Originally working in a different industry, Patrick Neo left his job as an accounting professional to become a full-time band conductor.

“When I started to pursue my Degree in Accountancy, I found myself teaching as a Junior Band Instructor and Wodwind Instructor during my free time. However, upon graduation, I took on a full-time accounting job and had to put a pause in my teaching stints. After six months of working, I felt a void in my life, and deep down, I knew that this wasn’t what I truly wanted.”

“As a result, I made the decision to leave the accounting job and embark on my journey as a band conductor.”

Patrick’s music journey began during his secondary school days when he was a Tuba player in the band under the guidance of Ms Dorean Tan. He later switched to the flute in Secondary Four, which is also his favorite instrument since childhood.

In his early teaching stints, he had the opportunity to work with Mr Er Wee San, who happened to be his senior in Secondary school. With his instrumental versatility in the Tuba and the Flute, it has greatly benefited his teaching experiences, as it allowed him to read both Treble and Bass Clefs effortlessly and understand the distinct concepts of playing woodwind and brass instruments.

“Currently, I am working closely with Mdm Tan Soh Hwa and Mr Chua Tiong Hong, both of whom have provided invaluable support and guidance throughout the years. I am deeply grateful for the support and encouragement from them, as they have reignited my passion once again.”

Despite teaching bands for the past few years, Patrick felt that the path of being a band conductor is far from easy.

“There have been numerous occasions when circumstances were beyond my control, and setbacks sometimes dampened my passion for teaching. There was a time when I even considered leaving the field when I was offered a job that required me to relocate to another country. However, due to various factors, I chose to stay.”

Given the advancements in technology, working with students in today’s age is also quite different from the past years.

“Nowadays, students tend to be more technologically savvy. To keep them engaged and excited about music, it becomes necessary to stay up to date with technology and incorporate it into teaching. We must also provide opportunities for students to explore music through technology platforms such as YouTube, which is an excellent resource.”

“Furthermore, I strongly believe in instilling values like resilience, teamwork, and discipline during lessons, as these qualities are essential both in band and in life.”

To prepare for effective practices, Patrick often inform his students about the music to be worked on, and encourage them to explore the music through platforms like YouTube.

“At the start of each lesson, I assign tasks for the students to complete during the day, with the aim of achieving specific goals by the end of the session.”

“My goal is to help students understand the musical essence of the pieces we work on and gradually develop their musical sensitivity. Witnessing students grasp the musicality and bring out the emotions in the music gives me the greatest sense of satisfaction.”

As Patrick’s conducting career continues, he hopes to achieve one of his primary goals, which is to instill valuable qualities and virtues through music education. He currently co-conducts the Anglican High School and Nan Hua High School Bands, and teaches the Crescent Girls Symphonic Band as a Junior Band instructor.

“I aim to help students develop self-discipline, confidence, empathy, and other essential traits that will contribute to their personal growth and potentially shape them into future leaders. While I have made progress in this aspect, I believe there is always more to accomplish. To further pursue this goal, I intend to continually refine my teaching methods, provide meaningful guidance and mentorship, and create a positive and nurturing environment for my students to thrive in.”

“To all my students, I would like to emphasize the importance of embracing individuality and avoiding the trap of comparison. Each of you possesses unique talents, strengths, and qualities that make you special. Instead of measuring yourselves against others, focus on your personal growth and strive to become the best version of yourself. Dedicate yourself to continuous improvement and learning.”

“When you reflect on your journey, may you always be proud and say to yourself – I love the person I have become!”


Written By Editor

A contributing editor at TBP.