Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Back In Business

Sure has been a long time since my last post, and if it hadn't been for someone's compliment on my blog, I would have probably just let it be till I get the urge to write about music again. But nevertheless, that lovely comment did remind me of this blog's existence and its purpose, and though I'm not writing now for the same reason I did before, it's still kinda nice to be back here again, so thanks Hannah!:)

So lots have happened musically in my life since I dropped off the radar, and it's sure gonna take me longer than an entry to catch you up, especially at one in the morning. Still, this is a start, and hopefully by no means the end.:)

Hope all is well with you! Shall keep in touch.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

amazing vocal exercise...

The pop piano school I'm studying in is holding this "jamming" session in a cafe/lounge in October -- and my teacher was encouraging me to participate. So essentially, students will be performing a song or two, one after the other, with instructors of the school backing them up as instrumentalists and/or vocalists. These events are usually times for the more advanced jazz students to perform for the school, but somehow my teacher thought it might be a good thing for me to take a swing at it, seeing as how I wanted to eventually work in the music that freaked me out! It still does actually.

He also suggested that I add a singing component to it, seeing as I'm learning singing as well. That just adds to the freaking out.....

On top of that, I'm still really insecure with my voice...and having to sing in front of so many people, with the speakers amplifying my voice...that's so far beyond scary that I can't really comprehend it, lol. It is that bad...

It is because of this fear, that I began watching a lot of videos on singing techniques, particularly those under the Singing Success brand. They have the best teachers there.:) I got so into it that I subscribed to one of their sites:

Singing Success TV

The videos were awesome...I learnt so much!

Watch the "Overcoming Obstacles" video if you happen to drop by the site. The full video teaches an exercise that improved my voice sooooooo much in just a few minutes. It's scary...

Learnt a lot of the science behind the voice as well, from that site. Understood lots more of the terminologg as well.

Anyways, I'm really considering purchasing the Top 7 Vocal Bundle, just so I'd have a wider variety of exercises to do every day, but I'm just worried about having to explain that piece of expenditure to the owner of the credit card...sigh...

Monday, 9 May 2011

"i'm a beginner, please don't be too hard on my singing"

Man, I see that soooooooooo often in YouTube video descriptions, it's starting to annoy me a little...and that isn't even the worst! I've actually seen a video with a description that tells viewers to give their honest opinion about his/her singing, and if they don't have anything good to say, then don't say it.

-_-" That's so if the obvious contradiction isn't bad enough, he/she was purely deluding him/herself by just wanting to listen to the goods and completely reject the bads. I mean, C'MON!!!

Sure, it's understandable to be afraid of criticisms, especially if you know you aren't too good at something, but the fact that you're letting others listen to your singing should be an indication that you quietly allowed others to say and think whatever they want about it. Telling people not to be too hard on you about your singing and its potential problems, is like telling your audience what to think.

That ain't gonna work, especially if listeners take your words too seriously.

Be brave -- take whatever comes your way. With subjective issues like music, there are bound to be haters out there, alongside fans. They will be some who will give you good advice and constructive criticism, while others just comment without going into too much detail. Essentially, allowing others to listen to your singing means you're putting yourself out there to be judged, be that you intention or not. It's okay to be scared or nervous, it's even okay to tell, even apologise to your audience if you're new and not too skilled at singing yet, or that you aren't feeling too well, and would hence, not be able to perform your best. It's all good, but please don't tell them what to think of your singing! They have the right to their opinions, and if they're understanding, they will encourage or comfort you if your performance wasn't the best and praise you where it's due. If not, then it's up to them to pass criticisms.

To some point, it shows poor sportsmanship to tell listeners to be nice to you.

So yeah, give it your best, and embrace the response, both good and bad. Listen to them, try to be honest with yourself and filter out the purely destructive criticisms and keep the constructive ones to learn from. Even then though, let the destructive ones remind you that you aren't gonna please everyone out there, and that you are singing to a world consisting of both reasonable, and completely unfair people.

