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The curse of castle dragon

The Curse of Castle Dragon | Cover by Vinnie Mah

By | Electric Guitar, Vinnie's Youtube World | No Comments

The Curse of Castle Dragon

Paul Gilbert has many well-known songs and The Curse of Castle Dragon is definitely on the top of the list! Any Paul Gilbert fan will be able to tell you the technical challenges in this song. They will even tell you how each part is played at the most detailed level. Or if I played anything wrong in this video. But I feel I have something else to express through this song cover.

Learning straight from the master, Paul Gilbert

paul gilbert interview singapore

If you don’t know, I was very lucky to be able to interview Paul Gilbert when he was here in Singapore for a gig in 2019. You can read all about my nerve-wracking experience here. On top of that, I am also part of his online music school at ArtistWorks.com

The motivating factor

I started playing guitar at an age that’s considered too old by many. Impossible to be able to reach the standard I so desire. I had no teachers or could I afford one then. But I stumbled upon the great Paul Gilbert and his “Down to Mexico” video. The insanely fast and accurate picking with fancy costumes and the quirky greenscreen background caught my attention right away. Not to mention how humble Paul was. That became my catalyst to pursue in guitar playing. It took me 15 years to find the courage to cover “The Curse of Castle Dragon”! I fell in love with the song when it was first released and had been messing around the sections of the song over the years. Never have I found the right phase of my life to put it together.

That was until I met Paul last year. I had the privilege to chat and interview him during his gig in Singapore back in 2019. It felt so surreal to be standing right next to someone who I watch on videos and admired so much for all these years. I told myself, that has to be the sign for me to start taking my life seriously.

 

who is Funtwo ?

Who is Funtwo? | Youtube’s earliest viral guitarist!

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Who is Funtwo?

Just who is Funtwo? Well at the very beginning of youtube, people were deeply rooted in the idea that famous people must appear on TV. They are also unable to comprehend how a boy in his bedroom can play his guitar as well as big names out there. That was the start of Funtwo’s career as a guitarist. While we know he became a viral sensation, we really want to know more about who this guy is! So we gave him a call and had a chat with him!

who is Funtwo ?

Video Interview at bottom of page

“this guy iz great!!!”

Back in 2005, a young computer science student played a cover of JerryC’s rock guitar arrangement of Pachelbel Canon. The video was then uploaded by a user “guitar90” and it racked up at least 6 million views. Nobody knows who guitar90 was and the account was later removed. Arguably, there are other guitarists who gained more view count for covering “Canon Rock” today. Youtuber Vi Gi tops the chart at 87 million views, Sungha Jung ranked second at 56 million views and JerryC himself at 23 million. However, we cannot deny the fact that it all started when Funtwo recorded that dorky video!

funtwo youtube

Can you spot Funtwo in the Most Viewed category of Youtube 2005?

Who else is Funtwo performing with?

Funtwo recently joined the ranks at Yamaha and made a cover of Michael Jackson’s Black or White with Jack Thammarat and Jane! In our video interview, Funtwo also shared how he is looking to collaborate with other great guitarists. Funtwo is definitely not stopping at Canon Rock.

Here’s the fun thing about this video cover. It is done with 3 very different video angles! This means while we linked Funtwo’s version here, heading over to Jack Thammarat or Jane‘s youtube channel will allow you to view this cover in a totally new way! That is really fun t0o!

Instagram Filter for Funtwo!

funtwo Instagram Filter

Click on the icon above to load the Instagram filter we made for Funtwo!

Conclusion

Funtwo is a definitely “twice the fun” to us. His guitar playing is extraordinary and has great vibes to his phrases. We highly recommend you to follow his work and subscribe to his youtube channel. You may witness the birth of another of his viral video!

Exciting modern music just for you!

By | Music Instruments, Newsletter, Piano, Pop Piano, Student's Videos | No Comments

Discover exciting modern music right here!

Classical music may not be everyone’s cup of tea! We live in a time where we have access to so many different types of music. The genres are ever-expanding. So finding an alternative to classical is a breeze! In fact, there’s an exciting modern music syllabus available to help stimulate your creative juices! 

exciting musicWelcome to the ANZCA Modern Pianoforte Syllabus! It is available throughout Australia, New Zealand and South-east Asia. This is a great alternative to conventional classical piano lessons! Not least because it covers a wide array of genres which include jazz, blues, pop and rock, ragtime and more.

Watch these videos of our ANZCA students! We’re so proud of their efforts!

