Merry X’mas Everybody and Renaissance Rise

It was a difficult decision to go into hiatus from writing music four years ago. After all, music making has been a very big part of my life. I’ve considered music making the first breakthrough in life I ever had which I’m extremely proud of.

I started writing music when I was 14, some silly ballad for some National Day competition, after which I moved swiftly into classical and techno for the next four years. I transited to writing Mandopop and J-pop for the next 11 years.

At the height of it all, I gained entry into the Grand Finals of a Mandarin songwriting competition organised by the National University of Singapore. The prized song was a Tango-influenced Mandopop.

I was formally introduced to the Mandopop scene. Perhaps it was too commercial, or perhaps making an industry acceptable demo was too much work (and money that I need to spend) for my liking, I never did entered the songwriting scene.

I continued writing, for it was a medium for expressing my emotions. It became an unhealthy obsession (I prefer to use the Chinese proverb “走火入魔” to describe the obsession which literally means “obsessed to the point where the fire burns wildly and the person entered into a demonic state”).  I yearn for more audience for my music yet I was afraid to share them publicly as I’m afraid that credit will be stolen from me. “Guard your music well,” my sister used to advice. Eventually, passion ran out of fuel and ideas ran dry. Enough is enough. I need to do something else.

It was probably a state which all songwriters will go through I tried to convinced myself. The year I went on hiatus was also the year my favourite singer-songwriter Utada Hikaru went on hiatus.

Pure coincidence.

But I know I have to stop.

*****

The past 1.5 years, I was trying very hard to do it all over again. I did all these under the pseudoname “the midswing project” and I’m proud to say that I think I manage to achieve a small personal breakthrough:

In this post, I would like to take the chance to thank several people for helping me in seeing a light to a possible Renaissance Rise.

I would like to express my gratitude to gaming company, Life Entertainment Studios, which gave me the chance to write some music for their games. While those works are definitely not my best, it got me started writing something again.

This eventually helped me in a highlight showcase where my alumni band invited two other friends from the band and me to arrange some music. The performance was well-received and a success. Thank you for letting me have a chance to write something classical again and letting me to have something that I can feel satisfied and proud about in music.

Next was an opportunity to meet a Yamaha representative, Andre Anthony, whom came to my school to give a workshop on Cubase, a desktop audio workstation. His workshop opened my eyes to how simple Cubase is; I’ve been under utilising such a powerful programme all along! The best part, he offered to upgrade my Cubase for free! Thank you for inspiring me to do some recordings all over again.

Finally, its was a chance to write music for two special school projects. I will not give more details about the major one coming; maybe my music might not be used either, who knows. But the opportunity gave rise to RITUAL of the CHRISTMAS GHOST. Thank you for that final push I needed to write something proper, at last.

Today, I’m proud to share my music under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. If you enjoy trance music, do give me your feedback about what you think. You can download a copy of the music here:

https://soundcloud.com/midswing/ritual-of-the-christmas-ghost-1

Finally, Merry Christmas everybody!

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at EASE with myself

2014 was empowering. 2013 was terrific. 2012 was a turning point. 2011 was frustrating. 2010 was busy. 2009 was lost. 2008 was refreshing. 2007 was… whatever

As we walked into 2015, I just want to shout it out loud to everyone that I never felt so at ease with myself and I enjoyed being myself before.

Two major influences, the gang at LusiGroup (see photo below) and Dr Brené Brown. I’m lucky to have found not one but two important studies? knowledge pool? a scripture or bible to living? (is there even a name for such treasure?) within this lifetime. Of course, I’m not discounting all the other life’s little experiences, happy ones and tragic ones alike which have taught me about something in one way or another.

Sometimes, I wished that I’ve found this earlier but I guess better late than never. Or maybe if it’s introduced a tad too early I might not have mature enough to accept the gold. Whatever it is, I wouldn’t trade my past for what I am today.

Lusi Group Christmas 2013

Christmas with the folks @ LusiGroup in 2013. Had to miss out the 2014’s as I was out of town~

Guess that a simple thank you would not be sufficient.

I’ll pay it forward somehow eh?

Happy New Year everyone~

Dear Sensei

Dear Tsuneko Sensei, Kentaro Sensei, Amitani Sensei, Kawanishi Sensei,

恒子先生、健先生、網谷先生、河西先生へ、

I am proud to report that I’ve led a group of 24 students to Japan through the Jenesys 2.0 project implemented by the government of Japan last week. It seemed that whether it were the students, our new Japanese friends who were in the exchange programme with us and even the Japanese International Cooperation Center coordinators had a memorable time that will not be forgotten for a long time.

