Monday, August 31, 2009

Rose Rose I Love You!...part 3, the Musical

The musical Rose Rose I Love You was staged in Genting Highland in November 2007 with a mostly Malaysian cast.

The performance was in English as well as Cantonese was widely spoken in the days of Rose Chan in Singapore and in Malaya.

There were very good writeups about the performance in the press. However, non-Cantonese speaking members of the audience had some misgivings as they missed the essence of the jokes which were spoken in Cantonese.

Photo of poster:
From the official site of the musical @ Rose-rose I Love You You can see the full details, with pictures at the site.

Old black and white photos of Rose Chan: Credit source mforum2.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Who Remembers Rose Chan?

Rose Rose I Love You!...part 2

Among my news archive clippings is the piece from the S Times dated 5 October 1986. The writer was Philip Lee. The main thrust of his article can be summed up in his own words," The lives of these once-famous people could even be the theme of a television drama series." [ I have put it as a separate post after this.Click on the article to enlarge and read ]

Well, today Philip Lee must be happy for raising the awareness of the film industry people towards making films of our Singaporean icons.

It was in April last year that Channel News Asia and TODAY newspaper broke the news that movie -maker Eric Khoo, will be shooting a film tentatively titled" Chinese Rose" about the life and time of Rose Chan.
The film is scheduled for release this year.

I can envisaged that many grandpapas and even grandmamas will be headed for the cinema when it is finally out...not to see Rose Chan in person ( she passed away in 1987 - more of that later) but to relive those carefree days when " meigui meigui wo ai ni " was so much a large part of their lives too.
Below is the news release from last year.

Entertainment News
Who wants to be Rose Chan?

By Genevieve Loh, TODAY Posted: 29 April 2008 1003 hrs


Cabaret dancer Rose Chan

(Picture courtesy of Zhao Wei Films)

SINGAPORE: Are you a Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking voluptuous siren who enjoys dancing naked with a two-metre snake coiled around your body?

If so, Eric Khoo has a job for you.MediaCorp Raintree Pictures and Zhao Wei Films have joined forces to bring the legendary "Queen of Striptease", cabaret dancer Rose Chan (picture), to the silver screen, telling her fascinating but tragic life story to the sweet tune of $2 million.

"This is a film inspired by her unique life. We're looking for someone, preferably unknown, who can play this amazing woman from 17 to 35 years old. We're hoping to find not just a face and body that can engage, but also a personality that can enthral the audience, just like Rose herself did, some 50 years ago," said Khoo, who is helming the tentatively titled "Chinese Rose", at a press conference at Goodwood Park Hotel on Monday.

"She was not a victim but an incredibly intelligent, witty and nice person. This film is a discovery of her as a human being, rather than a sexpot. She's part of our history. She's our icon," added scriptwriter James Toh, who also wrote Khoo's "12 Storeys" in 1996.

Chan was something of a legend across then-Malaya in 1950s, combining cabaret routines with striptease and daring circus stunts, including wrestling pythons. She even took her act around the world, performing in Australia, Germany and France. The daughter of acrobat parents died in 1987 at the age of 62. Remarking that there will be nudity in the film but that it's "not as risque as Lust, Caution", the 42-year-old director is hoping that there will no longer be an R21 rating when the film comes out in 2009.

"I want our younger generation to be able to watch it and recognise what a special lady she was. If I am going to have problems with the language and rating, I am very prepared to release this film elsewhere and not in Singapore." - TODAY/ar

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rose Rose I Love You !

If there was one song that can revive unforgettable nostalgia and memories of the 40's, 50,s and 60's...this has to be that song, ' Rose Rose I love you '. As a young boy growing up in Singapore back then, I used to hear this popular song being aired freqently on our local radio stations and Rediffusion. There were few songs that were recorded and sung in both English as well as Chinese. This is one such song.

