The Biggest Irony

This is what I get for asking for a favour.

Never in my life has someone willingly done something for me and then blame it on me afterwards for the trouble I caused him. Worse, I receive a personal attack. It’s a favour for a reason, the person asking shouldn’t expect yes for an answer, and once the favour is done, it’s done because it’s out of goodwill.

I was very upset and disappointed with the response I got.

I didn’t demand for my needs to be tended to, nor did I want to trouble others at the expense of my own welfare. The fact that someone willingly did a favour for me and blamed me afterwards was really hurtful and contradicting at the same time.

This incident prompted me to reflect on the purpose of doing a favour for someone. As a giver, you give expecting no return. Knowing that someone done something that I requested and then blaming it on me afterwards, goes to show the level of sincerity he has towards me. I fear that he’s giving for something in return. It doesn’t have to be tangible things, but perhaps he’s looking for things like praises, and words of affirmation.

When I request a favour, it’s done with no expectations, I can expect no for a reply. I’m very grateful for the people who have stood by me and never given up on me, and helped me through hard times. But if people willingly do a favour for me, and then blame me afterwards for the trouble I’m causing them, then I rather not rely on them in the future. Who knows, they have ulterior motives in their pursuit of giving.

On side note, is the favour done even willingly if the asker gets blamed afterwards? If it’s not, then I’ll feel even more bad about it. If people are not willing to do something, don’t do it. I hate formalities, and it makes the deed look really insincere. What an irony.

Till next time, take care everyone.

Xo

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Last Year, Worst Year

I am already in BMus4, and I am still struggling with the same problems that I had in my first year.

“Do not accent on a cadence.”

“Do not jab the end of a phrase.”

“Why is your tempo so slow?”

“You have to let the music move you.”

etc, etc.

I listened, I wanted to learn more. I read more, listened to more music, I tried to apply.

I tried, I really tried.

When I first entered NAFA, I was really bad at practicing. No one taught me how to practice before, I only knew I had to clock in the hours, but I didn’t know what to do with them. Being in NAFA, I learn how to practice, I read books on how to practice, I studied how others practice. Being a music student, practice takes up most of my life, when I’m practicing I’m always thinking about the music…Even when I’m away from the piano, I practice. Since my second year I taught myself to read music away from the piano. To analyse, to find connections, to find meaning and emotions inside of me before I begin to make any sound. After every semester I recall my mistakes and sternly remind myself never to make them again. Stupid mistakes that break the fundamentals.

I believed that as long as I am wary of the fundamentals and know where to apply them in any score, I will not make those mistakes. I play a passage, I listen, I correct. If I know the old me is going to jab unnaturally at this note, I will make a note of it on the score before I even play it.

But time and again, I play for the teacher, and then I hear the same things again…

“Do not accent on a cadence.”

“Do not jab the end of a phrase.”

“Why is your tempo so slow?”

“You have to let the music move you.”

…and then as I get older, I hear:

“Haven’t I said this before?”

“Why didn’t you realise this?”

And then back home I tell myself:

“Evangeline, I already told you all these things, why didn’t you follow?”

“Why did you have to be so stupid to make the same mistakes over and over again?”

“Are you waiting to be nagged at?”

“Are you waiting to be spoon-fed?”

“Didn’t we talk about this already?”

I tried, I really tried.

I figured that my practice strategies weren’t useful enough, so I read more. I read more on how to practice, I read about what to look out for, what the best performers are thinking. I figured that I might be nervous or anxious, so I read up on performance anxiety. I watched videos and listened to podcasts of interviews with people who have to perform under stress on the daily. I wanted to know why can’t I do it, and how to make it better.

It’s been four years, four years since I stepped into NAFA a clueless nineteen-year-old. From my first year, I had a mission for myself- to learn as much as I could, and to learn the ways of a serious musician, which was something I never had.

I am already in BMus4, and I am still struggling with the same problems that I had in my first year.

I wish someone can understand that I’m trying, I’m struggling, I know I’m failing and want to pick myself up again.

What the heck is wrong with me, why can’t I get things right? Why can’t I get thing right despite knowing what’s wrong and already working towards the the right in mind?

I feel stupid. A part of me is really really stupid.

And I am hating myself more and more every single year.

 

[Concert Review] Lim Jing Jing and Pan Chun- Piano Solo & Duo Recital

This post was originally published on my Facebook page, under the “Notes” section, and was shared by Appassionata Limited onto their Facebook page, who were the organisers of this concert.

24 July 2018
Victoria Concert hall

As a millennial, Lim Jing Jing and Pan Chun were unfamiliar names to me at first, but to the older generation, Lim Jing Jing is probably household a name within the local classical music scene. This was something that was brought to my attention while observing the general demographic of the audience at the Victoria Concert Hall that evening. The concert was well-attended, with about three quarters of the hall filled, most of them were of the older folk. It is of no surprise that many Singaporean music learners of my generation would not have heard of Lim Jing Jing, given that according to her biography, she had a prominent performing career in the 80s and 90s and is now an associate professor of the piano faculty at the China Conservatory of Music, dedicating her life to educating the next generation of musicians in China.

