General Life Happenings

Tribute to music

In my last post, I spoke about losing sight of why we do the things we do. Especially if it’s instilled into your routine or your life. Another example I thought of throughout the week is music or my specifically, playing my clarinet. I first picked up the instrument in year 7, back in Singapore. Every student had to participate in an extracurricular activity and I tried out for both the choir and marching band simply because I love music. In primary school, I would be the first to put my hand up for any activity in music class, to the point where I dragged my reluctant best friend at the time to play a recorder duet for a school event.

My mother used to play the clarinet back in her high school days and I wanted to be just like her. I was incredibly persistent in wanting to learn the clarinet because my mum had one at home. When we had try-outs, I couldn’t make a sound on the clarinet! The conductor suggested I play the flute instead but I was stubborn and kept trying until I finally made a squeak and here I am today – still squeaking but not as often. Even though my primary instrument is the clarinet, I love exploring other instruments. I always had a go on my friend’s trumpet when she would let me and loved mucking around on my neighbour’s son’s guitar whenever I visited (I’m really sorry for de-tuning all your strings by the way).

Throughout high school, I never stopped playing clarinet. Even after moving countries, I was heavily involved in the music program in my high school here. Undoubtedly, it was a terribly different experience as extracurricular isn’t compulsory at my school and lot of kids dropped out of the music program as we went through the years. Our band was tiny, comprising of a couple of clarinet, saxophone and flute players, maybe a trumpet, a violinist, bass player and drummer. I missed the heart-grappling feeling of being swept away when playing in an orchestra. That memory became so distant, I had forgotten about it. Until, I joined the Western Region Concert Band (WRCB) late 2008/early 2009, in my second year of uni. Having a year away from music felt very much like when I stopped swimming training. You’re remarkably happy with all the free time you suddenly have, but it felt like something was missing in your life (mind you I haven’t been back at the pool in a good few months).

With the WRCB, I have the opportunity to be part of the musical world and community again, and it’s a feeling similar to being part of the diabetes online community. Except, when I play in a full band, particularly at a performance, it’s an indescribable feeling. The fact that I am contributing to part of this beautiful piece of music and it doesn’t matter if I’m playing the melody or the supporting harmonies. Different sounds and pattens weaving in together, forming a swell within your heart and even goose bumps on your skin. Music is so powerful. Some say music has the power to heal. It sure does have the power to make people tear up! I’ve seen it happen and it’s happened to me more than once – when a tune you hear or play tells a heart-wrenching story. I feel absolutely privileged to be part of the amazing experience of being in a concert band again. To be on stage with the likes of Leo Sayer, Sylvie Paladino, Normie Rowe (no added hormones!) and Gina Jeffreys is an absolute added bonus. I’ve also learned so much from playing in the band that I could take away and use in everyday life. I know that my confidence both as a player and as a person has taken leaps and bounds thanks to music and my time in the band.

After recently just finishing up the year with the band at the Wyndham Carols by Candlelight, I realised that I may have lost sight of what music actually meant to me. With uni and work, I’ve forgotten how satisfying being part of music is, because I’m always thinking of other things (more like worrying!). So when we were performing at the carols, I was initially upset that there was no one in the crowd here to see me. But I thought to myself, this isn’t what performing should be about. It should be about the music! And so I allowed myself to indulge in the music, after all it was a carols event!  The songs that we played may be similar  the ones we play every year but the intricacies between harmony and melody in each song is undoubtedly delicate and beautiful (we did have a good arrangement on most of the pieces!). As I looked at my music, I wasn’t focused on playing the right notes. I was confident in my playing and instead let my fingers do the work and followed the shape of the music. It was then that I reconnected with my musical roots. I love music. I miss playing the guitar (my guitar currently resides in my boyfriend’s room as my room is too small). I tried learning the saxophone and flute (my flute is somewhere in my room…). And since we touched on bucket-lists at tonight’s OzDOC tweetchat, I would like to add never giving up on music onto my ‘bucket-list’.

At sound check for the Wyndham Carols by Candlelight at Werribee Park, 2012.
At sound check for the Wyndham Carols by Candlelight at Werribee Park, 2012.

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