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MUSIC JAMBOREE 2013: Empowering the students to lead

The theme for this year's music jamboree with the primary school students was titled "Empowering the students to lead". After teaching music to the primary students twice monthly under Rhythm MP's CSR Music Outreach Program for over a year, I felt that the students were bright and creative enough to actually get more involved with the musical performances required for the music jamboree.

Normally, during music lessons, the entire duration is mostly focused on the student learning music theory and playing musical pieces. Sometimes, little is known about how much musicality and creativity the student has acquired. So it was decided that we will let the students take the lead at this year's music jamboree 'hands-on' event.

The young students were briefed on this years program and were asked if any would wish to be a student team leader. Team leaders were required for 3 separate activities namely; singing, body movement/dance and percussion accompaniment. Each group's performance must incorporate all these three and each group decides on the song to perform. If the students and team leaders are overwhelmed by their assigned duties, the teachers shall step in to take charge and lead the group.

This year's program is quite a departure from the usual students program of our previous music jamborees. Previously, the music teachers were responsible for organizing and staging the performance, from selecting a song, creating the percussion accompaniment rhythms and body movement/dance steps and rehearsing the entire group to perform on stage.

This time around, the teachers are to follow the lead of the students and guide the students in their performance. In total, there were about 160 primary students from three schools who participated. The students are from SJK (C) Perempuan Cina aka Peng Hwa, SJK (C) Tar Thong and SK Convent Pulau Tikus. These three schools are in our CSR Music Outreach Program.

There were a total of 7 groups; Year 1, Year 2 (Group A & B), Year 3 (Group A & B), Year 4 and Year 5.

Below are the performances of each and every group from Year 1 to 5 for all to view.


Each year, the music jamboree program features the sharing of numerous innovative ideas on teaching music to a group of students or individually. Those of you who have been following our music jamboree all this time would notice this. While most teachers who attend our music jamboree yearly are conducting music lessons on a 'one-to-one' basis, we always include music activities for a group to encourage the teachers to occasionally organize such sessions with their students. There were 21 participants this year.

Much has been expounded about the merits of teaching students individually and in a group. The music jamboree program covers both these situations with a 'hands-on' session for the group activities with young primary school students.

The four day music jamboree program would feature two days of workshops for teachers with one or more clinicians, and another two days of group activities with students. The first day of this year's music jamboree was assigned to Alice Chua, a London-based music teacher and examiner, who authored a series of beginner books for piano instruction. These publications are titled "Playing Piano Is Fun" and there are four volumes in this series.

These books are relatively new on the market and feature quite a different approach to teaching music. Duets are the main feature. The purpose is to involve the teacher in musical play with the student. Most instructional books for instrumental studies are designed for one student at the piano. Alice Chua's music requires two at the piano. So, one can imagine that during lessons, there will be more interesting music being heard from the piano when both teacher and student are performing the pieces together.

Alice's session actually began with a performance of her works with narration based on the popular novel 'Alice In Wonderland'.

Alice narrated the text while accompanied by music from her publication Playing Piano Is Fun Book 3. There are fourteen musical pieces in this book that was performed by a young student named Emily Tan.

Emily was given about three weeks to learn all those pieces. Emily did very well performing all pieces in the entire book during this 45 minute session.

Incidentally, Emily was featured in our blog when she was a participant of our music improvisation program some years back when she was a six year old attending kindergarten.

There is a clip of her on the blog performing a simple improvisation of Mary Had A Little Lamb, which was her favorite song then.
Alice Chua shared many teaching tips and advice that are valuable to hone the teachers' musical mind and raises more awareness to teach music effectively.

Assisting Alice was her pianist daughter, Mitra, who travels regularly with her. Mitra demonstrated Alice's musical ideas at the piano.

Their presentation together as a mom and daughter team was effective in leading the music jamboree participants through the activities during her workshop throughout the day.

A feature of the music jamboree session for teachers are the interactive moments when teachers are invited to attempt musical ideas at the piano on their own or with the clinician.

Likewise, teachers were invited to perform with Alice, playing duets from Alice's books.

On day two, the privilege was mine to conduct a full day's workshop and my focus was on aural studies, music theory, technical development, rhythmic studies, harmony, improvisation and performance esthetics. The program is more wide reaching as the teachers teach different levels of students across the board. The focus was primarily on the building blocks to develop musicality and musicianship.

The piano beginner publications that I base some of my workshop features on, are the very popular 'Piano Lesson Made Easy ' series by Lina Ng. These entire series of books that include theory books are synonymous with music teachers around the region and internationally.

The next report coming up will be on Day 3 & 4 of the music jamboree featuring musical activities with primary school students, inclusive of videos of their performances.