The importance of perseverance and vision

Hi folks

Today I will like to talk about a few important concepts that are very important when practicing music. These apply to not just music actually, but to any endeavour in life. They are perseverance and vision.

A few days ago I was practicing how to harmonise every tone in all major scales (one scale at a time) when I realised I was moving a little too fast. I would practice for a short while, become marginally better and jump to the next key.

Then I got to stop and question myself: is this the right way to practice? What will I really gain after going through all keys this way? Will I really have anything tangible to show for it? And my answer to this was a resounding no.

So I got back to the basics of what practice should be about, which I share here.

Before beginning practice it is necessary to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish after practice. Sit and visualise it. E.g if you want to become fluent in playing a certain progression, imagine what it would be like to play that progression with the fluency you desire.

Next, keep practicing until you reach the goal you visualised. As long as your goal is a realistic one, you must persevere through practice as you gradually become more skilful in your craft and reach your goal. Do not get tempted to jump on to other things until your practice goal comes to fruition. It could take a week or even more to become fluent in certain routines, e.g. playing certain triads, scales, arpeggios, etc. 

Keeping these two principles in mind should make for more effective practice.

That’s all for now. Till next time.

Begin with the end in mind

Hi folks,

Today I’ll talk briefly about a few more things I learnt from reading Dr. Stephen Covy’s book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It is Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind.

By this we mean that when you start a new endeavour or as you interact with others in life, it is important to have a firm vision of what outcome you will like to have achieved in that endeavour at the end of your life. E.g. If you are a parent raising kids, as you raise the kids, it is good to think of how you will like to be remembered by your kids after your death, that is, what you will like to have achieved in that endeavour. This lifetime vision should then steer the actions you make today, tomorrow, the day after, etc.

By beginning with the end in mind, we develop a broader perspective and become more able to identify what is really important, and what isn’t. Often times, people chase after material things in life, e.g. money, fame, etc. because they think these are nice to have, only to realise later that these may not be as important as once thought. Beginning with the end in mind solves this problem.

Some areas of life one can apply this concept to is relations with friends and family, career, etc.

Many people often live their lives based on things that are temporary, e.g. money, spouse, pleasure, etc. These “centres” determine their happiness, security and strength. The problem with these is that they can come and go and therefore cannot give lasting happiness. E.g. If one is spouse-centred and there is a relationship problem with the spouse, the person can become very unhappy and the unhappiness could impact other aspects of life in an unduly severe way. A good solution to this is to live a principle-centred life. That is, make your life centred on principles that will always hold through regardless of season. E.g. Being kind to others, being empathetic and fair. These are characters that are good to be known for, regardless life’s circumstances.

A good tool to help one begin with the end in mind is a Personal Mission Statement. A Personal Mission Statement can embody the values you hold most important to you, your roles in life, and what you will like to achieve in each of your roles to fulfil your values. By periodically reviewing your Personal Mission Statement and updating it as your circumstances change, you can maintain a balanced view of what is most important to you and act accordingly. Mission statements can be created for a family and for organisations as well to help ensure every party involved is aware of the core values of the group and foster greater harmony.

That’s all for now. There are much more fascinating details in the book on this habit. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t. Till next time.

On Being Proactive

Hi folks,

I read a book fairly recently called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Dr. Stephen Covey and just wanted to share some insights I got from it.

One of the habits is: Be Proactive

By being proactive, it means we are responsible for our own lives.

We humans have a quality called self-awareness, that is, being aware of our own thought processes, being able to project our minds outside of ourselves and look at ourselves from the outside.

Often people blame their actions or situations on external factors by saying things like: that’s just the way I am, I just had to do it, it’s how it has been in my family, etc.

Being proactive means recognising that you have the power to decide how you act in any situation.

I found it quite enlightening how Dr. Covey breaks responsibility as response-ability, that is to say that we are able to select our response by using our self-awareness, imagination, conscience and independent will.

So, I take being proactive as not waiting for things to happen, but going out there and making things happen.

