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Saturday
Jan112014

[Review] Suteru Tabi - M1 Singapore Fringe Festival

Suteru Tabi Photo credit: Shawn Bryon Danker

Four chairs on the stage and three towels set the stage. When the show begins, we see a man sitting in one of the chairs. There is a long pause and eventually he starts sobbing uncontrollably until he moves the chairs away. There is an air of fear in the audience as there is a threat of the actor possibly throwing the chair on stage.

Later on, it appears as if he is in between the state of anger and playfulness. I’m not sure whether he is a child trapped in an adult’s body or whether he suffers from a medical condition. Gradually, I discover that he is a child and this begins the journey of the play.

The magic of Suteru Tabi is in the complexity that is hidden in the simplicity. There is a reference to myth and continuous non-linear storytelling. We are in a half real, half memory, half dream state and an all-in-all elaborate world created by director Shiro Maeda.

Suteru Tabi Photo credit: Shawn Bryon Danker

In the post-show discussion, we discover how director Shiro Maeda purposely wrote this play with this format to tell a story in this manner. There is so much attention to detail and knowing that the play has been performed numerous times over the course of five years is interesting. I also discover that it was a piece meant for the domestic Japanese market yet has managed to connect with audiences around the world.

The theme of loss is perhaps the key. In the play, the main character revisits himself losing his dog and his unborn son to face his father’s death. The floating fleeting sensation evoked by this play is half hallucinatory and the illogical is soon accepted as the norm. In moments such as a scene at the hot springs, we are led to believe the characters are undressed even though they are fully clothed on stage. The strong acting transcends what is obvious and takes you into this universe.

By the end of the show, there is a reconnection with the opening scene with the burial of the father. We’ve been taken on an emotional journey and because of the narrative (or lack of a conventional linear narrative), it is as if we have woken up from a dream.

Suteru Tabi Photo credit: Shawn Bryon Danker

During the post-show discussion, the director explains more of the piece and how it has developed over the years. As with a piece like this, the cast has seen it change over the years. With a piece like this, it is worth revisiting as an audience member as well.

I hope I will.

- Az Samad, 10 January 2014 

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Saturday
Jan112014

[Review] An Enemy of the People - M1 Singapore Fringe Festival

An Enemy of the People Photo credit: The Pond Photography

As I enter the space, the actors move around the stage. At first I wonder whether they are already in character or not. Soon, I notice someone acknowledging an audience member. As the hall fills and eventually becomes full, the lights go out and the actors line up. They make announcements, thank the sponsors and the show starts. In this production, the actors take turns as narrators setting the scene. He or she describes the space, where the doors are and where we are.

The interesting part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival’s presentation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People is on many levels. For one, it’s a translated work into Mandarin with surtitles. I don’t read or speak Mandarin but enjoy theatre regardless of language. On another level, the stage is sparse and the actors themselves move the props around in between scenes. It’s very minimal but presents enough objects on stage to create the mood. 

For the actual acting, hearing the dialogue being spoken in Mandarin is fascinating. Just like watching a foreign film, you do a balancing act of reading the translation and catching the nuances of the acting. Your mind does a composite of the translated words and the action on the stage. Part of the magic in this piece is how Nine Years Theatre manages to bring you into the piece being a part of the realism. There is the realism in the acting, the hyper realism in the exaggeration of the emotions and the sparse impressionistic nature of the set.

The story, now retold in a different language, with a tango musical backdrop brings attention how society often struggles with the same issues in different eras. The issues are timeless and the core of the problems never disappear, perhaps. In the end, sitting through the post-show discussion, there is a mention of the importance of ‘truth’ and how it is as an important value. In the end, the thoughts and questions we have after a piece leaves the space is all we have.

And, by then - theatre has done its job.

- Az Samad, 10 January 2014 

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Thursday
Dec192013

Kickstart Your Guitar Playing in 2014

  • Have you always wanted to be better at guitar? 
  • Do you have a dusty guitar under your bed all alone with strings rusting away?
  • Have you been playing for years & years but now have gotten in a rut, stuck & stagnant?
  •  

    Why let your musical dreams fade away? Let 2014 be the beginning of something exciting!

    "I have owned a guitar for 10 years before I finally decided to do something with it, and I picked the right teacher. Az seems to have a knack for mind-reading as he is able to dissect and explain the music to me even before I know what questions to ask. His emphasis on learning the basics well has helped me build a sound foundation to progress much faster."

    Carolyn Hong, Beginner Guitar Student, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    Introducing guitar programs designed to make YOU a better player

    "Az has an amazing ability to teach in a way that makes it so easy to learn, I managed to learn so much in just a short span of time."

    Mei Chern, Singer-songwriter, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


    Now, you might say to yourself... I could just learn all this on my own. I could just go on YouTube and find tons of free lessons. Yes, you could.

    In fact, this is what Lai Ze Ren did before he studied with me:

    "Before I join Az's class I had already learn and play for 4 years but all the while, my overall playing still quite stiff especially the percussive techniques that I learnt from Youtube. After getting his lessons, my previous weaknesses such as playing with no emotions, stiff techniques have removed!"

    Lai Ze Ren, Fingerstyle Guitar Course Student, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    There is an abundance of free lessons online. BUT, you would need to spend time going through the mass number of hack guitar teachers and wanna-be instructors who do not know what YOUR problems are. 

