Monday, April 30, 2012

Peter Rabbit's 110th Birthday Celebration

We hopped over to Borders at the Gardens Mall on a Sunday afternoon in conjunction with Peter Rabbit's 110th Birthday celebrations. The event was jointly organized by Borders and Julia Gabriel Center for Learning.

The teaching staff of Julia Gabriel were on hand to delight the kids with music, games, drama and story-telling.

The highlight of the event was meeting Peter Rabbit! All kids received a set of Peter Rabbit coloring pages, chocolates and balloons.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A short skit

To mark the end of the term for their Blubricks Speech & Drama class at Hobby Hop in, the kids presented a short skit. It was also Evan and Marissa's last class there. 

They wrote the script themselves! It was really short like 5 minutes?  Anyway, Evan was a prince and Marissa was a queen (although she insisted that she was a princess).

Good turn out by the parents to witness their kids' performance. Photo credits goes to the parents of the little wizard in pic above! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

MPO Family Fun Day Peter and the Wolf & Babar the Elephant

We attended MPO's Family Fun Day concert on 15th April - the day hubby turned 37. After the concert, we went to Madam Kwan's for a scrumptious meal - too bad the chicken satay was sold out..... anyway, back to the subject at hand, the B reserve tickets were booked online. If buying at the box office, the RM2 surcharge per ticket is not applicable.

Took some pics at the Dewan Philharmonic Petronas, KLCC. Afternoon tea available at RM7nett per person. Program book on sale for RM3 per copy.

Program :
1) Peter and the Wolf (opus 67) by Sergei Prokofiev
2) The Story of Babar, The Little Elephant by Francis Poulenc
Harith Iskandar was the narrator as the MPO performed the delightful pieces under the baton of Alessandro Crudele.

After the show, Harith Iskandar very kindly autographed Evan's program book! 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Buying a used Upright Piano

Evan will be starting on piano lessons next month so we went around searching for an upright acoustic piano for him.
First stop was Yamaha HQ. The entry level piano model JU109PE costs RM7990. very compact continental style at 109cm in height....the touch is very light. Made in Indonesia. Made in Japan models are very expensive and command a 5-figure price tag! These models are the U1, U3 and the YUS series. 
Anyway, for purchase of new pianos, Yamaha gives a 6-year warranty, delivery, 2 piano tunings (the first one will be upon delivery) and a heater. If paying by Maybank Credit Card, there's a 0% installment plan which can stretch to 3 years. Yamaha does not recommend buying used pianos. They claim that many problems can occur with the piano e.g. cracked soundboard, defective parts etc. 
 Yamaha JU109PE

We dropped by Euphony Music in IPC Mall and saw a number of recond pianos by Kawai and Yamaha. They also sell new Helicon pianos - made in China. We also went to Bently Music just beside Ikea. They sell new Steinway pianos - super expensive!

We also visited Vienna Music at Subang Jaya owned by the Hoe family. They mainly sell new Challen, Hobart and Falcone Pianos.  All 3 brands are American but pianos are made in China under the Sejung group. They also have C.Steinbert pianos (German) but again, made in China now. At the time we visited, they were having 50% off promo on selected pianos. So, a brand new piano starts RM5000 onwards inclusive of 6 yrs warranty. The usual standard package include delivery, tuning and heater. They can reduce their pricing if paying by cash. Credit card purchases by installment are also available. Vienna Music opens Mon-Sat 10am-6pm.

Grace Sound Sdn Bhd deals mainly with Kawai pianos. They have the whole range of Kawai pianos at their showroom at Tmn Mayang. Person-in-charge there is Mr. David - a Chinese man who's quite helpfull. He also sells used Kawai and Yamaha pianos. They offer a buy back guarantee of 50% within 5 years for their new pianos. For trade-ins, they will offer to buy back the piano at 55% of the original purchase price. Their standard package does not include heater because they claim that silica gel packs are sufficient to control humidity levels within the piano. If customers insist, they can still provide the heater (which is worth about RM20) instead of 6 packs of silica gel. When we were there, Mr. David offered me a good price for their Kawai KX-21 showroom model but I had to decline because it was over my budget! Credit card installments accepted here. Again, prices are negotiable. Kawai pianos come with a 10-year warranty! For used pianos, it's only 5-years.

Next, we went to Piano Station at The Summit USJ. Nothing impressive there. The lady who attended to me was not helpful. No price tags on their pianos either - possibly for bargaining purposes? Anyway, I was not impressed with the service. Piano Station sells used Kawai and Yamaha pianos.

