Sunday, August 31, 2008

Senior workers can contribute too

In my work, I have met with a number of people who are in their middle age and senior years who have reported that they have difficulties getting a job because potential employers seem to prefer to employ younger workers. This issue appears to be faced more often by the senior workers who may have limited education qualifications.

Anyway, yesterday, I encountered two incidents whereby it proves that senior workers, those who are in their middle age or even senior years, can contribute.

I went to a shop selling items for travellers to enquire on a purchase that I have made a day ago. I could not understand the instructions for resetting the password of the combination-lock. I first consulted a young lady. She demonstrated how I could reset the password. I happily thought I have learnt how to reset the password so I left.

After I was out of the shop, I gave myself the test of resetting the password but I found out that I still could not reset the password on my own. I went back to the shop, and was approached by a man in his senior years. He took time to dmonstrate the steps for me and even urged me to try the steps in front of him for a few times. Admittedly, I have found the pace of his instructions a little too slow for me. He asked me to reset the password in front of him not just once, but twice! He even repeated the instructions to me a few times even though I told him I have understood the steps. However, in retrospect, I think he meant well to want to ensure that I have truly understood the steps involved to reset the password of the combination-lock. The truth is that I have learnt and understood the steps fully. The better part is that I need not return to the shop to ask for another demonstration. Many thanks to this gentleman for his patience and helpfulness.

Later in the evening, I was looking for a particular brand of oil-paints. I was at Art Friend. I met a gentleman in his middle-age years too. He was so kind to go the extra mile to check Art Friend's database to check if any of the Art Friend's stores would carry that particular product. Art Friend did not carry that product, but he gave me some leads to a possible source to follow-up on. I wonder if I could find that product for I was told by a few key art-materials suppliers that this product is not available in the Singapore market anymore.

Anyway, the key message of this post is to state through my own personal experiences that older workers can contribute. They are assets to an organisation. Perhaps the thing is to match older workers to suitable jobs that would best tap on their skills and experiences.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Week 35 of year 2008 on the double bass

24 Aug 2008, Sun: I practised Dragonetti's Concerto in A major so as to familiarise myself with the third page of the first movement. I am pleased that I have made some progress.

25 Aug 2008, Mon: I practised selected passages from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" Overture and Thieving Magpie Overture so that I can be more proficient in playing these passages.

In addition, I practised the first movement (third page) from Dragonetti's Concerto in A major. I still needed clearer and cleaner sound when I play harmonics, especially towards the end of the first movement.

Here's a Youtube video of young Colombian Doublebass player Juan Gregorio Baquero and the Bogotá´s Philarmonic Orquestra playing Dragonetti's Concerto in A major for readers who would like to have an idea what I have been practising.


Dragonetti's Concerto in A major, first movement.

27 Aug 2008, Wed: During orchestra rehearsal, we rehearsed the following:
ROSSINI The Barber of Seville Overture
LLOYD WEBBER Symphonic Reflections
H. ZIMMER The Pirates of the Caribbean
JOHN WILLIAMS Schindler’s List
ROSSINI The Thieving Magpie Overture
A. SILVESTRI Forrest Gump Suite

The Rossini's works have pretty challenging parts for the double bass! Despite much practice, I still need more good practice to master these.

28 Aug 2008, Thu: Finally, I have managed to play the third page from Dragonetti's Concerto in A major for my lesson. There is still a lot of work to be done, and I am still practising so that I can play the entire concerto by heart. Eastcoastlife, who have heard me play, would probably have realised that for me, memorising the entire score by heart is something that I would need to make conscious effort to do. Anyway, I hope I can achieve doing so, and play a good rendition of this concerto.

30 Aug 2008, Sat: I spent some time practising selected passages from Zimmer's The Pirates of the Caribbean and Rossini's The Barber of Seville Overture.

A sense of fatigue shrouded me for the day. It must have been due to working long hours at work for the past weeks. I decided to listen to my body's signals of fatigue and take things easier, so I merely practised the third page of the first movement of Dragonetti's Concerto in A major.

I wish the fatigue would go away soon. That means I need more fresh air and a good night of rest.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Back to School test

It is weekend, finally. I have worked pretty hard for the past week and finally it is time to rest and recharge this weekend. I do not need to report for work this weekend so I hope that would give me a chance to catch a good breather.

Today, I took time-off in the afternoon to run some errands and get myself a combination lock etc. I fear to say that I live in a very noisy world. When I stepped in to several shops, I was put off by the distastefully loud music that I walked out of the shops immediately. Perhaps this is why in general, I would prefer to shop in bookshops, music shops and art shops because these places tends to play lovely music that suit my taste. I figured that soon, many retail shops would lose my patronage because of the loud music that they play. Maybe they won't care about losing my patronage. I am just a humble yours truly.