The Chinese version was titled "Meigui meigui wo ai ni ".
How did this song come about?
Well, I am not an expert on the origins of songs but from what I have uncovered so far the traditional Chinese folk song appeared in or about by Chen Gexin.
The English version very popular during that period was said to be directly inspired by one of the most colourful and famous caberet performers of her days...the eponymous ROSE CHAN.
Today, we may ask ,'who can remember Rose Chan? '.
But in my father's day the question was, ' Who can forget Rose Chan?'.
Page 17 from my 4 decade old handwritten songbook.

The younger generation may never have known who or what Rose Chan was. Well, let me just say she was the most sensational dancer, cabaret performer and later striptease queen bar none...throughout the length and breadth of Malaya and Singapore. Her striptease act was originally not part of her performing routine. It came accidentally. But what an accident!

She was performing a dance routine to the tune of Mambo No: 5 at the Majestic Theatre, Ipoh in 1952. While shaking and twisting too vigorously, her bra snapped and her natural assets were exposed to the audience....who went bonkers and screamed wildly and clapped non-stop.

The realisation sanked in afterwards. And she began to incorporate some new striptease routines to her act. In a later interview Rose Chan revealed, " here I dance all night and sweat so much and nobody claps. My bra breaks and they clap! ".

This English version comes with Karaoke lyrics. There is an error in the line

"perfumed flowers in your treasures ( should be " in your tresses" ).

Many well-known singers and orchestras have recorded the song including The Quests, Matthew and the Mandarins,Anita Mui, Teresa Teng, Petula Clark, Frank Chacksfield Orchestra..and more. But the one old timers like myself and others will remember is likely that version that was first belted out from many jukeboxes and sung by Frankie Laine.

This Chinese version is worth seeing. It has snapshots and images of that nostalgic era.
In part 2 of the same subject I will include an original news clipping about Rose Chan,

some photos

and about the musicals staged about her and the movie being made currently.

Before you click on the Youtube play arrow to remember to click on the "pause" or 'stop' button on my Jango jukebox which runs automatically when the volume and speaker is on. Otherwise you will get a jumble mixture of double sounds.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Perhaps, the greatest unsolved Mystery in S'pore!

Every year, a few hundred people are reported missing in Singapore. Some make themselves vanish for obvious reasons like rogue lawyer Razif, who scooted off with money belonging to his rich client...more than 12 $ million. There are countless others all with "good" reasons to abscond and hope never to be found ...especially by the law.
Then there are those who run away from home for whatever reasons...overly strict parents, harassed by loansharks, for the sheer adventure of freedom and cheap thrill, to indulge in their wrong activities like drugs, prostitution...etc.
Some missing persons may be impaired by health, age or other impairments.
The worst case scenario is that the missing person may be the victim of a crime...abduction, kidnapping, murder.

Singapore has seen its fair share of such cases. Most of those reported missing were eventually found...some without harm, others with horrid tales to tell.
Many have never been seen or heard of again.
It is as though they have simply vanished from the face of the earth without a trace! No clues, no witnesses, no evidence were left behind when they vanished.
One particular case that had witnesses, had clues and some clear leads got an entire nation mystified. It happened a long time ago at the Singapore Harbour. If I remember correctly, about 5-6 social escorts, all females, were booked by a group of foreigners whose ship was in the outer roads. The boat picked them up and delivered them to that ship for a "party" on board. Sometime in the night, that ship sailed away with all these social escorts and by dawn the next morning..the ship and the ladies have all disappeared from Singapore waters. Over many years, all kinds of reports were received about the "fate" of these ladies. The most oft repeated ones were that they have been sold as sex slaves to some middle east country.
I am certain some of my older readers would recall this case of abduction. It made headline news then and remained an unsolved mystery till this day.
None of the ladies were ever found.
However, for me personally, the most mystifying case of all is the case dubbed by the press as the " Macdonald kids". That was because Macdonald was so moved by the heart-breaking and heart-rending story of the disappearance of 2 Primary school boys, in broad daylight!
They offered a reward of $ 100,000 for information.
As far as I know, the reward has never been claimed.
What really happened in that case?
Photo: The S Times news cutting 15 June 1990
The year was 1986. The month May. The date 14.

