Monthly Archives: December 2011

Coda 2011

To deal with time constraints, clichés will be my friend tonight.

2011 was a year of many firsts – my first time

  1. Voting in a General Election and Presidential Election
  2. Missing a Miniatures (1st one of 2 that happened this year)
  3. Teaching a viola & grade 8 student (If you are reading this, you owe me Bach)
  4. Selling drugs and chewing gum (at Guardian, legally might I add)
  5. Squatting 100kg (low bar) and doing an unassisted pullup (this is more pathetic than triumphant)
  6. Receiving flowers after a concert! Got flowers for 2 concerts *shy*. The first one was a trio with Mr Lim and Natasha, the second time was Childaid 2011 and related to point #7
  7. Leading an orchestra (NUSSO) and leading TPO’s viola section (during rehearsals 😛 by “sabotage”)
  8. Arranging music. I’m on the 3rd and 4th pieces right now.
  9. My CAP actually went up (by 0.0#)
  10. Last but not least, my first time being an uncle!

Obligatory Picture (also seen on Facebook):

We also had our fair share of problems – GE, PE, Pharmacy School’s infamous Year 3 Sem 1, floods in Thailand, ponds in Orchard, MRT breakdowns, elitist furores etc. So here’s a picture for all the melancholy ones out there.

The last thing I’ll be doing in 2011 and the first thing I’ll be doing come 2012 will be my having the most intimate time with my viola – yes, it’ll (and I’ll) be in TPO’s New Year’s Eve concert. A very last minute shoutout but a shoutout nonetheless – the last few tickets for the circle seats

Resolutions will probably have to wait for 2012, so if the world hasn’t ended yet then that would be the time for me to blurb more useless stuff on my dear little WordPress.

Till then!


Fate/Psychocybernetics #2

Perhaps I should start off by saying that the extent of my superstition extends to not kicking incense ashes, the possibility of  an afterlife, but ends before astrological considerations (I once fainted when someone dressed as a ghost woke me up during NS).


Fortune telling, however, will be the personal topic of discussion today.


Approximately 1 year ago in Guangzhou, China, my aunt + cousins and I were touring a temple, and together we took a 抽签 / fortune stick drawing test. The details are very vaguely with me – it was a 上签 / good fortune, and as far as I was concerned there was quite a bit of cold reading involved in the areas of relationships and studies (supposedly .good, I can’t remember). The fortune teller/interpreter also commented favourably on Singaporean’s bilingualism.

The one point he highlighted went along these lines – that towards work I should be more mature, or verbatim I still maintained a 小孩子脾气 (literally child’s temperament), which was elucidated as a fear of taking up promotions and higher posts. Clearly, being still a student, this struck me as odd as the standard route to Pharmacy would still include 2 1/2 years and another 9 months of pre-registration before going out into the wild, as I may say.

Coincidence or not, shortly after returning, I was pre-emptively dealt a grade 7 viola student who, incidentally, had signed up for auditions for a local music school. She went on to take her ABRSM grade 8 and passed, and has since gone on to continue studies with one of my previous teachers. She currently still owes me a play-through of her solo Bach.

Now, 祸不单行 (disasters don’t happen alone), and I went on to play for a couple of concerts with this student/ex-student, the first of which was moderately uneventful. The second was high-key and very rushed, and highlighted what the fortune teller had said. 2 reading sessions, 3+1 rehearsals and 3 nights of concerts summed up the schedule, while the logistics were framed by a different venue for each type of session (reading, rehearsal, concert) and insufficient personnel. Being the very diligent violist (and being assured time and again of staying in the viola section) I made light of the situation after bringing up the orchestra’s problems with the repertoire and player availability, and resigned myself to a standard violist’s situation.

Then I got switched to 1st violin.

Also, I was supposed to lead.

Just like a scene right out from a very bad viola joke, I received this notification in my absence immediately after  (teaching) my violin lessons. What ensued was an eclectic mixture of horror, amusement and amazement, with dashes of “wat” and a hint of “I told you so… wait”. To punctuate that realisation, a flurry of SMSes from the viola and violin 2 sections clamoured for my attention and my handphone’s message space.

I really did not want to accept. It wasn’t a case of really wanting to reject it either, as it would mean forsaking the orchestra and/or certain groups (but not others), but just then I felt like an accidental social escort.

I did not remember that piece advice throughout the entire concert, or even for the week after. I just know that I did as slipshod a job as my situation entitled me to and the show (must (have(?)) went on. I may have just been paranoid or played the boy who cried wolf because the production team was pleased and even sent a pleasant letter presenting just how pleased they were.

It was only several days later (and a few before this one) when I remembered.

Perhaps, to put the above story in context, it was decided earlier, in a similarly impromptu fashion (but in this case I had had slightly more mental preparation) that I would be leading the orchestra for next March’s concert, barring any virtuoso appearing from Fiddlersland who would kindly relieve me of that position. That gave me about 6 months to comprehend my situation before concert night, with the lack of 1st violins being my prime restraining order of reason.
In contrast, this case was a blitz to me, with less time to consider than the average case of euthanasia and leaving the viola section about 2 strong before reinforcements were hastily gathered from Violistsland (and not a moment too soon! author’s note: thanks).

In the juxtaposition of this year’s events, it occurred to me that any difficulty I met outside my comfort zone was not just met with apprehension, but a certain degree of rebellion and stubborn knee-jerking. I was more than ready to abandon ship at each point, in exponentially increasing fashion with relation to the audacity of each situation. As things turned out, I was blinded by my 小孩子脾气 more than anything else, not that I advocated the rationality involved, but when life gives you lemons, you either get sour or you get going, and whether you make lemonade, lemon pie, meringue or lemonparty lemon tea is secondary.


Perhaps, just twopence for thought, and a penny for humility:

A big man has no time really to do anything but just sit and be big.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Audentes fortuna iuvat (Fortune favours the brave)
– Publius Vergilius Maro

I wonder how I keep my friends

So I read this comment from someone that I actually just met (well, got acquainted with) a few months back –
“On the one hand, music is a difficult path to pursue. At the same time, it’s painful to see talented musicians give up their instrument.”

Somehow, I was inspired to write this:

You hear the clarion call
Of the fiddle left behind
Or the voice you thought you left
With your less dishonest kind

They said you had a calling
Yet silenced every song
With words as yet unspoken
Premonitions, all but wrong

To touch was more than feel
To fret was not unwise
One would walk under the ocean
Among reeds of blue disguise

So lay the stick to rest, and
Kiss the blade of sharp’nd knife
But, leit, you finds the true theme
In the coda of your life

It came out way more convoluted that I expected it to.

Then again, the “triumphant theme”  of Sibelius 1st symphony is playing as I write this.


On another note, I’m going to start writing “Diary of a Professor’s Goldfish” tonight.