self sabotaging ~ 自我破坏

has anyone of you been in the situation where you feel that something that you want to do is beyond you, but when you are doing it, you are able to do it?? and when you have completed it, you stared at it in wonderment: how on earth did i manage to do it??

well, i have. about thirteen years ago, when i was doing my piano studies at about grade 6 level, my sister and i took an hour of music theory lesson together before doing our individual lessons in piano practical. a few months down the road, somehow the theory lessons stopped whereas the practical lessons continued. without a companion, i stopped my grade 6 theory too as theory lessons were usually done in groups so as to have discussions and i couldnt find a theory group to join despite the help of my teacher. many people were under the notion that theory is not important.

three years later, after my grade 8 practical, i tried to do some theory self studying. needless to say, with my lack of self discipine, i stopped. moreover, it was quite a big jump in materials and requirements from old grade 5 theory i did long time ago to the then-new grade 6 theory syllabus. attempting to do it without a teacher is pure stupidity. i did. and a mental block was built in my mind: that higher grade theory is difficult, that it is almost impossible for me to complete my grade 8 theory.

about three years ago, while i was teaching piano part-time in a music school, the supervisor of the school mentioned that there was going to be a theory class for grade 6 and the number of students enrolled had narrowly missed the minimum number of students required to start the class. she was asking around, sounding all the teachers without theory grade 8 (one just need a minimum of grade 5 to complete grade 8 practical) whether they are interested. i hesitated, remembering all the previous jinxed attempts to do grade 6. i feel that i could not do it. since the school offer discounts for teachers taking lessons/buying products from the school, i enrolled, deciding to give myself another chance at it.

2004. i took the grade 6 theory paper. just before the exam, i was nervous. i was never nervous at exams. in fact, there were times where i even went for concerts before the exams. but this time around, i was nervous. i studied hard for it. coming from me, this is strange coz i never seldom study hard for exams. my mum could vouch for it. in fact, i think my parents accumulated a lot of white hairs during my o levels.

but this time around, i was nervous. one week before the exams, i ended the contractual work i was doing at that point of time prematurely, concentrating on theory exams preparation rather than earning an extra week of income (the contract still had one more week to go). i photocopied all the past year exam papers and redo(by then, we had actually did the past year papers during class) them again, working through the mistakes i had committed, learning new things when i redid them. i memorised as much foreign language performance directions and instrument names. on the theory exam day itself, i was at the exam centre early, meeting up with a classmate to do revision and basically trying to calm each other’s nerves.

the result?? i scored a distinction. that was beyond my expectation as after the exams, i compared answers with the said classmates and our answers turned out to be different. this is the first distinction i scored in a music theory exam. i was too lazy to be good in theory, a subject that requires research, note-taking and doing of exercises.

my theory teacher left the school. some of us stayed on in the school. some of us choose to go to another teacher teaching in private. 2005. we were preparing to take the grade 7. i almost freaked out once again. my recollection of previous jinxed attempts to do music theory came back to haunt me. not to mention my complacency after my grade 6 exams. i had merely go along with the flow throughout the grade 7 course. true, i did my homework and the stuff. but i feel that i wasnt putting in as much hard work as i should. and i wasnt as confident as i was about tackling question 1 of the paper, carrying a weightage of 20 marks.

same trick. i photocopied the past year papers and redo them again, familiarizing myself with the method of tackling the questions. the results?? i got a merit. this time around, with a sense of guilt. i feel that my distinction and merit were a merely lucky shot. i have this strong premonition that i would not be able to complete my grade 8.

this coming march, i would be having my grade 8 exams. my next plan is to do a AMusTCL (a post-grade 8 theory specialisation. full title: Associate (music literacy) Trinity College, London) after that. and concuurrently, i plan to do my ATCL(performance), ATCL(piano accompanying) and DipABRSM(teaching). a very ambitious and crazy plan my friend commented. yes, i agreed. but i would never know if i could do it if i dun even try. nobody knows whether they would success or not simply by standing and looking. even if i fail, i know i have passed the stage of giving up music coz of failure. i just love it too much.

i would not dare say i have achieved a lot. but coming from a background of fearing music theory, i have crossed the hurdle of being music-theory-phobic to liking music theory now. so even if i fail my grade 8 theory, i think my love affair with music theory would not end there. i would most probably try again. after all, exams is not the sole purpose in learning music. enjoyment and knowledge is.

你们是否有这样的的经历:你要做的一件事情,对你而言很难,不过当你在做的时候,你却能够做到它的每一部分??而在你完成它的时候,你却惊奇地望着成果而怀疑:我是怎么完成它的??

