Alicia Ong

Percussionist & Drum Major
CHIJ Secondary Concert Band

When the SYF results were announced over the PA system, all of us jumped for joy. Applause and cheers echoed throughout the entire school. Even with our masks on, we could see each other smiling from ear to ear.

Thinking back to my first day in IJ Band, many of us first stepped into the band room with no musical background at all. We often looked up at our seniors in awe as they were able to play up 5 to 10 minute pieces without any difficulty. The pieces came so easily to them. We on the other hand, had trouble playing just a few notes on our newly assigned instruments.

Throughout the first three years of our band journey, our seniors had always been our source of inspiration. They were not only our seniors, but our friends. We could have never imagined having a single performance on stage without them by our sides.

Participating in SYF this year with all the pandemic guidelines and safe distancing measures was something new for all of us. This meant our band had to be split into 3 different flexible bands, with each band playing a different piece of varying levels of difficulty. Some of us had to play in two bands for SYF.

We had the privilege of having all our pieces composed specially for us, by Mr Terrence Wong. Our pieces told meaningful life stories of three heroines in Singapore’s history, namely, Radin Mas Ayu, Teresa Hsu and Elizabeth Choy. We were even allowed to name each of our pieces!

When we first received our scores at the start of the year, we were all shocked by the level of difficulty of our piece. With the Band’s long history of ‘Distinctions‘ for SYF, everyone felt the pressure of what this year might bring. Especially after so many months of not being able to play our instruments, how were we supposed to achieve such a high standard of playing in a matter of just four months? Without our previous batches of seniors around to guide us, we all felt a little nervous with no one to look up to.

Due to the limitation on the number of wind players in each band, a few wind players had to switch over to percussion for SYF. This caused my section, percussion, to nearly double in size, from the initial 10 to a total of 18 people!

As seniors of the section, not only did we have to master our parts which comprised of quite a few challenging solos, we also had to teach our new section mates how to play their assigned scores. As much as our journey towards SYF was tiring, our entire band had never been more motivated and bonded.

On the day of our SYF performance, as soon as we stepped onto the stage and played our very first note, everyone felt a strong sense of pride as we played with all our hearts and voices.

After four months of consistent hard work, I am extremely proud to say that our efforts have finally paid off! As Mr Chiang always says: “Practice not till you get it right, but till you can’t get it wrong.”

Surely, we would have never made it this far without the support and guidance of our conductors, Mr Adrian Chiang and Mr Daniel Yiau, as well as the help of our tutors. Mr Chiang and Mr Yiau never failed to lift our spirits with their jokes, stories and various analogies to help us understand our parts better.

Having completed four years in IJ Band, and as the Sec 4s step down to prepare for our upcoming examinations, we end our band journey on a high note. Being in IJ Band has shaped me into the person I am today and has given me an experience which I will never ever be able to replace, especially with the IJ Band family I have found.

Having the opportunity to make music as a band has bonded us in a way we could never have imagined. We have shared moments of tears, joy and laughter. These are memories I will cherish forever and carry with me throughout life.

“One heart, One mind, One band, One sound“