To share knowledge is to lose little, but to gain a lot
Suhaimie Jamli is an accomplished musician and educator. He is the drummer and percussionist for Kombo RTM, as well as a teacher at UMS.
“I’m from Kota Belud, and all my family loves music. My brother Rablin made a Bajau album, singing, playing and composing songs. He was also with RTM before. He has natural talent, but I’m the one who is seriously into music education,” he said.
Suhaimie spent his primary years in Kota Belud, before moving to KL to attend Sunway College. He may have had a musical heart, but family members had other plans for him!
“I took A levels in Law, Business Management and Computer Science because of my brother. He has been telling me to become a lawyer since I was 12. My brother is a politician and wanted a family team of professionals.”
Even when Suhaimie came back to KK, he took a diploma in Computer Science from Informatics, to keep his family happy. “But my heart was still into music,” he said.
Eventually, Suhaimie made the leap and found studying music very natural, even though he started without any previous formal music training. “I joined UMS for their first certificate programme. It was an intensive course, and in a nine month period I went from zero to complete my Grade 5 exams, both theory and practical. I could see that my way would be smooth in Music, after that.”
Initially Suhaimie took French horn and guitar, but after some staff changes, he had the chance to major in drums. “Immediately, the passion was there for me, in the drums. So it’s as if everything was planned out for me. I instinctively knew that the tones in the drums is in YOU. The standard tuning is there, but it is just guidance. After that, you have to balance it to make your own tone, which is HERE,” he said, pressing his heart.
After graduating with a Music degree Suhaimie continued a working relationship with SIA and UMS. He took the position of Music Co-Ordinator at SIA, with the responsibility of overseeing the formal gateway which prepared students from SIA to continue studies at UMS afterwards. Suhaimie had his own ideas about the benefits of this, believing that students would benefit more from an informal connection with UMS rather than a formal one. Later, Suhaimie went over to UMS as Cultural Officer, where he continued bringing SIA students to take classes at UMS, and helped them form connections with the staff at UMS.
Now, even though he’s a professional musician at Kombo RTM, Suhaimie still teaches at UMS. “The first class is very important to me. In the first class, I tell what my class is like. It’s all based on the student’s own quality, the student’s own intention. This means that I reject students sometimes, because I don’t see their interest. No interest at all. I tell them, don’t take up this instrument, don’t waste your time. Change your instrument. I don’t like to force them. After three months with a student, if there is no progress I ask them to stop or change instruments. But those who stay actually make progress very fast. Then over the next six months I will make sure they have all the basic techniques. I tell my students once you have basic techniques, you can find what you want to know on the internet, or just buy some books. It’s just up to them.”
Looking ahead, Suhaimie wants to grow musically, and also into new areas of education.
“In music, I focus on percussion more now, because before I didn’t have time to focus on that. Now I am looking for materials and experienced people to be my sparring partner in percussion. If there is the chance to do a show with them, then that is the way I can learn. But it’s very limited here in KK, there are only a few percussionists. So I need to find someone from KL to guide me.”
Suhaimie has also explored playing the Darbuka in different music settings. “Actually the Darbuka is strictly for Arabic-type playing, but I think the Darbuka can also sound good in jazz music. In Jeddah, the Darbuka was strictly for Arabic dancing. But I have ventured with it: you can have the bass tone, the snare tone, so it could be a good acoustic drum also. It is also portable. I’m the first to play this drum like this. I have to maintain the tones with tuning. I loosen everything. The original tuning is so tight, but if I put it too tight, I cannot have the bass drum sound. So I loosen it, then I can have at least three tones. A snare, bass and tom.”
In education, Suhaimie has new ideas. “In the long term I don’t want to teach. I want to create teaching materials. I’m venturing into different kinds of software to make learning drums easier and more interactive. I am a computer science major, and I think these days students need things to be interactive. For me, I get all my info online, plus I also love to meet and talk to experienced people, like veteran artists.”
Suhaimie has a generous philosophy about sharing knowledge. “Knowledge needs to be shared. My music talent – it comes out of nowhere. It just comes to me, and I have a duty to share it. If you share it, you lose nothing actually, but you will have a lot more coming to you. That’s my belief about learning.”
Suhaimie Jamli, a very creative and progressive drummer, percussionist and educationalist.