A day in the life of: A Chinese Orchestra Musician

This article is part of the CCA Previews for 2016.

By Cheryl Chng (Vice-chairperson; 16S06D), Tan Jin Tao (Chinese Strings Sectional Leader; 16S03E), Devika Warrier (Welfare head; 16S03I)

Fun fact: Did you know that the Chinese Orchestra (CO) room is located under the E.W. Barker Institute of Sports, beside the school gym?

The Raffles Institution (Y5–6) Chinese Orchestra (RJCO) was founded in 1982, and has since been actively improving its musical standards, as well as building a strong rapport amongst its members. Our official practice days are on Mondays and Tuesdays, 5.30pm–8.30pm. A typical practice day begins even before official practice time. Enter the CO room an hour before; it will not  be a surprise to see our members chatting with each other or practising on their instrument (or very noisily trying to learn someone else’s instrument). Sometimes you can even find us playing badminton and Frisbee outside!

RJCO_Badminton
Brandon and Sida are excited to “jio” you for a game of badminton!

The fun doesn’t end at the start of official practice time. Under the baton of our conductor, Mr Yang Jiwei, RJCO regularly plays modern and exciting pieces of our choice. Examples include tunes from popular Disney movie Frozen; Those Bygone Years, from Taiwanese romance film You Are the Apple of My Eye; and even Phantom of the Opera! To prepare for our pieces, Mondays are dedicated to sectional practices. The first half of Monday practices are usually spent in self-practice, during which we have fun with our section mates as we figure out new songs or practice our basic skills together. Occasionally, we break into an impromptu session of playing our favourite pop songs! Our respective instructors come to our aid not long after to give us guidance and support. On Tuesdays, our conductor, Mr Yang, comes in bubbling with enthusiasm and we scramble to our seats, ready for the next 3 hours of intensive combined practice. This year, RJCO has found an opportunity to hold a concert together with RICO (Y1-4) in April 2016, hence the addition of Friday practices. On Fridays, we bring our instruments over to the Y1-4 campus to have our sessions together with our younger counterparts.

RJCO has great fun performing in concerts, the Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation, and other performances along the year. We attained a Distinction in SYF 2015, and are looking forward to our concert in 2016.

RJCO_SYF
All smiles (and nerves) before our SYF!

While 3 hours of practice may sound exhausting, they are livened up by monthly birthday celebrations (and food!) during our breaks, and occasional ‘secret missions’ during practices (e.g. stealthily taking section selfies while Mr Yang conducts another section). When practice ends at 8.30, everybody perks up at spontaneous calls for dinner outings to nearby Junction 8. An hour or so of chatter over food at the J8 roof garden leaves us with a warm and fuzzy feeling to conclude the day.

RJCO_Dinner
Just a common sight at our dinners.

Besides practices, Chinese Orchestra also holds other events during the course of the year. Our annual March chalet is planned very meticulously by our “March Camp Comm”, as a well-deserved break from the intensive practices for concert/SYF and other school-related stress. The various games, BBQ outings, horror movies, and, of course, our infamous Fright Night make for an extremely enjoyable two days. Concerts put up by other CCAs or orchestras are also great opportunities for both musical exposure and CCA bonding.

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On that note, we welcome you to join our RJCO family with open arms, regardless of whether or not you have background in Chinese music. Feel free to approach any friendly CO member if you have any queries!

RJCO_Full force
RJCO in full force!

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