先週、日本政府のJenesys2.0の活動のわけで、生徒たちが24人と一緒に、日本へ行きました。生徒たちも、交流のおかげで友達になった日本人も、ジャイスの方も、懐かしくて長い時間に忘れなかったメモリーを憶えそうです。

14 years ago, I’ve started studying the Japanese language at Yano Language School.  Whatever you have taught me, I’ve taught it to the students. Whatever I’ve learned, enabled me to work smoothly with the coordinators from the Japan International Cooperation Center. Even though my Japanese is probably still in bits and pieces today, I’ve learned a lot from you.

14年前に、「矢野レゲジ学校」で日本語を学んで始めました。教えてくれたことを生徒たちに教えてあげました。学んだことのおかげで、ジャイスの方と仕事がやさしかったです。たぶん、今の日本語もばらばらしますけど、とても勉強になりました。

I would like to share with you a few photographs of the trip, as a testimony of what you have empowered me to do.

これから、いくつかの写真をShareしたいんです。これで、先生は私が今までにできることをエンパワーしてあげる証明です。

Ichigo Party

Ichigo Party

Students trying to line up their shoes nicely outside the tatami room

Students trying to line up their shoes nicely outside the tatami room

Memorial photo with the mayor of Mishima City

Memorial photo with the mayor of Mishima City

Mishimakita High School introducing us

Mishimakita High School introducing us in front of the school

Parting with the new friends met at Mishimakita High School

Parting with the new friends met at Mishimakita High School

Catch phrase that the students came out for Mishima City

Catch phrase that the students came out for Mishima City

A teary parting with the JICE Coordinators

A teary parting with the JICE Coordinators

Why I Thank My Students

“If there are no questions, I want to thank you for your time and your attention today.”

~Flex Tio~

That’s almost a common statement I’ll say at the end of every lecture. Just as common were questions like these:

  • Why do you, a lecturer, have to do that?
  • Are you just paying lip service? After all, students tend to lose their focus through lectures and yet, you thank them for being attentive when they are not. How does that work out?
  • Shouldn’t students thank you instead?

What’s so great? They ought to be in class ain’t them?

 

Of course it is!

My students probably have to wake up at 5.30 to 6.30 am (that’s really early by Singapore standards, you can think of it as 4.30 to 5.30 am in almost all other time zones, when the sky is still dark during spring) to meet the 8.00 am class.

Some of them have lectures over lunch hour. I couldn’t help but feel hungry too.

I’m not exactly an interesting lecturer either. I’m probably more intimidating than anything. I like to call upon them to answer questions.

 

They could have easily marked their attendance and leave the class. A few did so, I know.

They could have chatted all the way.

They could have slept all the way.

For lectures nearing lunch, they could have miss it entirely and gone for lunch.

They didn’t of course. Most will have their moments of attentiveness and engagement.

*****

I was a student too. I’m really not that perfect attentive student either. For me, the main reason for that is I tend to read my notes forward by a few slides. By the time my lecturer got there, I sort of got it. At least I think I did.

So instead, I act attentive: I doodle a lot on my lecture notes when I’m not listening to class:

Image

Image

I might be playing MapleStory behind my laptop in the back row.

I’m also really one of the pioneers in using cameras to take lecture notes and these were the days where camera phones are still considered a controversial invention. So while my friends are busy copying notes, I have extra time on my hands to do… well… nothing.

*****

So… ya. If a lecturer has no students attending his class or listening to his class, would he still be a lecturer? I’m pretty much am a lecturer because my students thinks that I’m worth listening to.

Don’t you think I should thank them for that bit of affirmation?

#ThankfulTuesday movement

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ~David Steindl-Rast~

I’ve been wanting to start a movement on the Internet for quite some time now and I like to call it the #ThankfulTuesday movement.

Slow down, spend some time to think about what you are thankful for every Tuesday and post a tweet with #ThankfulTuesdays hashtag. Take a moment to be aware of what you already have in your life. Things are really much better than what it seems to be 🙂

Also posting a video on Brene Brown’s take on Joy and Gratitude. Do take a look.

*Edit: Apparently, many are already doing this before me. Then I shall join the crowd~*