Leung Pai


Don't worry about age, live in the moment, indulge in music

There is a saying that goes "teach an old dog a new trick", which means it is too late to learn, that even one have the passion, he/she always lacks the ability. Once, I agreed with the statement. However, how should we define "old"? 60 years old? Or 70? Or 86-year-old like myself that is approaching my 90s, shall be called "old"? My age was once the reason why I gave up playing my beloved violin. Luckily, I encountered TWGHs E Major Ensemble last year, which relieved me from my stubbornness and encouraged me to pick up my long-forgotten violin. Since I have joined the ensemble, my third age is filled with music and joy.


Violin to me, brings back both sweet and bitter memories. Back in the 50s of last century when life was harsh and poor, I found spiritual support and joy from music. Playing in an amateur band with friends, talking about music and performing after work filled the days with happiness. Yet happiness didn't last. Band members quitted or migrated overseas, but the deaths of my music teacher and best friends hit me most tragically. Whenever I picked up the violin, sorrow overflows -- for there was no one in the quartet to play with anymore.

As I grew older, I realized that my technique as well had came to a bottleneck. I could never achieve my goals. Eventually I gave up on violin. Taking the chance of moving, boxes of scores and music books were thrown away. At some point, I wasn't even sure if I was mad at myself, or I was trying to run away from the hurtful memories. I didn't have an answer to myself for long.


Until 20 years ago, I reached the age of retirement. My ex-colleagues encouraged me to join the Chinese orchestra for senior teaching staff. I switched to Chinese musical instrument where I found a trace of the long-lost joy I used to indulge in when engaging in music. Another 20 years swifted past, my friend in the Chinese orchestra referred me to the E Major Ensemble. I was originally interested in the percussion vacancy. However, the program handler happened to discover my history of playing the violin and encouraged me to pick it up again. I was hesitant, my rusty skill was my concern. I couldn't make the decision until my friend hit me with a wake-up call: "You are healthy and strong, you don't need a wheelchair, and now you have the chance once more join an orchestra. What are you waiting for?"

He is right! Who would have thought at the age of 80, there would still be a chance of joining a new orchestra and be their violinist? What's more could one ever ask for? Once again, I picked up my violin. My hands weren't as agile as they were, even shaky sometimes, but I had learned to accept my physical constraints, acknowledge my limit and instead, focus on the joy of playing the instrument. When I fully emerge myself in music, I am delighted. I find myself relieved from my own stubborn thoughts. This is perhaps the greatest gift E Major Ensemble has given me.


It was clear in my memory that in my younger days, practicing playing the violin up to 8 hours a day is a piece of cake. Now I could not play for more than 1 hour, and I have to rest when tiredness kicks in. However, the satisfaction is no less than what I used to feel. Isn't it the magic of music? The joy it brings is not limited to age or ability. In the early days of my retirement, I spent my time playing the Mahjong and investing in the stock market. The money I earned, however, could never be comparable to the joy that music has brought me. Joining E Major Ensemble furthers such joy as I can meet friends who share a common passion. We practice, exchange ideas and improve together. This is certainly way better than being a couch potato and watch TV.


To those who just or are about to retire, I hope you do not repeat my mistakes. Don't live pessimistically in the past. Don't be hung up in the glorious good old days. Don't care too much about your age. Be courageous and take a new step forward. I like the slogan of E Major Ensemble: Improve the elder's life through music. Inspired by the slogan, I have become more eager to try new things. For instance, the orchestra features a range of percussion instruments, all of which I am interested but did not get the chance to learn when I was young. Therefore, I have enrolled myself in the Timpani course to start off. The first session is going to start soon and I look forward to it very much!