English translation of the sharing:
My cultivation journey from being “tone deaf” to becoming a member of the Tian Guo Marching Band
By a Melbourne practitioner
Greetings fellow practitioners!
The Tian Guo Marching Band is always the most eye-catching section in Dafa practitioners’ events and parades, its majestic melodies amaze every single member of the audience. In 2015 Master wrote a poem for the Tian Guo Marching Band,
“Drums and horns of Fa display divine might
Purging all manner of evil,
beckoning souls back to heaven
Heaven n’ earth are in awe
as the Band saves lives at the end of time
Its glorious light shines
in the cosmic Fa-rectification”
This is a group that many Dafa disciples long for.
I never thought that I would become a member of the Tian Guo Marching Band, my husband who was already a member of the band had invited me to join several times, but I refused. Not only did I know nothing about music, I also have no sense of rhythm, and I hardly listen to or sing ordinary people’s music and songs. To put it simply, I am “tone deaf”. I heard from my husband that in order to improve the band’s level of musical performance, members of the band must successfully pass an examination of each piece to be eligible to participate in performances. Wow, this feels like driving out the people who are there just to make up the numbers. Joining the band for me was just like telling someone to go to college when they haven’t even been to elementary school, it was simply a fantasy!
- Getting started
One day in the first half of 2018, my husband sitting in front of the computer told me that he discovered a documentary on the NTD website called “Legends Unfolding”, and asked if I wanted to watch it together with him. When I heard the name, I felt that it would be a great video, so we sat in front of the computer and watched the documentary.
This was a documentary about the Tian Guo Marching Band, telling how the band and band members overcame difficulties whilst performing. Also, there were some very old practitioners, who had poor musical foundations but finally became Tian Guo Band Members after hard work and practice, and performed all over the world to clarify the truth and save people in this unique way. The documentary really touched me. At that time, I thought, “as long as I worked hard, maybe I could do it.”
So I nervously asked my husband, do you think I can join the band? My husband was delighted and said: “of course. The band’s former conductor once said, our band doesn’t need musicians, we only need mathematicians”. “Mathematicians?” I asked my husband, as this was my first time hearing such a statement. My husband said, “the conductor meant that you just need to play according to the music, if there is one beat, you play one beat, if there is half a beat, then you play half a beat, there is no need for you to improvise or innovate.” Wow, it’s that simple! Hearing my husband’s words made me, a science student, and I became more confident. Turns out it’s much simpler, it’s just like doing maths. Just like that, I signed up to join the Tian Guo Marching Band and became a substitute band member.
My husband assisted me in choosing the baritone as my future Fa instrument. He smiled and said to me “Currently there are no baritone players in the band, work hard, if you can make it, you will be the band’s first baritone”. A few days later, my husband and I went to the musical instrument store and purchased a Yamaha baritone for over $2000. It hurt a little at the time, after all, I was a beginner and wasn’t sure if I could learn it successfully.
“Is it too expensive? Even your own instrument isn’t this good!” I said with worry, “if I am unsuccessful, then you can use this baritone”. My husband used to play the baritone, now he plays the Euphonium, but the quality of his instrument is average.
My husband said to me with a smile, “The sound made by a poor quality instrument is also poor. Especially for a beginner, only a good instrument can play good music, this will increase your confidence in playing. You’re not allowed to have second thoughts, this is your Fa instrument, you have to use it to validate the Fa and eliminate evil”.
At the time, other than excitement, I also felt pressure because I knew there was no backing out. Phrases such as “the last stand” and “there is only one path” appeared in my mind. But an even stronger voice popped into my head, “When disciples have ample righteous thoughts, Master has the power to turn back the tide” (Hong Yin, Volume II). Yes, I am a practitioner, I have Master, I am doing something to validate the Fa, Master will definitely help me, I will definitely succeed!
Afterward, I realised that there is nothing coincidental for cultivators. From watching the documentary to buying the baritone, this should all be Master’s arrangement! Maybe I have such a mission!
- Hard Practice
As I held my Fa instrument and played my first note, I was so excited, it was as if I heard a heavenly sound. I felt a sense of great accomplishment. But my excitement quickly disappeared when I found out that the baritone has only three keys, but plays dozens of different notes through airflow speed and different combinations of keys. Even the same note, can be played in many ways such as slurs and staccatos, I thought it was so hard and complicated!!
I kind of wanted to back out. But then I thought about it: since I chose to join the band, to become a member to validate the Fa and save sentient beings, then I have to practice earnestly to make it possible. Just having the thought is not enough, I have to work hard and practice. My husband was always encouraging me—practicing my instrument is cultivating, cultivation is enduring hardships. So I made myself a practice schedule, every day I will practice for 2 hours, starting from the basics, scales, arpeggios, airflow……perseverance, absolutely no slacking off.
After practicing for about two months, I started participating in band practice. From that time on, I joined my husband in band practice every week, and have continued till the present, until March this year (due to the CCP virus).
