Mediocrity in Music
Musicians aren't always easy to work with.
Nevertheless, I've had the privilege and honour of working with various ones over the years. Once, I jammed with Sheila Majid's pianist, and a famous bassist called Mozzad. Late last year, I performed a few songs backed up by Qings and Kueens, at a tsunami fundraiser. I've shared the joy of writing a song with James Tan from Fallen Leaves. I've sung in an all boys choir called the Charioteers where I pulled a counter-tenor stunt. Yes, I'm a counter-tenor. I had several good years with our project band 'Vision' where the four of us, Ronald, Raymond, Patrick and I concocted some mean riffs and catchy choruses. I wrote a few songs. In February this year, Lionel, my brother John and I jammed with the hope of forming a band: Soundtheology. Due to tight schedules (mainly mine), we'd only jammed once or twice and ST remains a concept. Joshua Liong, founder of Agape Ministry (and dear friend and brother) and I used to lead worship in small churches around the peninsular. He's one of my favourites vocalists.
I'm thankful to have worked with the few mentioned above and the others whom I've not mentioned who've inspired and impacted me in very real ways. And though this list sounds boastful, I have to confess that yeah, when it came to music, I had some ego.
But, the ego balloon burst last night.
I was invited to jam with some renowned musicians. You see, I had underestimated the jam session. Thinking it would be one of those sessions where I'd hack in a couple of guitar leads, impress the others with a few jazz chords which I fooled myself into believing were authentic, and perhaps, strike the cool guitarist pose to further convince these musicians that I had it going.
Boy was it going.
The musicians were good and serious about their stuff. They had it together. The violinist (who is the star, actually) was not only damn good but a kind and skillful music director. The guitarist, who exuded a sense of perfection in producing pristine leads perhaps found it difficult to complement my style. Or rather, my lack of style. The drummer, my brother's drumming contemporary, had some very cool beats to offer. The bassist who emerged later from the KL jam made bass-playing a kindergaten elective. I play the bass once in a while. But after watching him slap those strings, he basically shoved the bass up my.., well he was a good bassist.
Midway through the first song, my ego began to deflate. I couldn't hold a riff consistently. I was second guessing the chords, and started lacking confidence in what I could offer. By the second song, I decided to just sit back and watch how they did it. By the end of the night, I felt like one of the seven dwarfs.
Thankfully, I've been learning to how to see things in perspective. Yes I lacked big time. I've not been practising in a while. Even when I do, they're usually songs which don't require fancy fret-manouvres. Just simple chords, simple strumming. I accept my limitation. I just have to work harder to produce good results. And be humble and discerning when invited to jam with good musicians.
I'm challenged to step out of Music Mediocrtity and strum myself into excellence. Maybe I should listen more to good tunes. Maybe I should save up enough to buy me a real guitar. Maybe I should re-learn my basics. Whatever it is, it always pays to work hard at something.