Category Archives: Education

Brian Little: Confessions of a Passionate Introvert

I first read about Brian Little in Susan Cain’s “Quiet“. Watching and listening to him speak, I can understand why his graduating classes at Harvard consistently vote him as “Favourite Professor”, year after year. He alludes his ability to act as an extrovert to the fact that he loves his students, he loves what he teaches and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge in his area of expertise. Typical introvert behavior, getting all pumped up when doing something of personal meaning and value. He might very well be an INFJ as well.

I will never forget the conversation I once had with a student who expressed immense surprise and disbelief when I told her I am not, by nature, outgoing or outspoken. I always knew I was acting out of character as a teacher, but her shock at my confession made me realize how convincing my persona might have been – and maybe that’s why I found myself living from weekend to weekend, only looking forward to the time of respite, when I could shed all efforts at existing and simply…  be. I could totally feel Brian Little’s agony as he described trying to find a “restorative niche” after social events and people-meeting.

May this world be a kinder place to our species…

Campus Cafe

Despite having lived on campus for almost 6 months, this was the first time I hung out at the campus’ Bar Cafe. Surprisingly, it felt good to really feel like a student here, to be surrounded by research readings, to see other students come and go, to hear student-life chatter, to see the place start off empty and slowly fill up for lunch.

It’s also nearing the end of winter, so I was able to sit outside and enjoy cool air and warm sun at the same time.

Now, if only they had more artistic baristas..

This Week’s Gratitude

Learnt ALOT this week about a new approach to music education, from top-notch specialists in the field.

We did not have to pay a single cent for an otherwise very expensive course!

Saw similarities in the field of therapy. If fate permits, I might actually be able to try things out across the different fields soon 🙂

Got the chance to reconnect with musical colleagues in other schools, seniors and juniors. Able to share ideas, thoughts, plans, what works and what doesn’t, etc.

Met and made new friends – music teachers from different countries like Ireland and Germany, who vastly enhanced our worldview about music education as well. I was especially inspired by the lady who teaches in SOTA and gave us a very nice picture about the work she does there.

We made wonderful music together, and the smiles on our faces said everything.

Got the chance to hone personal musicianship (have not felt this stressed about aural tests since tertiary days)

I feel that I have also reaffirmed why I signed on the dotted line in the first place. It was about Music, and it always will be. I just need to be careful not to forget that.


So in the mid-20th century, Kodaly came out with his methodology for music education which has been around till today, though extensively developed by his students and comtemperories.

For us, it means a 5 day break from the office, lots of singing, sight-singing, aural testing, analysing, micro-teaching, musical game designing, and more singing.

I love it 🙂


I Imagine


A colleague and I were packing some stuff the other day, leaving behind a huge empty box on the floor.

“You know,” I reminisced, ” When we were younger, my brother and I could entertain ourselves for hours with boxes like these.”

“What? Really?”

“Yeah, we’d pretend it was a huge ship, crawl inside, and start imagining our travels.”


Viewing this exhibition at the Jendela Gallery also brought back more memories of childhood days, when video games were a luxury, afternoons of arts and crafts were bliss, and nothing was more powerful than the imagination our mind.

Is it any wonder that children of today seem less imaginative than before, because countless apps and video games are already doing the imagining for them?

Just another reason why the Arts are necessary in such a system and environment.

The Age Thing

When I first started teaching, when students asked the usual “how old are you?”, and when I replied with the usual “Guess?”,

The answers I got mainly ranged around 20 – 23, which was quite close to the truth. Some even guessed me to be 18 or 19, which was not necessarily a good thing, because when secondary school kids perceive you as only a few years older than them, things may not always go smoothly.

Then, around the beginning of this year, (only) my 4th year in service, I began to notice things about myself. Things that weren’t so obvious in earlier years.

The tiredness. The fatigue. The eyebags. The lines. Small, but lines, all the same. And the tiredness. The overall tiredness.

I also began to notice that the new batch of students who asked me the same question of me and got the same reply from me would proceed to give me figures that ranged a little higher. Some guessed 25-30. Some said “30+?” hesitantly (sigh). Some said “You can’t be more than 25”, which of course made me relatively happy.

Today, a group of girls in the Sec 2 class expressed such shock and surprise when I told them no, of course I’m not married.

(At the same time I was thinking… Do I need to explain to them what the salutation “MISS” means???)

“But… Cher! Surely you’re engaged?!”


Inside I was sighing, thinking that the years of work must have worn me down so much that I now look like I’m of confirm-marriageable age, and no longer the age of the young and carefree.

“But Cher, you’re so pretty! And nice! Surely you must at least have a boyfriend?!”

“No. But…” a smile crept across my face.

“Thank you for the compliment.”

I know, I am such a vainpot >.<


Minutes before the test commenced, the students were revising through their notes.

Noticing a boy studying a crumpled piece of paper, I strolled past him and causally glanced at it.

I recognized the familiar points I had written on the board, few months ago. His handwriting, barely legible, scrawled across the paper, filling up every crumpled inch.

“How… How do you study like that?” I asked incredulously.

I glanced around and saw the boy next to him – a lovely, conscientious boy who had written down the exact same points in the exact same mind-map format I taught them – with colours, different beautiful colours, in neat, straight letters, with main points and sub-points colour coded and highlighted and bolded and underlined in all the right places.

“Now THAT – I can study from.” I beamed, happy that my efforts at coming up with the mind-map for them had not gone to waste.

The first boy gave his friend a light punch on the shoulder and mock-sneered: “Huh! Those are GIRL notes. All flowery and colourful. Mine, mine are MAN-NOTES.”

I couldn’t help but burst out in laughter.



In other news, the girls in my class were kinda B***** today.



I didn’t always agree with this, but in recent years, I find myself agreeing that boys are so much simpler to handle and understand than girls!

*the horror*