On 25 March, the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YST Conservatory) at NUS welcomed over 300 parents and children to the annual YST Children’s Concert, some of whom were visiting the Conservatory building and hearing classical music for the first time. The concert, now in its fourth year, continues to be an entirely student-led event which aims to provide positive early exposure to classical music for young families.
The main event of the day was a performance in the Conservatory Concert Hall organised and presented by Year 2 Masters of Music students Luo Wei and Saw James Sar Doe Soe. A special highlight saw more than 70 musicians from the Conservatory Orchestra and chamber ensemble programmes, including the voice department, engage the audience in an interactive singalong.
“In preparation for the Children’s Concert, I wanted to make sure we would present the music in a way that was engaging and accessible from a child’s perspective. For example, when we introduced the strings section, we introduced them like members of a family, with the double bass being the grandfather of the orchestra. The children’s ensuing enthusiasm towards the music and new discoveries about the instruments refreshed my passion for sharing and making music. I hope we managed to inspire a future generation of music lovers,” said Saw James.
This year, the concert expanded to include a variety of community engagement projects such as an immersive performance in the Conservatory foyer by YST Conservatory student leaders and kids’ philharmonic@sg showcasing the results of their creative workshop held on 13 March.
“I enjoyed how the kids were so responsive to the music we played on stage. Afterwards, a child came up to me backstage asking about the last piece as he was interested to hear more! I’m glad I could be part of the process of exposing classical music to young children,” said Lau Hui Ping, Year 2 Trumpet Performance student.
Hui Ping was one of 10 student leaders of the creative workshop who co-created music incorporating drama and storytelling around the theme of “Transport in Singapore” alongside 55 participants from kids’ philharmonic@sg. “At first, everyone was quite shy and concerned about getting the ‘right’ answer or the ‘right’ note, but as they went through the creative workshop process, they began to understand that there is no ‘right’ answer and communicating your ideas during the creative process is far more important than playing all the ‘right’ notes,” shared Hui Ping.
In addition to the concert, the children had the opportunity to try out and explore instruments of the orchestra, including winds, brass and percussion, generously provided by Band World and Music Essentials. Parents were also able to meet with faculty and section leaders of the Conservatory Orchestra during information sessions to discuss when and how to start their child’s musical journey.
The event also included a student-led project titled “The Enchanted Garden”, an interactive music performance for children from the Rainbow Centre, a community welfare organisation.
“We hope that the community engagement day by the YST Conservatory will inspire children and parents to become more engaged with music, through listening, playing and creating. We would love to see more music in every home in Singapore. We know that not every child will become the next Mozart, they may be the doctors, scientists and engineers of tomorrow, but having positive early exposure to music in an engaging way can help instill a lifelong appreciation for music and the arts which can enrich lives,” said Ms Bethany Nette, Coordinator (Professional Integration and Community Engagement) at the YST Conservatory.
By YST Conservatory