Tan Yong Xuan

French Horn & Drum Major
Anderson Military Band

Firstly, I would like to congratulate all bands that participated in this year’s SYF in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic. I think it is truly remarkable how all the bands persevered through this period of time to deliver performances full of passion and enthusiasm worthy of the title ‘Youth Festival’.

As Drum Major of Anderson Military Band, I am thankful for this opportunity to share my band’s journey towards this year’s SYF.

When the whole country first went into lock-down, CCAs had to be held online, which was a real challenge for our band as we were unable to play pieces together. Even after we were allowed to resume, almost everyone seemed to have difficulty playing to their usual standard due to lack of practice.

I think this is a good time for me to properly thank my juniors, alumni, teachers-in-charge and conductors for their support – my juniors for enthusiastically participating in band, and my alumni for giving me advice and encouragement, the teachers-in-charge for trying their best to provide us the best environment to learn in and our conductors, Mr Lester Lim and Mr Yea Guo Ming for guiding us in preparation for SYF.

A challenge our band faced was finding a way to express ourselves through our music.

Mr Lim advised us to write a story to suit the piece we were playing, Celtic Fantasy. The story told the tale of a medieval village with a tyrant ruler, and how the villagers rose up and fought valiantly to defeat them. Such a simple story, and yet, our band was able to bring it to life. The notes on our scores were not merely something for us to simply play for the sake of playing, but a story to tell and express through our music together.

I believe that this is the true essence of Singapore Youth Festival for bands, the opportunity to stand on a stage and to express months of hard work through music.

Many people have heard the quote, “the process is more important than the result”, and I think that this is something all bands have to hear. Although our band did not achieve the Certificate of Distinction as we had hoped, we had to accept that what’s done is done, and we at least enjoyed ourselves on stage.

Moreover, after some time to reflect, we’ve come to realise that the more important thing was the lessons and memories given to us along the way, to appreciate those around us and the opportunity we’ve had to perform even in this pandemic.

Development of the band’s musicality is important, but in AMB, we prioritise the growth of character of every member. Care, responsibility, commitment, respect, and confidence. These are the five steps AMB has been using for years to make a leader out of everyone. Simple as they seem at first, each aspect carries a deeper meaning, and thanks to Mr Lim, their significance in band and our lives become clearer.

I believe I will miss the discussions I would have with the other members to better understand Mr Lim’s teachings, and I will forever be grateful for everyone else who has also helped me become the person I am today. I have learnt so much more than I could’ve possibly imagined, and I hope I will be able to use this knowledge to impact other’s lives.

Lastly, it was only at the end of my band journey did I realise one thing about band – it gives us the privilege to be ourselves.

From the second I joined AMB, I have felt extreme moments of happiness, stress, disappointment, anger and pride throughout it all. I learned from those moments, learned what it meant to cry tears of sadness or joy and not to be afraid to show those emotions because they are part of my process towards being a better person.

Band pushes us to show our true colours, and I think through this, we can impact each other’s lives for the better.