    • Cookie cutter solutions gets you cookie cutter results. 
    • Study with ordinary materials and become ordinary. 

    If you love being ordinary, then these courses are NOT FOR YOU.

    My students are very busy people. From CEOs to teachers to law students to music college students & retired professionals, they have packed schedules & VERY limited time.

    "...my goal is not to sit for exams or to add stress to the learning experience. So indeed we managed to work on a plan for lessons to be managed with a balance of my work schedule of which I appreciate the most." 

    Samantha Lee, Beginner Guitar Student, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    "I have been a guitarist for almost 10 years and thought I could just get by with chords and melody. Learning from Az has been an amazing experience, every lesson has multiplied my knowledge of music and just went I thought I learned enough about a particular thing, he amazes me with his depth of knowledge and wisdom."
     

    Benjamin Khong, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Completed The Jazz Guitar Masterclass Course in Oct 2013) 

    Ready to learn more? Here are the class details:

    NOTE: All the classes are private lessons, one-on-one classes. There are no group classes at the moment.  

    Guitar Lessons
    • Choose From 3 Programs: 
      • Singer-Songwriter Guitar
      • Jazz Guitar
      • Beginner 
    • Single Lesson & 4, 8 or 12 Lesson Packages Available
    • Study in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia OR worldwide via Skype

    Click Here To Learn More About the Guitar Lessons:
    http://www.azsamad.com/guitar-lessons  

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    Music Lessons
    • Choose From 3 Programs: 
      • Composition
      • Improvisation
      • Jazz & Contemporary Harmony/Theory
    • Single Lesson & 4, 8 or 12 Lesson Packages Available
    • Study in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia OR worldwide via Skype

    Click Here To Learn More About the Music Lessons:
    http://www.azsamad.com/music-lessons   

    ** To register, message me here to book your slot: http://www.azsamad.com/contact **

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    [Busy Schedule? Take A Short Course.]
    NOTE: All the classes are private lessons, one-on-one classes. There are no group classes at the moment.  

    Intro to Fingerstyle Ukulele Course
    • 2-Month Course 
    • Limited Enrollment - only 3 Students Max

    Click Here To Learn More About The Intro to Fingerstyle Ukulele Course:
    http://www.azsamad.com/ukulele

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    Intro to Jazz Blues Guitar Course
    • 2-Month Course 
    • Limited Enrollment - only 3 Students Max

    Click Here To Learn More About The Intro to Jazz Blues Guitar Course:
    http://www.azsamad.com/jazzblues

    ** To register, message me here to book your slot:http://www.azsamad.com/contact **

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    Percussive Fingerstyle Guitar Course
    • 3-Month course 
    • Limited Enrollment - only 3 Students Max
    Click Here To Learn More About The Percussive Fingerstyle Guitar Course:
    ** To register, message me here to book your slot:http://www.azsamad.com/contact **

    _________________________

    Jazz Guitar Masterclass
    http://www.azsamad.com/jazz
     
    • 2-Month Course 
    • Limited Enrollment - only 3 Students Max

    Click Here To Learn More About The Jazz Guitar Masterclass:
    http://www.azsamad.com/jazz 

    REMEMBER: Register by 11:59pm Tuesday, December 31, 2013 to lock into current class rates. NEW 2014 Rates begin on January 1, 2014.

    ** To register, message me here to book your slot:http://www.azsamad.com/contact **
     

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    Sunday
    Dec152013

    Gifts For YOU! #azbday

    It's my birthday & I have gifts for you! =)

    Here they are:

    Gift #1: The Birthday EP ---> STILL AVAILABLE! =)
    These are 7 songs released together for the first time. You'll hear songs on solo guitar (steel string, nylon string, electric) and 1 solo tenor ukulele song too! =)
     

    Enjoy! 


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    Gift #2: Beginner Guitar Starter Pack

    Beginner Guitar Starter Pack: THIS OFFER IS NOW CLOSED.

    You can still purchase this guitar pack directly for USD$7 USD$5 (Promo Price)
    Click here to order: http://azsamad.com/lessonpacks

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    Gift #3: Jazz Guitar Geek Super Pack!

    Jazz Guitar Geek Super Pack: THIS OFFER IS NOW CLOSED.

    You can still purchase this guitar pack directly for USD$17 USD$12 (Promo Price)
    Click here to order: http://azsamad.com/lessonpacks
     

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    Monday
    Nov252013

    Beats & Bytes Column in The Star by Az Samad

    I'm a columnist for The Star Online's technology section. These are links to the articles for my column called Beats & Bytes. If you're interested to discover how technology and music influence each other, this is for you.

    Enjoy!

     

    • An introduction to my column in The Star!
    • Optimize your time on YouTube! A guide to hack your learning & get better, faster.
    • How I released an album - without a record label, on my own & how you can do it too.
    • Crowdfunding is quickly becoming the alternative path to making records for musicians.
    • Find out how you can get your music heard across the globe.

    #6 Catch a live concert in your pyjamas!

    • Performer Az Samad experiences video streaming technology first-hand and shares his experience.

    #7 Learning music via Skype!

    • Music educator Az Samad takes a music lesson that inspires him to teach guitar via Skype.

     

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