ariffjunior for the Malay Mail: http://www.mmail.com.my/content/24673-harmony-lake-gardens
KUALA LUMPUR: If you haven’t done so already, take a stroll around Taman Tasik Perdana (Lake Gardens).
The fresh air and the serenity of the park’s beautiful surroundings will make you feel at peace with yourself, and forget about the hustle and bustle of the city.
Should you go there around 9am till about 11am, you may even hear the sweet melodies of a harmonica being played.
By just following the sounds, you will find Tan Seong, 71, a pensioner, who has a passion for keeping healthy and playing his harmonica. He enjoys the ambience of the park in the morning because of the abundance of trees which enriches the air.
“I have a bad cough. But I realised that when I went to Cameron Highlands, my cough was gone because of the fresh air there. When I came to this park, my cough too was gone because the air here is so clean.
“You don’t have to go so far out of the city to enjoy fresh air,” he said.
Tan has been performing his melodic and soothing tunes almost every morning for the last year or so and he can be usually found near the Tun Abdul Razak Memorial.
Some people, he said, stop by to enjoy his performance. He even entertains song requests.
Self-taught, he learnt how to play the harmonica four years ago. He plays by ear and remembers about 20 songs by heart.
“The beauty of the melody improves one’s memory.”
Still, this friendly pensioner has a modest personality and does not regard himself to be an exceptional harmonist. “A very good and well known harmonicist is Teluk Intan born Chong Ah Kow.”
Even so, Tan has attracted a healthy fan base among the regulars at the park. A. Ragunathan, 70, who walks with his wife at Taman Tasik Perdana, is impressed with the musician’s ability.
“He’s fantastic! People who like to exercise should go to Taman Tasik Perdana because there is music while you walk. It’s soothing and contributes to relieving your stress,” said Ragunathan.
He also believes that Tan’s music should be a tourist attraction for the park as it is a unique feature in Kuala Lumpur. He also believes that the younger generation should take up learning the harmonica or even show off their skills at the park as it would create a more entertaining environment.
“Playing the harmonica is good for your lungs as it helps you control your breathing. If they don’t want to learn the harmonica, the youngsters these days should just bring their guitar, trumpet or whatever and just start playing, so they have something to do in their free time,” he added.
Tan also acknowledges the fact that the harmonica is not popular in Malaysia as compared with countries like China. That’s why, he said, much of the music these days do not incorporate the harmonica.
“Young people these days don’t have the time or are not interested in the harmonica. They usually prefer playing the guitar in Malaysia.”
And, when requested to play the song ‘Kids’ by United States band MGMT, he performed it with ease and proved that the harmonica is not limited to the genres of blues and jazz, and can be incorporated to any music genre.
“I am more than happy to teach anyone who is interested to learn to play the harmonica. Just approach me at the park.”
I’ve had so many people ask me like ‘bullshit he can play MGMT!’ Well to explain is that he has pitch perfect hearing, so when I asked him to listen to the starting bit of ‘Kids’ on my Ipod. He hummed it out, and then played it on the harmonica. Thats when I jizzed in my pants. But yeah, if you guys are in KL you should buy a harmonica, doesn’t matter what type, and pop by and see him, bring your ipod, and ask him to teach you how to play. He is a friendly and and very funny man.