Musical Journey leading to… Maiden Passage to Great Wall

I have played piano since I was a young kid (no one is or should be counting!). Although never really good at playing piano, there are still some entrenched good memories. 

Back then, I would diligently practise the piano daily for a minimum of 30 minutes as instructed by my piano teacher. First starting with the scales, then the piece learnt the previous lesson. Subsequently followed by a few more pieces that needed more practise. The metronome would go tik-toking over some pieces when the rhythm was off. Somehow, the routine instilled discipline and the repetition soothed frayed nerves especially when not in such a good mood.

Family heirloom!

The piano itself was a significant investment by the family, and was well-loved. Instructions to clean, polish & ensure it stayed heated were taken to heart. I am proud to say that the piano is still with us after more than 3 decades, and still playable. Samick, a brand from South Korea, and was not that well known all those years ago. But now a beloved family heirloom…  

Favourite classical pieces were mainly by Clementi & Bach, and Clayderman for the modern pieces. Clementi’s sonatinas often had repeat plays at home as I love to play them. I also recalled loving pieces from the Baroque period for a while, prompting my fascination with Bach’s compositions. Chopin was never a favourite, I have always felt that the pieces are difficult. Waltz also never caught on my fancy. 

At one point, playing pop songs was also the in-thing. Many moons ago, it is not as easy to get piano sheet for pop songs. Classical songs were the norm as these are printed and sold in physical stores. There used to be a musical instrument store, mainly selling guitars but with loads of musical books for all instruments at the back of the shop, near Kotaraya right in the middle of Kuala Lumpur town. I recalled having to bend down slightly to get to the book section, and it was incredible how many books were cramped into the small area. The trick is to look for discounted books for best value. Unfortunately, pop songs’ piano books were rarely on sale. Hence, the poor students would slightly adjust the use of copyright. 😀 

ABRSM exams were dreaded as there will be more practises. The exam piece booklet was (correction, is… I recently checked their prices online & in store) famously expensive, and plan was needed if there is requirement to buy them (if I recalled, they are valid for 2 years). The exam in Kuala Lumpur was always held at Federal Hotel at Bukit Bintang. Going for the exams were always nerve-wrecking but I always have good memories when coming back as my father would treat me to a rare lunch or dinner outing around the area.

Unfortunately, the repertoire of pieces previously played were mostly well forgotten by now. Upon going off to university, I stopped the lessons and did not play for nearly 2 decades. Once in a blue moon, the piano would be opened when I felt the call from the heirloom to play.

A few years ago while working abroad, I discovered Synthesia while watching Youtube. It is actually a game! Press the keys as indicated and follow the tunes. At the spur of the moment, I decided to buy a smaller Yamaha keyboard and rekindled my love affair with piano. That path advocated the re-discovering of sheer joy in playing.

Subsequently, I took on a slightly different route in relearning how to play the piano. The internet with all sorts of resources made it easy. Downloaded Coursera apps to attend a free course on music theory. Downloaded available free & easy piano sheets.

Upgraded to a Yamaha P125 after some research with some assembly required. It was quite a dilemma as I would have really loved to own a proper classical piano. However, I reckon my neighbours will not be too pleased if I play the piano in the middle of the night.

How to solve these minor issues bugging the playing? Simplify, vary & slow down the pieces. Hence my experiment to vary the existing piano sheet began. It then morphed into composing simple tunes. Sometimes humming a tune will result in a short stint at the piano to put it in piano sheet.   

Although I still recall some basic notes reading, fingers are no longer nimble, making fast pieces no longer an option. Another issue I have had is the piano sheets usually required octave playing, and the hardened fingers are unable to flex to play these accurately. Regardless, playing piano has a special place in my heart.

Used to writing notes on manuscript, changing to an apps was surprisingly easy & convenient. The apps even play the song in accordance to the notes! Although late in the game, I recently discovered Garageband apps. This is heaven-sent for variation & recording music in many different instruments.

This was one of the first few simple tunes that I had experimented on. Decided to call this tune “Maiden Passage to Great Wall”. The tune gives a bit of exotic Oriental feel. Aligned with my deep feeling of wonder when I first visited Great Wall. I have since visited Great Wall many times, of which it never fails to amaze.


Tried the Soul Organ version. Enjoy!

Sharing the piano sheet if your fingers are also getting itchy.

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