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Reflections of the Music Jamboree '09

Every year, the Music Jamboree is an event I look forward to with anticipation. This is where the opportunity to know more about music education programs from around the region and how they are conducted presents itself. I am always enthused to know more about the trends in music education around the region and the world over.

As in previous years, I find the participants this year equally enthusiastic and brimming with ideas to share. There were some returning participants whose testimonies offer valuable understanding in conducting the program. Obviously, these participants are more ‘mature’ with the program after having put it into practice for the past year.

The main core of the music jamboree is to learn, explore and apply various ways to encourage learning music among the young beginners. This calls for loads of creativity and the participants were surely not short of it.

After the first two days of studying and exploring various elements to teach music and make it interesting to the young beginners, the hands-on session with students at the school proves most crucial. It is a test of the abilities of the participants to run the program effectively in a group class instead of the ‘one-to-one’ concept that is the norm.

The reviews and analysis after each day’s hands-on sessions were particularly crucial in identifying problems and addressing them immediately. The effectiveness can be clearly seen and felt the next day during the continuing hands-on session.

Some of the teachers were discovering their potential to teach young beginners while some others with experience were developing their skills further. Whichever the case, I felt every participant had equal opportunity to gain and develop ideas and skills that will only serve to enhance them in their chosen profession.

I hope all the participants gained more insight into teaching young beginners and that they had an enjoyable stay in Penang. Until the next time we meet, I wish all the participants a musically successful and productive year ahead.

Music Jamboree 2009

This year’s jamboree teachers came from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Except for a few returning teachers, the rest were first-timers at the event. The clinicians were Mr. Wilson Quah, Mr. Seng Tak Pin and Ms. Lucy L.

As always, the 4-day jamboree was held during the school term break and began on the 25 August 2009 where the teachers studied and explored innovative approaches to teaching music to young beginners in a group class.

After two days of studying and preparing, all the teachers were brought to a school over the remaining next two days where close to 300 young students were eagerly awaiting their first experience in music learning and music making. The teachers quickly set about to take charge of their respective classes and begin the program.

The program at the school finished by midday and then it was back to the jamboree venue for reviews, discussions, etc about that morning’s activities and to prepare for the next day’s activities.

The results of the jamboree program with students concluded with performances by all the teachers and students on the final day of the jamboree. The performances reflected the various activities that were carried out at the school that included lyric writing and singing, music and movement, and percussion ensemble performances.

A visit to the Music Department of the School of Arts at USM (University Sains Malaysia) was also organized for to promote one of the country’s top tertiary institutions. Two faculty members of the USM music department, namely Cik Fatin and Dr. Jason Tye graciously conducted a presentation during the visit. While Cik Fatin’s presentation focused on promoting USM’s music programs and their illustrious faculty members, Dr. Jason’s talk was on a presentation he recently did in Italy about the comparisons of music education in this part of the world as compared to others.

Again for this year, the jamboree and all the teachers were put up at a hotel downtown in the UNESCO listed historical enclave where we hope the teachers can get better acquainted with Penang by exploring the surrounding area.

My Mission

Leaving for Singapore, I had only one mission that is to discover if music is my real true vocation. I really needed to know if I had the ‘calling’ to do well in music. Up until then, I only had a hunch that music is something I could excel in but I needed to be more self-assured. I felt that by being part of a music community with high caliber musicians would I find my answer.

Seeking out and getting to know the musicians there, jamming with them and having them as personal friends did have a big impact on my musical development. I was finally able to find like-minded musicians who shared the same passion in music to ‘talk-shop’ with. By being around them, my overall musical experiences accelerated even more and I felt musically lifted to a different level. Some of these friends are icons of jazz music in the region.

The musical inspiration that I felt drove me to explore more music and to practice at the piano as much as possible. There was much to study and I was fortunate to receive help from my musician friends. I attended the jazz jams every Sunday without fail to listen to and jam with those great musicians. All the wonderful things I was experiencing affirmed my decision to study jazz.

Finally, the day came when I called home to announce that I have made up my mind to study jazz at Berklee. My dad asked me two simple questions: Do you have what it takes to study jazz and do you think you are good enough to get into Berklee?

Well, I do not know but I must believe in myself that I have what it takes to enroll at such a prestigious institution. So, I set about applying to study at Berklee and waited anxiously for the reply. Anxiety did hit me, as I got quite worried that if I get rejected, I do not have Plan B at all. My mind was only set on jazz at Berklee.