Irdina Iwana Binte Juma’dhan

Drum Major
Manjusri Concert Band

My 4 years in Band has finally come to an end and I have definitely enjoyed every process that I went through for the last few years.

When I first entered Manjusri Secondary School, my first choice of CCA was Concert Band as my sister used to be in the CCA. I can still remember the first time I entered the band room for the CCA orientation. The experience was very joyful as we were welcomed by the band members who were very entertaining.

When I finally submitted my choices of CCA, it was no doubt I put Concert Band as my first choice. On the first day of CCA, we were introduced to all the instruments and we also started to learn the basic fundamentals. At first, it was definitely hard for me to catch up with all the things that were being taught as I did not have any music background unlike some of the students from my batch.

We continued to practice the scales, rhythm and so on for half the year. After a few months, my friends and I finally passed our Main Band test and we finally get to join the Main Band. My first experience in Main Band was honestly very terrifying as I was not used to how intense the atmosphere was. It was only after a while that I got used to how practices go in Main Band.

Mr Yeo (our conductor) then handed out the choice and set piece for SYF 2017. It was hard for some of us as it was the first time we were playing a piece of Main Band standard. After all the practices for SYF 2017, we attained the Certificate of Accomplishment. At that point, I did not know how much of a difference is it between an accomplishment and distinction.

After the second year of Band, I was assigned the leadership role of Drum Major. I was mainly in charge of the discipline of the band. It was definitely a big task for me but I was able to go through all the ups and downs with the guidance of my instructors, teachers and especially my very own band mates.

Our next big project was SIBF 2018, where we also attained the Certificate of Accomplishment. I became upset as I didn’t know what we could do as a band to actually attain a Distinction.

In the last few months of 2018, we received the scores for our set piece and choice piece for SYF 2019. At first, we did show great progression especially during our yearly band camp. However when we came back from the holidays, we started to lose all our focus and were no longer seeing any hope in attaining a good result.

Mr Yeo at first did not say anything. He just constantly told us to continue practicing. However after our first exchange, Mr Yeo started to be more strict with us, and seldom smiled in our band practices.

As a drum major at that point of time, I felt lost as I no longer knew how to handle the pressure. Ever since then, the band members started to wake their idea up and we really put in our full attention and hard work into practicing. The band made a lot of progression though we knew that we could do better.

When we were one week away from the actual day of our SYF, we started to make the same mistakes again which made Mr Yeo very disappointed in us. I remembered that he used to mention that he believed that we can really sound very good as a band. That was when I felt the need to reassure my own members that we could not lose this opportunity just because we felt that we really could not get the distinction even if we tried hard.

On the day of SYF, we did our warm ups, and our usual process was to go through the pieces once and do any last minute touch ups before playing in a final round. However after we did our first round, we were done. Mr Yeo asked us if we wanted to go through anything else and we said no. That was when he said ‘That’s it, we are ready.’

The members especially those in my batch were really nervous. We really didn’t know what to expect. When we reached the venue, we were the last band to round up the first half. The 15 minutes on stage happened so fast for me that I realized how much I actually enjoyed my last SYF stage together with the group of people that stayed throughout with me during this journey.

After the performance, we didn’t know what results to expect as we kept on doubting our playing. We had to wait for at least one week for the results to come out. We were very anxious on the day of the results as we were pressured by the Choir and Chinese Orchestra CCAs which attained Distinction for their SYF.

When my phone kept on ringing during class, I was not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. I only found out the results when class ended and I went out of class seeing my batch-mates running to hug me and telling me that we actually got the Certificate of Distinction.

We were so grateful for every single moment we went through in the past few months. It was definitely worth every nagging. I’m so thankful that I have grown up in band not only learning about music but also learning about values of a person.

I can never be more grateful to my instructors especially those who have taught me life long skills that I will forever remember till I grow old. I’m happy to be graduating from MJR Concert Band on a good note!