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Music Fiesta Indonesia 2008 Report

Music Fiesta 2008 in Indonesia

I have always looked forward to meeting music teachers, students, parents and just about anyone else during my work tour. More importantly, it is when I get to listen to performances of the students and teachers.

After a two-year hiatus, I was invited back to Indonesia for a series of musical events. My tour began in Surabaya and culminated in Jakarta. In between, there were two other venues, Probollingo and Bandung. At all these venues, the programs were the same. Listen to students perform and offer any advise for further improvement, a Q & A session with parents at the end of each session, conduct a teachers’ workshop and finally, perform in a recital concert. The recital is where I am to select some students and teachers to perform with me.

Most of the students performed well. Some were exceptional. There were the usual hitches especially for some young first timers who were overcome by fear, shyness or nervousness. In short, everything went very well. I have to thank Dr. Juniati Gunawan (fondly called Yuni) for her endearing hard work and effort to organize my tour, and for her support. I would also like to thank all the performers, teachers, parents, music schools and members of the public for making my trip another memorable one.

It is also most refreshing to see many of the young performers dressing their best for the event. Girls in flowing gowns and boys in suits do lend to the event. I commend them on placing relevance on their appearance.

In my reports of my earlier trips, I mentioned that Indonesia has no shortage of talented musicians and it is still so when evidence can be seen and heard everywhere in Indonesia. For example, during my visit to Probolinggo, a small quaint town outside Surabaya, we dined at a rustic restaurant where a keyboardist was accompanying two vocalists who were belting out popular evergreens and Indonesian Top 40 music. Though there were just 3 tables of patrons, they sang enthusiastically like it was a full house and they sounded good. It was the same at another restaurant the following night and this one even had patrons joining in to sing. In fact, the Mayor who was to officiate the event at Probollingo was to sing at the opening of my recital but he was called away for official duties that evening.

While I have seen some outlets in other countries posting a signage saying no guest artiste allowed to perform, I have not seen this in Indonesia. Anyone and everyone seem to be capable of singing well. They can keep their pitch and able to sing expressively.
After having traveled, adjudicated and conducted quite many workshops/masterclasses throughout Indonesia, I can believe this quote said to me that ‘music is life and life is music in Indonesia’.

Music Jamboree 2008

Music Jamboree 2008

Having facilitated and assisted in the annual Rhythm MP Music Jamboree since its inception in 2000, I was given the opportunity to conduct the event this year.

With a total turn out of 45 music teachers from around the region gathered here in Penang, I embarked on a beginner’s program that I created using renown author, Lina Ng’s successful “Made Easy Series” publications, of which I am most proud to have been the editor for. I suppose on that account, Rhythm MP felt I was most apt, other than Lina herself, to conduct the jamboree. For that, I am most honored.

This year’s program focuses on organizing and planning a syllabus for a 1-month and 3-month group lesson program for young kids who have never learned music. Elements from Lina’s popular books were used to create weekly lesson plans that include various other elements of music making (singing, ear/pitch training, solfege, rhythmic development, harmony, ensembles, etc) and musical games (based on music rudiments and theory), notably the Rhythm MP Flash Cards that would be fun for the students. The important key word here is ‘fun’! If learning music weren’t fun, no one would want to do it, or do it for long!

The teachers had to think ‘out of the box’ to create these activities. Quite a creative group they were too, when introduced the Rhythm MP Flash Cards (a teaching and learning aid), they came up with different ways to play the game.

All the teachers had varying degrees of teaching experience behind them, some more than others. But they all desire to learn more and be better at their chosen profession. For that, I am most thankful to have had this group of enthusiastic teachers who understood that they are capable of achieving more, who were willing to explore and experiment with ideas to make them relevant and no matter what their skill levels may be, they never shy away from performing in front of strangers that they just met. It was bold of them all, and the magnanimous peer support from the other teachers was most encouraging.

For the amateur teachers, the jamboree is like an express ride to learn from their experience at the event and from the experience of other teachers. I also have Mr. Michael Kay and Mr. Seng Tak Pin to thank for their personal assistance, and also in running some sessions with the teachers.