Sharing the gift of music

03 April 2017 | EducationCommunity
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In the months prior to the performance, YST Conservatory students taught children from Superhero Me the basics of instruments

Year 2 students from the Yong Siew Toh (YST) Conservatory of Music at NUS, together with performers aged five to 80, presented a one-hour music showcase on 1 April at the Alexandra Hospital Auditorium that delighted audiences and demonstrated the power of music in connecting people.

The “YST Connects: Sharing Gifts through Music” performance was the culmination of the Conservatory’s ongoing engagement with four of its community partners, which included allied health professionals and nurses from Sengkang Health; senior citizens from the Choral Singing for the Prevention of Dementia programme, a collaboration between the National University Health System and the NUSS Choir; children from Superhero Me, a community arts programme for children from less privileged and special needs communities; and music students from the Singapore School of the Arts (SOTA). As part of the compulsory Leading & Guiding Through Music module at the Conservatory led by Associate Professor Ty Constante, its students have been conducting workshops with community partners to teach music fundamentals and lead the process of putting together performances for the show.

Music is about connecting with people. Whether you are a musician playing in an ensemble or performing on stage with an audience, you are sharing a collective experience.

The 180-strong audience reveled in the repertoire of crowd favourites and collaborative compositions by YST students and its partners. Accompanied by YST students, the Senior Citizens’ Choir and their rendition of popular tunes like Chan Mali Chan and Tian Mi Mi got the crowd singing and clapping along, while the creative musical interpretation of the popular children’s story Where the Wild Things Are by the children from Superhero Me captured the audience’s imagination.

Year 2 Piano major Muse Ye, who conducted the children’s performance, shared how the semester-long experience working with them has impacted her as a musician. “Working with these kids, it takes you a step back and gives you a bigger picture, because sometimes when we are so focused on our training, it is hard to come back to what is really important — to realise what other people find interesting about music and why they enjoy it,” she said.

The showcase also featured YST Young Artists Jonah Lim and Elizabeth Low — who delivered elegant piano performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Für Elise and Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune respectively — as well as a collaborative performance by the students from SOTA and the Conservatory.

The audience also caught a glimpse into what went on during the music workshops when YST students led the crowd in some impromptu music-making. They simulated the pitter-patter of rain drops through simple finger tapping and lent their vocal chords to a simple tune, adding layers, complexity and warmth to the performances on stage.

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Year 2 Piano major Luong Khanh Nhi guiding the audience in a collaborative music-making experience

Ms Bethany Nette, who graduated last year and is currently a teaching assistant at the Conservatory, coordinated the event and helps teach the Leading & Guiding Through Music module. She explained why the ability of musicians to touch and enrich others through music-making is just as vital as talent development and mastery of skills in the pursuit of music excellence. “Music is about connecting with people. Whether you are a musician playing in an ensemble or performing on stage with an audience, you are sharing a collective experience,” she said.