Monday, September 7, 2015



I first began tinkering on a piano in 1976 at MPIK/STTI where I also first learnt what a treble clef was. I was aged 32 then. No piano cikgu but only relied on ownself with my knowledge of guitars and chord progressions learnt. I was much inspired waching all my lecturers play it – Mr. Khoo Soon Teong, Mrs. Ranji Knight, En. Nazri Ahmad and Puan Shamsiah.

I asked my lecturer Mrs. Knight to tutor me on the piano. I went to her house and started playing chords and hummed the tunes along.....she was flabbergasted and did not know where to start with me and, instead,  asked me how I was employing chord movements on my right hand and playing the bass line / chords on my left hand.....and that was the end of my piano tutoring. She recommended me to get the John Thompson series of books and I bought two and started practicing simple exercises on my right hand and with a severely handicapped left hand (till today).

And thus began my “piano playing”.  I also listened a lot to the piano music of Richard Clayderman besides observing other piano players esp. the professional musicians whom I performed with – Ahmad Wan Yet and others but could not decipher their chords but could figure out their adlibs.  When I went back to schools as an itinerant music teacher covering four schools I kept on practising and playing the piano for simple children’s songs.  In this way, I reached some level of pano playing which still, BTW, baffled those who played especially classical piano style….they envied me much more than how I envied them and their fingering techniques.

In the 80’s when my full 6 pc. band, The Shades of Time was not getting much gigs (tak laku lagi) I started playing on a Casio keyboard with the auto chord setting and performed nightly with a solo singer at pubs and clubs quite successfully too.  I had also bought my first upright piano and played it often at home. It was a Kimball. I got a 2 year gig at the Ria Hotel in Seremban as the resident 3 pc band with me on the piano accompanied by a bassist and drummer and we backed Filipino songstresses who were changed every 6 months.  These singers were not the type of dancer singers that flooded Malaysia later.  If the singer sang in B major I was not permitted to play in C (my favorite key till today) or Bb….I will get reprimanded immediately. So in this way I started also playing the dreaded sharp keys. I sold my Kimball off in 1984 when I went to USA on a government scholarship to study formal music. By then I already had my Grade 8 (Theory) certificate already.

Me playing the keyboards as a one man band in the 90's.  See

I learnt more jazz theory there and played it on the guitar and also the piano.  When I returned I was back in MPIK / STTI and “showed off” my piano playing and many of my students were “impressed” and/or inspired too.  Many classically trained pianists who were my students ( Grade 8 and LRSM requirement) came to Seremban to learn jazz voicing on the piano and how to solo” / adlib…and paid me handsomely too. By then I could play the keyboards on my own and started performing professional gigs and stints again with singers like Azizah Basri, Dorothy Barnabas, Ronnie Rajamoney and Augustine Manuel. Today ?? Yes,  I still play the piano alone for myself at home with very much “rusty” hands.  So there. That’s my story.

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