Two close friends and classmates were last seen walking together to school.
They were both 12 years old and Primary 6 students of Owen Primary School.
Toh Hong Huat and Keh Chin Ann were just ordinary school boys who came from very humble
When I first heard the news about this case, I was emotionally affected. One of them was just living opposite my block ( my old home in T P) and I had seen him before as a little kid growing up.
School was just a short walk away. At 12.30 pm, they were last seen together. Then suddenly...never again till this day! Their books and bags were left near a tree.
NO ONE ...yes, not one soul around that spot, saw anything that could help the police to solve
the case. Kidnap? They were not rich. No ransom ever asked for.
Abduction for criminal purpose? Adrian Lim ,the infamous hanged murderer who raped, sodomised women and killed even little kids, was at that time behind bars awaiting trial.
The police posted pictures of them in public places.

The parents of the 2 boys consulted more than 30 mediums for "special" help...all to no avail.
As the years passed by, the police updated their info on what they would likely look like.
In 2004, Mediacorps covered their story in the new programme "MISSING".
If they are still alive today, Hong Huat and Chin Ann would be about 35 years old.

Read my latest updated report in Part 2 of the story...Here!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Old news clippings...Curbing illegal bookies

It so happened that right now I am very slowly re-organising my very extensive old newspaper clippings into stacks upon stacks of files and more files.
As I was going through a very minute portion of the material on hand, this print together with that well-known cartoonist "Lat" caught my attention.

I realised the subject matter of both were betting!
This is an activity that is very big business in our society whether we like it or not.
The report announcing that the Singapore Turf Club has been given the greenlight to operate off-course betting centres from November that year was made in a bid to curb illegal betting. It appeared in the Sunday Times 30 April 1995. 14 years have since passed the question today is, "has illegal betting been curbed or at least very much reduced?" Anyone has the answers? Since then, we have had more Singapore Pools betting outlets offering more varied betting alternatives and games.
Have the illegal bookies disappeared from our heartlands and elsewhere?

Lat's cartoon has always been very popular with Singaporeans and Malaysians. This clipping was from the S Times 25 June 1991. He is really a genius not so much that he draws excellent cartoons but in the way he can capture succintly the essence of a situation...with the best punchline.

When Maree, a close friend of mine first came to visit from New Zealand, she had no idea what Singapore Pools was. She was taking a walk past a SSC swimming pool which had a 4 D outlet. There was a long queue of people behind the counters.
Noticing this, she innocently remarked, " Singaporeans really love to swim! Just look at them all so disciplined queueing up
for their entry tickets!" Haha!
She was greatly amused when she learnt the truth.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

That moment of anguish...9 Aug 1965

I thought I would share another of my news clipping which was published by the Straits Times edition of Thursday 2 August 1990.
This news cutting showed the now famous scene of then Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew shedding tears in a moment of great anguish...during the televised Press Conference on 9 August 1965.
I remember very vividly watching the whole press conference together with my family members in our Geylang home on our black and white TV set.
We were all shocked beyond words by the days' event and felt nothing but great sympathy for our young PM, who had all our support for a Malaysian Malaysia which included Singapore..something which he and his founding colleagues fought so hard for. I remember that not long after we had merger with Malaysia, we were constantly bombarded with lots of Malaysian propaganda that appeared in jingles, songs and billboards.
One song I recollect even as I am typing now is :
" Let's get together, sing a happy song
Malaysia for ever, 10 million strong
Land of the free, marching as one......."
It lasted all of nearly 2 years from 16 Sept 1963 ( the year we joined Malaysia ) till the break up
on 9 August 1965.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

44 Years ago...this was what happened!

In August 1990, as part of Singapore's 25th Anniversary Celebrations, the Straits Times reproduced the FRONT PAGE NEWS of 9 August 1965...which was sponsored by Rank Xerox Company of Singapore also celebrating their 25 years of operations here.
The 1st official announcement of the Separation took place at 10 am sharp over RADIO SINGAPORE.
Then at precisely 4.30 pm, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew began his press conference which was telecast later that night to a nation still reeling from the shock of the news which had spread swiftly everywhere.
All Malaysian flags were removed from buildings and replaced by Singapore's own flags by 12 noon...that day.
At homes and community centres, people, friends and family members gathered around our black and white TV sets to listen to the PM's press conference. Many of us were in great anxiety and had feelings of uncertainties about the near future. However, many of the shopkeepers and businessmen in Chinatown set off fire celebrate the occasion. They knew better. For them, it was as if Singapore had been released from a kind of stranglehold, a prison of sorts.

