(Sunday 13 March 2016) “Will you be able to eke a living from music?” This refrain is commonly heard as Singapore society has been apprehensive of professional training in music and the arts addressing such practical aspects of life, even though perceptions have slowly been changing. Taking the road less travelled to hone skills in instruments, whether western or eastern, have been plagued by brutal realities – there are only two full-time orchestras: the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Places are limited and there is a concern of how many local music students who have successfully trained enter as full-time orchestra musicians.
The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts established the School of Music in 1984; this was followed by the founding of the National University of Singapore’s Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in 2001, with both institutions have nurturing local talent over the years. NAFA saw from 2013 to 2015 a total of 120 Diploma in Music graduates, 36 Diploma in Music Teaching graduates and 67 Bachelor of Music (Hons.) graduates. Of the latter, 14 continued with their studies. There are currently three NAFA graduates employed as a full-time members of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and two under the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Besides, there are two NAFA graduates performing professionally in the Guiyang Symphony Orchestra and one at the Xi’An Symphony Orchestra in China.
About 50 students graduate annually from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, with 15 graduates in the past three years joining orchestras locally and overseas. About 50% of the graduates continue their education, with the rest getting involved with music-related occupations, for example as music producers, managers and educators, among others.
Media: ZB supplement, cover story, pages 4-8
Four NAFA alumni interviewed:
1. Zhu Zheng Yi (27, percussion) and Alan Kartik (30, horn) – both full-time musicians with the SSO.
2. Michelle Low (26) – Music therapist at SGH
3. Ho Chun Sheng Laurel (28, trombone) – full-time musician with Guiyang Symphony Orchestra. He is mentioned having joined NAFA after picking up an interest in the trombone in secondary school, and went into YST Conservatory after completing his national service.
Full article here:
南洋艺术学院 Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts