[ . . . continued from Through the Barricades I–What happened at the IEC ]
Tokyo Eversince I was a kid, I’d dreamed about visiting Tokyo, one of the world’s great cities. It was November when I arrived, the city cold and grey. The Japanese capital seemed a jungle of towering buildings of glass and steel. I was in a serious mood, unable to relax, about to enter the international arena against a juggernaut of young Japanese Electone performers. To say I was daunted would be an understatement. I felt like tiny David up against a clique of Goliaths. Terrified might be more apt.
Preparations In the two months leading up to the Finals, all of my waking hours seemed to revolve around improvising and arranging pieces, and knowing the Electone Stagea like the back of my hand. Lessons were 5 days a week, 4 hours each time. At home, after a day of teaching, I’d stay up til 2am, putting in at least 2 hours of practice. This totalled 272 hours on the Electone within the space of two short, intense months.
My biggest battle was with against discouragement, especially when my improvisations didn’t sound right. Acknowledging my inabilities, I’d ask the Lord to take over all my weaknesses. Without being conscious of it, I was practising how to be aware of the presence of God. I learned, through sheer desperation, how to depend on Him for everything I lacked: Renewed energy in the midst of exhaustion, perseverance when I felt I could use some well-deserved rest, and exercising faith in the things unseen; that God was there right beside me and looking out for me.
That was just the practice side of things. On the technical side, there were financial sacrifices and technical difficulties to surmount. My trainer and I each got a Stagea. It was so new and no one in Yamaha Singapore knew much about it, so we started working on this state-of-the-art model on our own. Apart from expanding and developing each piece (lasting 5-7 mins), there was registrations to programme, rhythm patterns, and sequencing of registration and rhythms. Programming the sounds was tedious, especially when I was striving for a lush, orchestral effect for each song. Continued on pg.2