When one realises that he or she is totally able to select his/her responses it changes how we view things in life and how we interact with others. It empowers us to begin to learn to select the most effective responses to any situation we have in life.

So, examples of being proactive are as follows:

If a person wants a better job, he or she should take interest in the industry and even specific problems of organisations

If a person wants better health, go out there and exercise regularly.

Part of being proactive is focusing your energy on things you have control over, that is, things that are in your circle of influence, rather than things you may be concerned about but not have control over.

That’s it for now. Till next time, have a proactive time.

Sainsbury’s SmartShop

Hi folks,

Today I’ll like to talk about a relatively new phenomenon I noticed in my neighbourhood Sainsburys. It’s called SmartShop.

What is Smart Shop? Smart Shop is a system a shopper can use an in-store handset to scan items as he/she picks them from the shelves. Then at the end of the shopping, he/she goes to a special SmartShop checkout section to load all items scanned into the checkout machine and pay. There’s even a SmartShop app available on Google Play and on the App Store which one can use according to Sainsbury’s website.

Here’s how I first became aware of it. About a month ago, I noticed a sign close to the entrance that said Smart Shop. I was a little curious about it. So, that day when checking out at the till, I asked a cashier about it. He said it was a system where one could buy items without having to come to the cashier till. I found that interesting, but I didn’t pursue the idea further. A few weeks later while walking down the shopping isle to pick up a few groceries, I heard a beep a few meters away. The peculiar thing about this beep was that it was the same beep one would normally hear from the checkout machines at the till. But this beep emanated from somewhere in the isle! So I looked at where the beep was coming from and saw that a someone had just scanned a grocery item. The person had a shopping cart and looked quite pleased with himself. It then occurred to me that shoppers could actually scan their items as they shop and that this must be the smart shop concept I had asked about earlier. So, after checking out, I went to the stand where the handsets were and started looking around for some instruction on how to use it. A friendly staff found me and helped me register.

Now to my experience of actually using SmartShop. I attempted buying groceries via SmartShop and have a few observations.


  • You can put items in your grocery bags as soon as you scan them
    No need to take groceries out of shopping cart into the line at the checkout counter
  • No need to load groceries back into your shopping bags after paying at the checkout counter
  • You can see the total cost of your groceries on the SmartShop handset as you shop. This can help you manage costs
  • No need to join queues at the checkout counter


  • If you are buying items that don’t have barcode scanners on them, e.g. loose tomatoes and onions, you need to first weigh them yourself on a scale to print out barcode tags, then place the tag on the item
  • You need to be make sure you remember to scan each item before placing it in your cart
  • You need to make sure when you scan an item, the item is registered and quantity updated correctly on the handset. There was a time I had to scan an item twice to get it to work, probably due to network failure.

Overall, SmartShop is a very good idea if you have just a few items to buy. If you have a lot of groceries to buy, you may want to go the traditional route of using the checkout counter to minimise chances of forgetting to scan items. Also, SmartShop is a good idea if the items you buy have barcodes on them already. If you buy lots of items without barcodes, be ready to weigh and print out barcodes yourself.

How to Use Mail from Terminal in MacOS

Hi folks,

It’s been a while. Here’s a quick post on how to read local mails on your MacOS. This can come in handy if you have cron jobs running on your machine for example which send mails and you want to read the mails sent.

To open mail, open a terminal and run the command


You will see the number of messages, number of unread messages and one line per message, including sender, time of receipt, and mail title. There will be a number shown for each mail starting from 1, then 2, etc.

To read a single mail, say the first 1, just type 1.

Then you can go up and down the mail by pressing Enter, or ctrl + B to go up a page and ctrl + F to scroll down a page.

Once you reach the end of the mail the prompt will change to ?

You can delete the mail by pressing

d <mail number>

To save your changes to mail, e.g. deletion, etc. press the command


To exit mail without making any changes to number of read mails, etc, press command


To read about mail command in general, enter the command

man mail

That’s all for now, happy mailing.

How to use a Diminished chord in a 1-6 progression

When going from 1 down to a 6, you can play substitute the 6 part with a 1diminished chord over flat 5.

