My very first exposure on Keyboards started when I received a wooden toy piano as a birthday gift when I was less than 3 years old. I destroyed it after some time, I guess that's when my Martial Arts skills were discovered. Then when I was 5, I received a Yamaha mini digital keyboard from my mum. It has 5 different instruments, pretty sophisticated huh? It even has the function to read special sheets with magnetic data at the bottom of the page. When I was turning 7, my dad brought back a Yamaha digital keyboard with 99 instruments and 20 built-in songs. In addition to that, the keys has the dynamics function as well (capability of soft and loud touch).
Formal piano lessons started on January 27th 1991 at Pianoforte School of Music, Cheras, Malaysia. Music was something I hated the most. I believe I shed more tears after every piano lesson than serious injuries. Due to the fact that I did not have a proper piano, I was not able to get ready for examinations. It was only in 1995, when I first got my piano, which is also the piano that I'm using now. We were really fortunate to be able to buy the only model handmade in England by Knight, which is also one of the last fine piano from the company before they shut down. Their piano were not really designed for homes, rather for schools and churches with big halls. That's the reason it sounds a little different from most piano. Its sound actually travels around when being played, similar to the effects of Fazioli piano. Most importantly, it does not require a heater to survive the hot and humid environment of Malaysia. It is fully tropicalized.
Despite having proper formal music education from ABRSM. I sucked at sight reading. Part of the reason is my bad eye sight which kept worsening as I was becoming better and better at computers. Moreover, I love reading in the dark, so that my parents would think that I'm actually asleep. Anyway, I've successfully sailed through all the 8 grades partially by sight reading as well as listening to the Examination Audio CD that I've purchased.
My first listening skill was acquired by listening and playing the song "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" by Elton John, in Lion King. I guess, I do have some similarities with David Sides, he acquired the same skill, via the same song. Dang!!! The piano teacher who introduced the song to me was Ms. Chin. My private piano tutor. My brother and I needed her because we really suck.
From that song onwards, I play by ear. Thanks, Elton John. Other great pianists who have touched my musical life are Denis Heng and Clara Zhang. Dennis is my cousin and I find him kinda weird. He's very musically obsessed to the point that when we are in the orchestra, people around us would angrily tell him to stop making noise. As if he's part of the orchestra. On the other hand, Clara Zhang, my lovely piano teacher at UMass Amherst, taught me another perspective of sight reading. We share a lot of knowledge and secrets together, and HEY, she's gorgeous!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I'm actually writing this so that I can recall and immortalize my memories. I have horrible memory, I can learn and play a song now, and forget it the very next minute. Cheerz!