Saturday, 9 May 2009

So you think you can play music?

When I was a small kid, I said that I wanted to learn the guitar. So my sister Gek Yong bought me a guitar. And I prepared to rock the world. But look what happened to me - I ended up in academia. The only musical talent I have is as the uninvited judge for American Idol. I didn't take any lessons (I think we were too poor) and the schools don't give a hoot about music. Maybe about 10 years ago, I bought one of those electric organ-piano thing and tried to learn how to play the thing by following the lighted keyboard. Nah, didn't work. I'm too dumb for musical instruments. Just like I'm too dumb for Chinese. Eh, make that the Chinese language.

So, the keyboard sat there and none of my three kids seemed interested. It was actually a test to tease them into showing some interest in music. Back up a couple of years to when we first came back from U.S. after my studies (taxpayers money involved) and we sent our son (then 3 years +) to a kiddy garten in Taman Pekaka on the Island. One day he came back with a note from the teachers. It said that he was given a music test. And the result? The test said he has not musical talent or ability. Our reaction was "so what" - I can't play any instruments; neither does my wife. And then "what the heck do they know anyway?".

And so the keyboard sat there. And then my eldest, Vivian, went to middle school (they call secondary school, "middle school" in Chinese). She joined the Rangers and hated it - didn't like the authoritarian regime - always scolding members, if I recall. She quit and joined the School Marching Band/Wind Orchestra. She started from scratch. No music training, didn't know how to read the score. I think she scrapped through the drumming test. And then eventually became the Chairperson of the Band. Two years later, my son, Brian, followed and joined the Band. And know what? He too eventually became the Chairman and also student conductor. He bugged us to get him a drum set but we thought it would drive us crazy. But we are indulgent parents so bought him a digital drumset thinking that he could just plug in the headphone and just drown himself in his cacophony and leave everyone else in peace. Oh, boy were we wrong. Even with the headphone on, the digital drums make one helluva a racket. And at midnight too! We used to yell at him to remind him the the neighbours have to sleep. He was oblivious to the noise with his headphone on.

In the meantime, Jillian, started taking piano lessons. And she too followed her siblings and joined the Band. And yesterday was their second last big performance after 5 years before they pack up to prepare for the big one - the year-end form five exams. So we all (whole family) went to watch and had a great time.

This clip was shot with a tiny compact digital camera and stitched together with Apple's iMovie.

Oh, on a pink sheet of paper was listed various donors and contributors. I received a special mention (in Chinese) at the bottom of the list thanking me for contributing "empty rice packages". Huh? Well, these kids know about polystyrene and didn't want to use it. They usually get packaged food for lunch and dinner on the day of the concert as they spend the whole day rehearsing. So, I was asked to help get the supply of Ecopak (because it is much more expensive for them to buy) and I decided to sponsor them.

Ah, about the kids. More than a month ago, the youngest said she had to go to School on a saturday morning to pick up something from a friend. So, yah, ok, one of us will have to fetch her. Come that day, she's waiting upstairs and my wife is waiting downstairs. And my wife and I were grumbling about why she's dilly dallying. One hour later, she said she was ready to go. I gave her a ear-full about making her mother wait. She just smiled. I was cooking porridge for lunch and then I went to take a quick shower (I think did some gardening too). They came back while I was still in the shower. As I came out, I asked my wife whether they wanted lunch yet. "Yah, I think they are hungry", my wife said. I said "who's they?". She just grinned. As I walked out, I got a little confused because I saw Vivian sitting on her bed, grinning away. "Eh, how did you get here?". It seems my wife's reaction at the School was even better. As their car was approaching the place where the school kids usually wait for their parents, my wife saw Vivian sitting there and asked "What's Vivian doing there?", looking very puzzled. Apparently the two sisters had conspired to surprise us - the ETA was delayed because of someone being late or something.

And then two nights ago, I was supposed to pick up Vivian from the bus stop. We were watching a clip from Brian's Facebook and then Jillian innocently said, "boy, his friends will be surprised to see him at the concert tomorrow". I looked at her and said, "but he's not coming back." And she said "Oh, yah, hor". And that's that. So, that night I went out to fetch Vivian from the bus terminal and Jillian came along. As we approached the terminal, Jillian said "there over there". I looked and said "ehh, doesn't that look like Brian". So, they did it again. My wife had even called Brian early in the evening and asked him where he was. He said "outside". And he was actually there next to his sister on the bus watching aneme.
The Three Conspirators - after the successful concert

So, what's the moral of the two stories? You tell me.

Oh, tomorrow is Mother's Day! And we are going for Japanese.

P.S. I got some funny reaction to my "Do Not Disturb" sign on my door. Someone even asked whether I am sick. Well, not physically. And how's my progress. Coming along, coming along.

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