Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Collegiate Rumination

It’s been a really… harried couple of weeks being back here, but I thrive on momentum, and momentum is what I’ve got. I don’t know what it is about having no time to do five things in a day that seems to be a personal challenge to do six things. Like carpe diem being time challenging you to a duel, it can be breathtaking in its own curious way.

That being said, I need to get more sleep, and more exercise, and this Saturday I’m going out and getting my replacement bike w
hich got stolen while my housemate was using it over the summer. Technology just hasn't been working for me, but that's another story. Getting out will be good, an afternoon of coffee at a Barnes & Noble sounds like a good thing, especially with a rather recent infatuation with Rutter’s music.

I’ve come to realize that college life is an interesting balance of things which stretch, and things which squeeze. On the latter side, it’s the Harry Potter-esque playing to your strengths, bending rules when faced with dragons and finding what’s intrinsic to your life to achieve goals. Sometimes that means restructuring an ethnic music project to suit a high school life around kompang and joget, instead of researching the musicology of Bartok’s violin duos – other times it just means taking a bit of initiative and finding a concerto which works for you before being told what to play. On the stretch side, it’s about being thrown in the deep end and having no choice but to learn how to swim – and if a college is good enough, there’ll be just enough of floating debris to cling onto. Last year it was about learning the Walton from nothing in a year, and so far this year it has been about teaching myself Dreamweaver (and not just faking it by adjusting sample templates)...

and finally getting to playing the piano. I’m surprisingly satisfied with that last one – finally being able to play the Penang state anthem after years of listening to it in school assemblies… and on one occasion, with the pianist missing, seeing the music teacher get to the microphone, look down at me and call me to get to the piano – to which a thousand pairs of eyes looked at me shake my head frantically. My personal limit is four strings, no frets, touch of horsehair and a flirt of rosin, thank you very much. More than a decade later, there's something comforting about those black and white keys.

Speaking of deep ends, Amanda and I just had a little interesting experience playing music in the courtyard of my music school… and with this remarkable picture being taken at the exact moment when a leaf smacked my forehead and ricocheted upwards.

Other than the wind, which created more than a few musical complications, it was a good experience, and a firs
t for the school as far as I know. A larger audience than most of our recitals. When a professor of mine approached me and asked why I decided to do it, I didn’t have a good answer. But having thought about it a little bit, it’s because music is meant to be shared, and getting out there is the only way to bring out both the adrenalin and magic of a live performance… as well as the real cracks in technique that I will later get back into the practice room to fix.

And in that way, it’s once again about there you are, it's college life, stretch and squeeze.

1 comment:

amelyn said...

Hi. Just wondering if you are a "long-lost" friend of mine from ages ago. Did you go to school in Selangor (in Malaysia), then moved to Hong Kong, then moved back to Penang?