Rubinstein, who was generally sparing in his praise of other pianists, worshipped Rachmaninoff. Between takes, he told us of a dinner with Rachmaninoff at his home in Southern California sometime around 1940. Rubinstein’s latest recording of the Grieg Piano Concerto had just been released and he was especially pleased with it. Knowing that it was Rachmaninoff’s favourite piano concerto, he couldn’t resist playing the recording during dessert…. When the Grieg finally came to an end, Rachmaninoff remained seated at the dinner table for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, he roused himself from his introspection. “Arthur,” he said. Rubinstein leaned forward expectantly. “Yes, Sergei.” Rachmaninoff thought a moment more. “Arthur, piano out of tune.”

[Indivisible by Four, by Arnold Steinhart]

In Memphis, Tennessee, ducks were splashing around in the lobby’s fountain as we checked into the Peabody Hotel. Every afternoon at five, red carpet is laid out from the fountain to the elevator, and accompanied by solemn march music, the mallards, four female and one male, climb out of the fountain, down steps onto the carpet, and waddle into the elevator, escorted by a uniformed employee.

[Indivisible by Four, by Arnold Steinhart]


Our social studies teacher was talking about his days working in the MFA. He was once in Ghana, and being what he was he had to wear full formal attire- jacket and all. He sweated so much, he said, that when he hung up his jacket it was dripping water.

English teacher: I came from a normal family… nobody stabbed each other!

English teacher: I joined a yoga class. It was a disaster.

“Et quoi?”
” (lost look) Je m’appelle____”
“Et quoi?!”

Ms Hoo: She offered to cut my toenails. I said no, so she cut my hair.

My music teachers tell me lots of stories.

One of J’s students bought a 1/2 size violin. He had a 4/4 bow. This despite the fact that the bow wouldn’t fit into the case, and the bow was obviously too long! After extending his arm fully he still had 1/2 bow to go.

Ms Ku told us, “Let’s go from page 6 3rd bar. Right on the 3rd bar!”
Yueling replied, “But we only have 3 pages what.”


“Ninghui, turn the aircon down low. … YEAH.”

“What are you doing, Clarisse? The whole section isn’t playing because of you!” (cue >:c face from Clarisse)
Clarisse does something mysterious with her mechanical pencil and finally clicks it properly.
“Ah, constipated pencil.”

“That box is for fishbones you know!”

“No! Can’t be ____’s box…”
“It’s too neat!”

“I know you!”
“I know you too!”

Good bow exercises: 1 bow for 20 seconds on open strings.
Also good exercise in controlling laughter.

Strings, again!

Jennifer printed her Elgar score. But well printing two pages on one piece of paper…
“Jennifer ah, we know you’re trying to save the earth…”

Evelyn saw my new viola. “Ooh, nice case!” Then she said something else- I can’t quite remember- and she asked, “What’s it made out of?”
The viola? “It’s made out of wood.”
“Ooh, cool!”
Wait. “Oh, the viola’s made out of wood, I mean.”

Ms Ku, seeing (the only) three violists sharing a stand: “So cosy ah? Make sure you produce some sound.”

“Reading first or Elgar first?”



They’re just no fun when you celebrate them alone. No gifts, no clapping, certainly no opera-like rendition of Happy Birthday. Especially if sung loudly in the canteen.

It’s my awesome class chair’s birthday today and she had so many gifts from so many people she almost cried- almost. Because someone went, “This is the part where you’re supposed to cry!”

By that time she was surrounded- sort of- with presents from the class and cards and lovely stuff.

What can I say? She’s an awesum chair!

It’s good to have friends. They are the one who will give you little things on your birthday, whether unwanted or not. If you are good to them they are usually good to you.

It’s good to have a little optimism this year. Actually, it’s good to have optimism all the time. It really does a little something.