我有。大概十三年前,当我还在修我的第六级钢琴实习时,我和姐姐一通修读了同级的乐理。但是几个月后,乐理的课却越来越少而最后胎死腹中,钢琴实习则继续。没有伴的我,也结束了乐理,因为乐理通常是至少两个人一组以方便作讨论,而当时的没有组好参加,只得作罢。很多人觉得乐理并不重要。

三年后,考或了第八级的实习,我就尝试了自修乐理。不用说,结果仍然是失败,因为我是属于一点自律都没有的人。更何况,当时候,我修读的第五级教学大纲是旧系列的教学大纲,和新系列第六级乐理教学大纲大有出入。没有老师从旁指导,简直就是愚蠢的行为。我做了,结果失败,还在脑海中有一个阴影:高及乐理是很难的,我是不可能完成第八级的乐理的。

大概三年前,当我在某家商业音乐学校任教时,学校主管恰好提起有一班乐理班,因为人数不足而不知是否要开办。由于人数只比所需的最低人数少了一两个人,所以主管就试着问问还没考获乐理文凭的老师们是否有兴趣参加。我踌躇了一忽儿,心中的阴影仍然在。就是老觉得自己不行。由于该学校的老师都享有折扣,我就抱着姑且一试的心态报名了。

2004年。我考了第六级的乐理正书。就在考试之前,我好紧张。我从来就没有为了考试而紧张的。甚至有时候,我还在考试前夕去听音乐会!但是这次,我紧张了。从我口中说出这句话,很奇怪。因为我很少会为考试而忙着读书的。这一点我妈妈可以作证。事实上,我想在我会考的时候,我爸妈也长了不少白头发。

但是这次,我紧张了。考试前的前一个星期,我提早结束了自己的特约工作,放弃了多余的收入而选择了专心准备考试。我复印了过去的试卷而重新再做,从之前的错误在学习,重新做作业时也从另一个角度看同样一个问题。我记了大部分的外语演绎方式和乐器名称。在考试当天,我提早到达考试中心,和一位同学会面,一起复习与平复彼此的紧张情绪。

成绩??我考或特优。那是我预料之外的,因为我在走出考场的时候,我和该同学比较了答案而发觉我们的答案完全不同。这是我在乐理考或的第一个特优。我是个天生的大懒人,而乐理是一项需要阅读很多资料和做参考、复习的一项学科。

我的乐理老师离职了。我们同学,有些选择留下和另一位老师修读。我和一群同学选择组织起来和另一位私利老师继续修读。2005年。我们准备第七级的乐理考试。我又紧张了。我之前的阴影又回来缠着我。更别说我在第六级考试后,有点自大了,没之前用工了。在修读第七级的时候,我就只是随着上课流程地做功课等等。但是自己可以感觉到自己没所要求的那么用工。我也没信心回答试卷的第一题,二十分的一个题目。

故技重使。我又复印了往年考卷来重做,训练自己回答问题的方式。成绩??我考获优等。这次可是有点愧疚之心。我就觉得自己的特优和优等是侥幸得到的。有一个很强烈的感觉自己未必能得到第八级的乐理证书。

来临的三月,我将参加第八级的乐理考试。我的计划是要完成乐理、演绎和钢琴伴奏三个高级文凭,还有另一个学院所颁发的教学文凭。一个很有野心与疯狂的计划,我的一位朋友说。对,我承认。但是如果我连尝试都没有,我怎么知道不可能呢??没有人是靠站在一边看而成功的。就算我失败了,我知道我已经超越了因为失败而放弃音乐的阶段,因为我太爱音乐了。

我不敢说我达到很多,但是至少,我从一名害怕乐理的人演变成一位喜欢乐理的人,成功的跨越自己的心理障碍。所以,就算我在第八级的乐理考试不及格,我与乐理的情缘不会就此画上句号的。我多办会再尝试一次。毕竟,考试不是学习音乐的唯一理由。享受和知识才是。

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7 Responses to self sabotaging ~ 自我破坏

  1. the diva says:

    That’s great YL. Sometimes, we should not think too much – just get out there and do it. Like Hubs always told me “Save the Drama for your Mamma! Stop talking and start doing!”. You’ll never know what will turn out, but it always helps to be optimistic :)

  2. YL says:

    there are many times i tend to think a lot but never do. but comparatively, over the years, i have learnt to move on quite a fair bit.

    i like your hubby’s slogan!!

  3. Eileen says:

    Way to go, YL!:)

    Never say never! Sometimes you just have to give it a try and you’ll be surprised that you can actually achieve it! :)

  4. Zara's mum says:

    You are too stressed over this.. see the last 2 round, you did so well… so don’t be so hard on yourself and just do it.

    Best of luck!

  5. YL says:

    Eileen: this reminds me of an animation movie from long long ago: an american’s tale. there is this line of lyrics that goes “never, say never, whatever, you do!!”

    Zara’s Mum: yeah!!! now, i just do my best and that’s it.

  6. Fannie says:

    Thigs are always tough before they are easy!

    Once things are going fine…every other thing is a breeze! :)

  7. YL says:

    i just find that once i get started on something and get into the hang of things, they usually get easier and easier if i keep at it. ;)

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