Suddenly, the people around my age and my generation realised that we were treated like castaways from a stable ship and left to drift and fend for ourselves in uncertain waters, with many a predator lurking in the deep.
It is with a great sense of pride to say this today...our citizens, our people rallied round the Singapore government and its leaders to begin the task of building a and schools for the people, creating jobs, building up our SAF, Police, Navy, health services., attracting foreign investments.
But the dramatic events of those weeks prior to Separation on 9 August 1965 is something that should be retold to the younger generation.
The best account I've read is from the Singapore Story...Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew.
Read it. It is that gripping!

Ps: The news clippings came from my enormous store of archived material.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

History was made at 8.22 pm on 9 Aug 2009

This year the NDP was held at Marina Bay. We decided way before hand to watch the parade as an extended family with friends of Redsports. It was also because we wanted very much to be together for the nation's first ever mass island -wide and worldwide recitation of that solemn Pledge...Our Singapore Pledge.
We watched the Parade together with our grandkids and other family members...on the Box.
This year's Parade was truly impressive and very exciting...with many new ideas and sets. The colours were really bright and brilliant. For most of us the segment that we found most entertaining was the re-enaction of Sang Nila Utama's landing on Temasek ( Singapore). Comediennes Mark Lee, acting as the Admiral for the King and Suhaimi Yusuf as another key official, stole the show with their hilarious Singlish and their antics.
When Mark Lee was asked by Sang Nila, " What is ahead? Can you find us a safe place to land?"..
he answered, " You ask me I ask who? "all of us rocked with laughter. Even
our little cutie ones burst out in laughter!
I am glad that the NDP organisers and controllers allowed such light-hearted banter even on such an occasion. Past NDPs were too serious throughout. There should be a nice balance between the solemnity and the entertainment side of the items.
I hope to see more of such in the future.
As we sat watching the Parade, the seconds ticked by and soon the clock struck 8.22 pm.
What's so special about 8.22 pm?
It had been announced and publicised that at that exact time all Singaporeans, citizens or PRs, were invited to join in, where ever they may be, to reaffirm and recite The Pledge.
Everywhere, at home and abroad, and happening in real time..we all stood up to be counted. Yes, count on me Singapore! Yes, count on us Singapore!

It was only 30 seconds. But history was being made right that moment for all who were spirited enough to be counted!
So, our people affirmed the it the deep meaning and respect it fully deserved. Our country has been the better for it all these years since it was first recited in 1966 ( see my previous post ).

My daughter and her kids made this tray of fruits done in a way that cannot be mistaken for anything else other than the crescent and the 5 stars D, P, P, E, J.
Do you know what those alphabets mean?
The 5 stars each represent:
Democracy, Peace, Prosperity, Equality and Justice.
It was our nation's 44th birthday since independence and 50th birthday since self-govt in 1959.
So on that day we all shouted out....
Majullah Singapura!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


As the flag was hoisted, the band played the National Anthem ...Majullah Singapura and one and all joined in the singing. I always feel very happy and proud when the anthem is sung with respect and coming from the heart.
That was what I experienced that morning.
Then the assembly of kampong folks placed their right fist over their heart and said the Singapore Pledge in a serious and solemn manner.
I took a side view glance at my grand kids and was mighty glad they took on the same spirit too.
But how many really know the history behind Our Pledge? Who created it? When did we first recite it?
Why the need for such a Pledge?
Here is a short brief about it.
Singapore had suffered from racial clashes and riots in 1964 and even before that. We were kicked out of Malaysia on August 9 1965 and were on our own. In 1966, the late Mr S Rajaratnam who was then the Foreign Minister and the acknowledged ideologue of the PAP, created the Pledge. He was fully aware that our multi -racial and multi-religious people can be easily torn apart by issues of race, language and religion. He wrote the Pledge in a few days and submitted it to the cabinet where then Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew polished it.

