My parents told me that I had shown interest in music ever since I was young. I still have cassette tapes containing old recordings of a 7 year old me singing to 'Lemon Tree' and songs from the veteran Chinese singer, Huang An.
The first time I ever touched a piano must have been at my grandmother's house. It was an old brown piano whose pedals creaked and keys were turning yellow. My aunty decided to give me lessons along with my cousin. After some time, my cousin lost interest and stopped, while I decided to continue. I remember my aunty giving me the sheets to Emil Chau's 'Friends'. It looked so hard to me, and I stared at her in awe when she played it on the piano. She said to me, "One day you will be able to play this'. And some years later, I was!
She bought theory books for me and taught me how to play simple tunes with both hands. After I completed all three levels of the beginner books, she decided to introduce me to her own piano teacher. That was when my interest really kicked off. I went for lessons every single week for 8 years. I took ABRSM exams for all 8 grades for the practical component and Grade 3 to Grade 8 for the theory component. I managed to get pretty decent scores for all my exams, and when I was in Grade 3, I got to perform at the High Scorer's Concert. According to my teacher, I was the first student she had ever taught from Grade 1 all the way to Grade 8!
I started playing by ear when I was in Grade 1. At the time I was watching the TVB series 'Time Before Time' and I really loved the theme song. I don't know how it happened, but after playing around on my piano I managed to play the whole piece. Although the arrangement was very simple, it was the first time I had ever played something without needing sheets. From them on, I became way more interested in playing pop songs instead of classical music. I would search the web for sheet music and photocopy whole music books borrowed from friends. I still relied on sheet music a fair bit, but I would make the effort to figure out a song if there were no sheets and I desperately wanted to play it. Learning about chords and intervals in music theory also helped me a lot in being able to play by ear.
In high school I started going for 'guzheng' or zither lessons with a close friend. It was a totally different instrument but I was able to pick it up fairly quickly because music theory can be applied to any instrument, really. Unfortunately our teacher was very focused on performances so a lot of the time, we would spend a good few months practicing a single song. I continued lessons for about 3 years and I came out feeling that I hadn't learned much at all. I know the basic techniques but undoubtedly there is so much more to learn.
During my college year, I went for a few 'dizi' or Chinese flute lessons during the holidays. It made me realise that wind instruments weren't my forte. No matter how much I practiced my lungs just weren't strong enough to hold more than a few notes. I have tried on multiple occasions to start learning on my own again but have always failed. Some time later I bought a half sized guitar, but I can do nothing more than strum a few simple chords. I also practice on my hubby's drum set occasionally, and I can play simple beats now.
I started posting covers on the Internet when I was 17. For quite some time I posted my covers of Chinese and Cantonese songs on the Asianfanatics forum, and when things quietened down I switched over to Youtube. The same year I started posting on Youtube, a friend introduced me to the world of Korean entertainment and ever since I have been uploading piano and vocal covers of Kpop. It has been 7 years now and I have no intention of stopping. :)
It's funny how things have changed. The section I did the worst in my piano exams were always listening and repeating phrases and listening for chord progressions in the aural section. I always excelled in sight reading and almost always managed to play the given piece almost perfectly the first time round. Now, playing by ear has become second nature to me, and I can't really play according to sheet music without stumbling every few bars or so!
So that's my music story for you. Music has been a huge part of my life and will always be.