By Megan Hon (20S06D), Chairperson, Shitong (20S06G), Vice-Chairperson, Zhang Ming (20S07A), Musical Director, and Ruoqing (20S06O), Secretary
Psst… do you feel like you are a green banana sometimes, with stiff fingers that never seem to follow what your brain dictates? Well, here at RIPE, we can be your personal catalyst for your RIPEning journey!
Jokes aside, RIPE actually stands for Raffles Institution Piano Ensemble, and we are one of the Performing Arts CCAs offered here in RI. And no, we do not have the whole ensemble banging on a single piano (poor piano)—it’s much more peaceful than that. Contrary to popular belief, we usually practise duet or quartet pieces, with the number of hands on one piano at a time totalling up to no more than six!
Practice makes Perfect
Let’s start with where the magic begins—the practice room. To be accurate, the room we use for weekly Tuesday practices from 4.30pm to 7.30pm is the MEP room, situated at the end of a narrow, shady corridor on the 3rd floor of Block A.
Upon entering the practice room, you will be greeted by two shiny, majestic grand pianos, both of which you are entitled to use whenever you want to. Soundproof practice rooms are also available if you wish for some peace and quiet to work on that musical number you chose after much deliberation. Yes, you heard that—here in RIPE, you get the autonomy to decide what you want to perform in the next big event, as long as it adheres to any theme(s) that our CCA decides upon for events such as concerts. Tired of having someone else telling you what to play? Want to try out pieces with different CCA mates? RIPE is perfect for you!
Our practice sessions focus a lot on the personal growth of our members, featuring masterclasses and workshops that hone our skills in performing, composing, and arranging. Of course, the element of fun is not to be neglected—our CCA sessions are spiced up with games, food parties, and CCA dinners added into the mix.
The biggest treat we have in store is our annual concert, happening in late April every year. Click here for the Press review of Reverie 2019 to get an idea of how our efforts came into fruit-ition on the 26th of April.
The thrill doesn’t end there though—July marks our competitive season with the commencement of Vivace, an annual piano ensemble competition organised by National Junior College. Participation is on a voluntary basis, and our teams have brought glory to the ensemble and the school by maintaining a streak of gold accolades or higher in the past few years.
Beyond the spotlights and roaring crowds, RIPE has its down-to-earth side as well, and we make giving back to society a vital part of our RIPE journey. In 2019, we held a mini-concert at Changi General Hospital, bringing music to patients and staff as well as livening up the atmosphere.
This, of course, is only one of the many ways you can spend the second half of your J1 year after the action-packed first half. You are free to explore all the possibilities out there: be it conducting piano lessons for the disadvantaged, showcasing your talents to the school population, or playing it chill and bonding with your batchmates. After all, at any point in time, you may not be sharing a piano with all your batchmates at once, but being in an ensemble means working with other people, which means that teamwork and camaraderie is of utmost importance.
How to join us
It’s easy—all you need is a burning passion for piano music and an ABRSM Grade 5 Practical qualification or the like. Our selection process involves a short sight-reading test, followed by a performance of a piece (of at least 3 minutes) of your choice and a brief interview. If all these seems daunting, fret not—just make your passion known and we will take care of the rest.
To end off, here’s a final banana joke: why does the banana on the floor like music? Because if you don’t C sharp, you will B flat! We hope we have a-peel-ed to all of you smart bananas to join us on your journey to RIPEning.