Education, Life, Music
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Gazing into the Crystal Ball for Singapore’s Music Education

I was recently invited to be one of the workshop panelists at a recent weeklong 2013 Kodály Course organised by Singapore Teachers’ Academy for the aRts (STAR). A ‘music commando’ team of clinicians gathered here, comprising of the Principal of the Kodály institute (KI), Dr. László Nemes, KI lecturer Szirányi Borbála (fondly known as ‘Bori’) as well as Lucinda Geoghegan who works with the Royal College of Scotland & the National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS). Sheryl Sim, in her dual capacity as a fellow alumnus of KI and STAR staff was also on the panel as one of two Singaporeans offering training & local perspectives.

In the course of the week, common singing (mass singing in the mornings and evenings), methodology (the science & art of teaching), musicianship (building of personal musical skills), singing games for children (experiencing and designing music games) were delivered by the panel. From the simplest activities to the most complex and demanding of tasks, careful preparation, sophisticated ideas and pedagogy underpins all these activities ensuring progress at all times. What we saw were essentially quantum leaps in musical skill and pedagogy given the short span of time.

Excellent programme and delivery aside, it was really exciting to see 80 over public school music teachers participating enthusiastically and actively in demanding music tasks (some of which are probably completely new to them). Such ‘gungho’ courage and willingness to try something new & unfamiliar was totally refreshing in view of the generic ‘shy Singaporean’ culture. I met many bright music teachers who were open-minded, eager to learn, hungry for knowledge, repertoire and ideas for their music classroom & personal growth. These teachers were collaborating, openly sharing ideas, knowledge, assimilating and synthesising new knowledge (e.g. working together to come up with new music games for themselves), sharing resources etc…. such wonderful spirit of altruism and collaboration is something that practitioners working in school CCAs could well learn from instead of working in individual silos. Kudos to STAR and their topnotch staff for its vision, excellent logistics, and support for such a programme.

As an artist-educator involved in both the arts scene as well as the training of the local teaching fraternity, I can now gaze into the crystal ball for our musical future and boldly proclaim (especially to fellow artists who are/were depressed about our Arts scene/arts education) “lament no longer” for I have observed STAR teachers (pardon the pun) whom I would be very happy to have as my own children’s music teachers. It is a wonderful new milestone for the nation as well as for us young artist-educators to be teaching and learning alongside such international giants; I am positive and hopeful that the future of music and music education in SIngapore is very bright indeed! 🙂

Kodály Course participants with Bori, Lucinda, László and Albert (Sheryl was busy!).

1 November 2013@STAR. Photo courtesy of Zel.

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