Another place we went to was Morais & Hew owned by Dato Richard Morais - a concert pianist. The showroom at Plaza Ampang City was very rundown and shabby with a handful of pianos on display. Dato Morais only imports selected popular models by Kawai and Yamaha. He personally prefers Yamaha pianos over Kawai. He brings in containers of used pianos from Japan - mainly those with Grade A interiors but Grade B exteriors. He pays less for these pianos compared to the ones which are Grade A inside out. He has his own piano factory where they adjust the center pin (compulsory for all used pianos), re-spray and polish  the piano.  So, no problem if the piano looks old on the outside, it will be reconditioned as new! For Morais & Hew, they do volume business so they have a high turnover, hence they can offer very low prices. Just give them your budget and they will recommend you a suitable piano. What I like about them is that they offer a buy back guarantee of 100% of the purchase price of the piano when trading-in for an upgrade, within 5 years. If selling back to them within 5 years but without purchasing any other piano, you will get back 70% of the purchase price. Again, all used pianos have a 5-year warranty. Dato Morais doesn't recommends switching on the heater 24/7 but just intermittent usage will do.

Some other piano showrooms which I didn't visit:
Wagner Piano SS2, PJ - selling new & used Petrof pianos. Petrofs are made in Europe (Czech Republic)
Cristofori Subang Jaya - selling used Kawai and Yamaha pianos
YC Music Kepong - selling Young Chang pianos made in Korea
LKS Music Setapak - selling used Kawai and Yamaha pianos

Since used or recond pianos are much cheaper than brand new ones, it's becoming a popular choice for consumers.  When buying a used piano, get someone who is knowledgeable to go along with you e.g. piano teacher or piano tuner. Pay them if necessary! Check the piano condition instead of just the age as some old pianos can be in very good condition! Don't forget to set a budget and try to negotiate prices with the dealer. Exam models i.e. 121cm in height are in greater demand for beginners and sell fast. Even brand new ones - have to pre-order in advance.
In Malaysia, Kawai and Yamaha pianos are in high demand. Malaysia imports used pianos from Japan and reconditions them locally. The Japanese usually like to buy brand new pianos as it's very affordable over there. Almost every household will have a piano and the Japanese are meticulous with piano maintainance hence the reason why there are some old pianos which are in such immaculate condition!
Used pianos usually have superior tone as the hammer felts are seasoned through usage compared to a brand new one. 

My SIL saw some piano brochures in our house and she commented that her uncle (also my dear hubby's uncle) is a piano tuner! He also sells used pianos! So, hubby called him up and we arranged an appointment with him at his showroom in Kajang. He recommended us a Petrof but I wasn't very keen cos the piano looks dusty and dirty. Then he brought us to a huge piano warehouse in Balakong. There we found a Kawai upright grand (52") in polished ebony, model US-50 made in Japan.  The 52" is the highest upright piano, top of the range quality. Upright pianos which are higher produce better sound compared to the smaller ones and sometimes their tone can be better than a baby grand piano. Upon checking the serial number - it's manufactured circa 1983. Grade A inside out. Nice tone but it will slowly improve as the years go by. Package price comes with 5 years warranty but no buy back guarantee available but it's ok cos I am sure if I need to sell the piano in the future, I will have no problems fetching a good price for it. Package price of RM7500 also includes the following: delivery by lorry, low wattage heater adjustable piano bench, white piano cover and first tuning (done on the day of delivery). I called up other places and double checked the prices : Morais & Hew quoted me RM8500, Cristofori RM8800, LKS Music RM9900 and Piano Station RM11000. We have reserved the piano and it will be delivered in 2 weeks just in time for Evan's lessons.
We initially wanted a white piano but there are none unless new. If there are any white ones, it's usually because it's re-sprayed and not the original color. Well, at least we have the white piano cover! I hope Evan will enjoy playing the piano - can't wait to see him perform at his music school's inhouse concerts held from time to time.

Kawai US-50

Monday, April 9, 2012

Parents' Day

How time flies! It's April already! 
On Easter Sunday, we went to Sri Wilayah Ballet School for Parents' Day. This is because Sole to Soul Dance Studio is having the RAD ballet exams together with Sri Wilayah from 24-26 April 2012. Ms. Alice who is Evan's ballet teacher also teaches at Sri Wilayah.

Parents' Day is usually held about 2 weeks before the ballet exams. Purpose of Parents' Day is for parents to watch their children dance their exam routine. We parents get to comment on the kids' performance and see their progress.
One of the dance routines performed to the music of The Nutcracker.

Two weeks earlier on March 25th, we were at Sri Wilayah for Evan's ballet trial assessment which he passed. In about 2 weeks time, April 26th, Evan will have his Pre-Primary in Dance Ballet exam - also at the same venue. Got to practice everyday to build strength and flexibilty!