Monday, June 30, 2008

My Music Background

I had always enjoyed music, be it singing, playing the piano, pianica, recorder, guitar, listening and sometimes composing a few tunes on my own just for fun. I don't come from a well off family and learning music was considered as a luxury, but I am glad I have the chance in my life to learn and pursue music as a hobby now.
Before Primary School Days:
I had a pianica at home, which my dad bought for my eldest sister, and I used to spend a lot of time playing it. I labelled 1, 2, 3 and so on on the keys of the pianica, which actually means, C, D, E and so on on piano keys. But I didn't understand what those letters meant then. In the past, we used to buy TV magazines, where the Chinese TV serials songs will be published with numbers (which will match with the labels I have on the pianica), and I would cut them out and paste them on an exercise book, which I call it my Music Book. I still have them with me till now. I will practice playing the song with the pianica (with one hand only).
During Primary School Days:
When I was in my primary school days, I was introduced to Recorder. It was a complusory lesson to take in school. I always look forward to Music Classes and I was introduced to clapping beats in a bar, rests, Treble Clef, and the notes. Everything was only at C major. I learnt to play simple pieces and read scores. And when I am home, I would practise playing the TV serials on my recorder (but there was only slightly more than 1 octave on my recorder, so certain songs are out of the range of the recorder), and playing the songs I learnt in school with the pianica.
Entering Secondary School & Junior College (JC):
When I entered secondary school, I wanted to play in the School Band, which was newly formed. However, as the school wanted the Band to be able to perform in competitions within the same year, they needed students who have strong music background. Hence, I was not selected (I was considered to have no music background). Luckily, there was the School Choir which was open to all who can sing. I went for the audition and I got in, as Soprano. We had a piano in our choir room, and there would be students (whom I envy a lot) who will be playing on the piano during the breaks, and I would stand by the side and see how they play. (They were already at Grade 7 or 8 by then). Not wanting to throw face in front of my peers, I would only find opportunity when most of the students are not in the choir room, to try and play on the piano. I had a few buddies, who have some background, started to teach me a few simple pieces with 2 hands. Though my fingers are not that nimble, but I find every opportunity to learn and play. The more I play and sing, the more I want to learn. I continued to join choir when I entered JC.
Waiting to enter University:
After I completed my JC in late November (1999) and waiting to enter the University in June 2000, I started to work to earn some pocket money during this 6 months period. I wasn't earning a lot, less than $1,000 per month. After working for 2 weeks plus, I approached my friend's piano teacher and started my official piano lessons in January. It was a weekly session, at $100 per 4 lessons. I couldn't afford a piano, which is at least $1,500 for the cheapest one, I got a keyboard instead, at less than $1,000 (my eldest sister sponsored me). My teacher was very good, she understood that I could only learn piano for 5 months, she tried to expose me to as much things as possible, of coz still learning the basics. I learnt about the different majors, chords, played duets, key signatures, scales, minors and I've learnt many pieces. The textbook which I was using is the "Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course: Lesson Book". My teacher also bought many music scores (for beginners) for me to try. I learnt and play my keyboard everyday, practise and practise and practise. I enjoyed it very much. One day, my teacher told me that she wanted to sell away her old piano, which followed her since she was young. And asked me if I am interested. She sold it to me at $450 (as a partial sale, partial gift) and since then the piano had followed me. It is a Schubert piano, built in early 1970s.
University days to present:
I started buying and playing pop songs sang by Stephanie Sun, JJ Lin, Jolin Tsai (just to name a few). Sometimes, I improvise my own chords to make it simpler to play, though it does not sound as nice as the original piece. I also read up more on Music Theory, and continue to work on my piano skills. As I am writing this Blog, I am still learning, practising and hoping that I can start composing songs and share through this Blog. Please share with me your comments on areas I can improve on.