I belief that in every soul, there must be music. Without music the world will be a boring place. Harmonica is an instrument that ties hearts together, what is more, with its small size and pocketability, it can be brought everywhere you go. For me, the harmonica connects heart with my heritage, it show me light and give me strength to move on. So join me in my journey…
From young, my family would always sit together in the evenings and listen to my mom and dad relate about their younger days. My dad is a simple man who was brought up in Pulau Ubin, an island to the north of Singapore. He came from a very poor family with eight siblings, my grandma stayed at home to look after them while my grandpa works in the stone quarry breaking granite to generate that little income.
My dad’s favorite past time was to chop trees and make a boat out of it, rowing himself with my uncles out to the sea to catch fishes. They usually have to wake up like five in the morning to go to my elder uncle’s kelong and look after the fishes that were cultivated there. When everything is done, he would come back home and then take up his school bag and go to the one and only primary school in the island to study. At night he will challenge with my uncle for a light from the small little kerosene lamp that they have in the living room for light to study. Many a times in the mid of the challenge, one of them will gave up and go to sleep. That is how life was like in a poor family where kerosene lamp was what they have, needless to say about florescent lamp, they couldn’t even afford it!
My dad’s favorite instrument back then was a tremolo harmonica bought as a gift from one of my elder uncle. It was this that brings him joy and accompany him throughout this childhood days. It was all his determination and quick witted knowledge that lead him to play the tremolo really well. The Harmonica was also the instrument that woos my mom into marrying him!
One day in one of my shopping spree with my mom, we found a book shop selling “Tower” Brand Harmonica from China, she brought me a 24 holes Tremolo. At night my dad showed me how to play the tremolo and that plants an harmonica seed in me!
Years later I went to Singapore Polytechnic and was exposed to the Chinese Language Society Harmonica Club that is where I start to really learning and performing in public. Our group went to many homes and public places to show the audience what harmonica was all about. The happiness radiating from the old folks when we played the Chinese New Year melodies really melt my heart. Music was the bridging instrument that connected us together. In those days Harmonica is not popular as no school teaches them as an extra curriculum activity, many people back then do not know what harmonica really was. We are always awe upon when we brought out the chord, they would have said “Wah! I didn’t know harmonica can be so big!”
We also took part in the 2nd Asia-Pacific Harmonica Competition during 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and came in 3rd Place in Harmonica Orchestra Category!
My love for harmonica has always been influenced by my Father, whom put in so much effort and work so hard to bring me up. It is a very family thing that touches my heart whenever I play the harmonica.
Ever since I started working, I had little time to really touch it. It was till 2010 when I reconnected and started to pick up the Harmonica again. Looking around in the harmonica industry, things had changed a lot over time, many schools are now teaching harmonica as an extra curriculum activities for many young students to inculcate some musical background. Being a “walking piano”, you are able to possibly play any tunes that came into your mind, what you really need is practice. Practice really makes perfect.
I belief that in every soul, there must be music. Without music, this world would have been a boring place, and Harmonica is just an instrument that ties hearts together, what is more, with its small size and pocketability, it can be brought every where you go, so pick up one and learn now!