A Bachelor of Music (Honours) graduate of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), Joseph Chong currently serves as the Band Director of the Assumption English School and Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School.
Beginning his music journey at the age of ten in Maha Bodhi School Band as a saxophone player, his passion for music grew over the years which led him to pursue music professionally.
“I am fortunate to be under the musical direction and influence of veteran conductor Mr Quek Boon Hui, and the guidance of Dr Zechariah Goh, who were instrumental in my growth as a musician and conductor.”
Besides his two secondary school bands, Joseph is the recruit band instructor at Manjusri Secondary School, and saxophone tutor for Maha Bodhi School and Bendemeer Primary School. He is also the music director of his alma mater, Maha Bodhi School Alumni Band (MBSAB).
“I am proud and honoured to lead this talented and passionate group of alumni members with a common aim, which is to give back to the band by providing help and guidance to our juniors and also to continue our music passion together.”
Active in both in-house concerts and external performances such as the Beautiful Sunday concerts series in 2017 and 2019, MBSAB was also invited by Esplanade to perform for an event called ‘Octoburst’ in late 2019.
“I remember that we collaborated with the Kinderland pre-school marching band, and our members had to march together with them and provide music for the parade. This was definitely one of the many unforgettable and fulfilling projects for me as it is was a rare occasion where we witnessed the performers who were as young as 4 years old, working with us for such a meaningful Children’s Day Celebration.”
Apart from his band directing duties, Joseph is an active saxophonist who has performed with the Orchestra Collective, Windstars Ensemble and most recently West Winds (Band of the Bukit Batok Community Club). He is also a highly sought-after private teacher for students taking saxophone examinations or learning the instrument for leisure.
In 2018 and 2019, he was also invited by the Band Directors’ Association (Singapore) to hold masterclasses for school band saxophone students for ‘Adventure Band Camp’ and ‘Festival Winds’.
Having worked with students of many levels in various bands, Joseph believes in the need of having a good training foundation.
He will often set aside ample time to work on fundamentals such as breath-training, tone production, technical studies, and chorales before working on the pieces.
“I feel it is important to emphasize on my students’ participation and response, making sure that they are always contributing and responsible for preparing their parts in advance. This has also allowed them to read more new music during their time in band.”
Joseph also believes that a successful band programme requires the support from a whole team of people – from the management of the school to the teachers, parents, instructors, and students.
“I am always grateful for many mentors, friends and colleagues, past and present who played an important role in my journey as a band director. A special mention to Mr Tarun Jayaram, Mr Gavilan Neo and Mr Jovan Neo who have given valuable feedback and Mr Benjamin Yeo who conducted masterclasses for the Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School Concert Band for the recent SIBF.”
In the recent 8th Singapore International Band Festival (SIBF) 2022, organized by the Wind Band Association of Singapore (WBAS), the Ahmad Ibrahim Concert Band participated in the Division 2B category (aged 16 and below) and emerged as the winning band.
“The past few months have not been easy for many bands in Singapore especially with the recent pandemic where students were missing practices which interrupted the pace of their learning. However, I believe it is still important for the rest of the band members to work together towards a common goal.”
In the preparation for SIBF, Joseph constantly set high standards for his students, and although there were times when the band members failed to meet his expectations, they persevered and continued to work harder to improve as a band.
“The students at Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School were determined to give their best at every single rehearsal, and I am happy that they have finally succeeded in what they believed was not possible in the beginning!”
“I hope that my students, both past and present, will continue their passion for music as long as they can, and one day contribute back to the Singapore music scene.”
A contributing editor at TBP.