Distinctives and highlights of the NJC Music Programme
This is an optional scheme offered to JH students. It begins in JH1, where students entering the NJC Music Programme receive instrumental tuition to learn a second instrument (with no prior experience). Currently, the instruments offered are viola and cello. Entry to this course is open to anyone who expresses interest. Lessons are conducted by professional musicians at a highly subsidised rate, using instruments on loan from the College. This scheme encourages great versatility as musicians and increases opportunities for chamber music making and other musical experiences, providing a holistic music education.
This is an optional 8-10 week course offered to selected upper JH and SH1 (IP) students. The programme is conducted by a highly qualified instructor/composer who also teaches at SOTA. In this course, students are introduced to the world of electronic music, and will look at different approaches to its creation through listening and composition exercises. They also learn about audio processing and basic recording techniques. This course culminates in an original creative work by each student. The best compositions may be showcased at our annual concert, Zeitmusik.
The NJC Music Programme believes strongly in cultivating a self-directed attitude towards learning in its students. Beginning from Junior High, the programme aims to weave in the development of the required skills into its curriculum. Some assessment modes which support this are:
- JH special projects (for e.g. assignments drawing from observing open rehearsals; interviewing conductors)
- Show and tell (where students share their favourite music with their teachers and peers and talk about the music, social issues, marketing strategies or simply the salaries of their favourite composer/popstar)
- History research project for SH1 IP students
- Lecture recitals / radio presentation
- Conducting and rehearsal technique (of their own compositions)
Career talks are conducted periodically to expose students to a multiplicity of music-related professions, so as to empower students to make informed decisions based on their personal interests and strengths. Over the past few years, the Music Programme has invited various professionals who have excelled in their fields to share their experiences with the students. Stated below are some examples of career talks held in the recent years:
- Music Therapy
- Popular Music Production and Industry
- Acoustics and Concert Programming
- Film Music Compostition
- Music Administration and Journalism
- Further music study in Europe
Workshops of different genres are often conducted to expose students to a wide variety of music other than the usual Western Music. These workshops allow students to broaden their perspectives and enhance their understanding of the syllabus taught. Stated below are some of the workshops that students regularly attend:
- Music IT workshops
- Composition workshops
- Indonesian Gamelan workshops
- Indian vocal and instrumental music workshops
Master classes by guest musicians are an integral part of the Music Programme. They serve to guide students to grow as performers. Students are required to participate and observe masterclasses to gain experience and performing skills. Stated below are some of the masterclasses conducted by acclaimed musicians that our students have participated in:
- Yang Tien (Harpsichordist)
- Patsy Toh (Professor of Piano Studies, Royal Academy of Music)
- Philip Jenkins (Head of Keyboard Studies at Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama)
- Dr Evelyn Lim (Organist)
- Professor Richter Goetz (Head of Strings at Sydney Conservatorium)
- Michael Endres, Paul Rivinius (Piano and Accompaniment Professors, Hanns Eisler Academy of Music)
- Johannes Kretz, Martin Lichtfuss, Heidi Eisenberg, Roswitha Heintze (Electro-acoustic, History, Voice and Piano Professors, University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna)
- Visit to the recording studio at School of Music and the Arts
- Visit to the Singapore Dance Theatre and Singapore Lyric Opera for private productions and rehearsals
- Collaboration with the School of the Arts for composition talks, lecture recitals and collaborative performances
- Collaboration with the School of Music and the Arts for the NJC General Arts Programme (GAP Music)
Students of the NJC Music Programme are also given opportunities to go for overseas trips with the music department. These educational and fun trips are organised by the school and partnering travel agencies, and strive to expose students to the musical scenes outside of Singapore. The trip normally includes masterclasses with professors from performing arts conservatories in the country of visit, and concerts that feature repertoire seldom performed in Singapore. Stated below are examples of some places that students of the NJC Music Programme have visited:
- London, UK (2007)
- Berlin, Leipzig, Bayreuth, Germany (2009)
- Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, Austria (2011)
- Germany (Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden) (2013)
The Music students have participated in and clinched innumerable awards in music competitions held at the national level such as the Singapore Music Teachers’ Association (SMTA) Music Festival, the National Piano and Violin Competition and the Vivace: Inter-JC Piano Ensemble Competition, while others have represented the College in international music festivals, such as the Perugia Music Festival 2010 held in Italy.
Many of the music students are also part of the NJC Piano Ensemble, an affiliated Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) to the Programme. They are given invaluable opportunities to perform as soloists in concertos with the College’s chamber orchestra, which comprises members from the Symphonic Band and String Orchestra. Other student-initiated collaborations and musical arrangements are not uncommon amongst passionate music students.
By and large, all music students have opportunities to perform throughout the year at locations such as the Esplanade Concourse, Library@ Esplanade and the Esplanade Recital Studio. To prepare the students for these external performances, the Programme requires students to participate actively in regular College Lunchtime Recitals to help students overcome performance anxiety.
Many of our students have also been awarded the MOE Teaching Scholarship (Overseas) to study Music at overseas tertiary institutions such as the University of Illinois & Royal Holloway, Kings College London etc.
The NJC music programme holds its own annual concert, Zeitmusik, at the Esplanade Recital Studio, which recognises the achievements and contributions of its students and teachers. This concert showcases a wide variety of solo and chamber music performances, as well as premieres of student compositions.
In view of the skills required to successfully complete the composition component of the Music H2 portfolio, students are given the opportunity to learn and be assessed on basic conducting skills, and the leading of rehearsal of a small mixed ensemble. Students will participate in a short basic conducting course. As part of their composition project at the end of year 1, students will not only be assessed on their quality of their writing, but also on their conducting and rehearsing of their own work in preparation for performance and/or recording. This approach hopes to give students a comprehensive exposure and understanding of the skills required to successfully write and realize a composition in an authentic situation involving live musicians.