Guo Qixuan

Drum Major and Percussionist
Catholic High School Symphony Band

Being a member of the Catholic High School Symphony Band has been an extraordinary experience. From learning how to play the marimba to almost breaking a marimba, my band journey has indeed been an amazing experience, and honestly, I am still unable to fully comprehend that it has come to an end.

As I reflect on my journey with the Catholic High School Symphony Band, I am filled with a mix of emotions. These past four years have been an experience that has shaped me in ways I never could have imagined. From the exhilarating highs to the formidable lows, every moment has been an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.

When I first embarked on my band journey, I was completely oblivious to its wonders. My percussion seniors introduced us to the vast array of percussion instruments, which initially filled me with fear and doubt. The foreign and intimidating appearance of these instruments made me question whether I could master or even learn them. Through the unwavering guidance and support of my seniors, we were able to learn how to play these instruments and the proper techniques, which in turn also instilled in me a deep desire to pass on this knowledge to my juniors, so they too can, hopefully, discover the joy and fulfilment that comes from mastering these instruments.

In percussion, rowdiness has unfortunately been our speciality. From the constant chattering during combined and sectionals (or sometimes slacktionals), I was doubtful of whether we could even master any piece of music well and was scared that we would be the scapegoat of the band if we were not to do well in SYF. With some members of the section having the mindset of “the fewer things to do, the better”, I was hesitant about whether we could set up our instruments quickly and swiftly during our performances. Delightfully surprised I was when my section was able to set up all instruments in under 2 minutes during our percussion set-up dry run before SYF. This has taught and reinforced one thing in me — “Anything is possible as long as you put your heart and mind to it.”

Throughout my time in the band, we performed in various competitions and performances, from Musical Escapades at Jewel to school-based performances, which tested our skills and determination. The long hours of rehearsals, the endless repetition of music, and the countless moments of frustration were all part of the process. But it was in those moments of perseverance that we grew as musicians and as individuals.

Being in the band has been a truly enriching experience. Beyond the music, it has fostered a deep sense of brotherhood, in line with our motto, One Band, One Sound, One Brotherhood. We support and uplift one another, creating an environment of trust, encouragement, and camaraderie. We celebrate our successes together and provide comfort and motivation during challenging times leading up to performances.

SYF has always been a significant milestone in a band’s journey. It represents the culmination of the countless hours of practice, dedication, and unwavering determination that our band members have put in. This year, our band played “Der Vogelhändler” (The Bird Seller) by Carl Zeller, arranged by Eiji Suzuki as our choice piece. Being a lively and enchanting operetta with cheerful melodies and delightful harmonies, it had distinctive features that made it unique, such as the tempo changes, which made it difficult for the band to follow. Despite several hiccups from the start of our preparations all the way up to the final few rehearsals before SYF, we raced against time and were able to overcome the odds and do the school proud.

As my time with the Catholic High School Symphony Band comes to an end, I am filled with gratitude. I am forever grateful for the friendships that have been forged, the lessons I have learnt, and the growth I have experienced. This experience has taught me the value of teamwork, perseverance, and the pursuit of excellence.

To my conductors — Mr Adrian Chiang and Mr Ralph Emmanuel Lim, our teachers — Mr Adrian Chong, Ms Althea Ong and 蔡老师, and my tutor — Ms Wee: Thank you for pushing us to be the best version of ourselves. The music you have allowed us to create will forever hold a special place in my heart.

And of course, thank you to my percussion section mates for making my band journey so memorable.

This marks the end of a journey — a bittersweet one to a cherished chapter of my life. Taking one final look back, I can truly say that it has been an unforgettable one. My band journey has been a decently challenging one, but it is in these moments of struggle that we can discover our true potential, and I am immensely grateful for every obstacle faced and every triumph achieved.

To my juniors, all the best and continue to do band and the school proud. And of course, always remember:

One Band, One Sound, One Brotherhood