Sherwin Leow

Trombone Section Leader & Vice President
Anderson Serangoon Junior College Symphonic Band

Band to me, is a community. A community of like-minded folks who enjoy manipulating the wind and vibrations to their liking. Whilst I love the feeling of spewing air into my trombone, that isn’t my favourite part of band. What I love most about band is that it gives us a safe space to express ourselves in ways we otherwise might not be able to in our day-to-day lives.

Band, and the playing of music is freedom. It’s one of the very few areas in our lives as students that we have full control over, and it’s far less boring than studying. Being full-time book-readers and knowledge-absorbers can be stressful, and it’s why band is amazing.

Music reaffirms us that no matter how tough things may seem at the start, and how impossible it may feel, as long as we seek help from our peers and teachers, and put in the effort, we will be able to excel. It reminds us that nothing is impossible, even in the face of adversity. It teaches us the very valuable lesson of never giving up, and instead being tenacious, because hard work pays off. So I guess in this way, music can teach us some critical life skills.

Furthermore, to me, music and the ability to play it is greatly freeing. Music is a deeply emotional form of self-expression, and our instruments are like extensions of our voices. The catharsis we experience when playing music I guess, could be likened to singing in the shower. My point is, learning how to play an instrument provides us another outlet to release our frustration and what stresses we may feel from our lives.

I am very grateful to have been afforded the privilege of partaking in this Co-Curricular Activity that we call band for the past 6 years.

Why do I play the trombone? Well, to put it simply, 13 year old me thought it looked cool. To be a little bit more specific, I thought it looked like a Rocket-Propelled Grenade, and I thought that looked awesome. Let’s just ignore the fact that I didn’t know how to spell Euphonium…

Anyway, time to talk about my first performance, the Singapore International Band Festival back in 2016. It was my first year as a trombonist. It was really fun, and I still remember many of the practices we had then, cold air-conditioned rooms, rain sounds and all. I fondly recall humming and whistling ‘Among The Clouds’ by Brian Balmages. Good times.

Fast forward to 2021 and here we are. We tackled our final SYF despite the strict Safe Management Measures. I remember the shock we all felt last year during the Circuit Breaker period when we were told we’d have Zoom call sectionals with our tutors, and the hilarity that ensued. I’m glad we did have those theory/solfege lessons with Mr Chiang, and those Zoom call sectionals. They really spiced things up in the otherwise boring days we had huddled at home.

Having said that, I’m very glad we left that behind and were granted the opportunity to practice together in real life. I’m grateful we had the opportunity to get to know one another better. I met quite a lot of good people, and as my secondary school conductor once said: ‘Band people are good people’.

Seeing Mr Chiang in person was really cool too. The combined band sessions we had leading up to SYF with Mr Chiang and Mr Yiau were, to me, quite fun. I loved their personalities, and it was really interesting watching them in their craft.

To my batch, I’m proud of you. We’ve come so far, from barely recognizing each others’ faces during the Circuit Breaker last year to where we are now. It’s been a great ride, and I’m grateful to have been given the privilege of being your Vice-President.

To my juniors, I’m also very proud of you, maybe even more so. You had a very short time to practice, and combined with the fact that many of you hadn’t touched an instrument in more than half a year, the odds were stacked against you. However, you persevered and still did it. Good job kids, I love the whole lot of you.

I’m thankful for the help we received from our conductors, tutors, teachers and of course, Mr Terrence Wong, who composed both our SYF pieces ‘Invigorate!’ and ‘Keppel Harbour’ for us. It’s an honour to perform these pieces for you. Thank you Ms Jacintha Tan, Mr Adrian Chiang, Mr Daniel Yiau and Mr Don Kow, amongst many others for guiding me along my band journey.