This is the eighth instalment of the Charting Pathways series, where YST graduates look back on their experience at the Conservatory, and give us a peek at their plans for the future.
Read Rachel Ho's (BMus '18, Flute) reflection on how she discovered and grew her passion for educating the next generation of musicians, and engaging the communities around her.
An extremely formative experience in my music education happened in 2016, when I had the opportunity to represent YST in the New Audiences and Innovative Practice (NAIP) Introductory Course in Reichenau, Vienna.
During this course, I was challenged to go out of my comfort zone to explore different forms of music-making. Alongside 23 music students and 18 teachers from all over the world, we learned how to use creative and innovative ways to connect with our audiences with musical performances.
For the programme, our audience was the residents of Reichenau - the elderly at a residence for seniors, children at a holiday daycare, and refugees. Our task was to plan a music programme to engage the local community, which involved us taking leadership roles and working closely with colleagues. It also required us to think outside of the box - and outside of the concert hall! In addition, I gained exposure to performing in spaces such as the park and art gallery, as well as improvisation and spontaneous performance.
This was my first exposure to facilitating projects and working directly with community members. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and saw how we should always share the joy of music and in the process touch the lives of others.
After this trip, I was determined to continue this music-making journey with the Singaporean community, and was glad to find platforms and community partnerships at YST that allowed me to do so. For example, I took up the role of facilitating creative music workshops with Kids' Phiharmonic@SG, which constantly challenged me to think of ways to make music-making more enjoyable and beneficial for children, as they begin their musical journey and personal growth.
In addition, I also performed at hospital wards at Alexandra Hospital with fellow YST alumnus Gabriel Lee, to share music with the mostly elderly patients. We performed and sang songs from their generation, and I also taught them some simple rhythms that they could physically tap out to get them more involved in the music-making session. A special part of the experience was that my grandmother joined me in the session as well! The joy on the elderly's faces made it clear how much they enjoyed the session. All these experiences have helped me to hone my leadership, facilitative, and interpersonal skills as I worked together with people from all walks of life.
Educating the next generation of musicians is something I feel very strongly about, and it has been a great privilege to be able to work with musicians from abroad. In 2017 and 2018, I taught students at the Philharmonic Society of Myanmar's Festival and Competition with YST's support, and continued to offer lessons online under a new academic module, Online Music Teaching. In addition, through the YST module Collaboratory, my peers and I took part in improvisation sessions with students from the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. At a broader level, I have also had the chance to undergo masterclasses and performances with musicians including Masaaki Suzuki, faculty members of the Queensland Conservatorium, Charles Dutoit, and Lan Shui. These opportunities have deepened my passion for education, broadened my cultural and musical exposure, and honed my pedagogical and leadership skills to be able to lead a group of people in music-making activities.
I will be furthering my studies at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. Because of YST’s connections with premier conservatories around the world, I was able to find out more about the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague during my NAIP programme, and connect with some of their faculty. I resonated with the school’s views on their music programme, where “experiment and innovation go hand in hand with tradition and craftsmanship”. I will be pursuing a Master's in Music Education, and a year later I will also most likely be doing Master's in Performance concurrently. After I graduate, I plan to come back to Singapore to teach and perform/freelance actively, as well as to conduct more music workshops in the community - to share my love for music with a wider audience.
Read the previous Charting Pathways article here, where voice graduate Jingyun Ng catches us up on the whirlwind of diverse artistic endeavours that she has immersed herself in during her time at YST, and will continue to engage in.