Sunday, 11 September 2016

What ukulele taught me

Having attended a sound-healing workshop not too long ago, I am further inspired by my new-found ability to create music. The sound-healers reminded us today that the Chinese character of music is "乐", and this character also has a second meaning which is 'joy'. And how wise this is, for music indeed brings great joy! Wow, I felt like everything connects today! 

I know I have been ranting about my new-found ability to play a musical instrument. At the encouragement of a dear friend, I shall continue ranting :) 

What being able to play the ukulele means for me:

1) The ability to create music, as I mention, brings great joy for me. No longer is it something out of reach. The very fact that I can replicate something of beauty brings immense satisfaction to my life. When I am tired, after a day's work I play a slow piece to match my mood. When I feel like taking a breather from the overwhelming demands of things in general, I play my favourite piece to centre myself (and my favourite changes with each season of life!). When I am happy and joyful during the weekends, I play a chirpy piece. 

This holiday while volunteering at Dairy Farm Nature Park, I saw a hiker walking up the hill with a ukulele in his bag. It heartened me greatly that I too had found such a "portable piece of happiness", as my sister puts it. 

The Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei who recently brought a white piano to a Syrian  refugee camp and had a Syrian refugee who was a music student before the war broke out played a piece, said touchingly "Art is life". Indeed it is.

2) I read an article where the writer spoke about how for an adult who picked up a musical instrument late in life, the goal he/she has in mind is very different from a person who picked it up early in his/her life. 

For one who pick up music late in life, it is not perfection one is looking for, but "mastery". I see it as "mastery" over a piece, over a note. The very fact that I can play a piece over and over again, each time making it better and better gives me immense fulfilment. It is perhaps "mastery" of myself that makes me so happy. 

3) The fact that I am learning at my own pace definitely adds on to the joy. No pressure from a teacher, no need to make sure I am catching up with a class. The fact that I can delve into a piece for a long as I like, that I can perfect it for as long as I want means so much to me, and I am so thankful for that.

4) I am inspiring people around me! Interestingly, I have inspired a few people around me to pick up the instrument! For one, I am so happy that I have inspired my beautician (who has always wanted to learn guitar but worries about the fact that having blisters on her fingers will compromise the quality of her work) to pick it up! She is now using ukulele during her prayer sessions and shared that it makes her feel even closer to God; on some days she even cried during these ukulele-led prayer sessions. How lovely is that! Kim Barthel, an occupational therapist who has written a few books, once said that when one inspires another, one is igniting the other person's "self-healing switch". That makes it even lovelier!

During this Sept holiday, I attended a symphony choir for children at the Botanic Garden with my two nephews and was awe-struck by a song the children sang. I went back home, googled it, found that it was a song by beloved ABBA and professed to learn it. And I had by the end of the holiday, I am proud to say, mastered the chorus part! 

So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me

Since last semester, I had the good fortune of finding some kindred spirits in school and will jam together, whenever we have the time (and energy). Each session never failed to rejuvenate me and always make me very grateful that I had discovered the joy of music and most of all, I had discovered the joy of creating music together with a group of like-minded friends.

So starting from our next round of jamming, I will say my thank-yous to my dear friends at the end of each session with the ABBA song.

Thank You for The Music -- for giving it to me :)