By Priscilla Loh (22S03E), Chairperson; Chua Han Ya (22S06E), Vice-Chairperson; Gladys Tan (22S03G), Secretary; Amyra Zulraimi (22S03N), Student Conductor; Melody Goh (22S03E), Quartermaster
Have you ever watched guitarists on social media in awe, wishing that you could play your favourite pop songs on the guitar just like them? Well, your dreams may just be about to come true! The Raffles Institution Guitar Ensemble (RJGE) is one of the only fully-fledged Niibori guitar ensembles at the Junior College level in Singapore, and we dabble in a myriad of musical genres, ranging from folk to classical to pop.
The indubitable highlight of our year was participating in the biennial 2021 Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation (SYF). COVID-19 created numerous obstacles in the preparation process for us. Given the enhanced difficulty in coordinating the many sections through online sessions, the drastically-shortened runway for preparation, as well as the special logistical considerations we had to make for COVID-19, success tasted even sweeter when we managed to clinch the highest accolade for SYF, the Certificate of Distinction.
Practice sessions are usually held twice a week: on Mondays from 4.30pm to 6.30pm and Wednesdays from 8am to 10am. When face-to-face CCA was suspended, practice took the form of MSTeams calls with our instructors, Mr Eugene Lee and Mr Leslie. They are held every Wednesday from 9.30am to 11am.
During practice, we split into our respective sections (what we refer to as “sectionals”) for most of the time, to develop individual playing skills and provide the opportunity for sectionmates to interact with each other and foster camaraderie. During face-to-face ensemble practice, the various sections, from the cheerful and melodic Alto to the resounding and mighty Bass, come together to create lyrical music. We also have mini-ensemble practices, in which members form small groups and have the freedom to choose any song they are interested in.
We also hope to provide avenues for every member to lead and make a positive impact outside of the guitar room. We have embarked on an ongoing Values in Action (VIA) project in partnership with a nearby community centre, in which we teach children the skills and techniques of playing the guitar. Through these VIA projects and performances, we hope to give every member the invaluable opportunity to give back to the community, and gain fulfilment outside of our routine school life.
In the Raffles Guitar family, we value a tight-knit community and individual enthusiasm. We aspire for CCA to be a home for members to seek comfort in after an arduous day of lessons, and a heartening experience to look back on. We welcome everyone, regardless of whether you have prior musical experience, as long as you are willing to put in the effort to learn!
Our friendly seniors and instructors will not hesitate to guide you every step of the way to mastering the guitar. Furthermore, we have a vast collection of in-store guitars which you can loan anytime for practice for both during CCA sessions and at home outside of CCA. While having a musical background may make it easier for you to pick up the instrument, the most important thing to us is your passion and enthusiasm for learning. As long as you have the willpower, we believe that our amicable, supportive and loving community will provide you with sufficient guidance and assistance to develop your interest into a long-lasting skill.
We hope that you too can join us on this immensely gratifying journey in RJGE, where we make the most out of the fleeting time here in JC to grow and become the best of ourselves, and let our passion take flight!
*Cover image taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.