 

ANZCA is well-known for it’s ever evolving, innovative and flexible system that focuses on versatility in music education. The syllabus lists are carefully compiled. And of course pays great attention to setting interesting and musical pieces. This is especially so at the junior levels. Kids nowadays naturally like the music that they hear around them, on Spotify, on the TV, and on-line. As it’s the music of their culture, what they enjoy with friends, it can be fun to learn to play these popular songs. This is just the beginning and they will eventually develop a taste for a variety of music! All in all,  it is a well-rounded music education that encompasses the sounds of the present and the past too!

So what are you waiting for? Find out more about the ANZCA syllabus and visit our website or contact us today!

Pianists and their Beloved Pianos

By | Classical Piano, Music Articles, Music Instruments, Piano, Pop Piano, Videos | No Comments

Glenn Gould and his Steinway CD 318

In this article, we share the story of Glenn Gould and his piano – his search for the perfect piano, the ups and downs, and the tragedy that shook his world.

Glenn Gould’s Steinway Model CD 318, in his apartment in Toronto

When pianists love their pianos to pieces (literally)!

The music scene mourns the loss of a rare, one-of-a-kind piano, owned by Canadian virtuoso Angela Hewitt. The F278 Fazioli grand piano is the only one in the world fitted with four pedals. And has been used for numerous recitals and recordings since 2003.

Then last week, piano movers dropped the piano. The cast-iron frame was broken, amongst other parts of the piano. Alas, it was not salvageable and consigned to “piano heaven”.

There are times when piano movers drop pianos. And there are times when pianos fall off the stage. When the piano in question has practically become an extension of the artist over the years, it is a tragedy and the loss is immeasurable.

The Tragedy That Befell Glenn Gould’s Piano – the Steinway CD 318

Another case in point: back in 1971, movers dropped Glenn Gould’s piano en route from Cleveland, Ohio to Toronto. As a result, the famous Steinway grand, known as CD 318, had its cast-iron plate cracked in four places, soundboard broken, hinges bent and more.

Gould, best known for his interpretations of Bach’s keyboard works, did not outwardly express his devastation. But despite his determined pursuit for the truth behind the damage, his findings were insufficient to pinpoint the blame on any party.

A Pianist’s Search for the Perfect Piano

Before CD 318, the piano genius spent years, trawling continents in search of the perfect piano. His search took him from the Steinway CD 174 (on which the 1955 Goldberg Variations were recorded) to the small Chickering grand piano which Gould based his ideal piano on. Incidentally, the Steinway CD 174 was also damaged beyond repair en route to New York, returning from a concert in Cleveland.

Glenn Gould, known for playing the piano at an unusually low height

The Beloved Steinway Model CD 318 Piano

Then in 1960, Gould was reunited with a certain Steinway concert grand. He first played it in 1946, when he was performing with the Toronto Symphony as a thirteen-year-old! He rediscovered the old piano, tired, rejected, and forgotten, in the backstage of Eaton’s Auditorium.

Gould loved the piano’s extreme responsiveness. In his own words, it had “the most translucent sound of any piano I ever played”. He continued to use it for almost all his recordings. And it traveled with him wherever he performed.

The Broken Piano

After the fateful accident in 1971, Gould spent the next decade fruitlessly attempting to restore it to its former glory. His trusty piano tuner, the gifted, almost-blind Verne Edquist helped him.

Sadly, the piano was never the same again. The cast-iron plate was replaced, and the piano’s action had also lost the feather-light touch that Gould loved it for. He never really gave up on the piano. But in 1981, he reluctantly re-recorded the Goldberg Variations on a Yamaha C9 grand piano.

Tragically, Gould died a year later, having suffered a stroke that caused massive damage to his brain. He was buried in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery, with the first few bars of the Goldberg Variations carved into his tombstone. A fitting tribute to a true piano maestro!

Glenn Gould’s tombstone, with the Goldberg Variations inscription

Glenn Gould’s Legendary Piano Lives On

Today, the Steinway CD 318 is on permanent display in Ontario’s National Arts Center. Together with it is the famous pygmy chair that accompanied the piano legend, Glenn Gould, for most of his life.

Invention No. 5 in E-flat Major, BVW 776, as recorded on the CD 318 (1964)

Has this article inspired you? To become a pianist and grow as familiar with your beloved piano as these famous pianists? We can help you start your journey! Just check out our website for more details on piano lessons!

Spotlight : Encore for our piano students (Part 2)

By | Piano, Pop Piano, Student's Videos, Videos | No Comments

The KEY to piano playing!

