Cole Jeong

New Town Concert Band

To say that the journey to success for my band was stressful would be an understatement. But have I have not regretted a single moment of it and I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.

To give context, our school is a newly merged school. We have joined forces with the Tanglin Secondary School Band, and hopes were not high for many of my band members. I remember having so many people talking about their worries and doubts about the newly merged band. The worst part was that many of these players still did not know even know how to play our choice piece at all.  A lot of uncertainty circulated around the band, but for me, I saw it as a new opportunity to not only increase our band size, but to also increase the synergy of the band.

The first month was hectic to say the least, the New Town band members were so ahead in terms of knowing the music, but for the Tanglin band members, they were struggling to catch up. There were a lot of frustration and helplessness among the members but our conductor Mr Erik Tan pushed us in our musicianship and all of us gave in our all. This paid off well, as in no time, the Tanglin band members caught up on their progress, and in every week we started to sound more and more like a united band. Although the members from the two different bands barely knew each other at the start, the music brought us together and we eventually got comfortable with each other, even outside of band.

The SYF date drew closer and closer, and many people believed that “Since mwe are a newly merged band, there is no way we can get a distinction!” I absolutely disagreed with this statement as I felt that with hard work and commitment, anything is possible, even in a new learning environment. In the percussion section, I was really struggling. Some of the percussionists could not play the various instruments well, and without the sufficient presence of our instructor, I was in charge. Even though our percussion instructor was not here, he gave me tips on what to teach and how to teach, and that helped me a lot. As the SYF date became dangerously close, I became overwhelmed with emotions. However, as I talked to my conductor and teachers about it, they gave me a lot of reassurance that we were going to be fine.

The SYF day for many was nerve-wrecking. But personally for me, I was excited and not afraid. It’s not because this was my second SYF, but deep in my heart, I knew that we were ready. During our performance, I could not help but to think about how far we have come despite not given the luxury of time. I can safely and most comfortably say that each and every one of the band members have put in a lot of effort to make our music sound especially beautiful.

After the performance, uncertainty struck yet again. Many people kept mentioning the fact that they made a mistake during the performance, and they were afraid that they could have cost the band a result. None of these mattered to me though. I think the blood, sweat and tears that was put into this one performance over the 4 months mattered the most. The execution was the least of my concern.

When the results came out, I was jumping with joy like many of my other band members as we have secured a distinction! This is the first distinction that our school has received since more than 20 to 30 years ago, and we felt that we have done our families, alumni, teachers and instructors proud. Despite all the setbacks, doubts and worries, we were successful and I have never felt this happy in such a long time.

What did I learn from this? Well, this quote from famous athlete Cristiano Ronaldo summarised why we made it this far – “Dedication, hard work all the time, and belief.” It is really very hard to describe in words how grateful I am for the efforts of all members. Even if we received another result, I would still say the same thing, because why should the result be the only thing that determines how hard we have worked? I still remember when I was in Secondary 2 and preparing for my first SYF, I have always thought to myself that we are not going anywhere. We have indeed my past self and all the doubters wrong.

My time in New Town Concert Band is now over as I have stepped down as Drum Major. Just a week from the stepping down, something has definitely felt off. I no longer feel the strains in my legs from carrying the percussion instruments up and down, and I didn’t feel the stress every week from trying to teach my juniors. Reality came crashing down on me and I realised something: I missed band…

This entire experience has been the highlight of my secondary school life, and nothing else be compared to it.

Thank you New Town Concert Band for everything!