Major and minor

It’s like second nature to me now.

But I still remember the days when I had piano lessons every week starting from when I was 7. Around 10 years old I started prepping for the ABRSM exams. It was then, towards the end of each lesson, when my teacher would play a short snippet of a piece and ask me if it’s in minor or major. Back then…honestly, I had no idea. And I asked her how can you tell? I don’t remember her giving me a comprehensible answer, I mean I was still a child. So each time I just guessed and hoped I was right.

After more years with music, I began to hear the difference. I can now technically explain to you what differentiates major from minor. But still, you can’t explain such a concept or idea. There’s just something in the sound and melody of the song where you just feel it.

Then as I grew older and continued taking higher level exams..I had to start listening for the cadence of songs. I still have no idea. (I just remember that I’ll always say its plagal if it sounds like a song from church choir.) I wonder about the potential of music in my life if I had decided continued learning.

And I feel like I could ramble forever about this. But I remember the controversial book by Amy Chua that broke out this past year. To a certain extent, I agree with her point of view (although my view is probably biased). I do believe, to a certain extent, that in order to enjoy doing something, you need to be good at it. (If you’re not good at something, why would you want to continue doing it, except to get better?) If you can’t get past the point of mastery, you cannot fully understand and appreciate the height of the hobby, art, or sport. Like both Picasso and Alexander McQueen, they were masters of their respective art before they went against conventions and created their own personal style. Although I am very far from being a good pianist, I know that I wouldn’t be able to do any degree of improvisation had I not spent hours upon hours playing the same scales, arpeggios etc for years and years.

A lot of times I’ve taken granted and was spiteful towards my mom who always pushed me to keep going. I remember failing the last level of the exam after months of hard work and dedication. And all I did was just cry and said, I give up. But of course, my mom wouldn’t have allowed that. So I did it all over again and finally (but barely) passed.

Even now, whenever I am stressed or just need to get my mind off things, I go to the music room and play what I feel through improvisation. I think if my mom never pushed me to continue taking lessons throughout high school, I wouldn’t have this opportunity to express myself through music.

So mom, thank you for giving me ears  to hear the difference between major and minor. You somehow always seem to know what's best for my heart and soul.