Arts 28 Jun 2022

How Chinatown inspired our Grade 11 composers

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications

Inspiration for music is everywhere. Our Grade 11 music students found their spark at Chinatown, the MRT station assigned to them as the stimulus for their composition. Together, they created a unique piece with both traditional instruments and electronic synthesisers.

Their 2-minute segment is part of a bigger collaborative composition, ‘A Postcard of Singapore’ which will be used as the worldwide exemplar for the IBDP Music component ‘The contemporary music maker’ in which students extend their learning as they engage in an independent and collaborative project rooted in real-life music practices.

It took the students weeks of exploration to produce their piece. Under the guidance of Diploma Programme (DP) music teacher Ann Zellhoefer, they first conducted research at the heart of Chinatown. During the interview, an elderly shop owner shared her personal experiences of the changes in Chinatown over the years.

“The interview made me realise that traditions and cultural heritage are fading in our society, which is a real pity,” one of the students, Xiaoyu J, says. “Therefore, we tried to combine the traditional elements with modern elements in our music to show the importance of keeping those traditions alive.”

As a team of six, the students initially found the process challenging as everyone had different ideas. Eventually, they decided to produce several demos and choose what worked best for the music. After over two weeks of hard work, they were ready to showcase their part.

At a weekend workshop, the students collaborated with fellow musicians from SJI International, United World College of South East Asia, Dulwich College, School of the Arts, Nexus International School and Tanglin Trust School.

Each school had been assigned MRT stops of their own. When they got together to share their compositions and processes, they not only exchanged invaluable feedback to further refine their pieces, but also made new friends.

It has been a long journey and their efforts have certainly paid off. The final creative exemplar will be shared with IB schools internationally. Congratulations to Abby C, Xiaoyu J, Kiana K, Zijian L, Vivienne S, and Yuyao W on this impressive achievement!