Kishan Kumar
Trumpet / West Spring Secondary School Military Band

SYF 2012, 2014

It is a fact that not many people in Singapore know about such a thing as “Marching Band”. Back in 2011, I first heard of it in my secondary school, and after getting some advice and feedback from teachers and my peers, I decided to join it and was placed in the trumpet section.

Training for a Marching Band show is no easy task. It’s hell, actually. It requires sheer dedication, hard work, sweat and toil under the sun as well as a fighter’s spirit.

It is both mentally and physically challenging.

That’s probably an understatement.

But it was all worth it in the end, when, on the 7th of April 2012, we clinched our school’s first ever Gold Award for the band. It was literally electrifying.

In between there were ups and downs which for confidentiality reasons I will not elaborate on, but I decided to go ahead and carry on and experience SYF 2014 again with the team and my friends. Our instructor, Mr Jack Lim, a millennial veteran of the Singaporean Marching Band scene, is a truly remarkable director in the sense that he stuck with us even though we may not have reached his expected standards.

Regardless, he pushed us whether we liked it or not, together with the help of external instructors, to reach greater heights in our drills and music. To create a show that would leave the audience and judges alike dumbfounded, gasping for breath and marvelling at the sheer force in which these teenagers have managed to execute such a stunning and brilliant performance, and craving for an encore (which would never happen, of course…haha…).

For SYF 2014, the trumpet section had to stand out musically. And so we did — or at least I think we did, after hours of endless practise and practising bars after bars of high notes and technique exercises under our music routine. Replicating what we played while sitting down to playing it exactly the same way while marching was an immensely difficult task, but somehow, we managed to do it (and also taught new members to do it in a matter of a few months).

We were supported by a team of highly dedicated alumni who helped us with our drills, music and morale. I can’t emphasize enough how important this was for building the morale of the band in the final stages when everyone, especially the Sec 4’s, were approaching burn out what with our ever increasing workload due to the upcoming National Examinations.

So when the day finally arrived, spirits were definitely high, with nerves chilling and hands shaking. We did a little “picker-upper” by singing our pieces as a band just a few minutes before entering the battle field. And in we went as soon as the horn for entry blared with its full might and as loud as an air horn probably could.

The stage was set, the conductors and judges were ready. Another horn, and then it was our turn to show the judges and other schools what we had in us.

And so we did, in under 10 minutes, which felt like five. Just like that — months of hard work for a ten minute show.

But it’s not that simple, oh no.

Although we didn’t get what we hoped to and didn’t quite perform our best as compared to previous rehearsal runs, at least we succeeded in clinching the Gold equivalent Certificate of Distinction Award again on the 5th of April 2014, along with the coveted Outstanding Visual Performance award which carried with it a significant cash prize. The sacrifices we made, the sweat and the anger, the constant repetitions of drill movements, the heavy and torn muscles, the constant yelling at by leaders and instructors, it all paid off.

Was joining West Spring’s Marching Band an experience of a lifetime?

You bet it was.