Our last post received good reviews so we’re posting an encore for our piano students! The key to playing any musical instrument is to enjoy the process. There is a great deal of joy that comes from what may seem like hitting random keys on the keyboard. But you’re actually making music that sounds good and having fun too!

These video clips feature students – Kashvi, Nathan and James. All are taking the Australian Encore! on Keys syllabus,  Whatever your age group, music will always be at your fingertips! Look out for our next post for more videos of our students!

What’s Encore! On Keys? It is an award-winning programme from Australia with a progressive curriculum that incorporates multiple learning layers. Music theory is also taught. And what’s more, no musical background is required!

Spotlight: Our piano students doing Encore on Keys

There are 3 different Beginner courses (depending on age) and 1 Advancing course. These are suitable for a variety of age groups and learning styles. The course involves playing with a backing track for every song to simulate ensemble playing.

The genre of songs comprises a broad range of modern music styles that include rock, baroque, classical, jazz, blues and reggae. Find out more from our website or sign up for our free* trial lesson!

We hope you’ll enjoy the video clips!

 

Spotlight : Encore for our piano students (Part 1)

By | Newsletter, Piano, Pop Piano, Student's Videos | No Comments

Let’s hear from our piano students!

We’re turning the spotlight on our piano students so let’s hear an encore for them! Applaud them as they play their practised pieces before the camera. Aside from the fun we had filming them, they also feel satisfied their hard work counts for something! Our video clips feature students – Kye Hsin and Yao Li. They are of different ages but are taking the Encore! on Keys syllabus. Whatever your age group, music will always be at your fingertips! Look out for our next post for more Encore videos of our students!

 

What’s Encore! On Keys? It is an award-winning programme from Australia with a progressive curriculum that incorporates multiple learning layers. Music theory is also taught. And what’s more, no musical background is required!

Spotlight: Our piano students doing Encore on Keys

There are 3 different Beginner courses (depending on age) and 1 Advancing course. These are suitable for a variety of age groups and learning styles. The course involves playing with a backing track for every song to simulate ensemble playing.

The genre of songs comprises a broad range of modern music styles that include rock, baroque, classical, jazz, blues and reggae. Find out more from our website or sign up for our free* trial lesson!

We hope you’ll enjoy the video clips!

Paul Gilbert Singapore

Paul Gilbert Interview, Singapore 2019

By | Electric Guitar, News, Vinnie's Youtube World | No Comments

Paul Gilbert Interview, Singapore 2019

Paul Gilbert Singapore

Did you know? Paul Gilbert frequents Singapore!

Paul Gilbert is back in Singapore to promote his 15th solo album, “Behold Electric Guitar”, and we met him for a quick interview. Ranked one of 50 fastest guitarists of all time (Guitar World), the lead guitarist of iconic rock band Mr. Big is no stranger to our sunny island – Paul was here with Mr. Big in 2009, 2014 and 2017, and he also came as himself in 2002 and 2005; I may have left out some tours, but wouldn’t you think he has a lot of love for his Singaporean fans? Tonight was no exception for all who purchased VIP tickets to his 10 Dec show as everyone was able to meet their guitar hero in close proximity and lose their minds a little bit.

swee lee singapore event

Fans queue patiently to meet Paul Gilbert

The interview of my lifetime!

I’ve always been a really huge fan of Paul Gilbert, but never in my life did I think I would one day land a super-rare opportunity to sit beside a guitar legend and enjoy some great conversation with him! When the big day came, I took all the years of experience I gathered as a performer and compressed them into this ultimate chill pill. With a deep breath, I walked forward and began my short interview with him.

paul gilbert interview singapore

I asked him 3 questions.

Time was tight, and there were several others who were waiting to meet Paul. As Guitar.com already had an in-depth interview with Paul, I decided to ask 3 questions I felt would provide a more unique angle to readers, specifically education-centric questions, since Paul and I both teach. I might have taken him by surprise a little, but he had some very insightful replies to these questions, nevertheless:

  1. What do you think are the essential qualities of a guitar teacher?
  2. What can the current generation do to boost the guitar industry? (Since it seems digital music is the trend now, and guitar lessons aren’t in great demand.)
  3. What are 3 songs that every guitar student should have a go at?

The full video is at the bottom of this article.

The man behind it all

We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to a very special person, who has made Paul Gilbert’s Singapore visit happen, and he is none other than Inokii, owner of the eponymously-named record store in Far East Plaza. It’s no easy feat bringing in an artiste due to the enormous amount of coordinating work involved, but Inokii has undertaken all of this and given the local music scene a much-needed boost. So guys, if you see him at the show, don’t forget to say hi and a big THANK YOU!

inokii singapore

14 Scotts Road, Far East Plaza, #03-30. Call 6337 9230

The rest of the band!

