Migrating To Singapore – What About Your Parents?

Ever since my previous post on how I became a Singapore permanent resident, there were readers who have been asking me what about my parents? Well, in this post, I will share why that is not a concern, especially after you have already become a Singapore PR!

If you are a Singapore PR, it is very easy for you to apply for a long term visit pass for parents or for your spouse and kids. If you want to bring in your elderly parents, then you will need to have an income proof of a minimal of $12,000 per month in Singapore dollars and your employer or appointed employment agent must be the one to apply on behalf of you. You just need $6,000 per month if you want to bring in your spouse and kids, though if you are legally married and the children are born from a natural marriage, then you can apply for them using a Dependent’s Pass instead. The salary requirement is the same.

A long time visit pass, also known as LTVP in Singapore, is a VISA pass for mainly the immediate relatives of people who are permanent residents or citizens in Singapore, but whom themselves are not one or yet to be one.

The Singapore government, just like most others around the world, understands that if you are a permanent resident here, then what will keep you here is good stable work for you as well as having your immediate family here. After all, those are the people whom you are probably most concerned about! Therefore, they give incentives to foreigners to bring their family to Singapore easily.

So what exactly is a long term visit pass?

It is a VISA which allows one to live in Singapore indefinitely for up to two years at a time, but it is easily renewable. Because it is not dependent on foreign worker levy or other criteria like that, many people, as long as they are the spouse, kids or parents of a Singapore PR – or in fact even Employment pass or S pass holders will be able to get it. Of course, if you are a Singapore PR, you should get priority over the other work passes.

In fact, LTVP passes allow the holders to work in Singapore normally if they are able to find jobs here too. The biggest difference between a LTVP and a Employment pass holder, S pass holder or Singapore permanent resident is that they are essentially tied to the main applicant.

So if you are intending to be a SPR, taking care of your parents will not be an issue as long as you make more than $12,000 per month!

If you are not sure how to do all these processing for PR application, then it may be a better idea to approach a professional immigration agency in Singapore instead.

How Did I Manage To Become A Singapore Permanent Resident?

Some people have been messaging me wondering how I got my Singapore permanent residency application approved and SG PR status granted. This is because some of them want to work in Singapore as well as a piano teacher, and to do that as a self employed person, you typically need to be a permanent resident of SG. If you are working for some music school, then you need either an S pass or an E pass.

My story of becoming a Singapore PR

I migrated to Singapore after getting my music degree back in around 2006. If you are aware of the news relating to citizenship related things, things were quite different back in the days before 2008 to 2009. This is because the local immigration government authorities known as ICA in Singapore had an open door policy. As long as you were able to demonstrate that you lived in the country for a while, as well as having good educational and working background, you essentially got your PR status granted relatively easily and quickly as well.

Back in the days, I was really busy juggling my full time job and taking care of my family, so I just outsourced the entire permanent residency application to a local company in Singapore – sorry guys, I forgot the name of it…

In a way, I got really lucky, because I got in before the quota for number of new permanent residents in Singapore started to drop. I know of people who had similar qualifications as me in the past, but they were unable to get their PR status granted. I know of many such similar stories nowadays in SG.

If you want to be a permanent resident in Singapore today, here is what I recommend now

First of all, you definitely want to get all of your immigration documents in order and prepare soft and hard copies of it. Prepare this far in advance so that you will definitely have all of the required documents when the time is ready for you to apply. Chances are many of you will miss out certain immigration related documents which will be required for application. Therefore, go through what is required and prepare and make sure you are fully eligible first.

Second of all, be prepared mentally for the time needed for your approval to be granted. Therefore, do not do or keep anything pending in your personal or work life which is dependent on the approval of your PR status, as there is no guarantee as to it being approved, as well as how long it will potentially take ICA if it is to be approved. So many applicants do not prepare for this, and end up messing up stuff in their personal or career. Do not let this happen to you unnecessarily.

Third of all, if you are a busy person, considering applying for your Singapore PR through a local immigration agency. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your PR application is to not have the time to do it, and then just rush through it. Perhaps you could in the past before 2008 and 2009, because the ICA authorities are way more lenient back then. However, with sharply reduced quotas for new residents, this is not possible anymore!

Should You Become A Full Time Private Piano Teacher In Singapore?

