This is the second 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.
Here, Rachel Lim (BMus '18, Voice) tells us about how she forged her interest in vocal pedagogy and community engagement.
Every person has a creative voice, which can be used for self-expression and connection with others. This is a key belief that Rachel Lim (BMus '18, Voice) brings in her work approach, which she has developed during her time at the YST Conservatory and put into practice in various community contexts in Singapore.
When Rachel recalls her early years as an undergraduate, her time at school was used to focus on improving her technical skills as a singer and completing school work. It was in her third year of music study that she started to get involved with various community engagement platforms offered by YST. Notably, she served as a project assistant for Project Infinitude, a ten-week music program run by YST in early 2017 for 20 children from disadvantaged backgrounds or with disabilities. The experience set her thinking about her broader role as a musician and, in her own words, “how much music could make a difference to the wider community”.
This shift in perspective motivated her to seek opportunities to widen her skillset so as to enhance her artistry and professional capabilities. In her fourth year, Rachel interned with the YST Conservatory administration office, where she handled projects in communications, marketing, and community engagement. She says, “I wanted to take more responsibility for my education. The internship gave me the opportunity to go behind the scenes in our regular concerts and productions, and broadened my skills and awareness by giving me an understanding of arts management and creative practices."
She also continued to be involved in a variety of community engagement projects - some organised by the Conservatory and others self-initiated. Commenting on these endeavours, she says, “I wanted to redefine my role as a musician and artist, and pursue my interests and passions through an explorative approach.”
To expose audiences to French music in an accessible way, Rachel organised a collaborative lecture-recital Chansons de la Belle Époque, which aimed to explore the historical and contextual elements of the repertoire performed. In addition, she facilitated a series of monthly workshops at the Children’s Cancer Foundation Learning Centre titled Transitions, which sought to build the confidence of children recovering from cancer through explorations in music creation and story-making.
To contribute the skills she learned at YST to the wider NUS community, Rachel started a series of voice workshops titled Voice Discovery Workshop: Body Awareness and Healthy Singing Techniques in her final year. Through the workshops, she sought to create a space for NUS students from various singing groups in residential halls to build a better understanding of their voice use and vocal health.
Consequent instalments of this series were held at venues outside of NUS in order to reach the larger community.
“We often take our vocal health for granted because our voice is something we use everyday. The workshop allowed us to explore the possibilities of our voice and discuss good and sustainable singing habits.”
Rachel was also involved as a co-director for The Enchanted Garden, an original multi-disciplinary show created for children who are vulnerable or have sensory processing difficulties, which was presented at numerous special needs schools in Singapore. This project was started as part of a YST academic module, known as the Career Development Group Project.
With her interests in cross-genre performance, teaching practices and community engagement, Rachel will be furthering her voice studies in the United States in September this year, pursuing a Master’s degree in Music, focusing on Vocal Pedagogy at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. She also hopes to conduct further research on arts and disabilities practice. On returning from her graduate studies, she aims to actively contribute to the development of vocal arts practices in Singapore and aspires to create a more inclusive arts environment so that each individual can discover their ability to express their creativity through the arts.
“I hope to bring back different perspectives from my Master’s study to help improve vocal health awareness and pedagogy practice in Singapore through an inclusive and creative approach, and to encourage people across generations to be stronger advocates for the arts.”
Click here to read the first Charting Pathways article, where trumpet graduate Kong (Teerapol Kiatthaveephong) shares about the diverse learning opportunities that have shaped his growth as a musician.