E.g. In the key of Cmajor if you are playing a 1-6-5 melody from a C to A and then G, on the right hand you play

C C+D#+F#+A C+E+G

On the left hand you play 1 flat5 5. In the key of C that will be from a C to F# to G.

Recording coming soon.

Till next time.

A Nice Run to Play Before the 1 Starting Chord

Hi folks,

In this post I will talk about a nice run to play before the starting 1 chord of slow gospel chords.

On the left hand, you go

3 4 5 6 7 1

e.g. in the key of C major, you will go


On the right hand you will harmonize the following melody:

3 4 3 2♯ 2 1

by using the following chords:

1 4 3minor 2♯-minor 2minor 1.

In the key of Cmajor these chords are:

G+C+E A+C+F G+B+E F♯+A♯+D♯ F+A+D E+G+C

That is:

First chord you harmonize the E using a Cmajor chord
Second you harmonize the F using a Fmajor chord
Third you harmonize the E with a Eminor
Then you go down a half step with the same chord shape to harmonize the D♯ with a D♯ chord
You then harmonize the D with a Dminor
Then you harmonize the C with a Cmajor chord.

To make it more melodious, on the right hand you can insert a 1sus4 chord before the last 1chord. That is, insert a Csus4 chord before the last Cmajor chord. So instead of going from F+A+D to E+G+C on the right hand, you can play it like this:

F+A+D  F+G+C  E+G+C

Furthermore, you can make the left hand run a little more melodious by quickly adding a 2 before the 5 since 2 normally has a strong pull to 5. So the left hand run becomes

3 4 2 5 6 7 1

To summarize, on the left hand you play the following notes

3 4 2 5 6 7 1

while on the right hand you play the following chords:

1 4 3minor 2♯minor 2minor 1sus4 1.

In the key of C, on the left hand you play:


while on the right hand you play:

G+C+E  A+C+F  G+B+E  F♯+A♯+D♯  F+A+D  F+G+C  E+G+C

Below is a recording.


The 9 (add 6) Chord

Hi folks,

I will like to talk about the 9 (add 6) chord. This chord is a nice one to use in worship songs.

You can use this for the 2 chord or the 1 chord.

E.g When playing a 6-2 progression, you can play a minor 9 for the 6 chord and a 9 (add 6) for the 2 chord. Similarly, when playing a 5-1 progression that does not end a song, you can play a 5 minor 9 chord, then a 1 9 (add 6) chord.

Here’s an example of such a chord.

D 9 (add 6)

To play it, you play D on the left hand. Then play F B B and E on the right hand.

An easy way to think about it is to play the root note of the chord on the left hand, then play a quartal 3 chord with an added ♭5 on the right hand.

For example, F is the 3 chord on the D major scale. F B and E is the F quartal chord. And B is ♭5 on the F scale.

Using this trick, it is easy to play 9 (add 6) for any key. That’s all for now. Enjoy.

How to fix error Unsupported major.minor version 52.0 when syncing Gradle Script Android Studio

Hi folks,

Recently when trying to run an Android project in Android studio, I noticed the following error on opening it:

Unsupported major.minor version 52.0

After doing some Google search I found that the problem was due to the code requiring Java 8 while my IDE used Java 7. So, to fix it one has to

– Go to File > Other Settings > Default Project Structure…

– If your JDK location is set to a Java 1.7 location, change it to the corresponding Java 1.8 location. In my case the required path was


– Click OK

That’s it. Now the error should go away.

Some Cool MS Excel Features: Filtering and Easy Average Calculation


Today I will go over two cool features I like in Ms Excel. Filtering and easy Average calculation.

Filtering is very useful if you end to extract subsets of data. To access filters in Excel, first create a table from a range of data.

To do this, highlight the entire table, then click Insert > Table. Then click OK to confirm the cell range to use for creating the table.

With a table you can apply filters easily.

To calculate average easily for a column of values simply highlight the column and the average, count and sum appears on the bottom status bar.

That’s all for now. Till next time.