So, as we say the Pledge today we remember Mr S Rajaratnam...whom many regard as a "true son of Singapore".

In our parliament back then, there were many who could speak reasonably well. However there were few whom I would classify as great orators or debaters. Without a doubt, right up there is present MM, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the other of my favourite is S Rajaratnam himself. He had a soft eloquent style that was magnetic in its substance and delivery. Among the opposition members, 2 clearly stood out as excellent speakers...Lim Chin Siong and the very popular Dr Lee Siew Choh of the Barisan Socialis.
S Rajaratnam died on 22 February 2006 just 3 days short of his 91 birthday. His body was placed in Parliament House for the public to pay their respects. Unk Dicko and D2 brought our 2 young grandkids to join the thousands who went to do just that. He was a man many loved and respected deeply.
He was given a full state funeral at the Esplanade which was also televised LIVE on 25 February 2006.

I recall MM grieving openly and breaking down when giving his eulogy about his loyal and close friend.

We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and
progress for our nation.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stirring Anthems...Land of Hope & Glory

Photo: Edward Elgar...the composer of Land of Hope and Glory ( Source: Wikipedia )

This very rare historical footage showed the actual composer of the tune Edward Elgar conducting the orchestra as they played the original piece. They were then playing at the opening of EMI's recording studio in Abbey Road, London...on 12 November 1931. ( Some of you may remember that this was the very same studio that made the BEATLES famous...with their many great hits recorded there. )

In 1902, King Edward v11 had listened to the melody of Edgar's composition Pomp and Circumstnce March No: 1 and liked it very much. The king then requested Elgar to prepare and arrange it for his coronation. Elgar approached his friend, the poet and essayist A.C.Benson, to write the lyrics for the anthem.

Land of Hope and Glory
Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free, How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee ? Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set ; God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet, God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

Currently England has no agreed upon National Anthem. 'God Save The Queen' is the National Anthem for the United Kingdom. However, 'Land of Hope and Glory' has been often used as the unofficial anthem of England and sung ever so well in international rugby, soccer, Commonwealth Games etc. In a 2006 UK poll, 55 % of those polled wanted this as the National Anthem for England.

In my previous post, I mentioned how this stirring tune was used in the National Day Observance ceremony as a march in melody. The beat and tempo was just perfect for the purpose of the occasion.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stirring and Galvanising a nation

The formal ceremony began when the Singapore flag was borne by a march-in party comprising students from Peicai Secondary School. The military band, also from Peicai ,got ready and from the conductor's signal played the marching tune. As soon as I heard the first few notes..I recognised this song or rather anthem immediately. Unk Dicko and those of my generation have sung this anthem as school boys when Singapore was still a British the 1950's.
The anthem is "Land of Hope and Glory", a very majestic, truly uplifting and stirring tune...compared to the more staid " God Save The Queen".
As everyone present stood up in readiness for the flag raising, I took a side glance at my grand kids to see how they were reacting to all this pomp and pageant before them. They looked serious! Kids often mirror adults, I guess.

As the band continued to play, I was thinking aloud whether the members of the band knew the history and great significance of this anthem. Later, during the " makan" time, I asked a number of the grassroot leaders who were in their 40's and early 50's if they were aware what tune was played by the band. None had the answer! I recounted briefly the history of this anthem and how unk Dicko used to sing it. Till this day...I still know the lyrics by heart!
But after the event was over, it got me thinking very hard. How come Singapore does not have such stirring and majestic anthems since we are already 44 years old?

Yes, we have our NDP songs...and they are lovely to sing along to. But those are of a different genre, more like jingles.
And our Majullah Singapura is very good and proper as the National anthem for serious, official functions.