Becoming a piano teacher is always a fun thing when you are passionate about playing the piano, but are you truly ready and suitable to become a full fledged private home piano teacher in Singapore? Are you really ready for all the difficulties and problems and lifestyle that comes with it? Are you wanting to truly go down this path? Then read on as I share some of the common difficulties that many Singaporean piano teachers face; and if you can overcome them, then it’s perhaps in your life’s destiny to be a piano teacher in Singapore 🙂 Just like how I became one after I became a Singapore PR.

First of all, as a private piano teacher, you are essentially self employed. There are a lot of benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages when it comes to becoming self employed, so let us first target the hardest thing for local Singaporeans to overcome when it comes to becoming self employed first. When you become self employed, you lose income floor and ceiling. This means that for the first time ever (if you haven’t been self employed before), you are truly controlling your entire destiny in your hands. There is no one and nothing you can blame. You are entirely responsible for your life. If you can accept this, and not many people can, then you will be massively successful and at the same time, lead a fulfilling life as a private home piano teacher in Singapore. If you cannot, then do not become one, or you will be stressed out of your mind the first day.

Second of all, as a private piano teacher, you will likely need to work odd hours. In a way, your working hours will be like that of remote workers. This is because most music students in Singapore are school students, with only a few exceptions being adults. This means that most of your lessons will be in the late afternoon onwards till night. This is because that is the timing that most school students are available and at home for their music lessons. If you are the type that absolutely has to drink and hang out with your buddies or you will die or something, then do not become a piano teacher. Waste of time and you will end up poor, unhappy and making no money. This job is for those with a passion for teaching greater than trying to be popular with friends.

Third of all, are you passionate about teaching? Most people  who want to become a piano teacher are great at playing the piano. However, as a teacher, teaching skills are equally, if not even more, important than your piano playing skills. As a teacher, you need to be firm and patient at the same time. It is a unique combination which not everyone has the right personality for. If you happen to have one, and are also ok with the top two points I mentioned above, then you may very well do exceedingly amazing as a private piano teacher in Singapore.

Becoming A Piano Teacher In Singapore – 5 Tips To Survive

Here are some tips for you to survive and thrive as a self employed person in Singapore as a private piano teacher.

  1. Matching up with a piano teacher agency – you want to match up and register with piano teacher agencies. These agencies will be able to get you many students if you have good timing availability and are willing to travel once in a while. Getting your career kick started as a private music teacher is easy when you connect with a good agency. The initial part of your career as a self employed is the hardest because you do not already have a customer base in which you can leverage for growth and referrals. Therefore, you need all the help you can have in the beginning and in future.
  2. Having different curriculum for students who prefer flexible learning and for students who want rigid learning – There are students who want a flexible style of learning, and casual style of learning. There are also students who want a regimental style. You can either specialize in one type of teaching style, or cater to both. I recommend you cater to both if you can teach in both ways equally well, so that you can get the best of both worlds and get the most number of students.
  3. Having a home studio ready in case there are students who prefer to go to their private piano teacher’s house for piano lessons instead. This is a good idea. In fact, as long as you have a piano at your home, you may allow certain students to go to your house to take the lessons. This is ideal if you also want to get students who do not already have a piano at their home, or prefer more privacy and want to go to your house instead of you going to theirs.
  4. Actively asking for referrals from successful students – this is a business strategy used by many self employed people such as insurance and real estate agents in Singapore. This works very well if you ask referrals from happy and satisfied students. You don’t want to ask for recommendations for referrals from every single student you have. As you get more and more students, you will quickly realize some students are extremely happy with your teaching, and are great customers. You want to ask referrals from students who are like that.
  5. Advancing to Diploma stage sometime in the future, if not yet already – this is important if you want to truly separate yourself from the pack. This is because every other piano teacher in Singapore has Grade 8 ABRSM qualifications. This means that you have no real way to show your technical expertise is better than these other teachers other than blind claiming. However, with a Diploma cert, you will truly be a level above others, and also be able to teach those who are wanting to learn grade 8 ABRSM proficiency level with ease and they will also have more confidence in you as a teacher. Additionally, you may also be able to charge more as a Diploma qualified private piano teacher in Singapore and command a higher rate.

