From Noise to Extemporization

“Musical extemporization is the creative activity of immediate (“in the moment”) musical composition, which combines performance with communication of emotions and instrumental technique as well as spontaneous response to other musicians.” Gorow 2002, 212

Extemporization of any art form (including sport) is often associated with expert level of performance.

“What’s the difference between music and noise?” Music’s organized noise.

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Why be Grateful?

Much has been preached about the attitude of gratitude. Almost every religion or philosopher (even Bayfucius) advocates it, but what’s the science behind it? How does it make us better, happier and even more resilient?

When we express gratitude, we are Focused On What We Have instead of what we don’t.

Gratitude is somewhat counter-intuitive in a country where we “Everything also complain.” Furthermore, Singaporeans are an ambitious lot, always focusing on achieving what we do not have yet. This may develop to become a sort of blindness that limits our worldview, i.e., we are less likely to notice the good in our lives and even the opportunities that come our way.

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“I am very special…”


“In the 1950s only 12% of young adults agreed with the statement “I am a very special person”, 77% of boys and more than 80% of girls of the same cohort by 1989 agreed with it.” Jean M.  Twenge, The Narcissm Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

It’s been 20 years since 1989 and I’m pretty certain that the percentage today is close to 100%.

Wouldn’t that make the one who feels that he isn’t special the truly SPECIAL one then?

All Possible Paths


I was watching one of Feyman’s archived lectures that was screened during the exhibition – While explaining some sort of quantum concept, he sensed that the audience weren’t able to really grasp his explanation (neither did I) and remarked jokingly that they needn’t worry, he had many undergraduates who have spent four years with him and still did not understand Quantum Physics! He went on to share that not understanding doesn’t mean that learning hasn’t taken place, and what matters is that you are curious to want to find out more…

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7 Reminders from ‘The Little Prince’

Life, relationships, looking beyond the surface, our responsibility towards each other, and the futility of adult behavior are themes explored in this story.

players are people first not athletes stats

I’ve read the book a few times and early this year, had the opportunity to visit ‘The Little Prince: The Story Behind’ – an exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication.

Revisiting the story and the quotes during the exhibition was a good reminder for me about what really matters in life, and not to be “misguided” by the folly of adulthood.

All pictures here are taken from the exhibition at the Singapore Philatelic Museum.

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Coaching and the Crab Mentality

There were lots of criticism about a local coach on social media the past couple of days. One of his athletes wrote a long post criticizing him about how badly he was running his coaching business and his compulsive borrowing habits.

This is bad news and would inevitably have implications on the coach-athlete relationship which would in turn compromise the athlete’s growth and performance! Besides, no coach should abuse the trust of their athletes especially given their position of respect and authority (at least most of the time lah…).

It’s not about this coach!   

Just to be clear, I’ve got nothing against this coach (just a little bothered that he is not registered with the NROC) and this post isn’t about him. What bothered me enough to write this are the typical response from the coaching fraternity, and a sprinkle of PE teachers, whenever a coach gets into trouble, or when they are doing well for themselves financially.

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Why it is NOT wrong to stereotype…

“Indians cannot swim lah”,

“Chinese don’t play football”

“Golf is for the rich!”

Try saying these statements out loud and chances are some fella will remind you not to stereotype.

“With some exceptions, stereotypes are in fact NOT inaccurate when assessed against objective benchmarks such as census figures or the reports of the stereotyped people themselves.” Steven Pinker

A stereotype is a generalized statement or belief applied to everyone in a group. Obviously you can’t generalize and there are going to be exceptions within every group. However, we forget that stereotypes are generally consistent with statistics, and that’s precisely why we are uncomfortable with stereotyping, especially if it involves undesirable traits and socially sensitive topics such as social economic status, race and religion. We are uncomfortable with the possibility that these “undesirable” traits might be statistically true of the group.

In Singapore, it is certainly factual that the majority race here, i.e., Chinese, shun soccer as a professional career. Our current national team has only one Chinese player – Gabriel Quak, while the rest of the team is made up of members from the minority races. Author and Journalist Neil Humphreys has wrote extensively about this phenomenon.

“The Chinese do not take football seriously as a professional career. Football doesn’t pay the bills. Football doesn’t impress the aunties at reunion dinners. Football loses face.” Neil Humphreys

The good news is that facts and stereotypes can change but first, we need to honest and acknowledge these stereotypes. If we don’t, how are we going to create the necessary narratives to overcome this “Chinese bias”? How are we going to take measures to encourage Indians to swim (this has implications on drown prevention too), or to remove the barriers that make Golf an exclusive sport?

Now, I’m not saying that the accuracy of stereotypes means that racism, sexism or whatever “…ism” is acceptable. What I am saying is that it is ok to stereotype but NOT ok to discriminate based on stereotypes.

So let’s not be too quick to take offense against stereotyping. If stereotyping was really that bad, our government would not be making use of it to validate the criteria for the upcoming presidential election liao, tio boh 😉 ?

Coach Hansen