can I teach when I cant remember, then 3 weeks ago I had a very bad asthma attack and ever since then I have been put on inhalers back after 30 years of being free from asthma. I have not touch the piano ever since coz I gave up. I feel that my brain and fingers wont co-operate. The feeling of utter frustration when one wants to study yet one's brain cant think straight. Then today I got a call from my ever so awesome teacher who has been my backbone and friend-cum-mother. She told me to have patience and pray and believe in myself again and get better soon and go and see her so that lessons can begin again and I told her I cant coz I cant afford to pay for the lessons, and she said " just come and chat and play the piano". I cried bcoz I gave up and let her down coz she believes in me. I, so wanna pass my exams even though it will now take me longer to study for it coz its new syllabus but I PROMISE I WILL DO MY BEST so PLEASE help me win this and beat the bloodclot in my brain. Thank you so much!

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