It's a good thing to keep in mind, while still keeping a clear and honest heart about your strengths and flaws, and how to improve on both.

To be perfectly honestly, I was born into a family that has made me instinctively defensive against any form of negativity or accusation, no matter how tiny. I've learnt to hold that instinct back over the years, but I still get very red-faced every time I get criticised or judged, even if it's in writing. Even so, I know I'd have to keep a cool and honest mind for the sake of improvement, and actually, the critic as well.

So yeah...keep that in mind my dear readers:) Music is after all, a communication of feelings and emotions -- and of course you'll get rejected every now and then!:D

I know I do!

new chord progression

My piano teacher is always telling me,

"Music is a hearing art."

I've actually lost count of the number of times he has said that. It didn't take a genius to understand what that means, but I think you would have to "experience" it to really appreciate the significance of that statement.

Just a few moments ago, I was poking around a songwriting forum, which inspired me to try writing...well, something musical -- so I fed that desire.

Recalling what my teacher mentioned about songs in the major key of Eb, I decided to start my chord progression there. After playing the Eb major chord rhythmically a few times, my fingers managed to find its way to the next chord, while simultaneously, this song started playing in my head...

"I'm a big big girl, in a big big world..."


So I went with the flow, and not too long later, I was done with the progression. It's truly the first time I've produce a chord progression purely by ear -- I didn't care about the theory behind it, I just played what felt right, and well, what fitted well with that song running rounds in my head.

I wasn't even paying attention to what I was playing. I just memorised where my fingers were pressing so I wouldn't forget what was done.

Now I understand, to some degree, what it feels like to have perfect pitch -- what it's like to be able to reproduce music my mind's ear has heard on the piano. It's an awesome feeling.:D

Anyways, I'm not sure if these really were the chords used in that song, but the general sound seems to be there. Of course I could be completely off, especially if I wasn't even in the right key to begin with...but ah well, if it isn't the same, then I guess I'd be able to ake a little more credit for coming up with it. Hah!

Anyways, here's what "manifested":

Ab Bb

(Sorry if I got the #s and b's wrong, I'm still not able to tell when it's an Ab and when, a G#)

It's very likely my ears aren't cultured enough to appreciate the entirety of these chords, especially the suspended one, but I did get a general sense of the sound and mood it provided.

Actually, I'm sorta pleased with myself for using a suspended chord. It feels so advanced...LOL, not to mention how I ended it with just that, a chord with tension, without resolution.


Okay, it's time to get over myself.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention...

Somehow this progression turned out to be some derivative of the common I-IV-V-I progression, which is kinda cool. It sorta shows how so many of us all over the world seem to find pleasure in much the same flow of music development within songs.

Either that, or how I'm so brainwashed with the common pop music I wasn't able to come up with anything outside the box, which is really really

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

great vocal lesson

Had a great vocal lesson last Sunday. Was practising two hours before lesson time, so my voice was well warmed-up by the time I reached my teacher's house.

Started with the lip trill as usual, though my teacher was impressed with my head-tone this time, and I managed to reach a high E, or E5 I think, which surprised her, even after I told her I had warmed up ahead of time. I was so happy at that point, lol...

oh on a side note, I tried hitting the highest note I could the day after that lesson, and realised I could hit a high G, or G5 this time. So...

Official top note: E5
Unofficial top note: G5

this was a major improvement, seeing as how my official highest note just a week or two ago was D5, and the unofficial one being F#5! Whoohoo!

Anyways, back to lesson. Apparently I have a weak chest voice, and a surprisingly good mix and head voice (since she has classified me as a Baritone, and I've only ever heard of Sopranos, especially classically trained ones, having strong head voice with a weaker chest voice), so she had me do some chest voice exercises, which she has never done before...and that was cool. I haven't used that much of my "musical" chest voice in a long long while, so it actually felt liberating to be "singing" the low notes with whatever power I had.