I was thinking along the lines of an anthem such as mentioned," Land of Hope and Glory". Surely in our midst there must be some talent who can create stirring tunes such as that...for Singapore.

Every single occasion that I heard this majestic tune played, my mind goes back in time...images filled with power and glory and majesty of the once mighty British Empire.
I hope our government and other agencies can develop this idea further.
We definitely need more than the usual NDP songs to stir and galvanise a nation of people.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

44th National Day Observance Ceremony

On the morning of Sunday 9 August Serangoon kampong had a very meaningful ceremony right in the heartlands. Last year, we had it at the Serangoon North area and ended at the CC.
However, the site for this year's ceremony was in a beautiful park that had a small outdoor forum. With the shade of the surrounding trees and the pavillions set up...the stage was set for a carnival-like atmosphere.
Doting grandma D2 and I decided we will bring our 3 older grandchildren along to experience for themselves what such a special day felt citizens of Singapore.

They had to wake up earlier than usual, dressed up in striking red outfits, have their breakfast before we ventured out.

There were easily more than a thousand people at the venue, most are residents of Kampong Serangoon.
The morning's programme began with a short, leisurely walk ending at the forum where goodie bags were issued to all participants.
Minister in the PMO and MP for Serangoon Gardens, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua and her grassroot leaders were in attendance.


D2, Minister Lim Hwee Hua, J, Y, T and family maid A, unk Dicko.

The background looks empty as everyone went to collect their goodie bags. Soon, the stands will be filled to the brim when the next part of the ceremony began....the march-in of the National flag and hoisting the flag, followed by the National Anthem and the taking of the Pledge.

A sea of red was what I saw around my left, right and all around. We Singaporeans may be shy socially or in public...but not on a day which was our nation's 44th birthday. In many homes all over the island, our citizens proudly display the S'pore flag. This is all good and proper. It helps to create a common sense of togetherness, of identity, of oneness as a people regardless of race, language or religion. ( Does that sound familiar? You bet! )
More about the history of that in my next post!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Three Ukuleles...Active Ageing Carnival June 2009

About 10 minutes or so after we started there was a request which came from the rear of the crowd. I peered closely to see some familiar faces of Gongshang Primary School parents with their kids. Wonderful!
Their children are in the open scout troop of the school which is entirely run by the parents themselves, one of the only few such units managed in such a successful manner.
The song requested for was a very old local scout campfire song titled " Ah Chong Sok"...about a chee cheong fun seller.
Then I spotted Darren Goh who is a present cub-scout and who was also in my Ukulele class in 2007 and 2008. Click here to read about those uke classes. Darren has been one of my most avid ukulele fan among many others. His ukulele has my signature on it. I signalled for him to come forward on stage and introduced him to one and all.

Between Richard and I, we had 4 ukuleles there. So, we passed him one and told him to join a trio.

I had taught Darren quite a few more chords than the others as he showed a genuine passion for the ukulele.

So, he was able to follow and strum along with us without much problem.

Ah Chong Sok is a really cute and funny song and the crowd enjoyed it.

Another really good one is the old English sea shanty " Drunken Sailor".
Those who have heard my rendition of this whether on guitar or ukulele never fail to request for it. So, that was requested for and played and sung the way it should be sung...with some cockney accent when singing the word " early" ( pronounced in cockney as er-lie ).
I could see it went down very well with the crowd.

We had much fun doing all the songs and entertaining the many requests. There were people watching us from the upper floors as you can see in the background.
For 11 year old Darren, this must have been a first of sorts for him. How many kids in Singapore get this kind of exposure to appear impromptu and play the ukulele in public at an official event?
Well done Darren. Well done parents.
I hope this will spur you to continue on your ukulele learning journey.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Strumming in Rhythm...Active Ageing Carnival 2009

About midway through our performance, I paused to ask the audience if they have any request to just tell us verbally. Usually, someone will write the song title or the name of a singer on a piece of paper and hand it over to us. But this time there was no interval or breaks. So to save time , I encouraged them to simply call out the song they requested for.

There were quite a number of requests we entertained. A gentle voice from a lady called for that ever popular John Denver song....
"Country Road".

