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Music Jamboree 2015

Rhythm MP's Music Jamboree 2015 was held last week during the school holidays from 1-6 June 2015. It was also a bit tricky organizing this year's event because firstly, we could not run the music jamboree during the second term holidays like we usually do because it will then coincide with the Islamic Hari Raya Aidil Adha. It then leaves us with the recent holidays to run the event but it also coincided with music exams that are currently on-going.till August.

Nevertheless, we had music teachers from Indonesia and Malaysia who signed up this year. The first two day's program on 2 & 3 June were only for the music teachers. Exploring creative piano teaching ideas, technical development to perform music and aural development, among others, were the main focus .

The teachers' program also did include workshops focus on music composition and harmony that we have regularly featured on and in the music workshops that we offer to music schools. We have for many years, been encouraging music composition as it is a creative activity that uses the music theory that the student has learned. Having learned some years of music theory, any music student can be encouraged into composing. The student only needs to compose according to the level of theory learned. The attached videos of students compositions featured at the recent music jamboree below is an example.

Every year, the music jamboree will always include a program for young primary school students. This year's music jamboree saw the participation of six primary schools. They were SJK (C) Perempuan China, SJK (C) Poay Wah, SJK (C) Kong Min Pusat, SJK (C) Chung Hwa Confucian 'B', SK Convent Lebuh Light and SJK (C) Tar Thong. The last school mentioned are from Balik Pulau, literally meaning 'back of the island' and yes, they are from the other side of the island. we wish to thank all these schools for participating at this year's music jamboree and hope that everyone had an enjoyable musical experience.

As it has been for many years now, SJK (C) Perempuan China, aka Peng Hwa (as is locally known) is the host school and has great facilities to hold this event. The first day of the students' music jamboree was on 4 June 2015 and it began with all the students gathering in the school hall after morning registration for a 'musical' warm up. It began with viewing an animated clip on music to lighten up everyone, followed by a singing activity and finally a music and movement activity.

All the students were then divided into teams managed by the music jamboree teachers to rehearse the musical activity assigned.

Each team is to perform the musical activity that would usually involve all or a combination of singing, music and movement, playing percussion instruments, etc.

On the second day of the students music jamboree, the performances are held in the school hall. Each team would then appear on stage to perform their assigned musical activity. For this year, the students of SJK (C) Tar Thong prepared and performed a welcoming song to all the participating schools. It was a nice gesture on their part and this is their third year participating in the music jamboree. Below are the video clips of the students performances.

As with last year, we asked students to participate in our music composition event and those whose compositions are successful will be selected to performed live by the students themselves during the music jamboree. The following three clips are among some of those submitted for this year.

Improving on sight reading

Do you like sight reading? Maybe some of you do but most of you struggle at sight reading. Although you learn music literacy when you begin music lessons, sight reading music notes and playing the notes on a musical instrument instantly is not such an easy task. Of course, if you are given the time to slowly look at the notes, you will be able to figure them out. But the point of sight reading is to be spontaneous in reading and playing the notes on a musical instrument.

Reading music notes well has to do with familiarity. The more you see the same notes, the better you recognize them. But I have encountered situations where quite many students can read well within an octave of C major from Middle C up (in the Treble clef) and down (in the Bass clef). Students struggle most especially when the notes go beyond the music stave lines, and I noticed them trying to read such notes by counting the notes from a familiar note within the stave.

So, how do you improve on sight reading? There are books on improving your sight reading that may help you. Obviously sight reading is a problem for many of you, if not, then why should there be books on sight reading to help you? Yes, you can get these books to help you in sight reading.

However, you can help yourself improve in sight reading simply by reading and playing a lot of music, especially new music, all the time.

I will go back a series of articles I wrote some years back about my musical journey that lead to my profession and career in music. My father was always keen and encouraging when I was learning music that he frequently brought home all types of music that the local music shop near his office may have. Whenever stock of new music albums or music sheets was available, he would just buy them for to me to learn with no expectations involved. I can fondly remember when he got me the complete album of the musical 'The Sound Of Music'. I enjoyed learning all the pieces and especially after watching the musical and listening to the music, I understood better how to perform the pieces better.

Besides that, my music teacher also prescribed numerous books from classical albums containing a mixed repertoire, to the Sonatina Album, various Piano Studies and Etudes, etc to play. Since I figured that I am going to be playing these pieces at one time or other, I started to learn playing all the pieces on my own other than those prescribed for my piano lessons. Eventually, I began to get familiar and better with reading notes across the musical stave in both clefs. I began to notice and understand the rhythmic grouping of notes, musical symbols and signs, learn to respond to expression markings, dynamics, articulations, etc.

You can also do this at any time at home. Be proactive and tell yourself that you want to improve on sight reading. You can begin with the music books you have, or get more music books to read and play, or ask your music teacher for recommendations. There is a lot of music out there to be explored. Of course, the classical oriented books are preferable because it has equal focus on developing your reading of the bass clef and technique for the left hand.

Therefore, while there are books to help you improve in sight reading, you can only be good at it through application which means, by reading and playing more music as frequently as you can.