Saturday, November 19, 2011

Home-grown Talent and the recorder flute

It was a wonderful discovery that made my day. To come across these fridge magnets that encapsulate our unique local flavours.

Hokkien Mee, laksa, juey gueh and nonya cakes......

The meticulous details on the spring onions, sambal chilli, hard boiled egg etc. created such tantalizing appeal and they look no less
real than the real food itself.

It was even more gratifying to learn that the artist who produced such crafts is actually a local--a 63-year-old granny, some one from a forgotten generation.

Finally, we have our own LOCALLY produced LOCAL sourvenir-- a genuine representation of our culture, by a LOCAL talent. And most importantly, it is MADE IN SINGAPORE in every sense and that itself is an ever-growing feat in this highly globalised and deeply capitalised era.

For too long, we have been told by the top that we have a dire lack of talents, and thus justifying the movement of importing an astronomical number of foreigners to our shores while under-appreciating our own. So it was a happy event to chance upon our very own talent that day at this particular stall that sells local hand-made products.

And it is through these magnets, that I saw the pride of the artist of her very own identity and culture. It is not just about having Changi Airport or Formula One or Youth Olmpics but that quality that delicately defines who we are and our uniqueness.

I recall the classic example of the
recorder flute.

Remember that flute-like musical instrument that we were made to play during our days of primary school? A musical instrument that appeared from no where and its presence confines strictly to school premises only. Because no local plays that here! And to make matters worse, it sounds horrible and indecisive to my ears. Because the pitch varies according to the amount of air that passes through the mouthpiece. The pitch can never seem to decide what it wants to be.

Decades later, I discovered that the recorder flute saga was created by a local scholar who was sent to France to draw lessons from the French education system. His brilliant discovery was that all French children play recorder flute at schools. Consequently, that instrument was incorporated into our music lessons and the musical instruments that were played by our local people were all brushed aside to make way for the wonderfully divine recorder flute.

Of course, we must draw strengths and learning points from others. But we should never be made to feel that our culture and identity are less good than the West. And neither should we mindlessly import/implant habits from the West, overlooking the intelligence to localize great ideas and systems.

It is high time that we begin our future journey inward and give more appreciation to our own people/talents who deserve. Because afterall, sustainable growth can only be attained from within. If only the people at the top can understand such logic.