Anyway, I did this back-to-school test. I have enjoyed my double bass lessons so far. On the side, I did not quite enjoy my Social Work classes when I was a student in the university. I looked forward more to orchestra rehearsals and practising at the Centre for the Arts after my Social Work classes. Comparatively, I seem to enjoy working as a social worker than studying as a Social Work student. This kind of experience appears to have made me rather hesitant to pursue further studies in Social Work even though yours truly is someone who generally loves learning.

I am contemplating if it would be feasible to study in music performance, double bass on a full-time basis. Strangely, while playing the double bass is not my profession, I have a stronger motivation to wish to study the double bass than Social Work. It looks like I have to get some excellent practice and rendition on the double bass so as to earn myself some kind of scholarship. Otherwise, it can be quite costly to study music.

After reading my results from the test, it seems like I would need mentors to guide me to "follow a proven path to success". I am a little skeptical if there's indeed "a proven path to success". Anyway, I wonder how to find such mentors. Would anyone want to mentor me? Or rather, the question could be: Would I be alert enough to make use of each learning opportunity when it strikes?




What Your Back to School Personality Says About You



You are a lively, ambitious, and passionate person. You are driven to do well in life and aspire to great things.

You are most likely to succeed if you follow a proven path to success. You don't mind putting in long hours to achieve your goal.

Your greatest skill is making something out of nothing. You don't need much to feel inspired.

Your biggest stumbling block in life is worrying about what other people think of you. Their opinions matter even less than you think.

You're not quite sure what you're thankful for in life, it doesn't seem like there's a lot to be thankful for these days.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I wish for good luck

Maybe good luck is not simply good luck. Good luck could have arised as a result of one's previous efforts in laying the foundation that is necessary to achieve something with ease. Would good luck not simply be due to pure chance, but due to efforts, good timing, courage and a dash of faith?

I wish for good luck then. Sometimes when things go smoothly with ease, it is rather consoling to realise that such a blessing has come about because of the foundation that one has previously laid.

I wish you good luck too.

Upcoming concert



Yours truly will be performing in the following concert: Couleurs de L'arc-en-Ciel (Colours of the Rainbow).

Here are the details:

10 Sep 2008 (Wednesday), 7:00pm (Duration: About 1 -1.5 hour)
The Plaza, The National Library (The ground floor)
100 Victoria Street
Singapore 188064
Free Admission

For more details, please click this link. Do come and support please.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mustering the energy to move on

Life
Its ups and downs
Can tire one out
Mustering
The energy
To tread forward
One step at a time

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lenses test

What lenses do you see the world with?
Interesting, this test tells me that I see the world through blue coloured glasses. Coincidentally, I like blue colour.

If I have been perceived as detached, it is probably because I needed lots of space. Having said so, I sometimes wish I could have been a bit more sensitive to the feelings of some friends.

Reflecting, it is quite true that I am happiest when I am able to reflect and relax.




You See the World Through Blue Colored Glasses



You live your life with tranquility. You have faith that things will work themselves out with time.

You judge all your interactions through the lens of hope. You try to get all the facts before forming your opinion.

You face challenges with wisdom. You know that all bad things pass, and you have the confidence to see problems through.

You see love as the utmost expression of trust. Your relationships tend to be peaceful and stable.

At your worst, you can be cool, melancholy, and detached. You sometimes have to step back from emotionally charged situations.

You are at your happiest when you are able to reflect and relax.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Week 34 of year 2008 on the double bass

17 Aug 2008, Sun: I practised on Dragonetti's Concerto in A major in the morning. It was rather a challenge to stay focused for I was still feeling very lethargic from having worked very long hours the past week. I need more good practice.

19 Aug 2008, Tue: It was about 10.30 p.m. when I started a half-an-hour practice session. I was trying to figure out the fingerings for the third page of the first movement of Dragonetti's Concerto in A major. I realised I need more help to remember where are the various harmonics on the double bass. I couldn't quite figure out which the the corresponding harmonics when I read the scores, even when fingerings were provided. Maybe I was just too tired to be able to concentrate on playing harmonics?

After a quick run-through of much of the third page, I worked on a few selected passages from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" Overture just so as to memorise those parts as much as possible. Strangely, playing on the double bass perks me up despite having an awfully busy and tiring day.

20 Aug 2008, Wed: The orchestra rehearsed Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" Overture and Thieving Magpie Overture. There were a lot of Year-One students who joined us. I still need to practise certain passages from these pieces so that I could play them with accuracy and clarity at very fast tempo.

21 Aug 2008, Thu: During double bass lesson, my tutor, MJ, demonstrated for me how to play a particular section from Dragonetti's Concerto in A major. It actually was easy to play than it seems, just that practice would be needed.

Afterwhich, I played the second movement of Dittersdorf's Second Double Bass Concerto. I still need to learn to memorise this piece by heart.

