What Korean Karaoke Rooms Have Taught Me About Learning

Norebangs give you the platform to perform drunk.
I had been, up until as recently as 2015, a firm believer that talent is innate, that I needed to be born with a certain set of 'talents,' whatever that meant. My friends and family didn't help either; I was constantly spoon fed into thinking that I was a natural at certain aspects of my life and at some aspects, like my ability to sing, were painfully horrible. That vocal thing, in particular, didn't make a damn sense to me. Especially when I looked at around to see that I was surrounded by an array of semi-pro singers in my own family, not to mention that I grew up with my cousin, Astha Tamang Maskey, a singing sensation back home. Google her name and you will just find out how different we sound when we open our mouths to sing, if you have seen me drunk singing at 4a.m at some shady karaoke bar.

Quite the difference. 

Recently though, after all these years, I have noticed a difference in my singing. Interestingly, whenever I did make one those soju ridden finale trips to a Norebang (Karaoke Rooms) here in Seoul, I would end up choosing one of my staple songs; Wonderwall. Yep. The one by Oasis. 

Now imagine how many times I must have gone to the Karaoke and how many times I must have selected the same song, over and over and over again in the past six and half years. That's a lot of hours singing the same song, let me tell you that. Turns out, the process became an amazing self-experimentation to check whether I was really doomed to ever express myself vocally or not. 

Funny enough, my vocals in that song is markedly less horrible then all of the other songs that I sing. I know this because my friends and colleagues make it abundantly clear that I understand that. I get a backhand complement saying "Didn't know you could sing" and when I would say thanks they would reply "I meant that ONE song."

In all honesty though, I will gladly take that complement because that reaffirms the idea that a skill, which people misunderstand as talent, can be learnt and improved with deliberate practice. I first came across this concept while doing my master's degree (purely out of desperation) when I was reading about to get my research effectively done while balancing my hobbies that needed attention. Carl Newportman's Study Hack blog [HERE] and [HERE] laid out the foundations, however, I saw the idea being discussed in the book called Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg [HERE]. An incredibly powerful book, if you ask me and has changed so much the way I view life in general. More recently, I learned more through Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour (Workweek, Body, Chef) and Tools of Titans and Derek Sivers, the creator CD-Baby. I personally think it's worth every bit of time listening to these two guys talk on Tim Ferriss Show.

Maybe next time, I should give one of RATM's song a try. Bull's on Parade? Hell yeah for the next ten years. You might wanna to skip those first few trips to Karaoke with me though.


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