By Emily Ho Zhi Qi (19S03I), Chairperson, and Nichelle Chua Jia Yu (19S06F), Vice Chairperson
The guitar is an almost indispensable part of an artist’s life. No matter the genre, we can always fall back on acoustic covers for wondrous combinations of the melodious guitar progressions and our favourite singers’ voices. However, there is more to guitar than simple strumming patterns we try at home. If you are looking to explore, to feed your interest for this classic instrument, you are who we want!
Raffles Institution (Year 5-6) Guitar Ensemble (RJGE) is a family of about 50 students, all seeking to exhibit our colours through an exquisite piece to be conveyed to our audiences. Led by conductor Mr Michael Gaspar, RJGE has quickly risen to prominence as one of the best full-fledged Niibori guitar ensembles in Singapore at the JC level. Two years back, the batch of 2017 has managed to clinch the highest accolade for the Singapore Youth Festival (SYF), being one of the six schools awarded the Certificate of Distinction, out of sixteen performing schools.
In between the biennial SYF, we also hold our very own concert, where we showcase our efforts made in the past year and celebrate how far we have come in this fleeting JC curriculum. Our 2018 concert was titled “Esperanza”, meaning hope in Spanish. For 2019, we are also intending to put on a showcase on top of our SYF participation, where your individual colour can be further developed!
In RJGE, we value team spirit and individual enthusiasm. We believe in self-initiated passion for improvement, with a supportive environment and community to back our members up. While guitar experience is preferred, do not fret if your musical experience is not specific to our instrument, as we will be there to guide you through your next two years in our CCA.
Our practice sessions are officially held on Mondays from 4.30pm to 6.30pm, and on Wednesdays from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. However, in preparation for SYF and our showcase, Wednesday practice sessions will be extended to 5pm, and additional practices will be added nearer to the events. Our practice sessions will be split into ensemble playing and sectional practices, where members can drill their specific parts with their section mates. Mini-ensemble practice time will also be allocated during the extended CCA time for members to familiarise with each other. When the different sections come together and complement one another like a call and answer, the beauty of ensembles are truly shown and felt.
At this point, let us address some considerations that might be holding you back from auditioning for our CCA. Firstly, you may be wondering – if I am totally new to guitar but would like to try something new, would I be able to get in? To answer this query, we are a friendly and helpful guitar family so do not be afraid to try out for RJGE even if you have minimal musical experience! What we value most is our members’ attitude and keen interest to learn. Secondly, you do not have to worry about instrumental costs. While practice outside of CCA is required, it is not essential for you to purchase a guitar of your own, as our in-store guitars can be borrowed (of course with its due accountability).
Ultimately, we in RJGE strive to make the most out of the fleeting time we have together – to push ourselves for maximum improvement and produce good performances, while giving back to the community and exploring our small group performance styles. If you enjoy holding a guitar and spending time with like-minded individuals in a tight-knit community, do not hesitate any longer – join us in our big musical family!