Oh, I'm supposed to work on Josh Groban's Hidden Away for the next lesson, and she wants me to try imitating his vibrato, since that will be what we'll be working on in our next lesson. When she said that, in my mind, I was like,

"Yay! Vibrato!"

Finally, something that will help me add some colour into my singing. More than that though, I was more thrilled about the fact that we would be starting on vibrato, something that I'm assuming, she wouldn't bring up unless I've reached a certain level of mastery of basic vocal techniques. It's sorta like passing a milestone, or graduating from a class. It's so exciting!

Needless to say, I was in a pretty good mood by the time I got home.;)

Oh yeah, arrived at the teacher's house when she was still with a student, an adorable little girl at her first lesson. From what I overheard from that lesson, apparently my teacher expects new students to only be able to do the lip trills after the first three or four lessons.

No wonder she was surprised when I managed to do it during our first lesson, though

Watching the little girl made me wonder how things would have turned out if I started lessons that young.

Gosh, how different would my life be right now, I wonder...

Sunday, 1 May 2011

a little more credit please

Two events...

- A couple of weeks ago, my father suggested he try connecting my digital piano to the karaoke machine so I'd be able to play accompaniment over the music, and the karaoke singer I guess.

- Last night, our family was relaxing around the living room while an old Chinese singer's CD was playing in the background. He has a smooth voice, with an operatic quality to it. His range goes up pretty high for a male I suppose. During one of his songs, my father said if I wanna get good vocals, I should learn from and sing like that guy.

Both these suggestions/comments got me pretty annoyed at the moment, and got me thinking,
"Please, give music a little more credit,".

I won't go into the family dynamics of this household just so it'd bore you out, but it really frustrates me to think he finds it appropriate to pass such presumptuous comments about something he knows so little about.

For starters, people takes years to learn to improvise and accompany singers on the piano and he thinks I'm able to do it after three months with my new teacher and just over a year of picking the piano in general -- unless he wanted me to get the chords of the Internet and learn it song by song, not to mention me trying to improvise ahead of time with what little of that skill I have.

Secondly, just 'cause a singer's voice sound smooth and fits his idea of good singing, doesn't mean it's a good idea to just learn how an existing professional sings. He even said I should try learning that song that was playing since it was easy. Oh man...unless one is experienced and trained, no singing is as easy as it sounds. It takes some atheism to hold notes, and sing up and down the scales. I don't think he as any idea, since he sings in a very lazy manner. You can literally hear how relaxed he sounds, which is why he has so much problem singing.

Besides, just 'cause a song sounds nice to you, doesn't make it healthy to try singing the same way, since a singer with what to you sounds like a nice voice, may not have good vocal technique to back it up. Not to mention how it's always better to sing with your own unique voice.

Singing without strain means singing without strain to the vocal cords, and not without tension in your body at all. I guess a person won't know what it's like until they try it themselves.


perfect pitch, technical skill, music theory, chord theory -- vocal cord closure, resonance, connecting the voice, using your own voice to sing, breathing, etc. etc.

Imagine, if a beginner made the list above, how much longer would it be if an experienced musician were to make it.

I get how music should have some artistic freedom and spontaneity, but please, there's so much more that goes into it then what you hear -- and by saying things that makes it seem easy, when you aren't actually involced in it, it sorta demeans all the years of hardwork and dedication musicians put into their craft. If being able to make good music were that simple, well, you could probably guess the rest of this please, give music a little more credit and respect. And I'm not just directing that to my dad, but to everyone else who does the same thing. I understand it's easy to seem ignorant because it really isn't your profession and so understandably, you don't have the knowledge. I know I would never say fixing the water pipes in a house is easy, because I know nothing about it, and hence apart from the TV and perhap Wiki and a few forums, I really don't know enough to judge plumbers and their work. Same goes for anything other fields I'm not acquainted with. But still, try to at least learn more about it and maybe put yourself in another's shoes before judging and assuming.