When I participated in band practice for the first time, I had no sense of rhythm at all during the warm-up, I was sweating because I was so nervous. At home, I practiced with a metronome and thought I was okay. But at band practice, there was no metronome. Suddenly I didn’t know how to follow the conductor and play! Later, I began to look for reasons externally, thinking it was because the conductor’s hand signals were too vague. So I went to talk to the conductor privately, hoping she could make her hand gestures more clear, so I could see better. Unexpectedly, the conductor said to me, you need to have the beat in your own mind, there has to be a rhythm. I was shocked upon hearing this, I need to have rhythm, when can I develop a sense of rhythm?
As I felt disheartened. I remembered when I initially joined the band, I was prepared to endure hardships. I thought that this was only the beginning, so why was I already afraid? I had to overcome my fear of difficulties and believe I can do it, make effort internally, and practice hard. Because when joining any project there exists a test of willpower to see if you can stick to it, to test if you can face difficulties front on? or back away? “With this determination, if you can indeed be firmly resolute at that point, you will naturally do well because your xinxing will have already improved.” (Zhuan Falun, Lecture Six)
In order to develop my rhythm, I started to learn how to sing to the music, I sang for a while. At the same time, my group leader also asked some of the beginners to practice singing the music. Through a period of doing this, my sense of rhythm improved greatly.
After half a year of learning the baritone, I began taking the exams. Passing the exams is a requirement to participate in the performances.
Most of the practitioners who have taken the band’s exams feel that it is a tough process. First of all, you are not allowed to look at the music during the test, you cannot look at the metronome, you can’t make mistakes, and you have to complete the song in one go. As a beginner, I had to endure this tough process as well. Taking tests the songs one by one, from easiest to the most difficult.
Looking back now, the first few songs seem very easy, but at that time, I was so nervous during every exam. I could only perform 70-80% of my usual level, and had to take the test four to five times in order to pass. In particular there was one song that took me seven times to pass. To think about it, we had band practice once a week, meaning we could only take the test once a week. I took the test every week, taking the same test seven times means it took me almost 2 months to pass one song.
Our examiner is our conductor. Each time I failed to pass, she would kindly give me guidance and encouragement, and even played it to me herself—this helped my performance technique and my understanding of the music improved quickly. During this time, I received a lot of technical help from many other practitioners in the band, they pointed out many areas I needed to improve on, and I benefited a lot from this. Here, I thank every single practitioner in the band who has helped me, whether it be mentally or technically, thank you!
‘Defeated battle after battle, battling again after every defeat!’ This is an accurate portrayal of my initial examinations.
I became a ‘professional exam taker’. In the face of repeated failures, my husband even lost faith sometimes and told me to leave it aside and practice the next song. I consoled him in return, and thought “it’s okay, I can definitely pass.” Because I am a practitioner, Master said cultivation is serious, everything a cultivator does has elements of cultivation in it. The Tian Guo Marching Band is a project that validates the Fa through playing music that eliminates evil and saves sentient beings. Is it that easy for me to become a Tian Guo Band member? How could there be no tests?!
Master said in the Fa “The master takes you through the entrance, and cultivation is up to you, yourself. It all depends upon how you, yourself cultivate. Whether you can cultivate all depends upon whether you can endure, sacrifice, and suffer. If you can commit your mind, no difficulties can stop you. I would say that there’s no problem.” (Zhuan Falun, Lecture Four)
Masters Fa helped me understand that practicing my instrument is also a part of cultivating xinxing. I need to be strong like a Vajra, set my mind to it, keep practicing, and I will succeed.
With the improvement of my xinxing, my performance skills also improved rapidly. I passed my last two songs in one go. The date was December 15, 2019, it was a very happy day for me! After a year and a half of unceasing effort, I finally passed the exams for all nine songs and became an official member of the Tian Guo Marching Band.
Of course, passing the exams isn’t the end, but just the beginning of the journey of a Tian Guo Band member. To truly master each piece of music, and each note, I need to put in more effort.
Before joining the band, I had certain opinions about the exams. I thought that the exams would act as a barrier for many people who wanted to join, because at that time I thought the practitioners who joined the band and continued to participate in band practice every week were already amazing. But after going through the examination process of the nine songs, I felt that the whole process was painful and tormenting, but it did in fact help me improve in many aspects, whether it be in performance skills or xinxing.
My husband would often say that during his own examination process he corrected many of his bad playing habits, and the exams changed him from someone who was just there to fill the numbers into a true performer. Now I also have changed my original opinion.
With the overall progression of the Fa rectification process, the requirements for cultivators and projects are also increasing. The Tian Guo Marching Band is a project that validates the Fa and saves sentient beings. It cannot save people unless the band’s overall music performance skills is improved.
