Da Capo Music Academy, is a music concept established by Daryl Hor and Sarah Chong in 2012. The school, whose main branch is in Lorong Kilat, has a student base of about 100 students.
“We have a junior academy, where kids as young as 2.5 years come to learn the ukelele, drums and piano. We let them experience the various instruments, and expose them to music and movement training. We familiarise the kids with the instruments by scaling down to smaller parts of each, such as the snare and cymbals in a compact drumset setup. In addition, we educate the parents at the end of each session so that they can go home and revise with their children,” said Daryl.
Other students at the school include tertiary students to young working class adults. They are more goal-oriented as they know what they want to learn and their lessons are catered for flexibility, allowing them to arrange with the teachers and the school due to their work schedules. A smaller percentage of the student population consist of some aged 40 to 50 adults, who attend classes for leisure, such as learning from scratch how to play an instrument.
Apart from the three main age groups, the school also caters to students in the music elective programmes (MEP).
“As most elective students are from band, or I would say at least 80%, their minor is often a brass wind instrument while their major is the piano or violin. Our main branch is a one stop service for these students, allowing them to attend classes for their major and minor instruments, as well as receive theory training by qualified teachers,” Daryl mentioned.
With a wide range of students in various age groups and different needs, the school seeks to provide a diverse range of programmes.
“Most music schools in Singapore are based on programmes in piano, keyboard, guitar or drums. We however, have diversity in three main categories – brasswind, classical guitar, violin and piano, and contemporary. When it comes to sharing knowledge, we do so even for walk in customers, who often ask about our instruments on display. It doesn’t matter if they come back as regulars, but we believe that at least they should take something back when they leave our school, ” said Daryl.
“We do not believe in stupid people, but we believe that everyone can be cultivated with a different approach for each of them,” he emphasised.
While the programmes are tailored to each individual, there is a syllabus for each.
“We do not enforce our instructors to strictly follow the structure, but we do advice them to move between levels based on the student’s learning ability and the instructors’ feedback. For kids in particular, we do alter our programmes to involve them in a few simple music activities such as hand-clapping exercises for movement coordination, or allowing them to make noise with the drums to get a feel of the instrument. At the end of the day, we do not want to instill a forced learning culture into the kids, but rather allow them to be willing in learning the instrument, and not hate it,” he continued.
To ensure that the quality of teaching is high, the school employs a team of professional freelance instructors for all its programmes.
“Our teachers are mostly music graduates, some with good qualifications, while others with experiences in teaching instruments. Through their probation, we gauge their standards and observe their teaching styles, and offer some syllabus and tips to guide them in teaching kids. It is important to catch the attention of kids within each class, so we have to ensure that our teachers keep pace with the learning time.”
“In addition, Sarah and I are musically inclined, so we have an idea of what goes on in each programme, and also the progress of each student. If things do not turn out right, we will step in to rectify.”
“Apart from teaching classes, we also send our instructors out to conduct music educational programs in childcare centres, or Ministry of Education (MOE) enrichment programmes in schools.”
Due to a recent opportunity for expansion, a second branch was established in Novena this year. The branch, located in Goldhill Centre is smaller compared to the main branch, but boosts a library for its brass-winds students to borrow and choose their exam repertoire.
“As Novena is known to be a learning hub, we hope that the new branch provides more opportunities for learners to come forward and start learning a musical instrument,” Daryl added.
A contributing editor at TBP.