October 30, 2015

Why I Am "Quitting" Piano

Written earlier this year:

If you know me well, you'd know that I play piano and have been playing piano for the past 12 years of my life. By no means am I a prodigy of any kind, I'm actually just an average piano player who has been learning for a long time! The January of 2013, I took my practical exam for Performer's ARCT and I passed. Not by much, but still, I passed. This was the first time I encountered the predicament of whether I wanted to continue with my lessons or quit, as I had already attained the certificate required to teach others. When it became clear to my piano teacher that I was slightly hesitant to continue, it most likely became a dinner table conversation at her house because the next week I went to her studio, her husband approached me on the topic. In the end, I decided that I would continue with piano thinking: "I've been learning for so long, why stop now? There's only LRCM left and I'm so close, why would I give up now and waste all the years I've spent up until now?"

A few weeks ago, under a ton of stress from school and other personal problems, I finally broke down. My piano teacher was scheduling me for a bunch of classes during weekdays because I had an Advanced Harmony exam coming up, and it was just putting so much stress on me. For the past few months, I have just felt like my entire life is being constricted into time slots that I have to follow to avoid a complete landslide of... everything. It began as a casual conversation with my mom before I started realizing how stressed out I was and I could NOT stop crying.

Present Day Thoughts:

I've held out on posting this because I just couldn't find the right words to say; I didn't know how to explain myself. I was scared that people would criticize me for wasting my parents money, but I know that that is far from the truth. They have given me a gift that is extremely valuable: music.

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, my family and I drove down to Calgary and arrived at the Taylor Centre of Performing Arts at Mount Royal University. It was a beautiful building with floor to ceiling windows and wooden panelled walls. I was there to receive my certificate for ARCT after having successfully completed my Counterpoint and History exams over the summer. It was such a surreal moment receiving my diploma because I had never planned on coming this far, but there I was, on stage, shaking hands with the President and CEO of The Royal Conservatory of Music.

However, at the same moment, there was a feeling of closure - a perfect ending of sorts. Music has, and always will be a big part of my life, but the time to quit my lessons has arrived. In my opinion, everything will always come to an end, which isn't a bad thing! Sitting in the audience with the rest of the graduates and Regional Gold Award winners brought me to the realization of how extremely fortunate I am to have received a musical education. But, it is time for an "ending". 

I have achieved far more than what I expected from myself. By no means am I quitting piano for good, I'm just no longer attending lessons. It has gotten to the point where playing piano is stressing me out, and I need a break from it. Maybe I'll continue lessons later, maybe not. This decision wasn't just made on a whim; as you can see, it took several months. But I am sure that this is the right decision.

Throughout my 12 years of piano lessons, I've learned more than piano. I learned what it means to be committed to something; I learned to teach theory to others; I learned to persevere and keep practicing even when it seems like it's going nowhere. The list is endless, and for that, I thank The Royal Conservatory of Music, my parents, and of course, my piano teacher, Thank you so much.

October 19, 2015

Book Review: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Published by Hyperion on September 11, 2012

As I started reading this book, I didn't know what to expect since I hadn't read any reviews or heard any comments from friends. Despite this, or maybe because of this, I enjoyed the book for its laughable moments and underlying inspiring message.

From this perspective, I was pleasantly surprised by the type of humour that was maintained throughout the book. Although I wasn't guffawing or crying from laughter, I definitely chuckled here and there. One of the most noticeable traits about this book is the emotional detachment with which the author writes in regards to various... questionable, events. If we were to be more in depth about this, I think Jonasson purposely writes from a third-person limited objective point of view to further contribute to the emotional detachment and emphasize the humour of the book.

It can also be interpreted as an attempt to characterize Allan's twisted optimism due to his upbringing as a child. One of my favourite things about this book was the fluidity with which Allan's past and present were weaved together and finally brought into a perfect knot at the end. As I was finishing the book, I got extremely excited with how seamless his past and present were weaved together.

One of my only criticisms would be in regards to the humour as well, contrary to my point above. There were some times where I felt a bit bored with the humour (vodka, vodka.... and more vodka) almost as if it were a bit too forced. Other than that, I loved the combination of historical events with Allan's story line and also the variety of characters. The story was so ridiculous that I enjoyed it!

October 12, 2015

Book Review: Us by David Nicholls

Published by Harper on January 1, 2014

First of all, the setting! I thoroughly enjoyed being brought into the European atmosphere; I loved how it felt like I was back in Venice eating gelato, walking around for hours, and being shouted at by vendors selling fake bags. Finishing the book, my desires to backpack around Europe, or at least travel as much of Europe as I can, have become undeniable.

The story was extremely touching, an intricately woven narrative that flashes back between Douglas' present and past. It deals with an issue that many people struggle with: letting go. Throughout the book, we see as Douglas attempts to "fix" his family because to let that fall apart would seem like he has failed. I found myself somehow relating extremely well to Douglas' thoughts and feelings throughout the book while still being irritated and somewhat embarrassed at how much he tried to crack those Dad jokes. At the same time, I also found his son an extremely relatable character: an artsy son who just is tired of taking typical tourist pictures of his parents.

It has given me so much to think about despite the clear age gap between myself and the characters in this book. I feel as if the message of learning when to let go of something and not feel as if you have failed does not pertain only to marriages, but also to any other people or things we love and are passionate about.

October 03, 2015

Why Autumn is My Favourite Season

I love everything about this season even though it's one of the shortest seasons, lasting only about a month before the snow comes. The transition from summer to winter is absolutely beautiful; the golden leaves, the slightly colder, but not freezing, weather, the crunch of leaves under my feet, everything. Although everything is dying, it is making way for the blooming of flowers once again in spring. It just so happens that my birthday also falls around the time that the leaves begin to change their colour. Here are a few photos that I took, my photos will also always be posted to my Flickr.

The High Level Railway Streetcar