I read this article by The Band Post, but took a while to pen my thoughts to share with you guys! There definitely is some psychology to all of it, but I feel strongly about the author's post.

From my personal experience, my time at Peabody was a lot crazier than when I was in Yong Siew Toh because of the people I was learning and surrounded with. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying one school is better than the other - my friends and colleagues from both schools were equally hardworking and we dedicated our time to our craft. So what exactly do I mean? The reason I say that is because it really boils down to accessibility.

Let's look at both countries. Their "age" already speaks mountains of differences. Our tiny red dot has only seen 50 or so years of independence and in my opinion, is still growing its culture and identity. The United States on the other hand, has centuries of history and a totally different culture, especially when it comes to the Arts and music. If we use the article's "formula", it's not hard to see why many musicians want to be in New York, where you can find great musicians literally anywhere - throw a stone and you'll probably hit someone who already plays on an extremely high level. By just being there and listening to so many great players, there will be a tendency to want to match that or even outdo it. It even happens through what I term, osmosis - just being around the scene and absorbing every detail is in itself, exposure that allows the ears to open up and pick up the language needed. (I know, osmosis is a scientific term, but hopefully you get my drift haha). But I do feel that with this, there will always be a push to excel and the good will keep getting better.

On the other hand, throw a stone and hit someone in Singapore, you'll see yourself getting sued... haha kidding! Chances are, you won't find someone with the same "New York" level. Instead, you'll likely end up with someone who's more academically inclined. It's something that has been cultivated to us from the start and with every passing generation, the biggest worry that transcends generations is academic grades in school. Not that it's a bad thing - they're both just different. So what's the point about accessibility?

New York (and America in fact) is saturated with thousands of great players and musicians whereas Singapore isn't due to our academic focus. During my YST days, we had about one or two guest artists visit over the year whereas at Peabody, it was probably once a month, sometimes more. And it really is because it's just way easier to get around in America than to fly halfway across the globe to a tiny island for a couple of days. Because of that, I found myself surrounded by many musicians of a high calibre, and like osmosis, I tried to take it all in. Even while growing up and in school (during my younger days), I remember being influenced to either do better or worse in school - peer pressure after all, is tough during formative years as we always want to fit in and not be the odd-one-out.

So having said all this, I highly recommend reading the article (if you already haven't), and applying it to your activities, no matter what field or specialisation you are in. This energy does feed you as you also give that energy to others, and personally, it just creates a really positive cycle of learning and progress. What do you think? Have you encountered something similar before? I'd love to hear from you in the comments! Thanks again for taking the time to read, and I hope you all stay safe and well!