Saturday, March 28, 2009

Remember these musical instruments?

My uncle the late Hii Wen Hui was a good accordion player. In fact most of the Chinese teachers in Sibu and its vicinity were self trained to play this instrument. We had many evenings of fun music whenever such teachers were around.

You can see this accordion and also the organ in the Methodist Archive and History Section in the Methodist Message Office in Sibu. This particular accordion belongs to Meng Lei's father and the organ comes from one of the churches downriver.

This is a great portable pump organ popularly owned by many homes too and I also remember so many downriver Methodist churches having one. The old Methodist Theological Chapel also had one which provided beautiful accompaniment to the singing of the youthful choir led by good musicians like Mrs. Charlotte Hipkins and Miss Jackie Fries. Much later a piano was added to the inventory.

Mr. David Johnson one of my English teachers was probably the best organist Sibu had ever seen! And we really found it very amazing to have such a learned man playing such a simple instrument and making heavenly music. Later when Wesley was housed in the Sing Fu Yuan Tang Mr. Johnson was to bring great church music to the whole neighbourhood when he played on the pipe organ of the church. these days I often wonder if that pipe organ is still functioning. In those days I used to allow my teenage mind wander and allow angels to fly around Sibu when listening to his music.

Another missionary I remember who was a very good musician was the late Rev Lucius Mamora who had an organ like this in his home in Queensway. I went to school with most of his children and once in a while would visit their home. I loved to watch him play the organ and sing!! He was also a man who translated many of the hymns into Bahasa Iban. He had also written many songs himself. It was a great honour to be able to visit such a great talented man. I never knew then that later (almost 22 years later)in my life I would have the honour of having him name my third daughter with an Indonesian name.

Actually the organist had to pedal hard to "bring in wind" for the sounds to come out or "blow" the notes out. Correctly the Chinese call this "Wind piano". I loved to put my small feet on the pedals but my fingers could not produce any musical notes!! How often I wished and wished that I was musically gifted like the missionaries or had the financial resources to take up music lessons! And as the evening of my life approaches the few regrets that I have are still with me. Today I can only press buttons on DVD players to bring out the music I wish to hear.

Beautiful hymns were sung accompanied by a simple organ like this for more than 50 years!!

We must thank all the missionaries and Tze Koo (missionary teachers and wives) and later the Foochow teachers trained by the Methodist Church who brought this special organ church music to the Rejang based Foochow families.

6 memories:

Just a Little Kindness said...

I love the accordions . In European cafes many waiters and even the owners would come out to entertain their customers with their lovely accordions.

These are the good memories I have.

But I have never seen one in Sarawak!!

Any in Miri?

sarawakiana said...

Yes wouldn't be lovely to hear accordion music in Miri? I am not very about there being one or a few accordions in Miri. But I am sure there could be some.
A small jazz band practises in the Senior Citizens' Centre every wednesday. May be you can drop by?

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


sarawakiana said...

Thanks for your kind words. And it makes me happy all day to know that you will be reading often.
Hope to make my blog even better.

catherine said...

Delightful article on musical instruments. Brings memories of my old dad and his friends who used to play different kinds of instruments including the accordion. Nevesr knew accordion is spelt with an O!!!

sarawakiana said...

nice of you to comment. Not many people can play the accordion now. I am wondering if there are some cikgus who can play in Bekenu or Niah....


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