Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Decisions over exams

The registration period to take ABRSM diploma exams from July to September this year will end on 29 Feb 2008. My gut feel is that I may benefit from a year's break from the ABRSM exams this year, and just focus on improving my musicality. At the same time, another part of me wish to consider my tutor's suggestion of securing a diploma certificate by this year so that I don't lose time.

My main concern would be how to improve my playings such that I can play music that can inspire and touch people's souls?

At a dilemma.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A listening ear

Special thanks to Mystic for lending me her ears.
It is comforting to get some support when needed.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bottled up

Frustrations brewing
How to make sense of things?
When one reaches the limit
One may soon be torn apart

Untitled 24 Feb 2008

Many things weigh my mind
Yet unresolved
Am I thinking too hard?
Or I am just so awfully lost?

How can one experience hope in life
Even when one is in the middle of a complex maze?

Transport in those days without machines

On the most recent post on Yesterday.sg, there is a mention on the new series of blog post on The ReTRIeVIA blog. This series of posts "feature pages from the book Horse-powered & Man-powered Transport, a children’s book taking the reader on a philatelic excursion through the kinds of transport used in Singapore’s past."

It is worth a read. Check out: http://retrievia.wordpress.com/

Friday, February 22, 2008

Week 8 of year 2008 on the double bass

17 Feb 2008, Sun: Orchestra rehearsal was held in the afternoon. In the evening, I practised Eccles' Sonata in g minor, and I needed more concentration.

20 Feb 2008, Wed: Double bass sectional is always something to look forward to. For the sectional, we worked on Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major and Pirates of the Carribbean.

For the orchestra rehearsal, we rehearsed Beethoven's Fifth Symphony amongst others. By the end of the orchestra, I felt pretty tired.

21 Feb 2008, Thu: During double bass lesson, my tutor got me to play the second and fourth movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major. I wonder why he usually doesn't get me to play the slower movements. I personally find the slower movements so much harder to play that the faster movements.

Anyway, I also worked on playing Keyper's Romance and Rondo. I was told to play each and every note in this work with control. That means playing at a more moderate tempo.

Exams this year?
I am undecided whether to sit for DipABRSM this year, or to do so next year. If I were to do it this year, my tutor said I could move on to more advanced pieces next year while securing a Diploma for myself in a shorter time. I was hoping to spend more time to improve my level of playing and also worked on more advanced pieces without having the pressure to practise for examinations. One thing for sure, I still need to improve on sight-reading. I don't think I am comfortable with sight-reading at diploma level yet to score a good grade for the examinations.

In addition, my music theory tutor urged me to consider sitting for the diploma examinations of other music examination boards. I realised I can get more indecisive with too many choices.

22 Feb 2008, Fri: Rather late in the night, I worked on the difficult passages from the second movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. I practised the passages slower than the usual tempo so as to get my fingers to remember the fingerings.

I don't think I will practise on 23 Feb 2008. A break from practising would be needed. I need time to work on a homework on harmony, music theory. Next week will be a hectic week for me still.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Awfully tiring week

So far the week has been tiring
The consoling part is
That tonight
I have some quiet time
To rest

Monday, February 18, 2008

Congratulations to the launch of The Tipple Exchange

A couple of days ago, I found out from the news on TV about the launch of The Tipple Exchange.

I have attended one of The Tipple Exchange walks sometime last year, and I dare say that the walk itself is certainly better than the beers. You can read about my experience on that walk here.

Read more about the official launch of this historical pub walk here: http://www.singaporewalks.com/index.htm

Beer does not drown my sorrows, so I shall not drink.
Whatever it is, Cheers!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Away from the world

Each step taken
Further away from the world
What is left
To keep hope alive?

Each turn
Each moment
Urges one forward
But is what is ahead
Simply an illusion?
Or a vision waiting to be realised?

May feel completely different
From one's world
Pushing one so far away

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Week 7 of year 2008 on the double bass

10 Feb 2008, Sun: Orchestra rehearsal was held in the afternoon. I was trying not to be too discouraged by the challenges that I had met in playing the off-beat rhythms. I could play them at slower pace, but when the tempo gets too fast, I find it challenging to get the rhythms right. Is self-confidence what I need? Or more so, the technique to play such rhythms at fast speed?

In the night, in my attempts to find an avenue to release the emotions within, I played Rachnaninov's Vocalise.

11 Feb 2008, Mon: I played Rachnaninov's Vocalise. My right-hand technique and vibrato has improved quite a bit, but something seems missing from my rendition.

After which, I practised some passages from Dittersdorf's Concerto in E major. Probably, I needed an avenue to express an urge to scream and cry, and playing the first movement from Dittersdorf's Concerto in E major was not simply the right piece of music to do so. As such, I felt myself feeling rather disoriented after playing the concerto. Anyway, I did not go back to playing Rachnaninov's Vocalise for I figured that I needed a break.

13 Feb 2008, Wed: For the orchestra rehearsal, the orchestra rehearsed almost all the programme to be played for the upcoming concert held on 1 Mar 2008. I felt I was losing my concentration towards the end of the rehearsal.

14 Feb 2008, Thu: Much of the earlier part of the double bass lesson focused on sight-reading. I still need more work in sight-reading.

16 Feb 2008, Sat: I practised certain passages from the encore piece that the orchestra would be playing for the upcoming concert. The triplet rhythms can get pretty challenging for me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Upcoming concert

Yours truly will be playing in this concert. Your support will be most appreciated.

