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Recorder Ensemble performing the Music Jamboree theme song

SJK(C) Perempuan China (Penang Chinese Girls' Primary School) has been the hands-on venue of the Music Jamboree for numerous years. Music teachers from around the region who attend our annual music jamboree would put into practice teaching concepts explored during their training program with the students of this school.

The school has a music club and they are proactive in musical activities, having in their midst, a recorder ensemble and choir as part of their extra-curricular activities for their students. It is enlightening to know that the school is aware of the benefits of music and sees fit to have this music club.

The focus of the music jamboree program is based on our Young Musicians' Skills Development (YMSD) program that includes musical improvisation. Therefore, it is fitting to have their recorder ensemble perform our Music Jamboree theme song with an improvised section.

I arranged the piece in four-part SATB and handed the arrangement to their teacher in charge, Ms. June Loo who incidentally is musically learned. The improvised section is at the beginning of the second chorus during the repeat in the A and B part. The young musicians of the ensemble had little time to practice and rehearse as it was the time of year-end examinations. This recording was done during the last week of the school year after their examinations and it turned out very well. Indeed, these young students are quite a capable group of musicians.

Watch and listen to the performance of the Music Jamboree theme song titled 'Pineapple Island' performed by the school's Recorder Ensemble. I hope you enjoy their performance as much as I did.

YMSD Improvisation Workshop 5

A music gathering cum party was organized with the music school for my YMSD students to invite some of their friends to my workshop. The purpose is for the YMSD students to introduce music and share some musical moments with their friends by performing together.

About a fortnight prior to this event, my usual group of students were put through preparations for the gathering. We worked on the musical activity that was to be featured at the gathering because the YMSD students have been tasked to lead their friends during the event. Tapping a bit into their artistic skills, the YMSD students were asked to create invitation cards for those friends they were inviting.

On the day of the gathering, the YMSD students and their friends who showed up learned and experienced a musical performance by forming a percussion ensemble. There was an assortment of percussion instruments made available and the students were asked to select a percussion instrument that they would like to play.

We began by understanding something about these percussion instruments. Then we explored ways to play each instrument to discover the timbre produced. After which, different rhythm patterns was assigned to each instrument and rehearsed to be performed to a prerecorded musical piece. The challenge was for the children to perform their assigned rhythm pattern without wavering.

To carry out this performance, I informed the children that they would have to listen attentively to the music, to themselves and to each other. I had them realize that they need to develop critical listening to perform well as an ensemble. Once they understood what was required of them, they were very focused and excited about performing music together.

They demonstrated that they were quite capable and performed decently well during the workshop. As long as they enjoyed what they did, the experience would leave a positive mark on them. For me, it was mission accomplished when they expressed to me that music is fun and about enjoyment.

I would encourage music schools and music teachers to organize similar gatherings to spread the joy of learning and playing music. Plan and organize some musical activity to involve everyone. Give your students a chance to teach and lead their friends. It will surely help you to know your students better. You can be surprised by what your students are capable of if given the opportunity.

YMSD: Exploring musical creativity, a continuing series of programs.

Early this week, a visitation to a school to meet primary school students who study music was organized for me by the school's music club. There were 43 students in total who attended the workshop.

For these series of visitations and workshops that is on-going, I have a mission to create greater music awareness to encourage students to understand the purpose of studying and knowing music. Similarly with all my other workshops at schools, the workshop began by linking music rudiments and music theory to practical application and musical creativity. Music begins with music literacy and applying it to the musical instrument and beyond to composition, improvisation, etc.

Stressing the need to connect the three main components in their music education syllabus, which are, theory, practical and aural studies, will create greater appreciation for music. The workshop was to help the students understand how to use music theory creatively in practice. For example, some students were invited to the piano to explore creative and improvisational ideas using scales. We also worked on music from the popular Piano Lessons Made Easy series that all these students are familiar with as they used these publications when they began music lessons.

I also appreciated the school's music teacher spontaneous thought of bringing out a song that the students are familiar with and are learning for me to help them understand how to interpret and perform the song. Taking the song to the piano, I asked for the students to gather around me to discuss musical ideas that they could employ to perform the song. After which, I performed the song using the musical ideas discussed. Hopefully, the ideas I shared with the students will encourage them to begin exploring the song creatively as well as any other musical pieces they know.

YMSD: Exploring musical creativity

A recent workshop with secondary school students who have music certification from the intermediate level upwards gave me the opportunity to help them put music rudiments and music theory that they have learned into practice.

It is easy to forget what one has learned unless it is put into practice. In music, the more one applies music theory in the music-making processes via composing, arranging and performing music, the more one comprehends music theory. It would justify learning music theory and makes learning music theory much more meaningful.

We began by identifying specific topics in music theory learned throughout their graded music studies and how to use them to create and perform music. This is wholly done with the hope of validating their years spent learning music and to create greater awareness and appreciation in music for them.

Being a strong advocator and practitioner of music improvisation, I particularly focused on how music rudiments and music theory can improve their musical perception using improvisation. Engaging the students individually at the piano at improvising was a new experience for all of them.

Obviously, their musical abilities and skills differ but their attempts did demonstrate some musical thought and substance when properly guided. It shows that music students are capable in their own way of musical creativity if given the opportunity.

I hope to have opened up their musical minds to encourage them further to explore musical creativity by putting music theory into practice. Hopefully, it would validate the years they spent learning music, find relevance in it and enjoy musical explorations in whatever way they can.