Friday, April 15, 2016

chinese orchestra

Jo has unexpectedly fallen in love with Chinese Orchestra, which is her main after-school activity.

Once the different instrumental sections came together, playing pieces in its entirety, she suddenly understood where her erhu fits in the scheme of things and everything clicked.

She will therefore be the only one amongst my trio who shares my love for ensemble playing. I suppose it’s fitting that she is playing the Chinese equivalent of the violin.

How she shows her love:
  • Like a dog straining against its leash, she looks forward to the twice-weekly rehearsals.
  • She insists on bringing her erhu home after rehearsals, to practise. She actually practises. During busy weeks, when she doesn’t get much practicing done, she sometimes makes me wake her up at 6am for her to saw away in the kitchen before going to school.
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* Early morning practice
  • She memorises the entire score.
  • She searches for and listens to other orchestras performing the pieces on Youtube.
  • After practice, she sings the other instrument’s parts to me. “When I’m playing this, Mama (sings her part), the sheng is playing this (sings) and the dizi is playing this (sings).” She is really paying attention. I used to do this all the time with my fellow orchestra players, singing each other’s parts in harmony as we took the bus home.
  • She now declares that she hates piano but loves the erhu because she wants to play in an ensemble. Although I rightly tell her that were it not for piano, she would have had a great deal more difficulty with learning the erhu.
So recently, she took part in her first SYF competition. The 49-year-old Singapore Youth Festival takes place once every two years and it allows all the performing groups (Chinese Orchestras, string ensembles, dance groups etc) from all the schools to take to the stage and try to impress judges who will score them – Distinction (Gold), Accomplishment (Silver), Commendation (Bronze).

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* Getting her hair pulled up high by a mummy volunteer

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The kids, all dressed in their black pants and white shirts with satiny-smooth red jackets and, for the girls, red ribbons in their high ponytails, made their way to the Singapore Conference Hall where they were the last in a conveyor-belt assembly line of kids to perform.

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* Jo making her way onstage. She decided to wear her spectacles in case she can't see the conductor

They played Tian (天) and Shi Cheng Man Bu (狮城慢步), and they scored a distinction, as has been the case every year because their school takes their Chinese Orchestra very very seriously.

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But the real win for me is seeing that Jo has developed a passion for music which, as I well know, will delight her for the rest of her life.

6 comments:

Karmeleon said...

Did I see that Her erhu score is on 5-lines?! Not numbered score???

My no.3 - the one that plays the HuQin instruments wasn't even reading 5-line score on regular basis until the past year - and this is post-Grade 10 (erhu diploma) .. bc his newer pieces are by "modern" living composers and are written in 5-line. And he has theory background (altho barely any working knowledge of it in practical). And yeah, he doesn't play the piano - but these days, I'd find him seated at the piano while practising and checking the notes - don't ask me how he knows which notes they are on the piano . hahha.

Day said...

yup 5 line score, i think the entire orchestra uses the 5 line score tho i cant be sure cos i havent gone to look at other kids' scores!

xia0haizi said...

During my time, erhu was all the numbered score! I suddenly miss my erhu and all the concerts on stage after seeing jo's pics. I remembered how nervous I felt before the performance started and how I was totally engrossed in the music and nothing else mattered once it started!

xia0haizi said...
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Karmeleon said...

Their school chinese orchestra must just be a little "different" then. hahha. Bc my son confirmed that his scores for last year's secondary school SYF's set piece was in Numbered Score 简谱. Unless.... CCA branch provides both Lined score 五线谱 as well as Numbered score 简谱 for the set piece. Or maybe it depends on the composer providing the score for the set piece. :D

I loved watching all the SYF - both primary or secondary or JC. Too bad from this year onwards they put all the SYF after 1pm onwards, lasting all the way until the night - sad - can't enjoy "free entertainment" while kids are at school in the mornings now for SYF items. :(

Sher said...

oh i din know it used to be in the mornings!