The musical I co-wrote will be performed this weekend, 1-3 April 2016!

This is just a shout-out to people who would like to see the other side of my work. I wrote the lyrics to My Love is Blind, a musical about a man who goes blind in his twenties, and had my sticky fingers involved in the music and bits of the script as well.

See what The Online Citizen had to say about the showcase last year:

“Let The Blind Lead The Blind”: Local musical confronts stereotypes of the visually impaired

Tan Guan Heng wrote his first novel My Love Is Blind in the early 1990s. It was a painstaking process: he had to first type his manuscript out in Braille, then record himself reading it aloud, before sending the tape to a typist for transcription. The book was published in 1995.

“It’s semi-autobiographical,” he said about the novel, which revolves around a young man learning to carry on with life after losing both his sight and the love of his life. “About 70 per cent of it comes from my own life.”

Twenty years later, his story is close to coming to life on the stage. Stella Kon – a Singaporean playwright who wrote the well-loved Emily of Emerald Hill – had helped him edit his novel all those years ago, and thought of it as a good story for a musical. Through Musical Theatre Live! (MTL) – a non-profit organisation of which Kon is chair – a team was put together to life the story off the page and on to the stage.

Get your tickets here — http://ticketingmtl.peatix.com/

Of course, if you want special ticketing arrangements (limited number of guest tickets lah, nod nod wink wink), feel free to contact me.

PS. If you get free tickets, please consider donating to the production company — writers, actors, set designers, sound crew, etc. need to pay their bills.

PPS: Dear friends and family. DON’T SAY BO JIO OK? 😀

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[ENDLESS ROAR — Riga] Programme notes for https://youtu.be/a3FOOFPspS8

In the winter of 2015, I took off my tutoring hat and put on my musician’s hat to join my old friend and ex-bandmate to create the musical project Endless Roar. We don’t play music that people are used to — have you ever heard of semi-improvised electro-acoustic ambient post-rock? Yikes.

Our music may be a little bit strange, so here are some tips for how to enjoy the recording of the performance.

  1. Make sure you can focus on the video for an hour, undisturbed.
  2. Put yourself into the frame of mind you have before an orchestral performance.
  3. Prepare your best sound system (because the quality of our recording wasn’t the best :P)
  4. Enjoy! (Optional: glass of wine)

 

Meet Mr Seah at a private showcase of the musical /MY LOVE IS BLIND/ (5 April 2015)

Some of the people involved in the musical. Can you spot Stella Kon, author of Emily of Emerald Hill?

Some of the people involved in the musical. Can you spot Stella Kon, author of Emily of Emerald Hill?

It’s finally happening!

For awhile now, I’ve been working on a musical based on the life of Tan Guan Heng, a remarkable man who lost his sight as a young man (at 29 years of age), bouncing back from the setback to become a successful businessman, and changing the way people thought of the blind and visually handicapped as the former President of the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped (SAVH).

It has been a fascinating journey, writing the lyrics and some of the music for this musical. If you want a taste of what the musical may be like, here’s a recording of the first song I wrote for it.

Details:

MY LOVE IS BLIND The Musical
SHOWCASE (Theatrical Concert format)
2015 Apr 5 SUNDAY 8 pm
Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, LIGHTHOUSE School Hall

Free Event by Invitation/Registration.
To request for Attendance:
Email: MTL.Manager@gmail.com

For more info, click here

The Talented Mr Seah is on iTunes and Spotify as “Kevin Ghosty”

On iTunes and Spotify!

On iTunes and Spotify!

Mr Seah is proud to announce… his first album on iTunes and Spotify! And Bandcamp, for those who wanna download the thing for free — but you can also leave me a small (or large) tip there 🙂

I’ll admit, it feels just a little strange, announcing a musical project on my website that I use to advertise my tuition services, but long-time readers of my website will notice that I’ve been leading up to this, bit by bit, fusing my “Kevin Ghosty” and “Mr Seah” identities slowly but surely. It’s something that only makes sense, since I’ve had opportunities to use music as a teaching tool, especially for my younger students.