Sorry for the rambling and if it was incoherent but I needed to vent to a musical "someone" and this is all I have at the moment. So yeah...

(Ah...I feel so much better now...)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

good vocal day today

Just did my first set of vocal exercises and though I took many long breaks in between, I think my voice did pretty well closer to the end. The last exercises I did was the "nay-nuh" sustain exercise, and for some reason, my vocal cords are giving me a lot of resistance today, which means I don't have to use too much air or energy to make a sound...and a loud and steady one at that. This hasn't happened in quite a while and so I'm really pleased about it. Hope that keeps up.

Okay...ROUND 2!

first vocal lesson in three weeks

My vocal teacher had finally returned from her training overseas last Sunday, and I had my first lesson with her in three weeks that afternoon. Having not done any vocal exercises or singing in front of anyone the past few weeks, having to do that again for her got me a little nervous, but all went okay I think.

Had to sing Michael Buble's Home over a karaoke track. That was the first song I've ever attempted without the performer's vocals to back me up. My pitching was all over the place. Need loads more practice...not to mention how uncomfortable it was to hear my singing...geez...that wasn't pleasant.

Well, I received a new song to work on for the week -- Howie Day's Collide, and maybe a Wang Lee Hong or Tao Zhe song.I'm sorta into Lee Hong's Everything now and am trying to sing. It's such a nice song...and it needed me to transition smoothly between my  chest and head voice, which I'm okay with.

Apparently I have a connected voice, despite my lack of vocal training before, so I'm actually happy about using my mix when approaching it from my lower register. It's the coming down from my mix to my chest voice that's a challenge, but I'm working on that.

Otherwise, vocal lesson that day was therapeutic as usual.:)

Saturday, 23 April 2011

strums between chord changes

One thing many online guitar lessons, and even my guitar teacher, never mention over the course of introducing the concept of chord switching and strumming, is the strums that happen between chord changes, when the fret fingers are either in the air, or in my case, fumbling for the strings of the next chord.

It's probably too obvious to be brought up or to even be in the minds of experienced guitarists, but for a beginner looking to really understand playing the guitar, I believe it's really important for the teacher to address every action a guitarist would make when he/she plays. Just so there wouldn't be gaps in knowledge as time passes.

I know I would appreciate the extra detail...;)

You Belong With Me - Taylor Swift (short guitar cover) [Guitar Recording...

I made a short recording of my playing for a friend, just to let him hear my progress on the guitar. It is the first guitar recording I've sent to anyone, so thought I'd mark it down on this blog along with the recording itself.

It's a verse, pre-chorus and chorus of Taylor Swift's You Belong With Me -- just the chords, with a little voicing at the end, which I was really surprised with. Wasn't expecting it to sound like the melody...I was just playing while having the song running in my head. Guess my pick found its way to getting that out somehow...

Think that's what musicians mean by putting your heart into your playing, while not being overly cautious about what comes out;)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

looking forward to the day...

I'm truly looking forward to the day I'd be able to do this, and sound that good. Always been my dream to be able to express and convey such emotion through my singing. Hopefully vocal lessons, along with (almost) daily vocal exercises, will help me get there.

minor chord progressions are so beautiful...

This is a bit too advanced for me theory-wise ( and a lot advanced for me on the guitar!), but really, the minor chord progression he was playing was no doubt simple, but undeniably beautiful:) Would definitely use them minor chord progressions to write songs in the future.

is a site that offers free guitar lessons. The free information the guy offers is very useful in itself -- he creates and sells DVDs and subscriptions to his site as well, for those willing to support his site while learning more about the guitar from him.

The link I provided above isn't an affiliate link by the way, so I'm not earning anything by directing you to his site. I just think he offers some good info. and is actually pretty generous with it. Have fun!:)

Monday, 18 April 2011


Was messing around the other day and decided to check out my vocal range. Since my teacher has been overseas the past two weeks, I have only had one vocal lesson this month so far. Adding them up, I should have attended seven weekly half-an-hour lessons to date.

