I always love learning new things. Especially string instruments.
When I was young, mom ‘forced’ me to learn piano, which I eventually love learning especially in lower form. Most of my lower form life revolved around music and dance and art. And of course studying, but studying wasn’t really thaaat important that time (tho I got straight As in PMR, wahaha!).
Back then, few of us (those that knows how to play piano) were ‘kind of’ competitive. We exchanged (pop) music sheets and then went back home and trained like mad to perfect the score in short span of time.
Not only that, we memorised a full song so that we can play that anytime in school.
Yes, we have an old piano in school. We would go school slightly earlier and bang that old piano! I do hope that piano still works now.
Somehow along that timeline, I was amazed at how my friend, Elizabeth can play guitar so flawlessly so I told myself I should learn guitar! Not only that, I was serenaded by a guy with guitar before, so that made me even want to learn guitar. Plus, my mom’s guitar was lying in the store for ageless – I compelled to ‘revive’ that beautiful instrument.
So I went to Elizabeth’s house to learn few easy chords. Well, the lesson didn’t do well because my left fingers were crying for help most of the times. Furthermore guitar’s tab is wider and my fingers can’t reach them! Elizabeth consoled me, telling me to give myself some time to get used to the guitar tabs. I did, but eventually gave up because of the pain.
Right now, I understand why I can’t play guitar. The skin around my fingers is thinner than average person – if I were to learn guitar, I might to wear this plastic fingers’ caps to lessen the pain inflicted onto my fingers.
When I was 16, I begged mom into allowing me to learn violin which she didn’t allow because she wanted me to concentrate on my piano lessons. I told myself, I’ll learn that – one day.
In the same year, I was introduced to ukulele, many thanks to this song – Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. The song is so beautiful and light and happy! I googled on ukulele and that time it’s rare to see one in music shop. Knowing this, I didn’t think much of learning that instrument.
So I obediently continued my piano certification until Grade 7. I didn’t pursue on Grade 8 because my favourite teacher moved to KL and I was super dejected. I’ve gotten a distinction in piano examination because of her! If I want a teacher as good as her, I need to travel to island. So, I stopped my piano class at age 15.
I told myself university is the best time to try things. I joined the classical and contemporary dance team; I enrolled in Latin dance class and I joined the Chinese and classical orchestras! Crazy right? Yup, that explains me not getting into dean’s list in uni. Frankly, I didn’t care much about dean’s list, I just want to enjoy my university life.
I had the golden opportunity to learn er hu (a two-stringed bowed musical instrument) and yang qin (Chinese hammered dulcimers) by joining Chinese classical orchestra when I was in my 1st year. I actually want to learn pi pa (a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument) but that time they had classes for er hu only, so I just took whatever available.
Learning er hu isn’t easy. I couldn’t practice it often because I stayed in hostel and people would be screaming their heads off if I were to practice it daily. Most of the time I only did finger placing on the strings to remember where to press for certain chord. The best solution would be going to the er hu classes slightly earlier to practice. However, the room wasn’t open until when it’s time for lesson. So I bowed in my car. Haha!
I only learned er hu for a year. Partially because the teacher wasn’t available then and the response wasn’t that good. So they cancelled it. I moved from er hu to yangqin, since a senior in university is super good at it. Because buying a yang qin is expensive, so we only bought the hammers only. (Oh, I didn’t buy er hu fyi. The university’s Chinese classical orchestra lent me the instrument.)
Playing yang qin was so fun. Just that we need to know how to hit the strings correctly so that the sound comes out beautifully. Within few hours of learning, I started playing the treble part of the song 美丽的神话 (Beautiful Myth), from Chinese movie, Myth. I really enjoyed playing this instrument, as it’s slightly similar to piano.
However, we could only learn little as the senior was often busy with her FYP and soon she graduated. That ended my journey in Chinese classical instruments. Throw me a er hu or yang qin anytime, and I may not able to play them anymore because I didn’t spend much time ‘knowing’ them.
Violin came into my life in my 3rd year of university. I decided to take ‘orchestra’ as my university ‘extra-curriculum’ (if not mistaken) and hence started violin class. Of course there were those who already knew how to play violin swiftly and I secretly envied them to the max! Our violin teacher separated us into 4 teams and obviously I fell into the beginners’ team and played the easy part known as Violin IV in the final examination. I secretly learned the Violin III part, but of course I didn’t get the chance to play.
Oh, I did try Violin I and II part – but they’re way too ‘advanced’ for me. Hee!
After graduating from university, I stopped learning and playing musical instruments, except for piano which I still play once in a blue moon. 3 years had passed and I told myself this year I must pick up one musical instrument or take violin class.
Guess what? In February this year, I enrolled myself in violin and cello class – which I never get to start yet because of other commitments. I told myself, since I don’t have the time to attend class, maybe I should go and learn guitar from Youtube.
I couldn’t find my mom’s beautiful guitar (didn’t know where she misplaced it) and my sister’s guitar broken down. There goes my intention of learning guitar. I was scouting around looking for brand new guitar when I spotted this beautiful ukulele hanging in the shop! I told Satkuru that I wanted to get one and he always pulls me away because he said I’ll be ‘hangat-hangat tahi ayam’. Blek!
Moreover, preparation for the wedding kept delaying my intention of getting this beautiful music piece. Well, it was until yesterday that I’ve decided to just get it.
At Sungha Jung’s concert in PenangPAC, Manual Ukulele opened up a stall and they brought over few beautiful ukuleles. I strummed a little and totally fell in love with this beautiful reddish brown mahogany ukulele. When they told me that they only accepted cash (I normally don’t bring lots cash out), I was like oh well, ukulele’s gonna wait. I went back to find my parents and when they asked me where were I, I told them I was looking at ukulele and wanted to get one but they only accept cash. Out of the blue my dad asked me how much and when I casually told him the amount, he passed me over the cash. Joyfully, I thanked him, told him will pay him back and ran to the stall and get that reddish brown ukulele.
Luckily I ‘ran’ to the stall as not long after informing the lady behind the counter that I want it, someone came over asking for my ukulele too. Hee!
Bought and got it signed by Sungha Jung!
That night, I immediately tuned my ukulele and learned this wonderful song “Somewhere over the rainbow”. After familiarise with the song, I learned “Lazy Song”, “Love Will Keep Us Alive” and “I’m Yours”. 4 songs babeh!
Not only that, I even called Satkuru up and played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to him. I knew he was impressed. Wahaha!
Now, I can finally say, one of my resolutions for this year has been fulfilled. Super happy!