While I did not get to meet Asher, the keyboardist, it was great to be able to catch up with Bill and meet the bassist Roland! I previously did an interview with Bill about his experience working with Paul. Click here to read and watch all about it.

Paul Gilbert Band

Paul Gilbert’s Band 2019

My loot for today!

Well, of course, I am still a fanboy! As soon as the camera was off, I whipped out my prized possessions and got Paul to sign them! If you pay careful attention, Paul has been using my guitar the entire time during the interviews. Paul agreed to sign at the back of the headstock because we both feel that the front is too beautiful to have something signed on. I also got my copy of his “Intense Rock II” signed. He was really surprised to see that book because it has been a really long time!

paul gilbert signed on my guitar

Paul Gilbert Intense Rock 2

Secret pedal on Paul Gilbert’s pedalboard!

While Evigan Xiao was conducting his interview with Paul Gilbert in Swee Lee Singapore, they talked about a mysterious pedal sitting on his pedalboard. There was no indication on that black pedal about what the knobs do or what it does. As far as I can share with you at this point in time, this is a new prototype pedal developed by a pedal maker and will soon be released as a product for the market. Perhaps, if you are at the front rows of the show, you might want to pay real close attention whenever this pedal gets activated.

paul gilbert pedalboard 2019

No prize for guessing which pedal maker is behind the black pedal. The signs were obvious!

In conclusion

Tonight was amazing. Tomorrow will be crazy! 2019 has been a great guitar year, with not one but TWO close-up sessions with my idols. In case you missed it, I met up with Jack Thammarat in his studio in September! Read all about it here!

vinnie mah and paul gilbert

Thank you our dear photographer Alvin for the lovely shot!

My Interview with Paul Gilbert

Bill Ray Drum

Bill Ray Interview 2019

By | Drum, Music Articles, News, Vinnie's Youtube World | One Comment

Bill Ray Interview 2019

Bill Ray Drum

Bill Ray, Paul Gilbert’s trusted time machine!

In a rare stroke of luck, Bill Ray chanced upon Vinnie’s Instagram post and left a comment. That quickly escalated to a newfound friendship and an exclusive interview with Paul’s drummer! In this interview, Bill shares his experience of maintaining the rhythm section for Paul. Similarly, he also talks about his experiences and plenty of tips for budding drummers! Full video of this interview at the bottom of the article.

Bill Ray, a man of wise words.

Throughout the interview, Bill was constantly giving tips and advice as a veteran musician. His years of experience translated well into his speech, helpful to all budding musicians. The interview is slightly over an hour long and we recommend you listen to it like a podcast. Put on a pair of earphones, make yourself a hot chocolate and absorb all the wisdom Bill has to offer. If not, we will try to summarize some of the notable quotes for you.

Bill Ray Drummer

Music is a conversation, not a competition.

The idea of music as a competition is really strong in Asia. Everyone thinks that joining a music competition will guarantee some form of success, if not training. That is quite the opposite of what music should be. Music, as Bill mentioned, is a language. If you speak music, you converse with the rest of the band. When the band is talking with their instrument, they sound awesome to the audience. The common adjectives you hear people use are “tight” or “in the pocket”. Being on time is a by-product of being able to speak the language. Bill nailed the art of music as a language.

There is no level, it’s all circle.

When Bill was 21, he asked Dennis Chambers “How do you get to the next level?”. To which, Dennis replied, “There is no level, it’s all circle”. The idea of being successful in the industry really boils down to interpersonal relationships within the music industry. It is always nice to be nice – people remember nice. Can the person pick the phone and dial your number? (sic)

Paul Gilbert Behold Electric Guitar

Left to Right. Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Roland Guerin, Bill Ray, Asher Fulero.

Learn to read music! Standard notation!

Bill shared how he would turn up to a gig only to find that they didn’t have a drum chart ready for him. For many drummers, this spells trouble because there is no way to play along to the band then. Bill would then request for a trumpet lead sheet or any lead sheet he can get his hands on. This is because those standard scores would have the structure of the song written out neatly. What a clever solution but only applicable if you can read music, properly!

If music can be boiled down to one thing, it’s congruent.