When I told my double bass tutor that I had worked for the past Friday, past two Mondays and past two Tuesdays till at least 9 p.m. without any additional income as remuneration, he urged me to consider changing my job and play music instead. I suppose the question that would help me decide to do so is: Would my rendition move myself and my audience?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Some noteworthy exhibits from the Sculpturing Life exhibition



Courtesy of National University of Singapore Museum Collection.


Following my previous post, Remembering Ng Eng Teng, here's yet another post that discusses about Ng Eng Teng's works. If you would like to read about what I think are noteworthy exhibits to take a good look at the Sculpturing Life exhibition held at NUS Museum, do check out this post here: Some noteworthy exhibits from the Sculpturing Life exhibition.

Friday, August 22, 2008

May the headache go away

I have a nagging, though not extremely painful, headache since yesterday. Maybe my body fluid level is not well-balanced? Or could it be a sign of exhaustion?

I have been reaching my office early everyday for the past few weeks. Then for the past two weeks on every Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, I have been working till at least 9 p.m. When I told my double bass tutor this and he realised that I don't get any monetary remuneration for working extra hours (because there is simply too much paper work and work in general that I have to work extra hours to get the work done, and I wish to clear most of the important work before I go for holiday next month), he asked me to consider changing my job. On the very same day, someone else who also does music-related work also asked me to consider changing my job. I am considering, while trying to lay a good foundation in the things that I enjoy doing.

Meantime, maybe the social service sector should relook at the kind of workload that it expects each social service professionals to do. The society is getting more complex and some issues need more time to intervene. Furthermore there are increasingly a huge surge in the paper-work to do just to have the necessary documentations to be accountable. All these are extra workload that may often be overlooked by the management and the administrators who plan for manpower needs. I feel rather uneasy when a few colleagues of mine told me that they are coming to office on a non-working Saturday. Tomorrow is my working Saturday, and from the way the workload seems, I would be working longer that the official working hours tomorrow.

For now, I just hope that the headache would go away. Ease the nagging pain.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shakes and Flavours

I used to think vanilla is a boring flavour, until someone told me that pure vanilla tastes very nice.

Meantime, I needed energy to simply clear my work. Sometimes I wonder if I have been working so hard because of responsibility or because my work would matter to the clients whom I serve. At the very least, I should be thankful that I am not working hard because I fear losing my rice-bowl. Holding a job purely for the sake of survival is something that would not be enticing to me.

Talking about shakes, in real life, I don't drink vanilla shakes most of the time because I have not tasted any fantastic vanilla shakes in Singapore. I would prefer chocolate shakes, dark chocolate shakes would please me a lot.



You Are a Vanilla Shake



Vanilla, yes, but definitely not boring.

You are subtly complex and deeply sophisticated.

You're the type of person who has always been ahead of their time.

You don't fall for gimmicks or tricks. You are drawn to what's true.

The Chinese Orchestra room

Climb up the stairs, up four levels, unlock the metal and wooden door, and presto, it was the Chinese Orchestra room. This room now only exists in the memory. The school building where it used to be located in had been demolished years ago.

This Chinese Orchestra room was the storage room for the Chinese Orchestra. When I was a Secondary School student many years ago, it was one of the place in school that I would frequently visit. Firstly, I did not have my own double bass back then. As such, if I had wanted to be hardworking in practising the double bass, I had to find my way to the Chinese Orchestra room to get the double bass out to practise. Frankly speaking, the room was just a storage room, so there was minimal space to practise.

I had probably started visiting this room even more often after I had became one of the committee members of the Chinese Orchestra when I was in Secondary Two. At least once in a year, there would be spring cleaning to be done for the Chinese Orchestra room. Frankly speaking, I did not quite like spring cleaning, because I did not like the dust. Nevertheless, I joined in, because back then, I enjoyed the sense of comradeship. I remember that I had a handy skill of being able to fit as much items/ instruments in the limited space after spring cleaning. Organisational skill was something that I could contribute.

The Chinese Orchestra room did not have air-conditioning. It did not have nice cushioned seats either. However, there was a part of it that just felt so cosy. There were times when I would just visit it after school hours simply to practise on the double bass or to meet with friends who needed help from a committee member (that was me) to get an instrument to practise on.

To some extent, I could say that being a member of the Chinese Orchestra back then had helped provided the opportunity for me to hone leadership and organisational skills. Looking back, those opportunities I was transformed me from a very quiet person (I was very quiet in Primary school years) to a more approachable and slightly more outspoken person. I am thankful for the fruitful experiences and the friendship forged.

Maybe I should have taken a photo of the Chinese Orchestra room. I don't think I had taken such a photo. However, the memory stays.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Remembering Ng Eng Teng




Have you seen the above sculpture in Singapore before? It was created by Ng Eng Teng. Who was Ng Eng Teng? Find out more from my latest post on Yesterday: Remembering Ng Eng Teng. Your comments on this Yesterday.sg post will be most appreciated.

