Wong Wei Qi

Bedok South Secondary School Band

After playing the last few notes of our piece in the hall, many memories of the sacrifices we made and the hard work we put in to make our SYF journey so enriching and fulfilling came flooding back to me.

It was also the same day we left the stage with huge smiles on our faces, content with how far we have grown together on this shared journey as a band.

Getting this far was undeniably very challenging especially due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic which prevented us from meeting face to face, leaving us no choice but to convert all our band practices to Zoom sessions.

This inevitable outcome was particularly distressing as it left us with little time to familiarise ourselves with how we sounded as compared to be physically present and playing in a full band. The whole online atmosphere was very different and it took a few extra weeks for everyone to adjust back to a physical band practice.

Due to the safe management measures implemented, we were required to split into 2 groups when CCAs were allowed to resume, which was something very new to all of us. This brought out a lot of areas for us to work on as given the minute size of both groups, and the mistakes we made were painstakingly obvious.

Being in tune across the different sections was crucial and because we were seated two meters apart, listening to one another was something that we took longer than expected to overcome.

The whole process of getting accustomed to the ‘new normal’ contributed to the use of valuable time we could have otherwise spent on already starting to perfect our individual parts.

To make up for the loss of physical practice due to circuit breaker, our band sessions were gradually getting more intense as the pressure of the upcoming SYF started getting to everyone.

Through the weeks, the feeling that we had to deliver our best performance urged us to adjust to the new expectations, atmosphere and conditions that we had to play in.

During the March holidays, we had long hours of band sessions almost everyday to further make up for lost sessions.

We had to prioritise what was most important, willingly sacrificing our time to come back to school to finalise and perfect our choice piece for the recording we had to take lest COVID-19 worsen and deny us the opportunity to perform live.

The recording of our pieces was the biggest challenge faced as we were required to be fully dressed in our SYF costume.

Blazers were a part of the attire, which made us all look extremely dapper but stifling, especially since we had to switch off the fans in the hall due to excessive noise that would disrupt the overall quality of sound. Our school hall was also not air conditioned and we had to go through an hour of playing our pieces three times in the heat.

Although we had breaks in between each recording, we were not used to playing in such conditions in our blazers and the heat. We felt that our individual performance was affected as by the third take, and that our energy levels had dipped noticeably.

This was particularly worrying as it limited our choice of recordings to submit and we were left to only hope that the pandemic would not worsen so we could still participating in SYF at Singapore Conference Hall instead to deliver an out of this world performance in contrast to our recordings.

Favourably, our hopes became reality and we were able to grasp the golden opportunity of being able to perform live. Our performance turned out to be exceptional and one that we would be extremely proud of.

All the hard work and sacrifices made were clearly shown in both groups’ performances and I would never wish for our SYF journey to have gone any other way.

This experience forced us to be more responsible for our own learning as well as take the initiative to ask for help from our seniors and guide our juniors as to ensure the execution of our pieces was of the best quality.

Through this, we managed to forge unbreakable bonds throughout the entire band and form close relationships with numerous people that will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

Under the arduous training sessions, we were able to grow tremendously, having our limits pushed to the boundaries. This unforeseen pandemic situation undoubtedly caused many obstacles but also undeniably, merits.

In the end, everyone pushed through and supported one another immensely and I could never be more pleased with our growth as musicians and as people.

The hard work and effort poured into making this shared journey has been so heartwarmingly memorable and successful. I am extremely proud to say that I am a member of  the Bedok South Symphonic Band and I wouldn’t have it any other way.