The Music is Yours, Pass it On!

Since the inception of the Musical Pathfinder Camp & Concert (MPCC) concept in Taiping, Perak last year, the event saw its second edition this year in Ipoh, Perak. Held from 10 to 13 December 2015, the festival-like program is organized by the newly formed Perak Band Instructors Association (PBIA) and co-hosted by two Ipoh schools.

MPCC 2 saw a total of 400 participants from 10 Perak schools (SM St.Michael, Poi Lam Suwa, SMJK Hua Lian, Hua Lian High School, SMJK Tsung Wah, Tsung Wah (Private) Secondary School, Yuk Choy High School, Shen Jai High School, Teluk Intan School Band and Leɡəsē Winds), 3 Selangor schools (SMK Seafield, SMK Bandar Damansara Utama 3 and SJK (C) Puay Chai), SMK Ringlet from Pahang, and Ngee Ann Polytechnic Alumni Band from Singapore.

credits: Catherine Clare
credits: Catherine Clare

“We decided to host the event in Ipoh, Perak this year as it is more convenient for the bands around as compared to moving up north last year. SMI was chosen to be one of the co-hosts (the other being Poi Lam SUWA) as there is ample amount of space to accommodate most students for rehearsals, and also centrally located in town for people to go around after practices,” explained Mr Chong Wai Mun, conductor of the Michaelian Military Band (MMB).

Headed by Chief Facilitator Mr Keiichi Kurokawa from Japan and run by a group of facilitators including Mr Kasaoka Tsuneyoshi from Japan, Mr Liu Wei and Mr Pan Feng from China, and Mr Raja Muzafar from Malaysia, the event saw participants distributed into five main bands to undergo an intensive program of sectionals and band training to prepare three pieces of music for the presentation concert on 12 December. The camp participants also had time to interact among themselves, be exposed to performances by the faciliators and create friendship through music.

Mr Kasaoka Tsuneyoshi tutoring the clarinet section
Mr Kasaoka Tsuneyoshi tutoring the clarinet section

“Throughout the camp, we’ve fostered friendship and showed enthusiasm towards music. Music is a piece of art where each player has to carefully study it such as the cultural references, dynamics and articulations to bring out an outstanding performance.

Each instrument is unique, but we must have the determination and perseverance to understand its role in every piece. Therefore, we must always update our knowledge to learn more about the musical world,” said Wong Wei Ming, a Form 5 student with Poi Lam Brass Band, who has joined MPCC for the second year and plays the Euphonium.

“What I will miss is most probably the time we spend together as a team going through every piece of music. I will miss the fun created in each session, and the jokes made by the instructors in each lesson. I will also be missing every single moment we spend to make music in the rehearsals and the concert. We might not be professionals in the meantime, but we would always have the passion to learn more about music. MPCC 3, we will meet you there as promised!” he continued.

Despite many familiar faces, the camp also saw new participants from the region. One of them is Shadis Ng, alto saxophone player from Shen Jai High School, who felt that MPCC was a very meaningful event.

credits: Shaun Yong
Drumline performance in concert / credits: Jason Yong

“Although this is the first time my band took part in this event, we have benefited a lot from this camp. We met many other students from various schools, caught up with friends that we have not seen for some time, and also learned many new things. In this camp, we are very grateful for the guidance by the faciliators and instructors, especially Mr Lim who has a great sense of humour and Mr Chong who is very handsome and well-liked.

Despite not being exposed to all instructors, our members share with each other the skills picked up from different rehearsals. We are very glad that the organizer has planned this camp, allowing the opportunity for us to interact with other schools and performing on stage with them – it has been a very exciting yet fulfilling moment! Thank you very much and we would like to be here again next year!”

In the short period of 4 days, it was not just the students who have enjoyed themselves at the camp. According to Mr Chong, he felt that this year’s event is a bigger success compared to previous, mainly due to both participants and facilitators.

“We were fortunate to have band directors from different regions in Asia, which helped us improve in the quality of rehearsals and engage us in different cultures. I also want to thank the team from Singapore, as they are very engaging with the participants, which brought a new level of excitement to the overall event,” he said.

In a post interview, Christopher Yong Lin, trumpet facilitator from the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Alumni Band reflected on the meaning of MPCC and also offered encouragements to the participants.

“Firstly I would like to say a big thank you to the Perak Band Instructors Association, the faciliators from Ngee Ann Polytechnic Alumni and all participants for huge success in both the camp and concert. It has been a great privilege to participate in MPCC 2 as a facilitator. I learned so much from the instructors on how to manage rehearsals and I am so impressed with their level of patience, especially for the instructors from Japan and China. Despite the language barrier, they tried their best to make their instructions as simple and possible so that everyone can understand.

Secondly, a shout out to these bunch of energetic and fun loving facilitators. I am proud to know everyone of you and felt really honoured to be working together with you. We are like a family of guardian angels, always there giving a helping hand to the participants. I will miss every single moment, where we come together and make every situation work. We have created laughter and love and I hope these creations will be embedded into all of your hearts.

credits: Chin Ping
credits: Chin Ping

Lastly, congratulations to all the participants who survived the entire process! I believe this journey had been a fruitful and memorable one for you. I have gained more than I had given to you; please remember to pass down the knowledge and the spirit you experienced from MPCC 2! Always be motivated and always keep an open mind in every situation! I will also like to quote Andy Lau on ‘学到的就要教人, 赚到的就要給人‘ / Teach when you learn, help when you earn. Rock on!

It was indeed a challenging task for the participants and the instructors to make the event a successful one. It is hoped that the memories from the camp will always be in the hearts of each participant, and that this event can provide a new beginning in their musical path-finding journey.”

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