Jeremiah Tan

Drum Major
Catholic High School Symphony Band

“Part of the journey is the end”

This quote by billionaire philanthropist, Tony Stark, struck a chord with me, especially when I was preparing to step down from my post, and graduate from the Catholic High School Symphony Band (CHSSB). While most people would think of this as yet another ‘Endgame’ line, I could relate to this on a more personal level, specifically my band journey in the CHSSB. I feel that this pretty much sums up my time and experience here. In the end, all the fun and games must come to an end, no matter how hard you wish for it not to.

My band journey started off like everyone else’s, as a Year 1 student who had just joined the band, walking into the band room for the first time, in awe of the vast number of instruments surrounding me. Like everyone else, I was excited, but nervous, as I did not know what to expect. For the next few practice sessions, I got to meet the conductors, Mr Adrian Chiang and Mr Terrence Wong, and meet many new faces. Eventually, I graduated from the junior band and became an official member of the Catholic High School Symphony Band (CHSSB). During my time there, I was able to learn many new pieces, make loads of friends, and perform in numerous concerts. In addition to this, I participated in my first ever Singapore Youth Festival (SYF), from which we managed to obtain the Certificate of Distinction. Not bad for a kid who had just picked up the flute year ago. Through the numerous experiences and adventures I had with the band, I was able to develop myself, not only as a musician, but as a better person, and a better leader.

In a blink of an eye, three years had passed, and I had become the Drum Major of the band. Furthermore, we were participating in our second Singapore Youth Festival, hoping to clinch yet another Certificate of Distinction. There was one huge difference though. This time, we, the Year 4s, were the most senior members in the CHSSB, and were expected to be the best in the band. In other words, we were expected to put the band upon our shoulders. I remember feeling extremely scared and anxious. I could not let my members down, and yet I still felt a sense of dread whenever I thought about it. I was sure that the other Year 4s felt the same as well. However, Mr Chiang’s wisdom and encouragement allowed us to gain confidence and pull ourselves together. Whenever we had a bad session, whenever we felt discouraged,whenever we felt that the Certificate of Distinction seemed out of reach, Mr Chiang’s speeches never failed to motivate us and lift the mood in the band room.

When it was time for us to perform, I remembered the paralyzing anxiety of waiting to come on stage, unsure of what was to come. However, when Mr Chiang began the performance, I felt all the tension in the hall disappear. The bright lights, the large audience, the five judges seated with their notepads and laptops, nothing intimidated us as we played our hearts out on the stage. Mr Chiang was like a swan, ever so graceful, swaying to the rhythm as he waved his baton, every stroke filled with emotion. When the last chord was played and the hall erupted with applause, I remembered taking a huge sigh of relief, grateful that it was finally over. Eventually, we managed to obtain the Certificate of Distinction, and I couldn’t have been more proud of the band. The blood, sweat and tears that we put into perfecting our SYF pieces, had paid off.

As I look back on my band journey, I cannot help but smile. Not many people are able to experience something this unique and memorable, and I am definitely thankful for being able to. Whether or not my band adventure continues, I can safely say that my experience in the CHSSB, is truly one of my most enriching and memorable experiences in my entire life.

On behalf of the CHSSB, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who had supported us throughout our SYF season. Without the wisdom and encouragements from our conductors and teachers, the tips and the ‘don’t you dare screw up’ warnings from our seniors, the support from our friends, we would not have made it this far. Also, I would like the congratulate the other school bands, for their stellar performances during SYF 2019. Each and every one of you should be proud of how far you how come!

While my journey in the CHSSB might have come to an end, for the rest of you, your journeys have only just begun. I wish everyone all the best, and may all of you continue to make music and inspire others.

For the last time, I am Jeremiah Tan, the Drum Major of the Catholic High School Symphony Band for 2019, signing off.