Stories of DTC Trainees – Angus Jude Koh

Angus Koh
Angus is described variously as handicapped, a person with learning difficulties and the like. But once he gets his fingers on the keyboard, he becomes an extraordinary story of ability and amazing grace.

He was a guest pianist at the opening night of the Conference of the International Decade for Disability in Asia and the Pacific in 1999 in Kuala Lumpur. His rendition of “My Way” left his audience enthralled.

It was by providence that his parents, Nicole and Jason Lau, discovered the extraordinary gift that God has endowed 18-year old Angus Jude with. They had bought a new keyboard and one night they heard someone playing on it and to their amazement it was Angus. They couldn’t believe it! They played another tune on their pre-programmed keyboard and asked him to play it back to them. He was able to replay the tune, finding the notes effortlessly. A star was bom that night.

Nicole and Jason tracked down their other son’s former music teacher and begged him to give Angus some proper music training. The music teacher, who is himself, an accomplished lounge pianist patiently trained Angus in the style of a lounge pianist. Very quickly, Angus picked up the skills and built a wide repertoire of songs ranging from classical to pop tunes. Under the guidance of his parents, his skills were honed and polished.

Angus Jude, a young, handsome and friendly individual, was introduced to Malaysian CARE by a volunteer, Mrs. Joyce Lee. He initially attended Malaysian CARE’S Day Training Classes (DTC) at Life Chapel. When St.Paul’s Day Training Centre began in 1993, Angus moved over to be one of the pioneer students.

It was by chance that I discovered that he could play the piano. One day in 1993, just as the classes ended, a thunderstorm broke and electricity was cut off. A small group of students and their parents, Judy and I, both teachers in the DTC and Tan Cheng Siong, then on placement training from Dignity and Services sat in the hall. As usual, Angus full of energy could not sit still in one place. He walked up and down the hall and then sat down at the hall piano. Then he began to play. The tune he played was “BaliHai” from the musical “South Pacific”. Stunned, I went up to him and asked him if he could play more songs and he happily obliged. The strains of the Blue Danube, Love me Tender, That’s Amore, Blue Hawaii and Beyond the Sea filled the hall. As one romantic tune after tune was played, I whispered to Cheng Siong that the atmosphere was right for us to light candles and hold hands! Such was the power of Angus’ playing.

Since then we have not looked back. His first public performance was at the St.Paul’s DTC anniversary, where he delighted the congregation with Phantom of the Opera and Amazing Grace, In 1995, at the inaugural Dignity and Services high tea held in Hyatt Saujana Hotel in Subang Jaya, Angus played for the first time in a hotel.

Angus’ parents began to dream about him becoming a lounge pianist and Angus was for it. However, Angus can’t read so some innovation was needed. He also needed to be trained in appropriate behaviour in public. This aspect of his training came under the DTC and Clarissa of CARE’S Employment Development Unit. It was difficult but Angus was a fast and keen learner. In the years since performing at Hyatt Saujana Hotel, Angus has performed in the following Hotels -Ming Court, Radison Hotel,and Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel. In early 1998, he had a one month contract to play in the Istana Hotel. He also continues to play on special invitations at St. Paul’s Church, small functions and other churches. Angus continues to build his repertoire of songs including local and traditional tunes.

Angus still looks forward to more invitations to play and if possible, to be employed more permanently as a lounge pianist. God has given Angus a gift. I would not have believed that a person with learning difficulties could do as well as a professional. His parents dared to dream and work for him to be a lounge pianist. I joined them in this dream. God willing, one day this dream will be realised.

 (By A. Annam – Extracted from CARE Contact Jan/Feb 2000)

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