This article is part of the CCA Previews for 2016.
By Goh Jia Ni (16A03A) and Matthew Kho (16S06A)
Don’t know how to play the guitar? Don’t fret! We accept everyone regardless of musical background, as long as you have the interest and the commitment! Young guitar grasshoppers will go through a crash course on the basics before they start learning ensemble pieces, while full-fledged guitar masters will learn the pieces as soon as they start, and can then proceed to do the more intense stuff.
RJGE has sessions twice a week, on Mondays from 5pm to 7pm, and Wednesdays from 2.30pm to 5.30pm. However, we may call for extra practice sessions when there are upcoming competitions or performances.
At the start of a regular session, we’ll gather as an ensemble, and our conductor Mr Michael Gaspar/Mr Ang Dun Hao will lead us through the latest songs we’ve learnt. We typically learn a new song every now and then, and it won’t be too easy or too difficult. Once we’ve learnt how the new song generally goes, our ensemble splits into six smaller sections – Alto 1, Alto 2, Prime, Bass, Contrabass and Guitarron – to further practice and perfect their own parts. Each section has a particular ‘flavour’, which when combined forms the unique blend that makes up a Niibori guitar ensemble. Nearing the end of these sessions, we’ll gather once again to play the song as a whole several more times till the session is over.
On a typical day, most of us are exhausted from a day of lectures, tutorials, and life in general. But we have a magical cure for that, in the form of music. You’d have to listen to it to believe me, but the light, catchy and upbeat tunes are enough to simply wash away our exhaustion and reenergize us. Just kidding. It isn’t so much the music, but the people who make the music, the random bursts of laughter, the silent glances of i-hope-you-know-what-you’re-doing-because-i-don’t, that makes the music truly our own.
Our tightly-knit community is both friendly and supportive, as we integrate new members and help beginners quickly grasp the basics of the Niibori guitar style. We have never starved for entertainment, having multiple unofficial jam sessions before and after official CCA hours, and we have never literally starved either, a beloved tradition of the Guitar Ensemble being that we love to enjoy a waffle and other snacks during CCA session breaks.
Last year, our seniors took part in the Singapore Youth Festival competition, performing America from West Side Story and Allegro by Bach, and clinched the Accomplishment award despite facing tight time constraints and tough competition. It was a truly enjoyable process that left us satisfied with our results.
Besides participating in the SYF, our CCA also took part in other events such as the school’s Founder’s Day Celebrations, where we put up a small acoustic set comprising songs like Budapest by George Ezra and Photograph by Ed Sheeran.
This year, we will be holding our bi-annual concert in May, so our sessions will be of a faster pace than usual. The junior ensemble (Yr 5s) will be expected to learn and master at least 3 songs, with one of the songs being a combined piece with the senior ensemble (Yr 6s).
We hope you will join us to be part of this enjoyable and fulfilling experience!