“If you can be congruent with other players, congruent with the environment that you are playing in, congruent with the music, you can get those areas covered, then people will definitely call you back. They gonna say this person listens to everybody in the band. He doesn’t try to play all the stuff at one time. They listen and put down what needs to be there. They’re not playing so loud that is blowing everybody off the club. Everybody is dialed in. If you can be congruent within that arena then you will be called back to work. ” – Bill Ray

Conclusion

In conclusion, Bill is perhaps one of the nicest musicians I have ever spoken to. Regardless of his tremendous ability on the drums, there isn’t the slightest hint of arrogance. Nice and sincere describes him best. Above all, I guess my biggest take away from this interview is that no matter what level of musicianship you are at, it is important to be a real and genuine human! Thank you, Bill, for this interview, and see you during your show with Paul Gilbert here in Singapore!

Vinnie

Get your tickets to Paul Gilbert Singapore 2019

If you are still undecided, note that the tickets are almost sold out! Or you can read our previous articles about this upcoming gig.

Paul Gilbert Behold Electric Guitar Asia Tour Singapore 2019

Article: Paul Gilbert Live in Singapore 2019

Paul Gilbert Ibanez PGM Mikro

Article: Our Honest Review of Ibanez PGM Mikro

Ukulele for the Young and Young-at-Heart

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Ukulele for the Young and Young-at-Heart

Popular with the Young and Old

Why do we recommend Ukulele lessons for the young and the young-at-heart? That’s because the ukulele is arguably the easiest instrument to pick up! Some of us have had a chance to play the ukulele. Some have even strummed it randomly without any attempt at making it musical. After all, it does look like a miniature toy guitar!

In truth, the ukulele is really a fun little instrument! And very friendly on the fingers with its nice soft nylon strings. Plus it’s light and easy to carry around! And there’s no pressure on you to do anything fancy or complicated on it. In fact, when you show off what you can actually do on the ukulele, you will surprise and impress many with this unassuming yet awesome instrument!

Custom-tailored Ukulele Lessons

We can get you started quickly with song-based, custom-tailored lessons designed specifically for ukulele. Learn how to coordinate rhythm and melody as you sing along to the chords you’re playing. In addition to a variety of techniques, you will learn to read notes and chords which will allow you to play and sing along to fingerstyle, single-line melodies.

There are actually a lot of skills that transfer easily from the guitar so if you’ve been playing the six-string guitar for a while, you’ll probably find the four-stringed ukulele pretty easy! Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, we hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we will teaching it! We have also conducted workshops for corporate organisations and schools. From traditional Hawaii music to modern and beautiful fingerstyle arrangements, the ukulele offers a wide range of music to suit everyone!

Contact us for a free Trial Lesson today!

Alex Kalino Hooi

Singapore’s Guitar Prodigy Alex Kalino Hooi Interview 2019

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Alex Kalino Hooi, Singapore’s Guitar Prodigy did an interview with us!

Singapore's Guitar Prodigy Alex Kalino Hooi Interview

At just 16 years of age and already the Young Guitarist Of The Year 2018 Finalist, Alex Kalino Hooi, Singapore’s Guitar Prodigy did an interview with us! To date, no one else has come close to Alex’s achievement. As he is only 16 years old, we were curious to find out more about his plans and future projects! Alex very kindly came to our music school in Singapore for an in-depth and exclusive interview!

Young Guitarist Of The Year Experience

Perhaps the one question that everyone has is why and how did Alex Kalino Hooi prepare himself in the final round of the Young Guitarist Of The Year competition! Or maybe what techniques he used to hone himself into becoming Singapore’s Guitar Prodigy. Turns out, it wasn’t about planning, strategies or even thinking of ideas to outdo his competitors! Here in Singapore, we have been ‘trained’ by our kia-su mentality to think that is what we need to be doing if we ever want to win a competition. However, the real reason why people are winning competitions comes from deeper within than just unadulterated competitiveness or rivalry. Alex shared how he had a great time during the competition period and how he became close friends with Abgail Zachko and Hunter Hallberg instead of seeing them purely as his competitors.

Alex Kalino Hooi, the cat person!

If you’re thinking Alex looks like a dog lover, sorry to burst your bubble – because in our interview Alex shared that he’s definitely a cat person! Here at Vinnie Classroom, we are very cat-oriented too! If you don’t already know why, it’s because we have 2 cats Mao Mao and Meow Meow! They are our PR managers and have been doing a good job so far with their daily duties of entertaining our students and parents diligently! Cats are awesome!

Our Interview with Singapore’s Guitar Prodigy, Alex Kalino Hooi

Full, in-depth and exclusive!

Let’s cut the blog short and let Alex share all the juicy information in our video! Do remember to watch until the end for the cool outro. Also, do subscribe to our Youtube channel to help us create more of such awesome content!

Alex Kalino Hooi – Social Media

Alex’s Single 2019, Catnip!