I hope the above tips will help you out in your journey to becoming a thriving private piano teacher in Singapore!

3 Hidden Benefits Piano Lessons Can Bring Your Child

If you are a concerned and kiasu parent in Singapore – good news! Here are three hidden benefits that taking piano lessons can bring your child over your neighbor’s children.

First of all, by taking piano lessons, your child will be able to improve his or her IQ. This effect is more pronounced the younger your child starts taking music lessons. This is found to be the case in many researches which shows very high correlation between IQ and kids who take piano lessons since a young age. Especially in Singapore, where academia is seemingly so important, and general IQ is also extremely important, sending your child to take music lessons would seem like a total no brainer. He or she will be able to breeze throughout school and not cause you nor himself or herself stress.

Second of all, learning to play the piano will also improve hand eye coordination. While typing on a computer will also improve hand eye coordination, and playing sports will help improve too, there is nothing quite like playing the piano. This is because when it comes to e.g. basketball, all your child has to do is to look at the hoop and throw the ball. However, playing the piano can be very complicated – not at the hands, but at interpreting the scores. There are many notes your child must press on at the same time, with different hand positions for both the left and right hands, and he or she must also interpret the sharps and flats on the piano score accurately.

Third of all, learning to play the piano will teach your child perseverance. Mastering a difficult piano song is not easy, and patience is important. However, one also needs a sense of urgency when it comes to learning the piano, otherwise difficult songs will never be mastered even after many months. Therefore, your child will learn to have a sense of urgency mixed with patience, and learn a lot about perseverance when taking piano lessons, especially at the advanced levels where songs can be really difficult to master.

How Much Do Piano Lessons Cost In Singapore?

If you are wondering how much private piano lessons in Singapore will cost you, you are at the right place. Read on.

Piano lesson fees in Singapore differ according to the grades that the teacher teaches, as well as the qualifications of the teacher.

If we are talking about ABRSM Grades 1 to 2 lessons, then it generally costs between $150 to $180 for four 45 minute lessons in a month. Some teachers may charge more, while others may charge less, but you will notice that most teachers in Singapore charge around that amount. This is around $56 per hour.

If you are asking about ABRSM Grades 3 to 4 piano lessons, then it costs approximately $170 to $210 for four 45 minute lessons in a month. Yes, the fees increase as the grade you are learning increases. (If you are instead only wanting to learn piano casually, I will address those fees later in this article at the bottom.) This works out to around $63 per hour of music lesson.

If you are at Grades 5 to 6, lessons will be around $210 to $260 for four lessons in a month, but the lessons will usually now be one hour in length, so that the teacher actually has time to teach you both the theory and practical part of the lesson. All lessons grade 5 and above will usually be one hour in length. This works out to around $60 per hour, which if you noticed, is actually similar to that as when you were at Grade 3 to 4. This is simply because the teacher charges around the same but lessons are slightly longer now.

If you are at Grades 7 to 8, then music lesson fees will be approximately $250 to $290 per month for four one hour lessons. This works out to around $68 per hour of lesson.

And if you have passed ABRSM Grade 8 (congratulations! This is quite a feat!) in Singapore and want to further your musical studies by going for a Diploma examination, then it would cost you anywhere between $300 to $400 for four one hour lessons per month. This means approximately $80 to $100 per hour of piano lesson.

As you can tell, it is actually really cheap to learn piano, and average lesson fees are all around $60 per hour, and there is only a big jump when it comes to Diploma level music lessons in Singapore.

Finally, if you are looking to learn casually, then most teachers that do teach casually charge around $150 to $200 per month for students like you! This is great if you are looking to learn the piano but without going to the length of passing ‘official’ ABRSM piano proficiency accreditations.

How To Avoid Bad Piano Teachers In Singapore – 3 Tips

Choosing a piano teacher need not be a tough and frightening experience. You may have heard horror stories about car salesman, as well as piano teachers. Thankfully, most piano teachers are more decent. However, there are definitely bad piano teachers in Singapore, so you still need to exercise due caution. Here are some big tips to help you ensure that your child gets the best music teacher that money can buy.

