The inaugural ‘Adventure Band Camp‘ or ABC in short, concluded in a resounding success at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Hall on Saturday, with more than 150 musicians on stage in a combined encore item of Uptown Funk.

Organized by Band Directors Association (Singapore), and hosted by St Joseph’s Institution (Junior), the 4 day camp (5 – 8 September), was targeted at students aged 9-13 years old from 19 schools.

“ABC was an initiative that we started after we received much feedback from our members with regards to the lack of such a platform for our younger band members to promote the joy of being in Band and musical learning.

A camp like such, provides special moments for young developing musicians where they undergo full days of musical training and at the same time inculcating values such as perseverance and resilient, which are extremely crucial to the development of any young child.

Besides that, the chance for them to meet other similar hobbyists from around the island also creates many new friendships across schools, bringing this very special community of people even closer together,” said Adrian Chiang, president of BDA(S).

Grouped into either the junior or senior winds, based on their number of years of experience, the students were put through a series of intense ensemble and combined band training, taught by instrumental tutors and camp clinicians.

The clinicians for the camp, Mr Quek Boon Hui, Mr Faizal Othman, Mr Philip Han, Mr Jonathan Lim, and Mr Jason De Hamel, trained and conducted the two bands at the concert.

Jason, who also conducts SJI Junior, believed it was an enriching and enjoyable experience seeing numerous band students from various schools coming together to make music.

“It was an honour to be the host for the three days of activities. I would like to thank the Principal, Vice Principal, Teachers and staff for their endless support of this entire camp. It was great to be part of the team that had the opportunity to work with young musicians and educate them through our means of instruction and inspiration.”

The finale concert featured the two bands of students, under their respective conductors, performing music such as ‘Furioso’ by Robert W. Smith, ‘Flight of the Thunderbird’ by Richard L. Saucedo, and ‘Shrek Dance Party’ arranged by Paul Murtha.

With guest appearances by Lion City Brass Band and The Philharmonic Youth Winds, the concert is a culmination of the hard-work put together by the students, tutors, conductors and facilitators, and the appreciation was shown evidently by the full house audience.

Facilitator Shie Rui Qi was glad that she has been through the amazing experience with the students.

“Initially, I was doubtful to join the camp as I was afraid that I couldn’t handle things on my own. However with the help of other facilitators and the organizers, I was able to lead the students well. The experience has definitely trained my patience and independence.

Although it was tough to get the students to be serious during band practices, it was great to see that they had a lot of energy, because it showed that they were enjoying the camp and our efforts were worth it.”

St. Anthony’s Canossian (SAC) Secondary student Kaitlyn Marie Cheng Yen Ling was grouped into the Junior band as she has only learned the Clarinet for about eight months. She thought that she has gained a lot from the camp, especially on music expression and playing techniques.

“I learned that dynamics and accents are important as they make the music become more meaningful and interesting. I also learned that looking at the conductor while playing is essential so that certain parts such as ‘rit.’ can be played better, and that our music should be played with more passion so that they will not just be a bunch of notes.

The camp was more fun than I had expected as the facilitators had an outgoing personality and their games at the end of the band sessions liven up our moods. I also made many new friends even though I did not expect myself to. All in all, I enjoyed myself in the camp and I am glad that I signed up for it.”

Primary 5 student Siow Yu Xuan Annabelle from Cedar Primary School felt that the opportunity to perform on stage in a concert hall was like a dream come true. She also felt that the camp had exposed her to a new environment, and allowed her to experience what playing in a full band feels like.

“I remember on the first day, everyone was strangers and I knew no one from my section. On the last day, we all became close and I was glad to have made so many friends. The camp has helped me to improve on my social skills.

The conductors and tutors were super helpful. Although each conductor had their own methods and styles of teaching, they were all able to work together to help us improve on our music. The sectionals were enriching as our tutors were able to point out and amend our mistakes that may not have been heard during the full band sessions.

My favourite part of the camp were the game sessions planned by the friendly and outgoing facilitators. Those games required teamwork and communication which I think is important for us.

Overall, the camp was very enjoyable as the things taught were beneficial and can be easily applied to my regular band practices. If I were to be given the choice to join again, I definitely will. Thank you BDA(S) for hosting this camp!”

When asked if BDA(S) would organize the camp again next year, Adrian had plenty to say.

“Why not? If you had ask me before the camp, I may be hesitant and may tell you to see how things pan out first. But after seeing how the campers grew and developed as musicians in the four days just made all the hard work seemed worthwhile.

I would also like to use this opportunity to thank all conductors, tutors, facilitators, guest performing groups and participants for all your contributions in making this whole event a success! And of course, huge kudos to the entire committee for working and stretching themselves endlessly this past week to see to the needs of the ABC and concurrent Singapore Band Clinic!”


Written By Editor

A contributing editor at TBP.