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The People Who Shape Our Lives...

Dedications - Family

Whether we like it or not, our family shapes who we are. My parents put in their best efforts to bring us up the way they knew how to and the way they felt was the best, and for that I'm eternally grateful! I've spent many MANY many years in school and my parents, brother and sister-in-law has supported me through this journey and I cannot be more thankful.

I grew up in a typical Asian family with tiger parents. My parents loved us and wanted us to excel in our studies and music, never expecting us to take on household responsibilities, always chauffeuring us around to make the most out of our time, investing in music lessons with the best teachers in the country and constantly breathing down our necks to practice. The discipline and resilience from this lifestyle is a lifelong skill and tremendously useful in every aspect of life. All these efforts from my parents was their way of loving their kids and giving the best to them.

As with anything, there's the pros, and then....... the cons!

I hardly made choices or had an opinion about anything at all, I didn't even have to since everything was decided for me - my schedule, school choices, what I did or did not do etc. If I saw myself and my siblings today, I would think we were entirely spoilt and pampered kids, never needing to lift a finger to do anything at home except study and practice. That was our way of life and I never thought much about it until I moved to the US. Of course, it's because we did not "waste" time on anything other than studying and practicing that helped us all excel, but other aspects of life such as independence, learning to make decisions, responsibilities were neglected.

If I saw my students' parents carrying their instrument, I call my student out and make them carry their own instrument, whether they are 5 or 15. It's their instrument, they are learning to play the violin, they need to take responsibility for it.

Due to my upbringing, I didn't ask any questions, question authority or music. I simply took everything I saw and learnt as the truth. And that's very dangerous for anyone, especially a musician! I was the perfect student, using every single fingering on the score, following every instruction from my teachers. I struggled for a long period in the US (more on that in future posts!), especially since Asian and American upbringing is vastly different. What happens after school gets out? And what is music all about if you don't make choices, have opinions or emotions? Will I ever be independent? Will I ever be ready to face the world?

We are a product of our environment and upbringing, but that does not mean we do not have the power to make change. Self-awareness and making a deliberate effort to be uncomfortable and make changes allows us to challenge ourselves.

Like many Asians, we grew up being judged, and judging. It seemed the 'natural' way of life until I became aware that there are really other ways to live. Growing up being judged and constantly judging oneself was mentally tormenting and sure, it meant that we had high standards for ourselves and possibly achieve more, but at the same time maybe it's the same judgement that causes the fear of failure and self-limitation. After all these years, I'm still constantly searching for that balance within myself.

Like any typical Asian family, we were not the most expressive family, but my brother and I both resided in the US for years and probably picked it up here and brought it back to our family. For that, I'm thankful!

At the end of the day, I'm sincerely thankful for all my parents have done for us and how they have shaped our lives. I move on with my life constantly working on myself, making choices to create balance in my life and never being limited by who I was brought up as. I'm definitely excited to move back to Singapore and spend more time with the family! =)


Tee '17

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