I used to sing in a choir myself when I was at school, so I really do enjoy choral music and it is something that I would like to share with my kids.
When I was university, the Glee club that I joined went on tour around a few states in the US, performing at schools in small towns. Each night we sang inside a town hall which would be packed to the very edges, with people even standing outside the doors, just to have a chance to listen to the music. Families came in droves, from the very tiny week-old infants, to the very elderly in wheelchairs.
After the concert, we had a chance to mingle with the townsfolk and I found out that many of these suburban families have very little access to art and culture outside their community. They looked forward to our university Glee club’s annual visit as one of the highlights of the year as it gave them the chance to see a ‘live’ performance and listen to different forms of beautiful music. Some of them were moved to tears by our songs, which encouraged us to work even harder at making sure we put up a good show.
Visiting these suburban and rural areas during the Glee Club tour made me realise how fortunate I was to grow up in a city that is a melting pot of different cultures.
Singapore may be a very tiny little city, but like all other cities, the arts scene here continues to grow and flourish and it provides ample opportunities for me to introduce my kids to the wonders of music.
Our little city has several tertiary-level institutions that train budding artistes from around the world, preparing them for the world of performing arts. These are the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, the LASALLE College of the Arts and the Nanyang School of Fine Arts, just to name a few.
This means that there are plenty of recitals by students who are required to showcase their talents as well as masterclasses and concerts by visiting artists and music professors happening nearly every day, every single week of the year…and all of these are open to the public entirely free of charge!
These (highly undersubscribed) concerts are wonderful for kids because its a great way to expose them to a wide range of musical genres in a formal setting, and I can leave at any time without feeling bad about wasting a ticket!
It is so different, listening to madrigals through the tinny speakers in car during the morning school run, and sitting down to watch a live performance in a concert hall. Little E was at times very moved by the music, swaying and putting her arms out to imitate the conductor. At a few points, J stopped wiggling around in his seat and closed his eyes, then leaned way back to listen.
We sat right at the back of the hall, in case a quick exit was required, but I was pleasantly surprised when both my kids remained quiet (but not still – we’re working on that) during the whole concert, which consisted mainly of medieval songs or Renaissance-inspired music in sung in latin or german.
If an afternoon of classical music is not your thing, there are plenty other forms of artistic expression that is worth looking at.
Last week in fact, I took J and Little E to the Lasalle College of the Arts to attend an original puppet theatre performance called ‘Bully & the Beast‘ put up by the Diploma in Performance Level Two class – and it was aimed specifically at a young audience!
J and Little E had a real blast and enjoyed themselves so much during the performance, which was interactive in nature… and afterwards they had a chance to talk to the performers and examine the puppets and props! The Lasalle students were all so welcoming and friendly towards the kids and the stage manager even spent some time chatting with me and gave me some tips on how to make puppets with the kids at home using papier mache.
I really do hope that I can continue to introduce the kids to the various aesthetic forms – like ballet, contemporary dance and maybe even some classical asian theatre like Chinese Opera and Wayang Kulit!