I don’t want to talk too much about this, but all you have to do now is to click on one of the links above and listen to my little musical gift to the world. There’s still a (tiny) chance that I’ll have a hit song, and for that to happen, I’ll need all of you reading this to choose your favourite song and share it (LIKE CRAZY) with your friends.

Enjoy!

Learning how to play the guitar (Describe an unforgettable event or experience in your life. Why does it mean so much to you?)

Mr Seah performing.. on stage! :D

Mr Seah performing.. on stage! 😀

(The essay below is written as if I were 16 years old. You don’t have to be an old geezer to have memorable experiences!)

Things to notice:

  • The use of sensory details (i.e. things that engage the five senses)
  • The attempt to entertain and edify the reader
  • The evidence of planning (a clear introduction, paragraphs that flow together smoothly, a clear conclusion)

Describe an unforgettable event or experience in your life. Why does it mean so much to you?

I have had only a few unforgettable experiences in the sixteen years of my life thus far, but one of the most positive unforgettable experiences I can think of is my experience of learning how to play the guitar. It is also one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, because of how much I have learnt from it. Approaching the guitar as the beginner was also a considerably painful experience — but that pain made the experience so much sweeter.

Two years ago, after finishing my Secondary Two examinations, I decided to learn how to play the guitar. At that time, my family only had an old nylon string guitar that was extremely difficult to tune. It smelt funny, like dust and wood, and always left my hand aching when I tried to get my fingers round its large neck. I learnt two basic chords on it, but I was very quickly yearning for a new steel string acoustic guitar that one of my closest friends had. His guitar was so much louder than mine, and it sounded so much nicer. Its bright, percussive tone was exactly what I was looking for.

My parents are the sort who avoid giving their children too much money, so I did not have the option of saving up for the guitar. If I had tried, it probably would have taken me till now to save up for it! Consequently, I did what any child would do — I whined and begged for a new guitar. As I tried every trick in my begging book, I happened to confidently make my father a promise that I truly believed I could keep.

“Daddy,” I proclaimed, “I’m going to have so much time during the holidays. I’ll be able to practice all day, every day! If you buy me a guitar, I’m going to be just like the guitarists you see on stage. Maybe I won’t be as good as them, but I’ll definitely be able to go up on stage and play!”

With a prolonged sigh that must have lasted a week, my father eventually gave in, but not before he got a word in himself. “You’re going to be excited about it for a week or two, and then you’re going to give it up for something else, a computer game or something. And you’re definitely not going to be able to perform with only two months of practice.” With the brash confidence of a fourteen year old, I laughed that comment off. Thusly, I received my first ever guitar — a beautiful steel string acoustic.

I dived into my “all day, every day” practice regimen the moment I got home with the guitar. It was easy at first — the new guitar not only looked showroom-shiny, it sounded showroom-shiny. It was just so much fun. The problem with transitioning from a nylon string guitar to a steel string guitar is, as any guitarist can tell you, a painful one. There is a reason we wear clothes with nylon, and not steel, in them. Within the first week, my fingertips were aching like they had never ached before.

The novice guitarist’s fingers go through a journey that is like a hero’s quest. First, the hero is filled with confidence that he will emerge victorious. The hero plunges on ahead, but after awhile, pain arrives. The skin of my fingertips grew red and sore. The hero balks at the immensity of the task ahead. Strangely, I was able to play till my fingers grew numb, which meant that I could really practice all day without too much pain bothering me. It was only when I stopped that the blood would rush back to my fingers; now my fingertips were always throbbing, even as they were simultaneously growing tougher like the balls of our feet grow tougher when we walk barefoot. The hero drags himself onward, thinking only of the terminus of his journey.