Many thanks to the NUS Museum, NUS Centre for the Arts for providing me with the support and the permission to take non-flash photography of the exhibition Sculpturing Life.

By the way, it will be the NUS Museum Open House on 21 Aug 2008 (Thu) from 5 to 9 p.m. All are welcome.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The test of one's charms

Hmm...this test says I am pretty charming. Do you feel this way? Maybe I should start to learn how to use my charms?


You Are Pretty Charming



While you're not a natural charmer, you can be charming when you want to be.

And lucky for those around you, you usually feel like turning on the charm.

You project a happy, calm image - even when you're feeling the exact opposite.

You make people feel great about being around you... though you're not always up for putting in the effort.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A touching video

While I was at Karl Blog today, I saw this touching video on Christian the Lion. Here's sharing.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dinner at Kampong Glam


I am probably a nostalgic being. Most of the time when I visit Kampong Glam area with friends, one of the preferred choice for meals was Alaturka.

I was first introduced to Alaturka thanks to Pinto's recommendations on his blog. Thereafter, I took his suggestion to check out Alaturka for my very first time with Emily, whom I have lots to thank for playing accompaniment on the piano for me for Grade 8 music exams. Much later, I had also brought my friend, XS, JY, SH, and Di on different occasions for meals there. Alaturka hence became the natural choice for dinner today. I like it for its simplicity and cosy ambience, and its nice drinks and food.

I have the pleasure to have dinner with eastcoastlife today. She's very kind to have offered to treat me for dinner. An even more kind gesture of hers was to go along with the nostalgic mood of yours truly to have dinner at Alaturka, and to share with me a number of her life-experiences and ideas. We also discussed on the issue of bullying and on possible strategies to raise the public's awareness on the issue of school bullying, a long misunderstood and neglected societal problem. While I probably don't have as strong a determination as eastcoastlife to address this issue of bullying, I hope she would be successful in her own ways to contribute her part to addressing this issue with other equally-concerned stakeholders and parents. At the fundamental, everyone deserves to have a safe environment to be in, away from all kinds of bullying.

Meantime, for readers who would like to view a glimpse of the spread for the dinner, here are some of the photographs taken:





Admittedly, my favourite was the Mutton Musakka which went very well with the lavash. I tried the Turkish Mint Tea for the first time, and it tasted good. It was full of mint favour. Alaturka appeared to have gone through some renovation and there was some change in the menu. I wish that it had offered spangile (chocolate mousse) but it didn't, so I could only savour in my memory, the spangile that I had tried when I was there in April 2007. I personally find that the Baklava was too sweet for my taste. I prefer spangile which was not available. On the side, Alaturka appeared to have pretty good business tonight. Cheers to its good business. Hopefully there would be sufficient business to keep it operating for a long time. That way my nostalgic urge could continue to be fed.

Anyway, after the dinner, when I was home, I went to try to search for the local group that was lobbying against bullying of children and youths, and came across this site of the Coalition Against Bullying for Children & Youths. Visit its site here: http://hrtd.com.sg/CABCY/index.html. It offers some good resources.

Week 33 of year 2008 on the double bass

10 Aug 2008, Sun: I practised selected passages from Rossini's Thieving Magpie Overture and "The Barber of Seville" Overture. Afterwhich, I practised Dragonetti's Concerto in A major to get my fingers working really hard.

11 Aug 2008, Mon: I decided to set aside time to practise at a slow tempo selected passages from Rossini's Thieving Magpie Overture and "The Barber of Seville" Overture even though I was feeling pretty tired from a long work day.

13 Aug 2008, Wed: It was orchestra rehearsal day. We rehearsed Rossini's Thieving Magpie Overture and "The Barber of Seville" Overture and John Williams'Schindler's List. I could manage the Rossini's overtures a little better compared to last week. Good practice helps.

14 Aug 2008, Thu: During double bass lesson with MJ, I was tasked to do the following practice drills on a regular basis. All the drills involve the playing of scales:
1) Playing long bows
2) Playing short bows, each note played four times (as if like semiquavers rhythm)
3) Playing in the triplet rhythm, short bows.
4) Playing in the Am-ster-dam, dotted quaver rhythm.
5) Playing in the syncopated rhythm
6) Playing in one bow direction, 7 notes of the scale in one bow. Short strokes

After that I worked on Dragonetti's Concerto in A major and Dittersdorf's Second Double Bass Concerto.

***
For the past weeks, I have been thinking which music diploma I should sit for, and when to take it. Frankly speaking, the Dragonetti's Concerto and Dittersdorf's Concerto which are at DipLCM level are more interesting exam pieces to play than the pieces in DipABRSM syllabus. However, I have now only two more years before I can resit for DipABRSM. Hopefully the answers will come.

Anyway, for those who have followed my thoughts on music-exams, I have decided not to sit for music diploma exams this year. I shall use this year to expand my repertoire and to enhance my technical skills in playing.

