Muhammad Hafiz Bin Rahman
French Horn / Orchid Park Secondary School
The day of your SYF performance is most certainly a day where one should not be late in reporting for school. Fortunately, I made it to school just in time thanks to the nippy taxi ride from my home in Woodlands to my school in Yishun.
Participating Band members were excused from morning assembly and were to assemble in the Music Room to set up our instruments. We all casually chatted and exchanged the usual jokes amongst ourselves, even though we were all scared to no end. Having lived for two years in the shadow of the Certificate of Participation obtained from our SYF debut in 2003, we were fully aware of the huge unspoken pressure to “bring something back”. We weren’t spared by some in the School Band scene too as several times during public Band events such as the annual Band NCO Passing Out Parade, we received weird looks and not-so-nice remarks from fellow teenagers we didn’t even know in the bus.
A week before SYF started, we had rehearsals twice a day with an hour before morning assembly and the usual duration after school. Though taxing, we all soldiered on and lasted through that last week.
We adjourned to the school hall to do the usual warm-up routine and skimmed through the pieces (Singapore Rhapsody I and The Merry Widow Selections). When enough was done, we were dismissed to rest up and ready ourselves. We were even issued a banana each to consume as a measure to calm our nerves. As we were leaving the school hall, class 4A2 seated in the school hall hollered “ALL THE BEST, GUYS!”.
The bus ride to Singapore Conference Hall was a quick affair, and we found ourselves being checked in and ushered to the holding rooms in due time. We tuned and readied ourselves the best we could. Now it was a just a matter of going on that stage to do our thing.
We marched off the stage when our 15 minutes was done. A few of us were in tears when we were out of the hall. After storing our instruments, we were then herded back into the Concert Hall to watch the remaining Bands perform. At some point of time, the ushers told us that we were to get up and wait outside so that Victoria School could come in and take our seats.
It was past 6PM by the time the last Band of the day was done. We were stuck outside the Concert Hall doors with fellow Band members from other schools, which were all trying to get in. I remember slipping past a group of SJI boys (as did a few of my Bandmates) at the door, and we ended up on the floor of one of the aisles. With all seated, the results show commenced. It was a terrifying wait as the announcer went down the list of results. We all held each other’s hands tightly and shut our eyes as the moment finally came.
“Band No. 21, Orchid Park Secondary School (a very long pause).. Gold With Honours.”
It was a moment, even until now, that I can’t fully describe. The entire hall went silent in disbelief, broken by our loud cries with tears pouring out in full force. It was only when the announcer asked us whether she could continue did we calmed down. Memories of the rest of that evening became somewhat of a blur, and I can only remember us still crying on the way out of SCH and screaming our heads off when running back into school 30 minutes later.
It’s been nearly ten years since 11th April 2005, and the 45 of us (44 students and Mr Clarence Tan, our music director) in the Band then have all since moved on with our lives. Despite most of us leaving our Band days far behind, I can honestly say that there’s just something profound from that point of time in our schooling lives that have not quite left us – nor will it.
What’s my advice to the current generation going through the SYF experience right? The truth is, not everyone is going to like or believe in you. And that is absolutely okay because what matters above all is that you believe in yourselves and each other. Just keep on playing your music honest and true, and live the moment!
All the best, you guys!