I wish someone had enlightened me to this idea when I was age between 16-24, back in the days where I have plenty of time and energy yet clueless in my musical direction. As I became more exposed to popular music, I also became a music theory snob. I love pop, but it is overrated. It is like the tip of the iceberg. When you dive, there is still more. Lately, I realized how important it is to go further in my musical journey. An intrinsic motivation that drives me not to focus on popularity but on the desire to discover more and aim for excellence. It makes me feel happier and secure.
The desire for inquiry and excellence are practical means for every musician. Most likely, these would lead to sustainability, flexibility, and lifelong journey satisfaction. If you are young, get a music diploma or any other professional music course while gigging around. Do not short cut music and kill yourself to become popular right away. Have more experience and deep learning in music. For most musicians, popularity is short-lived, while aiming for excellence is for a lifetime. It's a painful-boring process, but worth it.
At an early age, I already found my passion. Because of the idea that music is relatively not a high-value career, the support offered to me in college was different. Still thankful for learning natural science in university. It provided me helpful tools to self-learn music in a systematic way. Today, I teach science in an institution and music as a freelancer. Despite a lack of credentials, I am more effective in teaching music to my students both in theory and practice. As a science teacher, I am very limited because I am not a scientist or an active researcher in any field institute. There is a saying by George Bernard Shaw that goes, those who can, DO; those who can't, TEACH. Though there's a fallacy in this statement, there's also a truth. Think about it, someone will teach you how to bike, but that person doesn't even know how to do it. Will you swim if you only attended a class in swimming theory? But this is most of our education. Students have to accumulate knowledge with less meaning due to a lack of practicality. In addition to that, there are so many things on the plate that disregards the child's interest. Students are learning so many subjects at the same time. As a result, lack of focus and mastery.
As parents, we may be worried and so careful about following the norms of society. We want to make sure that our child will not miss out on any school activities. We tell them, 'learn this and that' so they will have a brighter future. We rarely pay attention to their best interests. Teachers also have to obey and follow the school curriculum that is outdated due to the fast-changing environment. Policymakers and governing bodies are not also sure about the future job market. Many jobs now became less in demand due to automation. Some of them may no longer exist in a few decades. So what matters? Like us, children only live once. Let's think twice about what education should be.
He was four when I first taught him how to play the guitar instrument. Like most of the kids, they like to imitate what their parents are doing. Not long enough, he struggled with the 30-minute practice routine that I programmed. Maybe I was too strict, or 30 minutes was too much for him. At his early age, he can actually read but, the moment I saw teardrops falling from his eyes, it broke my heart and took the guitar right away from his hands and apologised. That evening, I promised not to give any lessons until he's ready.
I used to borrow books from friends and colleagues when I started to develop interest in reading. A friend of mine who's also my mentor, Ranny Ray Codas, once told me, "It's good to invest in buying books than borrowing so you can build your own library." We never had internet before, and buying a book is like paying a lesson you could not practically have at certain times. I removed the price tag of this music book (see photo) which I bought in Philippines several years ago, but I could still remember it was around three hundred pesos only. I had no clear idea how will I learn its content but I simply trusted my gut and just figured it out later.