Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alone in a Train Full of People

I have been exhausted over the past week. I even tweeted yesterday: “I have to rub ice around my eyes to keep them open. So tired!” I realize I can’t take it, it’s too much. I need to rethink this new life and reorganize my timetable.

But I think the main thing that’s been killin’ me is my lack of “thinking time”. All I need is some peace. It’s so tiring to be out the whole day, then doing music music music, and when I come home, I still hear music because my sisters are practicing. Ahh! I barely have time for quietness. Now I realize how important my “thinking time” is. Like my dad said, “You are the product of your thoughts.” I am very much a thinking person.

It is amazing how we can talk to ourselves. Silent talk, no one can hear that inner voice. It’s what keeps me alive. We are nothing without our thoughts.

Yesterday, while in the train, I typed a note on my phone:

I am on a train, surrounded by a cacophony of human voices. I can make out none of them. Only the voice in my head speaks. Although I am on a train full of people, I am alone.

I try to find some quiet and peace inside. But I’ve lost it. My mind is clouded over. I'm too tired to carry on a purposeful train of thought. How am I gonna’ get through the rest of the year if this is my 3rd week and I’m already feeling so tired? I realize I need to rethink everything. I need to find my bearings again and get a clear direction. Or else I cannot advance, I cannot improve my music.

For the past 3 weeks I’ve been trying to practice as much as time permits. But it’s been difficult to manage and keep everything together. It’s like picking up many things at one time, and inevitably, some things fall out of my grasp. When I try to pick one up, something else falls out! So I need to stop. Put it all down, sort everything properly, and start again. I can’t do everything half-half. I feel too tired mentally and physically. And really, if I’m tired mentally, I am practically half dead.

Well that’s my life now. It’s not a bad thing – I just need to adapt to this new life. I am very much enjoying it – so much learning, everyday music, doing what I love – what more can I ask for? I just need to trust God always and wait on Him. No use pushing so hard with my own strength if I do not rely on God. Going to VCASS has made me realize how very tiny I am. It’s a new learning curve. When I thought I’ve gotten somewhere, I realize that I’ve only just begun!

And while I was worrying about all these things, I believe God brought to my mind this refreshing promise from Isaiah 40:30-31:

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

It actually came in a form of a song. I remember it was a song that my mum used to sing with me and my sisters in morning devotions. After hearing it in my head, I immediately felt the cloud of worries evaporate. There was a little peace for me. And I know, only God can give such peace.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My First Week At VCASS!

Man, this week has been one crazy week! The summer holidays now seem so far away although it only ended 6 days ago. This week passed really fast. I enjoyed it, and yet there were some days when I didn’t exactly have the best time!

I was so tired for the first few days trying to get used to sleeping and rising early. I never got enough rest only until Friday. It didn’t help that VCASS had scheduled me to perform in the Senior Performance Seminar on Wednesday! I was prepared, but not exactly so. Physically, I was exhausted, and my mind was not entirely focused. Everything was just thrown at me this week.

One most unpleasant thing that happened occurred during the Performance Seminar. I was one of two newbies who were scheduled to perform in the first week of school. Even some of the students were surprised that we had to perform on our very first week. So as I said, I was physically, mentally and emotionally unprepared to perform. Playing halfway, I kinda’ lost my flow and had a memory lapse! Yup, it sure wasn’t the best way to start the year at VCASS!

I was disappointed with myself for my memory lapse, and lack of mental preparation. Although I was upset, I thank God for helping me to recover from it. I was surprised with myself for moving on from the failed performance so quickly. With God’s help, I realized that it probably was a good thing (in perspective) that it happened. I learned an important lesson there. It is only through mistakes and bad experiences that I learn and do not take anything for granted the next time.

At least I can look back and say I’ve been in that kind of a situation before. When I got the feedback from the Head of Music, Michael Sargaent, he gave me credit for not panicking even though I lost the flow. I learned that I need to really prepare myself physically, mentally and emotionally before any performance. Not just 1 day before, but even weeks before it. I really cannot take any of this lightly this year.

One of the things I’m most happy about is my timetable. Everyday I have two music subjects, plus practices in between whenever I have free periods, and I only do 2 other normal subjects like biology and psychology/maths and English. It’s so cool to be able to learn music EVERYDAY!!! Can you imagine that?! Haha, it’s awesome!

I’m really delighted that I have time to practice in school everyday. We have over 20 practice rooms that we can just walk into anytime to practice. And there are the grand pianos! It’s great to walk along the corridors are hear music, even though it’s like after school hours. And I’ve been meeting some really nice people at VCASS. Even the principal and some of the staff come around every now and then to chat with the students during breaks and lunches. It’s cool. Students and teachers respect each other and can converse easily.

For the past 5 days, although I come back really tired, I look back on the day and don’t feel like I’ve actually been to school. Attending classes are thoroughly enjoyable because everyone is so focused that they can really contribute to the class and the discussions. Most of the students are “thinking” and they say things that actually make sense. We can have intelligent discussions and productive class time. Unlike in normal schools, where nobody is paying attention, and in discussions, people are simply firing away like “headless chickens”.

It is pretty interesting to study at VCASS cause’ there are the VCASS musicians and dancers, ballet students from the Australian Ballet School and NICA students (they do circus studies!). They attend VCASS only for academic classes. But musicians are in the minority compared to dance students. So it is quite a different schooling experience.

Yesterday I had my first piano lesson with Len Vorster, a lecturer at the Victorian College of the Arts (the university). Finally, after two months without a teacher, now I kind of have a direction and something I can work towards. I have so much to work on! I need to really get used to performing solo and making full use of the performance opportunities in concerts and the Performance Seminars. I also need to broaden my repertoire.

It’s overwhelming and daunting, yet at the same time I am enjoying school like I’ve never been before. I enjoy the company of people who are like-minded, who are focused on pursuing the same thing, who are passionate about what they do and who also spend countless hours making music.

I thank God so much for giving me such an opportunity. For me, it's still hard to believe I was accepted.
Compared to many of the students at VCASS, I am much less experienced and at a lower level! But I know that it is not a bad thing because it reminds me all the more to lean on God and look to Him in all things to face every challenge ahead of me.

The Visitors