Well, a little background -- I speak in a pretty low voice, and before I started lessons, I was convinced I was a bass-baritone. Middle C could have easily killed me two months ago. On top of that, being soft-spoken meant I don't talk a whole lot and I have probably only sung two songs on a karaoke machine in all my life so far.  That level of activity was bound to make my vocal cords super weak, which they were...and still are, I think.

Vocal lessons must have helped with that, because I managed to hit F#5 the other day! And was also able to hit a F1. No, I couldn't hit those notes with a pleasant singing voice -- well, I was straining with the highest note in fact, but I was still really surprised that sounds were able to escape my lips at such extreme pitches. This probably doesn't mean much to a singer or vocal teacher who knows what they're doing, since singing isn't only about range, but more about what you do with it. Nevertheless, that experience was a pleasant surprise.

Oh, I've been practising a simple version of Coldplay's Yellow my teacher recorded for me. He wanted me to transpose it in all 12 keys without actually having gone through with me the notes for each scale. Still, I already knew how to figure that out beforehand. I think his point was to make me figure out the scales by ear, on top of having me not look at my hands while I'm playing. It has been okay so far...not exceptionally hard, though with him playing mostly octaves for chords, my left wrist sorta hurts from playing them now.

It's no wonder though, he hasn't made me do much on my technique so far...ah well...ouch.

Friday, 15 April 2011

professional music becoming real

Watching artistes performing on stage, listening to songs on CDs performed by our favourite has always felt like professional musicians are aliens from a world completely separate from our own. Everything from them seem so perfect -- their music...their performances...That's probably why many of us are so critical with their music, and are actually surprised, even shocked, when they mess up on stage.

Being an active student of music has changed that for me though.

The more I find myself inching towards realising the dream of becoming a professional in the music industry, the more I'm seeing world-class artistes and musicians as humans, capable of mistakes. This change in perspective has left me being a whole lot more impressed with their work. Empathising with them has become a lot easier as well.

Once we imagine it is us, who are on stage, singing and running about for hours, we can't help but realise the exhaustion they must feel...learn how high the risk of them tripping or knocking something over on the stage is, not to mention the nerves they must feel being in front of thousands of people, while having cameras recording their every move. We still feel really impressed and proud of them for finishing the performances, even if they finish them while out of tune. The longer they are able to hold off mistakes on stage, the more amazing they become.

Same goes for their music. I know the audio engineers and producers would be there to make sure every song would turn out perfect, but it's still a feat for anyone to be able to create, mix and "express" pieces of music that's not only pleasing to the ear, but have the power to affect each of us listeners personally, sometimes even changing the moods we were feeling before.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

lingering tunes...

Were there ever times when random tunes just popped into your head -- and they go on and on, developing into a full-length song of sorts? It was always so annoying when that happened because there was no way I was able to record or pen them down -- I couldn't play an instrument, I couldn't sing...

That was one of my many reasons for wanting to pick up music at this weird stage of my life...and I'm loving it! It really hasn't been easy and actually still pisses me off at times, but I'd rather have music piss me off than anything else in the world;)

I'm 22 and am learning as much about contemporary music as I can, as quickly as I can, mostly to make up for all the years I've spent trying to deny any music within me to manifest. To date, I've had about 9 months of piano lessons, not including the 4-month break I took in the middle of it. I was teaching myself a lot of music theory and other music-ish stuff from the Internet, which if I might say, have helped me make sense of much of the music I'm learning at the moment.

I had also started acoustic guitar and vocal lessons about 2 months ago, and have thoroughly enjoyed them. My lessons are like the highlights of each week for me:)

I'll go into more detail about my lessons and experiences with time. Hopefully, I'd be able to share my love for anything music related on this blog. Having ALMOST no musical friends at the moment, I'm so very eager to share anything musical with whoever that stumbles onto this blog!

The piano...the guitar...the voice...the audio technology...the songwriting...the list goes on...and on~