Another one was the evergreen
Indonesian song " Bengawan Solo".
This is a song that goes very well with the Ukulele. You can play it in a number of different styles. I prefer the "keroncong" beat for this particular song.

It's often useful to switch to different rhythm and beat. From slow. to normal and then to faster beats and back to slow again.
This way the audience get to see and hear the full range of creative sounds that can be produced and appreciate how versatile the ukulele as a musical instrument can be.
As a matter of fact, after our gig ended... a senior lady approached me and inquired if she can learn to play the ukulele under my coaching. She gave me her contact details for future lessons.

How long does it take to be able to play, strum and sing?
The kids whom I have taught ukulele to can play at the end of the very 1st session...simple songs using 2 chords.
Understandably, the more coaching and practice time a learner has will see a significant improvement in results.

Ukulele Performance..Active Ageing Carnival June 2009

Just when we were about to go on stage...I was approached by Radio Station Gold 90.5 Fm staff to do a "LIVE" on the spot interview. This was all too sudden and with the cue given to proceed with our performance, I promised the good people of the Radio station that I will give them time after our gig was over.
After our introductory medley of local songs which got many singing and clapping along, we did a couple of catchy old time favourites.
You may be wondering what are some of these.
Know the 1957 song "Marianne" sung by Terry Gilkyson and The Easy Riders?"
The lyrics....
" All night, all day Marianne
Down by the seaside sifting sand
Even little children love Marianne
Down by the seaside sifting sand.

Marianne, oh Marianne
Oh won't you marry me
We can have a bamboo hut
And brandy in the tea
Leave your fat old mama home,
She never will say yes
If mama don't know now,
She can guess, my, my, yes! " etc....

Songs like Marianne and others from the 50's and 60's were songs that most of our seniors grew up with. They may not recall every verse but they sure know the tune and the melody...and as they sing along, some of the "lost" lyrics come flooding back.
That's the way it is.
If you sing these songs more often the lyrics will be on your lips easily.
However, some songs have such simple easy to remember lyrics that even after 40, 50 years they come back again naturally.
One such song is clear to me. Someone requested for " Oh Carol ". As soon as we began strumming the melody...the audience automatically went into " ...Oh carol, I am but a fool, darling I love you, though you treat me cruel....". They all knew the words of the song!
Can anyone name more such songs?

Often most of us will remember the entire chorus of a song but may forget one or two of the verses.
A good example is the song,
" Beautiful Sunday ".
An entire crowd will go...
" Hi, hi, hi, beautiful Sunday.
This is my, my, my, beautiful day
When you say, say, say, say that
you love me,
Oh, my, my, my it's a beautiful day."
Just knowing the chorus and joining in will spice up things tremendously.

So for such public preformance as ours was, where the venue and location was bound to be noisy with all sorts of dynamic movement and activities... care must be given to the kind and type of songs to be selected.
My selection of songs and type of music will be quite different if the performance is meant for an indoor room or auditorium with no other distractions or competing sounds.
In the past, I have added some percussion music to go with the main rhythm of the ukelele or guitar. Richard and I are still on the look out for anyone keen and able to join us in this.
Anyone who has a sense of rhythm and can handle some of the hand-held percussion instruments will be ideal.
Bongo drums, castinets, maraccas, etc..

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Active Ageing Carnival 2009..unk Dicko & friends entertain again

The ACTIVE AGEING CARNIVAL for this year was officailly launched on Saturday 20 June 2009 at Suntec City. It was a 2 day affair that drew huge crowds to that place.
I was invited by the organisers ...the Council of Third Age (C3A) to add buzz to the atmosphere with another public Ukulele Performance.
Despite my heavy responsibilities at the Asian Youth Games Village going on at that same time, this was something unk Dicko had to do.
As I had done previously, I invited my close friend Richard Chee to join me for this event.
In January this year at the Big Expo, also at Suntec City, we had wowed the large crowd over 2 days with solid ukulele music and old time favourites.
You can check out lots of posts and 2 videos in my January 2009 archives.
Getting ready by testing our ukuleles on the sound system.
We were to perform at the open air Tropics Atrium on a stage with a raised platform.

