Enchanting Children Through Life-Affirming Music Making

Since January this year, 7 YST Conservatory students have been creating an original interactive music show for children. They have been developing the show, which incorporates music, dance and theatre, during their spare time (between classes and after rehearsals) and are now touring the performance at local schools. The show has been created to engage children, particularly those vulnerable or with special needs.

Above: The Enchanted Garden performance at YST Conservatory for children and their families from the Rainbow Centre

The performance is specially catered to an audience of 8-10 children to ensure a sense of intimacy and individualized attention for each child during the performance.

An educator from the Eden School, Ms Nikki Wah, was extremely thankful to the YST students for sharing the performance at their school and for “respecting the needs of the [Eden School] students with autism”.

The performance gave the children the freedom to be themselves and behave in a way that is not restrictive
— Ms Nur Fatehah, programme executive at Very Special Arts (VSA), Singapore
Above: The Enchanted Garden autism-friendly performance at the Eden School

The students started their project with a brief outline of the type of music they wanted to share with the children. They wanted to make sure the music was gentle and inviting, but also was referencing classical music repertoire as a way to expose the children to live classical music up close. The music was performed and co-composed by Ilysia Tan (1st Year, BMus, composition), Noah Diggs, (3rd Year, BMus, composition) and Pualina Lim (1st Year, BMus, piano performance). The student’s next step was to fit a narrative to the music together in the rehearsal room.

From being involved with process of developing this project I have drawn on a wide variety of skill sets, such as collaboration, communication, creativity and professionalism. This reminds me of how much passion and commitment is required to get a quality result
— Priscilla Fong, 1st year, BMus, voice performance

Priscilla Fong co-created the lyrics for the songs, alongside Amelia Hayes (2nd year, BMus voice performance) who are the main performing characters.

The students were responsible for managing logistics and communications with the performances at multiple venues throughout March. Community partnerships included Very Special Arts (VSA) Singapore, Eden School, Rainbow Centre and Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF). Rachel Lim, 4th year voice performance major, had previously organized creative music workshops with CCF last year, so through this project, she wanted to further develop her connections with CCF.

From my involvement with CCF in the past, we had only been working with music, so this year I wanted to go one step further by combining our group’s unique skillsets to bring to the children a quality performance with multidisciplinary aspects
— Rachel Lim, 4th Year, BMus, voice performance
Above: Performance for the Children’s Cancer Foundation at Novena Specialist Centre

Joey Tan (2nd year, BMus, composition) performs as a ballerina for The Enchanted Garden performance. She dances to her arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of Sugar Plum Fairy for keyboard, cello and percussion.

Interacting with children in such a personal way through my passion of music and ballet dance is a fresh and enriching experience for me
— Joey Tan, 2nd year, BMus, composition

The development of the project and various performances of The Enchanted Garden is acknowledged and credited by the Conservatory as a ‘Career Development Group Project’. The faculty advisor for the project is Bethany Nette, a teaching assistant for YST Professional Integration and YST alumna (Class of ‘16,  trumpet performance). She coordinates student-led community engagement and development projects for the Conservatory.

Above: The Enchanted Garden performance at Very Special Arts (VSA) Singapore