Master said “This especially holds true in the Fa-rectification period, where all of the cosmos’s beings, both positive and negative, want to be saved. And that includes even the unimaginably massive gods at the highest of planes, as well as, notably, the sentient beings of their worlds. It is because of this that they have managed to have a presence in the human world, and in the Three Realms. Could they forgo this once-in-eons opportunity to be saved? “You have to save me”—they all utter this, imploring to be saved. But the way this comes across is not what one would expect by using the kind of reasoning and comprehension found in the human world, such as how you must be courteous and humble when asking for help—“As you are here to save me, I must first express my gratitude toward you, and I will do my part to make it easier”—it’s nothing like that. As they see it, “If you are to save me, you have to reach my level first, and you must have this measure of mighty virtue before you can save me. Without such mighty virtue, without having reached my stature, how could you save me?” So they would have you trip and fall, suffer, and eliminate your attachments, after which, with your mighty virtue having been established, you will have cultivated to that level and be able to save them. That’s how they want to have it.” (“Dafa Disciples Must Study the Fa” in Teaching the Fa at the Conference XI)
To this day, my husband still thinks it’s a miracle that someone like me who knew nothing about music could pass all the exams to become a member of the band. But I don’t fully agree with this statement.
Master said, “The entire life of a practitioner has been rearranged. One’s palm reading, face reading, birth data, and all messages in one’s body are already different and have been changed … because a life like that has been changed and is one for cultivation.” (Zhuan Falun, Lecture Six, Your Mind Must Be Righteous). Because when I had the thought of joining the band, no matter how difficult and great the interferences I encounter, as long as I maintain righteous thoughts, Master will help me through difficulties.
Again the words “Cultivation depends on one’s own efforts, while the transformation of gong is done by one’s master.” (Lecture One in Zhuan Falun).
If creating a miracle, it is Master creating it, I just have the heart to do it.
After becoming an official member of the Tian Guo Marching Band, I participated in the Australia Day parade this year for the first time, and then went to Sydney on January 31 to participate in the band performance to celebrate 350 million Chinese people withdrawing from the CCP. Although I’ve only participated in two performances so far, I am still very happy.
- Clarifying the Truth
In the second half of last year, I was learning English in my local community, and my classmates came from all around the world. Due to the language barrier, everyone just went home after class. In such an environment, it seemed difficult to find an opportunity to clarify the truth. But because I had the heart to clarify the truth, Master arranged an opportunity for me.
On Sunday the 29th of September 2019, The Australian Tian Guo Marching Band was invited to perform at the Melbourne Show. The next day in class, the English teacher asked everyone to write down what happened during the weekend. At the time, I briefly described in English the band’s performance at the Melbourne Show, how the whole performance was commended by visitors and the organising committee, how my husband also participated in the performance, and introduced myself as a substitute member of the band, and that the organiser may invite our band the perform again the next year.
After reading what I had written, the English teacher excitedly told me after class that she also went to the Melbourne Show that day and saw the band play, and said it was great. Next, the English teacher set an assignment for each student to write an introduction on their leisure activities. As a cultivator, we rarely have leisure activities, so I wrote about playing the baritone and participating in the Tian Guo Band. My English teacher thought what I wrote was great and asked me to introduce my leisure activity to the whole class. I realised at the time that I could take this opportunity to clarify the truth to the class.
So, I rewrote my speech and asked my son-in-law to check my English vocabulary and grammar to see if it made sense. After reading my script, he said, “mum, it’s good, you can use this opportunity to clarify the truth to your classmates.” Because I had to make a speech, I memorised the script at home.
On the day of the speech, I used “The Tian Guo Marching Band delivers positive energy” as a title. I firstly introduced which instrument I practiced then introduced how the Tian Guo Band performs all over the world. In Australia, there is a Tian Guo Band in Sydney and Melbourne, and mainly it performs locally and participates in many events each year such as the Australia Day parade, the Easter parade in Bendigo and this years Melbourne Show.
I added that the band’s performance brings positive energy to people, listening to our music is beneficial to people’s mental and physical health, and brings positivity to society.
I also said that members of the band all practice Falun Gong. That it has four standing exercises and one sitting meditation, and practitioners follow the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance in their daily lives.
I also clarified that Tian Guo Band won’t be able to perform in China because Falun Gong is banned from being practiced in China. I told them that I myself was persecuted, arrested by the government and jailed in China because I persisted in practicing Falun Gong. But I was also very lucky that I was able to come to Australia, a democratic country where there is freedom of faith. Currently, there are still many people in China who have been jailed by the government because they are like me and persist in practicing Falun Gong.
When I spoke about this, I even cried … The whole class and the teacher gave me warm applause.
After class, I handed out the small English “Falun Dafa is Good” leaflets I had prepared in advance to my classmates and teacher, and told them there were related websites on the leaflet which they can visit to learn more about Falun Gong. Everyone happily accepted.
Above are the bits and pieces that I have experienced since joining the Tian Guo Marching Band. Due to my limited level, please kindly point out any improprieties.
Thank you Master！
Thank you fellow practitioners.