The entire hall was packed with a lot of people, mostly seniors and many with kids around. The noise level was deafening mostly coming from the general PA system and many of the booths.
As Richard and I got ready for our gig, I was more than a little apprehensive about the sheer loudness of all the combined noises.
So I approached some support staff to tweak the noise level down a little and to control the PA system better or otherwise no one will be able to hear the sweet sounds of our ukuleles.

We had our own portable amplifier set with us and wired to our ukuleles. When all was ready, I introduced ourselves and Richard to the audience. For this performance, I had prepared a good selection of songs from local favourites, to traditional, Hawaiian, popular evergreens and some "funny" songs for the kids. There will be time for requests by the audience too. What songs did they request for? In my next post I will cover this.

Performing in public is not new to us and we were very comfortable being ourselves as we began to entertain the crowd before us.
We started out with some local favourites that always got them going...Di Tanjong Katong, Dayung Sampan, Chan Mali Chan....etc.
Even as I was performing and entertaining the crowd, I was always observing their faces and body language to gauge their reaction not only to the songs but to the way that we were playing them..

The feedback I received from some of those present were most encouraging. They had thoroughly enjoyed the songs and music and wished there were more. We performed for about 45 minutes.

Singing with combined gusto and a certain " naturalness" got the crowd into an appreciative mood very quickly.
While we entertained, my wife D2 was shooting with the camcorder for the very first time. She is not only new to filming but also new to the working of that camera.
So, I have no real idea how it would be...until I can check it out.
Ps: More posts and interesting things to come still.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Memories of 1st AYG Games Village

Throughout the 3 months prior to the actual Games I had attended countless meetings, briefings, presentations, table-top execrcises, dry-runs, simulation exercise etc. As a key person in the Games Village Organisational Structure it was part of my job to get to know the people involved and to work hand in hand towards the same goals and objectives of the AYG.
I have featured some of them in my previous blogposts. Here are a few more. It was not possible to capture everyone I knew or met. But all are part of the happy memories when I reflect on the history we made together.
1st Pic:
Crystal Lim was the Manager i/c of SSC volunteers. We worked very closely to complement or supplement the daily manpower needs. It was wonderful working with her and her team.

2nd Pic:

Jee Huang was the Chief of of the most challenging roles of any Games. He was under tremendous pressure from the word 'Go' and largely delivered what was expected, despite the certain snags in such a huge operation.
It takes a very brave man to take on such a role and that quality he lacks not.
He was also a former student of mine back in JC days around '91.

3rd Pic:
Gurmit is a special friend all these years we have known each other. We have gone through trials and tribulations, laughter and our long journey in education.
I even knew his parents back in the '60s.

4th Pic:
Song Jing is the Chief of Security. She is working for the SSC. She takes her security work very seriously, ensuring an incident free Games.

5th Pic:
Wong TP is a teacher volunteer from Montfort Sec. After his stint as Village volunteer was over, he reapplied to be a Liaison Officer and immediately came to tell me about it excitedly. I was happy for him as he was full of spirit for the AYG.
He was appointed to look after Lebanon NOC.

6th Pic:
Loh Seng Yue was my former student and waterpolo player around '94 HCJC days. He and others like him were specially recruited by me when I rebuilt our then waterpolo team which went on to win major honours...with the likes of Lau Chok Yee, Samuel Lim, Kevin Teo, Tan Leek Sing etc.
He is currently teaching in TJC.

7th Pic:
Paul Lee was a key man in the Transport section helping Jee Huang.
He and I go back a long, long way to the '50s. We were both from the same Primary School, Geylang English School and living in Geylang then. I was his senior by 2-3 years...and still remember him and a few other GES boys from our kampong days.

8th Pic:
Nicholas is working for the YOG. He and a few of his YOG colleagues have been helping out in the AYG as a prelude to the 2010 Games to be hosted by Singapore.
The other two whom I have known are Ernie and Meng Tak.