First of all, I strongly recommend that you pick your teacher from a music or piano agency. This is because agencies have a database of teachers, and would usually have feedback from past clients about the various teachers they are working with. This means that they are most likely able to get unsolicited, genuine reviews about the teachers. The agencies would then usually remove the bad teachers, because they can always recommend the good ones or bring in new ones instead. However, if you are engaging an individual piano teacher – think about it, would he or she ever say he or she is bad and recommend you another teacher if you asked him or her about it? No! Therefore, picking from a piano teacher agency in Singapore is definitely less biased than if you had picked an individual teacher by yourself.

Second of all, always try to ask for or pick a teacher who lives close to you. Even if the teacher travels to your house, it is definitely more recommended to ask the agency for a teacher who stays nearer to your place of residence where your child will learn his or her lessons. This is because of human nature. If your child’s teacher stayed very far from your location, he or she may be less motivated to keep going to your place, and may not be too happy about changing of meeting timings, as it is already troublesome for him or her to travel to your location. Additionally, some teachers charge extra if your place of residence is very far from his or hers. No point going through all these hassles when you can find an equally good teacher nearer to your preferred location. He or she will also be more motivated to teach your child!

Third of all, always verify everything the teacher says. No matter what the agency says, and no matter what the teacher says, always ask to see the teacher’s proof of his or her ABRSM or Trinity College exam results. You do not want to end up with a teacher who lied about his or her piano proficiency levels. Although it is exceedingly rare that a teacher will lie about such things, it is still important to err on the safe side and ask for it.

Choosing A Piano Teacher In Singapore – What You Must Know

Choosing a piano teacher is a big step, and one that you should do carefully. When it comes to picking a piano teacher in Singapore, here are some things that you must take note of.

First of all, do you intend to look for a piano teacher for the purpose of helping the student passing the ABRSM examinations (which is what a lot of parents want their children to do), or are you looking for a music teacher who can teach you pop songs at your own pace? This matters a lot, as systems are important when it comes to taking piano lessons for the purpose of passing the ABRSM graded examinations. However, you can take your own leisurely pace when it comes to learning pop songs. If ABRSM exams are your main goal (or for your child), then it is important to make that known to the private piano teacher agency. If learning to play pop songs for fun on the piano is your own and ultimate objective, then let the agency know as well so they can better match you up.

Next of all, there are some piano students who want to take their time to pass the ABRSM examinations, while others want (themselves or their children) to reach grade 8 fast. All these matter, and should be made known to the piano teacher on day 1 so that he or she will know how to customize the lessons so that it is optimal for the student.

Also, if you are an adult, make sure to tell the agency that prior to your first meeting with the private piano teacher. This is important. If you are looking for piano lessons for children instead, then make sure to get that information to the agency as well. This is because not all piano teachers are able to teach kids or adults as well as the other demographic.

Although it shouldn’t be a big deal at all, make sure to check with your child (if you are getting him or her a piano teacher instead of for yourself) if he or she learns better from a male or female teacher. Some students are particular, so make sure to ask your own child. You may be surprised by the answer!

Can You Take Piano Lessons In Singapore As An Adult?

Some adults in Singapore want to learn to play the piano and take piano lessons in Singapore, however, they are worried whether they are still able to pick up the piano skills as some people have mistakenly told them that it is something that should and can only be learnt properly if starting from young.

The answer from a pianist is that, yes! You can definitely learn the piano as an adult. In fact, although there are some disadvantages being that you may have less free time to practise the piano due to stuff such as taking care of your kids and your work, there are also advantages to learning the piano when you are already an adult.

An advantage as an adult learner of the piano is that you are able to learn whatever you want to learn. Most children pianists only follow the course syllabus which is whatever their parents ask the piano teacher to teach them. However, as an adult, you can ask the piano teacher to teach you exactly what you want to learn – be it ABRSM exam pieces or popular songs!

Also, here are some misconceptions that some people have. For instance, you may feel demotivated if you are age 40, and have been learning the music instrument for 1.5 years now, and you see a 12 year old kid playing much better than you. However, it is highly probable that the 12 year old has been learning the piano since he was 5 years old! This means that he has 7 years of playing experience versus yours of just 5. When it comes to piano playing prowess, it is the years of experience that matters, not young age or old age.

As you can see, it is definitely not a problem to learn the piano as an adult – the only thing you need? The money to buy the piano (or you could go to the teacher’s house) and for the lesson fees!