The Flame in the Night by NUS Symphony Orchestra

Saturday, 1 Mar, 8.00pm,
Conservatory Concert Hall, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music
$12 (excludes Gatecrash charge)
Tickets are available from Gatecrash.


Stravinsky The Firebird Suite – Dance infernale du roi Kastchei

Haydn Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major (Soloist: Elizabeth Tan)

Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67

Experience contrasting moods of works through Stravinsky's explosive and dynamic dance-like movements, Haydn's melodious work and one of Beethoven's popular symphony.

The Flame in the Night by the NUS Symphony Orchestra is one of the events of the NUS Arts Festival 2008 presented by the NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA). Led by Music Director/Conductor Lim Soon Lee, the Orchestra is managed by CFA and comprises NUS undergraduates and alumni with strong passion for music and from non-music disciplines.

The concert features guest soloist, Elizabeth Tan who won first prize in the HSBC Classics String Concerto Competition 2007. A first class honours graduate and the class valedictorian in 2007, Elizabeth is currently a Teaching Assistant as well as a graduate diploma student at the Conservatory.

Let NUS Symphony Orchestra serenade you into a night of acclaimed pieces that includes Stravinsky's The Firebird Suite, Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. Cellist Elizabeth Tan from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music performs as soloist with the Orchestra led by Maestro Lim Soon Lee.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Where's the outlet to express?

Feeling blue
No place for a respite
When I turn to playing
The double bass
Mom says it is night time
Time to stop
I am glad that I gently persist
At the very least
Playing music at night time
Is certain better
Than leaving painful emotions engulf one's life

It hits again

When it strikes
It feels monumental

Not numb
What could soothe?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Week 6 of year 2008 on the double bass

3 Feb 2008, Sun: During the orchestra rehearsal, I played and rehearsed most of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. It is satisfying to realise that compared with my rendition of this symphony a few years ago, my rendition of this symphony now has improved. Practice does makes perfect.

Playing musis in the orchestra has been stimulating for the mind, and a good way to provide an outlet of expression for me. I enjoy the process of practising for and realising a piece of music.

6 Feb 2008, Wed: I practised selected passages from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, particularly the Trio from the third movement so as to work towards playing the passage from memory.

Later in the evening, I attempt to play Dragonetti's solo in e minor and more passages from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Somehow, my left index finger has developed a blister. It got pretty painful to play, so I stopped practising for the day.

7 Feb 2008, Thu: Much of the day's practice focused on practising the fourth movement from Marcello's Sonata in G major. Intonation has improved somewhat.

8 Feb 2008, Fri: I tried to play some sections from Dragonetti's solo in e minor. Somehow, technically, I felt I was still not up to the standards to play this work.

I moved on to practise the second movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major. My right-hand technique appeared to have improved with the right hand being more flexible. However, when I attempted the first and third movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major, I felt unmoved by my rendition. Sometimes, it can be a blow to one's confidence when one's mind is not focused.


The momentum to practise is somewhat there. However, it seems like there isn't a irrepressible urge to play on the double bass during every waking moment. Furthermore, contrary to what I hope, I did not seem to have as much motivations to practise my proposed programme for DipABRSM as I should have. I was more keen to play anything that would be outside the programme. In some ways, this can be healthy as my mind would not be fixated on just playing for exams. Then again, these are the very signs that makes me think thrice about retaking DipABRSM Performance in Double Bass this year. My tutor has been urging me to do so by this year. Yet, I am not sure if I would be ready to do so. At the very least, I don't just want to play the programme for the exams well. I wish to be able to play most of the pieces that are equivalent to DipABRSM standard fairly competently.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Untitled 3 Feb 2008

A surge of painful feelings
Seem to have hit upon me
Growing up pains?
Or signs that something is awfully wrong?

Sometimes they are felt so strongly
At times they are so mild to be felt
Yet each entrance they make
Seem to bring sadness to the day

May such feelings not last long
Else they may pave the roads to despair
But what can bring joy or delight
To relieve one of the pain?

As if it is darkness
And one is groping to find her way
Each attempt has yet to bring one closer
Such that light seems so far away

Out of touch
In an isolated world
Each urge to connect
Often gets extinguished
By a strangling pain

The footsteps urge forward
Keep on with the search
The pain is still there
What messages is it meant to send?

How does one get ideas?

Several days ago, I borrowed a book from the library. It was a relatively easy to read book, and within one single sitting at the library's cafe, I have managed to read the entire book consisting 47 pages.

Title: A Technique for Producing Ideas
Author: James Webb Young
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
ISBN: 0-07-141094-5

The author lends insights to the workings of the creative process. The author proposed that ideas are actually new combinations of old elements. In order to come up with such combinations, he outlined five steps:

1) Gather raw materials
2) Work over the raw materials in the mind
3) Incubation stage
4) Production of the idea
5) Shape and develop the idea

I suppose one of the ways to gather the "raw materials" is to read extensively. Visiting museums is another way.

Week 5 of year 2008 on the double bass

For the fifth week of this year, I have only managed to practise on
27 Jan 2008, Sun
30 Jan 2008, Wed
31 Jan 2008, Thu
2 Feb 2008, Sat

I am contemplating whether to stop this series of posts that tabulate the dates that I have practised. Posting such posts do help make me accountable to myself, but other than that, I don't see how these have much other value.

Anyway, for the fifth week, I had managed to figure out how to play a particular passage from Stravinsky's "Dance of the Inferno" from the Firebird suite.