Friday, August 15, 2008

In need of a recharge

This has been a rather busy and crazy week. I have been working pretty long hours for the weekdays except on Wednesday and Thursday. Those are the two days that I have specified as days where I would not work overtime.

On Monday and Tuesday, I worked till 9 p.m. Today, I worked till 10 p.m. in my office. The thing is that the office hours ends before 6 p.m. every day. For the past five days of the week, I have been arriving early to office, before the official 8.45 a.m. to start work.

Despite a very busy week, where I still end up feeling that there are so much work still to be done, there were some positive aspects. There were some tasks that were pretty well-done. I have managed to at least complete a couple of tasks at hand. On and off, I have clients who would share how they have overcame some of the odds that life has presented them.

Of course, I have my share of waking up in the middle of the night worrying that there are so many things undone! Hopefully workload would be more manageable thereafter as I have alerted the superior that I have been working till I have stretched beyond my limits.

Hopefully, I can get some recharge. Tomorrow, there is still a work-related event to attend till the late afternoon. I have to learn to be smart to just find pockets of time over the weekend to recharge. Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A place that I used to rehearse


A couple of months ago, I passed by this bus-stop which was just nearby a place where I used to rehearse. I decided to take a photo of the building behind that pink wall. That was the building where I had used to rehearse. There was a large rehearsal room in the premises of that building, and that was where the Chinese Orchestra that I had used to participate in would rehearse.

I had started participating in that Chinese Orchestra when I was about 14 years old. It was a challenge to juggle between studies and participating in an activity outside the school's curricula. There were times when it was difficult to strive a good balance.

It was here that I learnt that I was using the wrong bow for the French-method of double bass bow-hold. It was here that I managed to get to play the more challenging double bass parts written for Chinese music. It was here that the normally introverted me have to the chance to work with people who are adults and who are non-school-mates. To some extent, it provided me with the opportunities to refine my social skills and even organisational skills.

Through participating in the Chinese Orchestra, I had managed to forge a number of friendship despite being a rather passive person when it comes to initiating friendship.

A couple of years after rehearsing in that building, the Chinese Orchestra managed to secure another site to rehearse. It was time to say good-bye to this rehearsal venue. If I'm not wrong, the room that the Chinese Orchestra had used to rehearsed in the building behind the pink wall is now a pub. How much things have changed with time.

The bus-stop where I had taken this photo had changed too. It used to be a very simple bus-stop and if I remember correctly, it was painted orange. Now it looks better maintained.

Utensil test

The chopsticks, in my opinion, is a good invention. It is simple in design yet versatile. Here comes the results of mine when I did the utensil personality test.




You Are Chopsticks



People see you as exotic, unusual, and even a bit intimidating.

You are a difficult person to figure out.

In truth, you try to live a very simple life.

But most people are too frenzied to recognize the beauty of your simplicity.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Needing to slow down

Work is getting increasingly heavy. Perhaps the increase in the cost of living and the complexities in modern living have contributed to people experiencing more stress. My workplace is getting much more people being referred or self-referred for services.

I have been working till 9 p.m. on last Friday, yesterday and today. Thank goodness that I have made it a point not to work overtime on the days that I have rehearsals and double bass lessons! Tomorrow, I would finally be able to leave the office earlier for the day. However, so much more work remains to be done.

I think I would soon ask for HELP!
This is a sign that reminds me set aside time to slow down and to recharge!

What a crazy month of August.

Monday, August 11, 2008

One decade ago with NUS Symphony Orchestra

This location was where I have been having rehearsals at the University.


Ten years ago, on a rainy day in August, I was trying to find my way to Centre for the Arts to attend the Welcome Tea of NUS Symphony Orchestra. I met A who was also going to the same event, and we braved the rain with an umbrella and eventually found our way there.

I had only planned to attend the Welcome Tea to learn more about the orchestra. I learnt from the Welcome Tea that potential members have to attend an audition and pass it before being accepted as a member.

My background then was that I had only played in Chinese Orchestras. Prior to attending the Welcome Tea, I had found out that there would be some form of music tuition provided to members of the orchestra. Furthermore, the double bass tutor of NUS Symphony Orchestra was a very established double bass player. On the contrary, the tutor teaching the Chinese Orchestra's cello and double bass section was a cellist by training. Hoping very much to improve my playing of the double bass, I decided to try to get a chance to be a member of the NUS Symphony Orchestra instead of the Chinese Orchestra.

One of the seniors invited me to play in the orchestra immediately after the Welcome Tea. I was not prepared for that at all! Anyway, I mustered courage to accept the invitation, and the senior helped get a bow and a double bass for me. Despite trying hard to play as much as possible, I could only manage to play about 20% of what was printed on the scores then. Compared to playing in Chinese Orchestra where the double bass player plays largely tonic and dominant notes, the double bass player in a Symphony Orchestra plays much more challenging parts. I started having doubts if I could pass the audition.