That evening, people in Singapore could once again be treated to solo and duo performances from the veteran pianists, thanks to organisers Appassionata Limited. Lim Jing Jing started off with the fifth French Suite in G major by J.S. Bach, followed by Piano Sonatas No. 12 in A-flat major and No. 13 in E-flat major by Beethoven. Lim had a nervous start to the Bach, but gradually warmed up with each movement. The Beethoven sonatas were the highlight of her solo performance, as she played with varied changes in character, warm tones when needed, and fiery passion in the more exciting and technically challenging passages. Overall, her performance was executed with an unwavering concentration.

The second half of the concert had Pan Chun joining Lim with music arranged for two pianos, namely the Schubert Fantasy in F minor arranged by Harold Bauer, followed by Brahms’s Variations on a Theme by Haydn Op. 56b. The beauty of duo piano repertoire is the witnessing of communication and coordination among the first and second pianos- the intertwining of voices and the building of harmonies. It was wonderful to be able to hear just that at that concert. Things started off sorrowfully in the Schubert and ended exuberantly with the strong, thick chords and intertwining scales in the Brahms. I had the opportunity to be a page-turner for Lim Jing Jing for the duo performances. Although I took up the offer not knowing what to expect, it turned out to be a great learning opportunity for me. Furthermore, Lim was a really kind-hearted and easygoing person, and it was an honour to be able to work with her albeit a short period of time. It was not a pity missing the second half as an audience at all.

Overall, the concert was a success, with both Lim and Pan receiving a loud applause from the audience and cheers at the end. The concert ended with an encore performance by the duo, which was a piece cheekily titled “Cai Diao” (“Guess the Tune”), with the music originally from a Yunnan folk song by renowned Chinese composer Wang Jianzhong.

It was indeed a rare opportunity to listen to veteran musicians return to their home country to perform. As the classical music scene in Singapore grows and develops with more young musicians entering the industry, let us not forget the veterans who have worked hard to allow classical music to continue to flourish today. More young musicians need to know veteran names such as Lim Jing Jing and Pan Chun. There is so much more that we can continue to learn from them.

 

I Finally Tried Transparent Coke [Coca-Cola Clear]|日本のコカ・コーラクリアを飲んで見ました

Japan has done it again.

Amid the transparent beverage frenzy, Coca-Cola released Coca-Cola Clear, which is what the name suggests, clear coke. The drink was only recently available in Singapore, and when I saw it at one 7-Eleven outlet, I just had to grab it and try.

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The drink was released on June 11th nationwide in Japan, and was marketed as a refreshing drink that is good for the summer, according to their website. Since there is a larger market demand for carbonated drinks in the hot summer, Coca-Cola launched Coca-Cola clear to allow consumers to enjoy a refreshing lemon fizzy drink with zero calories, as well as to have a competitive edge in the market. They did not promise for it to taste exactly like Coca-Cola, as they said that they cannot include caramel in the drink unlike the original, but they want to incorporate some familiar elements of Coca-Cola into the product. From what I have read, I guess no one should expect the drink to mimic the exact same flavours as the original Coca-Cola has.

Transparent carbonated drinks aren’t new actually, there is already drinks like Sprite and 7-Up in the market, just that this Coca-Cola Clear was branded as having no calories, so I was curious to see what this actually tastes like. Knowing what Coca-Cola had to say about the drink, as well as all the negative reviews about the drink that I’ve read beforehand, I went ahead and tried it with an open mind.

The bottle used was just like the normal Coca-Cola bottle, but the liquid was completely transparent. It brought me back to a time in my primary school where I used to wash empty Coca-Cola/Sprite bottles, and refill them with plain water to bring them to school as my normal water bottle. I used to be the norm for me until people started realising how unsafe was it to reuse plastic bottles over and over again that we switched to reusable water bottles. The look of the Coca-Cola Clear was really nostalgic for me, yet it also confused me greatly because I paid for something that already looked like this.

My first impression was that the moment I twisted the cap, it fizzled up just like any other carbonated drink. The smell of it already did not smell like coke, it was a lot more zesty, and lacking that caramelised flavour. The taste was also the same, it was refreshing, zesty and sweet, but I could taste no sugar and the sweetness was quite artificial (because of the sucralose in it). It also lacked the caramel taste in the original Coca-Cola that I love. If I were to compare it with something, I feel that it tasted more like 7-Up Lemon. It wasn’t disgusting to me though, I feel like I could finish the whole bottle. I think it’s partly because I don’t really care so much for artificial sweeteners.

I let my bro and mum try the drink too, and they both commented that it tasted like medicine. I can’t disagree with that though, because they put so much artificial sweeteners in it, it tasted almost like medicine. If you’ve tried effervescent tablets for phlegm such as Flumucil or ACC-Long, you’ll find Coca-Cola Clear tasting slightly like that, just sweeter and more diluted.

Having finally jumped onto the bandwagon and tried Coca-Cola Clear, I would say that despite it being not too bad tasting, I don’t see myself getting another one of this again. Products like these are so gimmicky that I feel that they should just be tried once and never again. The novelty value of it doesn’t make me feel obliged to try more. Unless it is really that good and I can’t have enough of it, I rather stick to the conventional Coca-Cola anytime.

Till next time, take care everyone.

Xo

Edit: Coca-Cola Clear is available at 7-Eleven outlets in Singapore for S$2.50!