Keith Heng Xuan Ming
Trumpet / Balester Hill Secondary School Concert Band

SYF 2011, 2013

My SYF experience was a memorable one as I have learnt many valuable lessons that I will never forget, especially in 2012.

In that year, the band’s standards seems to have dropped,  with the size of the band decreased tremendously and many of our key players graduated. At the same time, we had a new band conductor, Ms Dorean Tan. Despite the challenges that we have to face, we still went on to prepare for the SYF in 2013.

In the period of 3 months, we improved in many areas – our sound volume increased, and we are able to play more in tune in some pieces to prepare ourselves for SYF.

We chose “Gavotte” as our set piece and “Where the Black Hawk Soars” by Robert W. Smith as our choice piece. Although the pieces were a new challenge to us, we pushed our playing standards to another level through our perseverance.

In March, we had a band exchange with other schools such as Crescent Girls School and New Town Secondary School. We were intimidated by the other school performances as they were much larger in strength, and their good sound made our band look small. As a result, we did not play our best when we performed our pieces to them.

After the embarrassment we faced, the conductor of the two school bands, Mrs Chua, visited us on one of our band practices and encouraged us with some advice, “Do not be worried about the big bands that will affect your performance. Be proud of who you are as a small band playing and sounding like a big band. And that is why this band is and will always be different from others.”

With the encouragement, we worked hard for the two months before SYF. We continued to improve tremendously with the help of one another, pushing ourselves to be better than our past standards.

On the day of our SYF performance, 2 April 2013, we were very nervous as there was a bigger band before us (Bendemeer Secondary School), and a better band after us (Maris Stella High School). Our fears started to come back but we recalled the message that Mrs Chua gave us and we told ourselves keep calm and play the best music to the audience.

The band was awarded the Certificate of Accomplishment with only a strength of 28, an award that we can proudly celebrate our months of hard work and as a small and young band.

The entire SYF experience changed me as it had not only taught me the valuable lesson of resilience, but also helped many of my other band mates to excel in everything that they do, and doing things that are almost or completely impossible.

So, to all the small bands out there taking part in this year’s SYF, here is some advice – Being a small band does not mean that you will be outnumbered, it makes you special from the rest, and you can surely be better than them, as long as you work hard to achieve your potential.