Nevertheless, I decided to just go for the audition. Seriously, I think I had played pretty not quite in tune during the audition. However, thankfully, the conductor felt I had the awareness that I have to improve my intonation, and he gave me a chance to take double bass lessons to improve my playing. Yeah! I finally secured the chance to join the university's Symphony Orchestra.

I worked pretty hard to improve my playing because one of the first works that I have to performed during my first concert with NUS Symphony Orchestra was Brahms' First Symphony. As such, especially during my first year in university, whenever there was a long break between my lessons, I would make my way to Centre for the Arts and practise on the double bass. Back then, I don't own a double bass of my own. Basically, Centre for the Arts became the place in the university that I had spent much of the time in, other than my faculty's building.

Reflecting, I am pleased to say that my playing on the double bass has improved over this one decade. The credit goes to the orchestra's double bass tutor for his inspiring and patient guidance. I have the conductor to thank for taking the risk to accept me even though I did not do exceptionally well during the audition. Playing in the NUS Symphony Orchestra had enriched my life as a student of the university, and provided me some respite from the challenges that life had presented.

The current rehearsal venue.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Week 32 of year 2008 on the double bass

3 Aug 2008, Sun: I set aside time to practise selected passages from Rossini's The Thieving Magpie Overture. Those passages were much more technically challenging than they seem. Good practice on those passages would be necessary to help make me master this particular overture.

Afterwhich, I spent some time practising a couple of bars from Dragonetti's Concerto in A major. These bars were even more challenging than the preceding bars probably because they require the player to play at the higher positions. I didn't like my rendition of the bars. Intonation needed refinement and I would prefer a clearer tone. More good practice would be needed.

6 Aug 2008, Wed: Double bass sectional with GM again! It's an enriching sectional although I ended up being the only person. We worked on the Rossini's pieces that are meant to be played during an upcoming concert. I have learnt about some strategies to improve the left and right hand coordination. According to GM, to help the left and right hand to coordinate with each other, it helps to start practising using separate bows. There is much to learn. I played slightly better than the last sectional, but it was still rather challenging to play the Rossini's works.

During the orchestra rehearsal, I find it a challenge to play the Rossini's works at a fast tempo. I need to improve my technical competencies! The good news is that I am improving. Hopefully I would be able to manage playing these works by next month.

7 Aug 2008, Thu: I had double bass lesson with MJ. Finally, I managed to work through the second page of the scores for Dragonetti's Concerto in A major. I still need more work to control every note.

When I moved on working on Dittersdorf's Second Double Bass Concerto, I realised the importance of regular practice when I fumbled over the cadenza which I have not been practising for the past two weeks. MJ reminded me and demonstrated for me how being able to control every note would help improve the way my rendition would sound. There's more to be learnt.

9 Aug 2008, Sat: I practised Dragonetti's Concerto in A major. The goal was to remember as much of the parts as possible. I wish I could one day get a better double bass to play on. Meantime, more good practice is needed.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Music learning to bring out the best in human potential

I came across a noteworthy news article on one of the Chinese newspaper. It is about the music education programme provided by Seimpi School of Music.

I think this is a worthy programme to check out. I am thankful that I have had the privilege to learn and play a music instrument, and I can say that learning music has helped me in many aspects. After reading the newspaper article, I believe that providing young children early access to effective music education not only brings joy and fun to their lives, but would help them to acquire the useful skills that help develop their minds.

I am feeling envious. I wish there was such a programme that I could attend when I was young!

Anyway, here is the website of Seimpi School of Music that is worth a visit: http://www.seimpi-music.com.sg/

Friday, August 08, 2008

Olympic Games

It's 8/08/08. My parents are watching the live telecast of the Opening Ceremony of The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on television. I had missed much of the earlier segments as I had only returned home from office at about 8.30 p.m. Luckily, I have caught a few segments of the event. However, I felt pretty bored watching the Parade of Athletes and hence decided to just be at the keyboard and computer.

The ceremony appeared impressive indeed. If you have missed the Opening Ceremony, do click on this link to get a glimpse.

The official website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is http://en.beijing2008.cn

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Popsicle test

Probably years ago, I know that I am special in my own ways. At the same time, please pardon me if I have came across as being too individualistic.




You Are a Blueberry Flavored Popsicle



You are a very unusual person. For you, summer is all about adventure and travel.

You are brilliant and bright. Your mind is always sharp and working at full capacity.

You seek out new and different experiences. You get bored very easily.

You are very creative. Of all of the types, you're the most likely to invent a new popsicle.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The dream house test

Admittedly, I reflect a lot. Maybe that is why there is still something about my current job that I enjoy. It gave me a lot of opprtunities to reflect... on life and other people's problems.


What the House Test Says About You



You consider yourself important, but no more important than anyone else. You love attention, but you don't feel like you deserve more of it than anyone else.

