Ng Sheng Yuan

Flautist and Student Conductor
Jurong Symphonic Band (JSB)

Hello, my name is Sheng Yuan, a student of Jurong Secondary School and a member of Jurong Symphonic Band (JSB). I am currently in Secondary 4 and also the student conductor of JSB. Through the past 3-4 years in this wonderful CCA, I have gone through many hardships throughout the tough journey and have learnt many valuable lessons. I will now share my experience.

This delightful yet toilsome journey all began when I was just a secondary 1 student, contemplating on which CCA would suit me the best and I find enjoyable too. I have an older brother who was very interested in the music industry and is now pursuing a degree in music. My mother used to teach piano and give music lessons too. Because my whole family has been exposed to music one way or another, I naturally leaned towards CCAs that were music related. However, I still had other interests in mind too, like dragon boat. So putting my first choice as dragon boat was a choice I didn’t regret. To my surprise, I was rejected and was forced to pick my second choice.

Maybe it was fate, or maybe just sheer luck, but nonetheless, one thing after another, I joined band CCA. I was hesitant at first about this choice and thought to myself almost everyday if the choice I made was the correct one. I felt uncomfortable at first, being the only one from my class to join band and not knowing anyone at all. My brother played the flute and he taught me in advance, giving me a slight advantage, thus I was chosen to be in the flute section. 

In the first year, the path I took was filled with thorns and challenges came at me relentlessly. Firstly, juggling between school work and a CCA where you had to practise was something I was unfamiliar with due to my primary school CCA requiring no practice at all. Anyways, back to the topic at hand, when it was barely a few months, Covid-19 had struck the world and there was a circuit breaker too. Due to these unfortunate circumstances adding up to the disaster that halted practices for Performing Art groups, my cohort in band had no choice but to start learning from home. This meant big changes in our learning were about to happen and it wasn’t very positive for our learning.

Because we started learning from home, we could not experience learning and practising in person in school, which was detrimental to our progress. We didn’t get lessons that were face to face. Having face to face lessons makes learning many times easier as we can immediately fix any mistakes, work on new techniques and notes instantly without any hiccups. Due to my cohort switching to online lessons in the early stages of band, we had trouble learning as some students lack the equipment to conduct lessons online, or may experience buffers like the mic not working, not being able to log on to zoom etc. Many people including myself started losing interest in band as lessons were boring, repetitive and we saw little to no progress.

All bad things come to an end and once the restrictions have loosened up for social distancing, the junior band of JSB was able to perform unofficially just for the experience for SYF. We performed on a separate day than the main band as our teachers were graceful enough to let us experience something due to the absence of exposure for my cohort. This experience was very important for us as the experience was needed in order for us to lead our band this year for SYF as the most senior this year. 

Once it was the year of 2022, most of my cohort slowly transitioned into the main band. Most of us put in our 110% effort into band as we lack the experience and practice. Our patient, talented and caring band conductor, Mr Erik Tan was with us through every step of the journey and we had the privilege of experiencing his teaching. No matter how many mistakes we made, he would calmly ask us to take out time and try again. This teaching method really brought out the best of us and we were finally experiencing the joy of music.

Fast forward to the present, our SYF journey was like a roller coaster. Countless hours, blood, sweat and tears were put into the singular performance on stage. I’m sure it was the same for the other bands. We had just that one shot for that singular day and that singular performance. All the hard work came boiling down to that very moment and we really gave it our all. We walked down the stage proud of what we have accomplished and we know that we have done our best. To me it is about the journey that we experienced the whole way, from the friends we made, the hardships we experienced together and finally the good memories we created. The results are just a bonus.

I feel really disheartened and sad that I am finally taking my leave from band and I hope that the legacy of pleasant times continues on after the Secondary 4s step down. I definitely will miss my juniors, who may be a little childish at times, but are funny and brought joy to band. I will miss band as a CCA and as a second home to me. For me, my cohort mates and juniors are the best farewell gift I could receive.