I was a month into my journey when I realized that it was going to be almost impossible to keep my promise to my father, of being good enough to perform on stage at the end of the holidays. My fingers were still hurting, and I could ‘only’ practice four to five hours every day, instead of the nine to twelve hours that I was hoping for. Thankfully, it was also around this time that my fingertips hardened to the point where it was muscular fatigue that kept a limit on my practice hours. I kept practicing like a madman, because I was mortified that my father’s prediction could be right — that I would not be ready to step on stage by the end of the holidays. By the time the holidays came to a close, I was a fairly decent guitarist, but nowhere near ready to be on stage.

The experience of learning how to play the guitar has proven to be immensely meaningful and unforgettable. I still remember how my fingers hurt — the million pinpricks of pain whenever I picked something up with my left hand. I even remember how my fingers smelt, like a baffling mixture of steel, cake, and dead skin. However, the most unforgettable and meaningful aspect of the experience arose from the fact of my apparent failure. I was unable to keep part of my promise, but as a result, gained so much more out of it. I had developed an immense reservoir of discipline that has served me well to this day.

With the discipline and ability I have developed since that experience two years ago, I firmly believe that music will continue to play a large part in my life, even as I approach adulthood. Even if I do not become a working musician, the discipline and moral lessons that I have learnt from this experience will always stay with me.

(978 words)

Addendum
Note to sixteen year old self: by the time you turn 31, you would have made thousands of dollars of music. Keep on keeping on! 😉

Performance vs Precision

Mr Seah circa 2008

Mr Seah circa 2008

One of my old band members once said of me: “The reason I like Kevin’s playing is not that he’s technical. He’s not. He’s not the fastest player I’ve ever seen, I think (our old bassist) was faster. But while (our old bassist) was faster, Kevin’s playing is just more entertaining. With (our old bassist), it felt like I had to hit every note precisely, but with Kevin I feel like I can rock out.”

I think that’s the task for every kind of performer. If you’re a teacher, it doesn’t matter that you speak with imprecise grammar, as long as your pass your passion for your subject on — even if you’re an English teacher (but only to the extent that your speech can still be labeled as “international” English and not Singlish, la).

So many singer-songwriters I see these days are just concerned with hitting the notes. Come on. Musicians are not just called on to be precise machines, we are called on to entertain, to shock, to amuse, even to enlighten. If listeners really wanted precision and nothing else, midi-controlled music would be dominating our airwaves. But we still have armies of singers and bands performing live, making the mistakes and ‘mistakes’ that identify us as living, breathing, feeling human beings.

If you’re a performer, go out there and perform. That’s your calling.

AWARD: Most Creative Lyrics (Homesongs 2014)

Kevin Seah -- "Kopitiam" -- Top 12 Finalist (Homesongs)

Kevin Seah — “Kopitiam” — Top 12 Finalist (Homesongs)

Most Creative Lyrics -- Kevin Seah  (Homesongs)

Most Creative Lyrics — Kevin Seah (Homesongs)

New news! I’ve won the award for “Most Creative Lyrics” at the Homesongs competition, with my song “Kopitiam”. I’ll attach the lyrics below, and if there’s some kind of demand, perhaps I’ll post a recording 😉

I’m wondering if there’ll be any demand for a “learn English via lyrics” kind of workshop in schools, hmm..

Lyrics for “Kopitiam” by Kevin Seah

Shall we meet at the fancy cafe
Wag our tongues over expensive lattes
Shall we have a plate of pasta
And get high a little faster
With a bottle of expensive chardonnay

No, we’ll meet at the kopitiam
We’ll have a little beer, and spread a little cheer
At my local, favourite kopitiam

Shall we board a flight on a whim
Go to France for expensive cuisine
Shall we work for our pay
And wait for the day
When we can eat and not go to the gym

No, we’ll eat at the kopitiam
We’ll have a little food, chase away all our blues
At my local, favourite kopitiam

I know you may find it a bore
That this song sounds a little too Ang Moh
But I can’t help myself
My shame must be upheld
I speak no Chinese coz I didn’t go to my..

Kopitiam
We’ll have a little beer, and spread a little cheer
At my local, favourite kopitiam

Oh my kopitiam
We’ll have a little food, chase away all our blues
At my local, favourite kopitiam