You aren't against being community oriented, but it's not really your thing. You tend to prefer to focus on your family and not the neighborhood around you.

You are a calm, contemplative, and smart person. You take ideas very seriously.

You look good in a low maintenance sort of way. You do the minimum required to be attractive.

You are moved by your own inner sense of peace. You spend a lot of time reflecting on the meaning of life.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sunday Brunch with Mystic



I am feeling pretty tired from a long day of work. The blessing is that at least I have kept myself sane.

Anyway, a few days ago, I met up with one of my good friends, Mystic, to have Sunday Brunch at the Quentin's, the Eurasian restaurant. Mystic has much to comment about the food there. It seemed to me that she gave the food there merely passing marks, but not excellent marks. My friend has high expectations of food preparation and food so I guess the novelty of having Eurasian food did not cloud her judgement.

Anyway, my personal favourite were the Long Beans, the salad, the Meaty Cutlet (but I refrained from taking more than two because I wish to eat less meat), and the Prawn Bostador (though I did not take the prawns as I wish to avoid seafood).

Some dishes worth trying are: Chicken Devil's Curry, the Shepherd's Pie and the Sugee Cake.

To be fair, for $15++ per person for the Sunday Buffet Brunch, it was an affordable deal, considering it that there is a fairly peaceful view just outside the restaurant.

Many thanks to Mystic. I think she has been a very accomodating friend to put up with my fancy for breakfast and brunch. She even gave me a lift to the Eurasian Community House.

**
Quentin's
139 Ceylon Road,
Eurasian Community House,
Singapore 429744
Telephone Number: 6346-1837
Fax Number: 6346-1847

Opening hours
Lunch: 11.30am to 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.30pm to 10.30pm

Monday, August 04, 2008

The first teddy-bear I've made



Unusually, I have been doing spring-cleaning. I suppose a part of me wanted to tidy up the clutter that are found behind the wardrobes and drawers. While doing some tidying up on 3 Aug 2008, I came across the very first teddy-bear of this size and design that I have made.

I had made it after my 'A' levels examinations. There was no classes after 'A' levels examinations and I was comparatively less in touch with many of my friends. Making teddy bear became a temporary past-time to fill in the void. I have made smaller teddy-bears of simpler designs before this teddy-bear. However, the teddy bear that you see in this post was the very first teddy-bear I have made that has a more complex design. I didn't come up with the design, I merely follow the instructions from a teddy-bear-making craft-book.

This teddy bear has ears so that it can listen. I think it is quite an imperfectly perfect bear. Somehow, although I had ran out of green cloth and ended up using another fabric to make part of its face, the effect was interestingly pleasing. It somehow made the bear seem as if it could wink its left eye. After it was done, I had intended to give it as a gift to one of my good friends. However, there was no opportunity to do so back then. A decade later, it is still with me. I doubt I would give it as a gift to this same friend. It didn't seem appropriate to give a gift that was meant to be given a decade ago, did it?

The teddy-bear was intended to bring some cheers to my friend. Even if I do not think it is appropriate to give this teddy-bear anymore, the thoughts and intention still stand. I wish this friend of mine happiness and joy.

By the way, my memory needs some patching. I can't remember what name I had affectionately given this teddy bear. Anyway, I somehow like its sincere, unpretentious look. Do you?

**
After this bear, I have made at least two other teddy-bears of similar size which I had given to two of my friends. Hopefully they would like them somehow.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Week 31 of year 2008 on the double bass

27 Jul 2008, Sun: I worked on a couple of bars from the first movement of Dragonetti's Concerto in A. I think I would need to start practising with the help of the metronome soon. That may help me have a more consistent sense of tempo.

28 Jul 2008, Mon: I continued to work on the same couple of bars from Dragonetti's Concerto in A. I realised I need to have more confidence in myself.

30 Jul 2008, Wed: It was double bass sectional with GM, and sectionals with him just seem so fruitful all the time. The entire sectional was dedicated to working on Rossini's The Thieving Magpie Overture. I like GM's systematic approach to practising. He gave me some very good ideas and tips on how I can practise on my own to overcome the many technical difficulties in the work. I had not thought of approaching my practice in that manner, but after I was being guided to the approach, the approach made good sense. In short, it was to break a difficult passage into many smaller parts and practise. Many thanks to GM for his guidance.

31 Jul 2008, Thu: During double bass lesson with MJ, we worked on Dragonetti's Concerto in A major. The key to playing it well is to control every note it seems. I need to be very observant of the tempo.

**
I didn't practise on 1 Aug and 2 Aug as somehow my fingers felt rather stiff, and I figured that I shall allow them to take some rest. Hopefully I had not overworked them the past few days.

