Hmm… let’s see how did it get started? Oh I remember, it was long time ago when I was about 10 years old. I remember watching my older sister play Electone (Yamaha Electronic Organ) at home, and was always impress by the different sound and songs that she produces out of a big piece of instrument. At one time, she asked me “Do you want to learn?”. I believe she was on her way to be trained to be a music teacher, so she offered to give me lesson to start off her career I guess.
So, I got into it, a semi formal 1 hour session on every Sunday afternoon together with my cousin. My cousin eventually drop out from it while I kept on going, after all, you can’t fire your music teacher who’s also your sister. Besides, it’s not like I have to pay any tuition fee.
Anyway, I remember at school seeing these students get brought in and perform Electone on stage during school assembly, and was admire by their stage presence, or in a bad term, being able to “show off” on stage. I began to get into it hoping some day I can be as good as them. I wasn’t really that focus early into the whole thing, it was on and off for a couple years.
When I was about 15, that’s when things get a bit more serious. I believe it’s when I started to attend concerts and get to know more about music appreciation. I took up Chinese Music Orchestra as my extra curriculum activity in high school and played the Erhu (Chinese violin) and was quite good at it without much effort. It was then when I know I’m somewhat gifted in music. That helped to build confident for me to get back to Electone again.
I started to be more serious about completing Electone grade examination. At the age of 16, my sister, who officially was a Yamaha Music School teacher and certified examiner, asked me if I want to try out the Electone Festival competition. I practiced a few pieces of higher grade song, went on the district competition, and won the runner up in district level since I was compete against a teacher. The winner and runner up of the district level goes to the state championship. So, at age 16, it was really scary to be playing in front of thousands of people. Even though I performed a lot on stage with the Chinese Music Orchestra through out my early teen, I still had stage fright. But countless practice on the Electone paid off. I won runner up during the 1992 state level competition, which is also call “Sabah Electone Festival”. Got it? “Sabah” is the state I lived in. Here are some of the photos scanned from my old photo album.
On stage prepare my performance while the M.C. introduce me to the audience.
During award ceremony, I received my award and was waiting for the show to end. I know, what was I thinking and picked that big red shirt? Oh I remember now, it’s difficult to find the right size and it’s too late to tailor make my shirt!
In 1993, my school year wasn’t that busy since we didn’t have major examination to prepare. I went on to compose my own song and attended the Electone competition again. With prior year of experience, I was better prepare and knew what to expect. It took me about 4 months to compose, arrange, program the Electone and learn the whole piece. I think 1993 was the sweet and sour highlight of my music life experience. I won the state championship during the “Sabah Electone Festival 1993”.
I was performing my own composition.
There were four competitors in my groups, which was the senior level group:
I won the championship because of extra point awarded to my creativity in composing my own song. I also had control on how difficult and technical the song get, let’s just say it’s really hard. That year, I did better in choosing my clothes, no more monkey shirt!
The group photo of winner from each group (Junior, Intermediate, Senior) was taken and published in newspaper the next day:
Winning the state championship means I had to represent my state to go to the national level. It was a complete different experience, the competition level is higher, prize award is bigger. Three months after the state level competition was the Nation Electone Festival, which was held in Kuala Lumpur. Winner of the National Electone Festival will represent Malaysia to go to the South East Asia Electone Festival. I had to re-arrange my song to make it more difficult and make it musically sound correct based on the music composition theory.
Before I can compete at the Nation level, I had to go to an elimination round. You see, Malaysia has 13 states, if each state send a contestant, we will have 13 contestants just for the senior group, so an elimination round was held to cut the contestants. Let me tell you, it’s very nerve breaking! The elimination round was held without the presence of public audiences, it’s some what informal yet you still have to give it your best. In 93, there were 6 contestants from 6 different states:
Only 4 contestant will go through to the final competition. I was picked as one of the four to go on to the final competition and ranked as the top two, again, due to song difficulty and creativity point award to own composition. The afternoon of the final competition day, we went through dressed rehearsal:
In the evening, the competition began and during opening ceremony, all contestants walk on stage as our name get call, and did a final dance segment to conclude the opening sequence. I dance like a log.
The National level competition is more nerve breaking because we have lot of V.I.P, and the pressure is higher since I was representing my state.
During performance, I made a stupid but fatal error, played a wrong note, shifted my registration a bit late. At least I didn’t completelyÂ stop the song. Those mistakes were enough to bump me down to 2nd runner up, lost the cash prize for runner up. I guess my inexperience at that time cost me the title.
I still look back and kick myself in the real for those mistakes. However, it didn’t stop me from performing on stage. I was invited back to perform for a few evens, from promotional trade show to state governor’s annual birthday concert.
Even though I didn’t do as well as I like to be in the competition, I walked away with precious memory and experience. Simple things like the invitation pamphlet become precious memorable for me:
Having gone through those vigorous practice and pressure actually made me a better musician these day. It helped and trained me to surpass the amateur level, yet sometimes I still can perform professionally as long as I practice enough and overcome stage fright. The foundation help me to get into Desktop Music as hobby, composed another song. My accomplishment also encouraged me to continue to take lesson until when I get to the teacher’s level, that’s when I have to choose between music and academic since school work was catching up.
All those were over, but I carry the memory with me even though I’m far away from home now. I’m now back on playing Electone not just to have another healthy hobby, but to continue my music adventure that I last left off about 12 years ago……