A SELF-DETERMINED LEARNING JOURNEY: How it all began

The piano corner of my living room with yellow spotlight

My father is an audiophile. He had a dedicated room for his music sound system which had good speakers, vinyl record player, a wall of vinyl records, etc. I attribute my love for jazz and oldies to him. “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck was one of the tunes that was background music to my childhood. I felt very honoured when Prof Razif approved this piece as one of the repertoires for my senior jazz piano recital at USM. It is so happened that the year before in 2012, Brubeck passed away. So, it was a personal tribute and celebration of music and person who has accompanied me throughout my life.

One of the things my father liked doing was recording vinyl music into CD form. For that reason, I grew interested in sound recording. I can’t remember exactly when but it’s likely I got my first mini compo during my late primary years. Back then, it had the cassette compartment and I could record sounds into it. When no one is at home, I liked to close the doors in my living room and switch off the lights. The only light on was the yellow spotlight facing the piano. The tape would be rolling and I would play something grand on the keys; thick musical textures and wide range of sound. It was exhilarating; I could hear the piano bouncing off the walls, it was loud and I like it.

I guess my love affair with audio recording started here because after that, I was experimenting all sorts of recording environments with my piano. Eventually, during my secondary school years, I received my first 66-key Casio keyboard. I once owned a Nokia phone which could do video recording and I started my first YouTube channel with it. I uploaded all kinds of piano covers. It was trendy as YouTube started to gain popularity in the 2000s. I just like playing the piano and thought very little of the performance value.

K-drama was also getting a lot of attention and I started to learn transcribing. I listened to my favourite tunes (*cough* Winter Sonata *cough cough*) over and over just so that I could figure out the notes. I also learned to find the chords although my understanding of theory then was still surface deep. Somehow, I developed this form of learning independence and self-initiative. I have to say I’m not a fast learner. However, I do have the passion and worked hard to achieve excellence which was playing the piano .

Do you have similar experiences? Was there something that you loved doing so much? It would be nice if you could share it in the comments.

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