Happy Birthday to National Heritage Board





This is a belated birthday wish. The National Heritage Board has turned fifteen on 1 Aug 2008. Join the celebrations. For more details, please visit: http://www.nhb.gov.sg/nhb15/

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Memories of Coronation Rd


Today, I visited the NUS Museum and on my way there by bus, I passed by Coronation Road. While on the bus, the thought of blogging about Coronation Road came to my mind.

Even though I do not live anywhere near Coronation Rd, Singapore, for at least a few years of my life, this was the road that I would often walk along.

Coronation Road was one of the roads that I would have to walk along very often during the days when I was a Secondary School student. There is of course no prize for guessing which Secondary School I had studied in.

As I write about Coronation Rd, I am reminded that as a teenager, friendship and the yearning to belong had both been factors that eventually shaped the routes that I would take to return home after school.

To return home, if I were to use Coronation Road, I had to walk a much longer distance to get to the bus-stop that had the bus-services that would take me home. Nevertheless, there were many times that I would consciously choose Coronation Road simply because that was the only route that a few of my friends could take in order to get to the bus-stop where there would be buses to take them home. Anyway, the good thing was that if I were to use Coronation Road, I would be able to have the pleasure to take either bus-service 74 or 852, which would get me home in about 30 minutes if traffic was good.

On the other hand, I could also walk along Farrer Road to get to another bus-stop to take bus-service 165 home. The walking distance to the bus-stop would be shorter if I were to choose to use Farrer Road rather than Coronation Road. However, bus-service 165 would take a slightly longer travelling time to get me home. Of course, I would choose to walk along Farrer Road at times simply because I have friends who prefer to take Farrer Road.

When I was returning home on my own, I figured that I would just let my mood and the strength of my leg muscles be the deciding factors.



Anyway, Coronation Road would usually be one of the routes to take if I were to need lunch during school holidays. The thing was that the school canteen did not sell any food during school holidays. Some of the reasons for me to be in school during school holidays back then were: Extra-Curricular Activities, extra holiday lessons (though these were more rare) and to work on my art project. Coronation Road would lead me to Coronation Plaza and also a row of shophouses that still sells chicken rice and stir-fried dishes.



To be honest, it is not Coronation Road that I remember. If you were to ask me, I can't even remember how many private housing were located along that stretch of Coronation Road that I had to walk back then. I can't even recall how they had looked like. What I remember were some of the conversations, the laughter shared and the spirit of bonding amongst friends when I walked along Coronation Road during those years of my life. Perhaps those conversations and interactions had provided the necessary opportunities for an introvert like myself to learn to interact with others. I was comparatively more open with interacting with others when I was a Secondary School student than when I was a Primary School student.

At the same time, there were times when I had walked along Coronation Road alone by myself, feeling lost and uncertain what future would hold for me. Honestly, at that age, I could not see what the future would be like for me a decade later.

By the way, the Shell petrol station that used to sit at Coronation Plaza is now no longer operating. I wonder what would replace the Shell petrol station eventually?

Whatever it is, the sentimental me could not help but recall a few of the good old memories every time I happen to travel past Coronation Road while travelling along Dunearn Rd on the bus. Maybe I am in the mood for nostalgia.

Randy Pausch and the Last Lecture

A couple of days ago, I read about Randy Pausch and his Last Lecture video on the newspapers. Thereafer, I came across the Last Lecture video while I was at Cool Insider's blog.

I took Cool Insider's advice to find a time to view the entire video almost undisturbed. I felt moved and inspired by Randy Pausch's last lecture. I suppose what he has shared is what living is about. Do take some time to view it. The Last Lecture is also available in book form. Many thanks to Randy for having shared his perspectives of living one's childhood dreams.

Some of my favourite quotes from his lecture were "Brick walls show our dedication" and "Find the best in everybody".

Friday, August 01, 2008

It's August

I am thankful to have survived the busy month of July 2008. Hopefully I can also pull through the month of August 2008.

It is the first day of August 2008, and I am experiencing an irritated throat and a mildly blocked nose. I wonder if I had caught the flu bug. I wish for good health. The month of August 2008 is filled with lots of work commitments. I simply hope I could at least make the best of it, and yet not suffer burn-out at work.

As for the month of September, I figured I have to be very focused at work so that I can clear most of my work by the beginning of the month. Thereafter, I will be heading for a week of holiday in the Land Down Under a few days after performing in an upcoming concert, Couleurs de L'arc-en-Ciel (Colours of the Rainbow), held on 10 Sep 2008 (Wed), 7 p.m., at National Library Board Plaza. In this free public concert, NUS Symphony Orchestra will be performing extracts from Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning 'Schindler's List', Silvestri: Forrest Gump and more.

On the side, I don't like it when concerts are given with long and foreign names. I end up having to use the English name instead, which kind of defeats the purpose of using a seemingly beautiful foreign name. Having said so, maybe I am just biased.

Whatever it is, wishing you a fulfilling month of August 2008. May happiness, good health and fulfilment be with you.