Prema writes personal account of her journey in music

Prema’s history (Pg. 1) – My musical development began at a very early age, where I believe the seeds already planted in my soul were nurtured and encouraged. From my mother's account I was drawn to music even as a baby, but started to 'play' the piano around the age of 4. Apparently, I would sit at the piano and produce sounds, chords and melodies that to her, as a music teacher were not random. Now I couldn't know for sure; it may have been the wishful thinking of a proud parent or in fact an authentic recollection, nevertheless it was an early indication of my penchant for music.

So, I naturally learnt the piano but did not take great pleasure in it, perhaps because of the constraints and strict discipline required to excel in Classical music. Still, being a good kid, I persevered not wanting to disappoint my mother. However, practicing was not one of my strong points. I had a tendency to play by ear, so once I knew the songs I would invariably stop reading the music, which for Classical music is a cardinal sin! Not wanting to be bound to the piano, I then tried the violin. I took to it much faster and despite having a rather eccentric violin teacher (is there any other kind?), found myself more motivated to practice and as a result did much better in exams. This was encouraging.

When I turned 14, I decided to try my hand at the guitar. I was into music in a big way and would spend hours listening on my walkman (ahhh those bygone days!), so the guitar was a natural progression. I was promptly sent for Classical guitar lessons which just did not agree with me. I then had private lessons, (where I learnt chords and strumming) and once I learnt the basics, I discovered I had a real knack for it...and so my journey with the guitar began.

At 15 I was sent to Australia to study, which was quite often the practice for a lot of Malaysians at the time. I took my precious guitar with me - an early Yamaha nylon string, which was a comfort and companion being so far away from home. Those formative years were a little thorny on a personal level (adjusting to living with relatives proved to be a tricky affair!), however I did really well in school and then later on at university. Once I got to university, I began to write songs, remembering them all in my head! Around the time I turned 19, I decided that I wanted to busk in the shopping mall adjacent to the university. I had often seen people busking and thought it was a great way to dive in at the deep end and try out my material on an audience. It was terrifying but I still wanted to do it despite being the only female busker there, very young and singing mostly originals and so, pretty much out on a limb. Still, the appreciation from the passersby came hard and fast and so in fact did the money! It was such a rewarding affirmation of what I was doing. The busking led to my first real gig; I was asked to perform at the university's annual Amnesty International fundraiser. I remember feeling the conflicting emotions of utter fear and impatience to get on to the stage! My first successful outing then resulted in more gigs at the university, local pubs and venues