A high adrenaline event

I can finally breathe easy now that my choir’s SYF (Singapore Youth Festival – Central Judging of Choirs) event is over. The girls, together with their conductor, were awarded ‘gold with honours’. I couldn’t believe my ears when the results were announced early this evening as we were prepared for the worst especially with all kinds of negative remarks made about the choir. We went through 2-weeks of downhill performance before this day and never shone before other good choirs during choral exchanges. I knew that my choir members were made of the right stuff for the loftiest award but such awareness often wears off when one is immersed in an environment where people around you tend to be musically trained and when comparison and competition are strife.


I think I shouldn’t be running choirs for too long. It is taking a toil on my mental and physical health. I myself had enjoyed being a chorister before and it affects me personally whenever my students reveal their lack of commitment and passion. The school has high expectations of the choir too. And in a way, I feel pressurized to ensure that the choir deliver because the school has treated us very well.

It’s really the people-factor that is burdensome. Sometimes, I was caught in a dilemma of whether to field an ‘attitude-problem’ but fantastic singer in a competition. In the past, it was an absolute ‘no-no’ as such a student didn’t earn the privilege. Now, it really depends. I have been reminding myself to use people for a greater good and glory. If I cannot improve how my ‘ill-disciplined’ students behave in the short run, I would use their talents for the benefit of other well-behaved students. If I can use them to value-add without damaging the morale of a team, why not. At the end of the day, I want to see my choir experience great satisfaction and exuberance in achieving a great goal, especially for those who have put in their heart and soul to do well. In short, I go for a win-win situation. Sounds like a game strategy, isn’t it?

My choir still have a distance to go to develop strength of character in many aspects. They need an excellent guide with a strong heart with a ‘never-say-die’ mindset.

7 Comments to A high adrenaline event

  1. CY says:

    Yeah, I wouldn’t mind if someone else took over the choir. Our Saturdays are usually burnt because Ling has to go to school.:)

  2. Raynor Gan says:

    I must agree that dealing with relations, especially in this setting can be very infuriating. In this particular situation, it could be attributable having different directions and visions in the first place.

    Let me explain. A CCA to a student could be just an ordinary CCA, either to (1) burn some extra time after school; (2) cultivate a skill due to personal passion and interests; (3) fulfill a requirement set by the school to have a CCA. There could be many more, the list just never ends. The point is, it is merely a CCA.

    In an idealistic scenario in your choir, you may want very dedicated students who can sing well. They take it because it’s their passion to sing, or they want to join the world’s most famour choir. They joined because they really want to. The school may want to develop this area as a niche to polish up the school’s reputation.

    You see, there could be so many items on the agenda. We often hear a similar aphorism that studies should always come first in a student’s life AS a student. I don’t know how true it is, but this mindset is often shaped by the perspective of obtaining superior results to embark on a paper-chasing journey. And this is what most parents will agree upon.

    In fact, which student really cares whether the school achieves the best in that niche area? I hardly see any high profile alumni activities, except for high profile schools. Does HSCS even care about getting all ex-students to join its alumni? I don’t know. But I know not many students will feel for the school, because the school hardly remembers us.

    You will probably find more students revolting when they gained more capable in singing. Just like in reality, certain people become so full of themselves that they develop a standpoint that they are indispensible to the organization. People turned haughty for that matter.

    I apologise for this sceptical comment, but looking at the world it is, I couldn’t help but resign to it.

  3. Ling says:

    Hi Xueyang,

    Thanks for dropping by again! :D

    Honestly, I was taken aback by your strong sentiments. But not to worry, I’m okay with it :)

    About arrogant and ungrateful people, God will deal with them. If it is God’s will for me to run the choir, let me be willing to continue to persevere through all the difficulties that so often come along the way. By His strength, let me do what is good and right in His sight. :)

  4. an ex-haisinger says:

    Yes, i proudly and confidently says that HSCS does care about getting their ex-students to join the alumni.We had our first alumni dinner last year. It was a good start. They are getting ex-students to plan for this year’s alumni dinner.

    It’s not about the school remembering us or not. In the first place, we grow attached to the school because of the people, the teachers and friends we meet and interact there, not the building itsef. Does it really matters if we are not remembered by the school? Isn’t it good enough to know that you have contributed in some ways or another during your stay in HSCS? We feel for the school not because the school remembers us, but because the people there added value in us. We feel for the school because the people there made the difference, because of the friendships made.

    To add on, there are students and ex-students who genuinely care whether the school achieves the best. There are seniors who have graduated for 2 yrs, 3yrs and 4yrs who stills go back to support the choir in the SYF. There are still seniors going back to help during practices. They do it not out of personal gains, but out of their passion and desire to work with ther juniors to bring the choir to a greater height. And even so, the SYF is not the only measure of the choir’s standard. At the end of the day, you can’t put a grade to music. It just doesn’t seem justifiable.

    Lastly, the world is an open stage. People laugh, mime and pretend. Many are materialistically driven. Sometimes when you read the newspaper or listen to the BBC, you question yourself, ‘Where is the world headed today?’. But i will like to quote from Max Ehrmann’s poem, ‘Desiderata’

    ‘With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy. ‘

  5. Raynor Gan says:

    Hi Ms Tay and ex-haisinger,

    Just in case I have left a shoddy impression on my last comment, please accept my sincerest apologies. Nonetheless, I hope the comment was read with an open mind. What I want to portray, maybe a realistic perspective on what might be happening behind the scenes, which are very much according to my own speculations. Of course, if in any way it was misrepresented, I would certainly be happy to be enlightened.

    I am not impugning the capacity of HSCS as an educator during my high school years. I agree very much with ex-Haisinger that it’s the people there who made significant impacts on our lives during our four to five (some maybe more) years of education.

    The school I refer to, represents the students and in particular the teachers, collectively. I do not fall in love with a building. Because I read Ms Tay’s entry with the impression that her fruits of labour do not justify with her efforts invested, that’s why I suggest that the directions that students, teachers, as well as the management as a whole are all heading in very different ways. Unless we realign every entity’s goal as one, we are likely to produce substandard results.

    I agree that there are students who do return to contribute to their alma maters and I applause for their efforts and selfless spirit. Then again, the very realistic question is: how many did contribute? Do they represent a minority?

    The expression ‘the school does not remember us’ does not mean that explicitly. What I feel is a notion I feel that ex-students are not at all being welcomed. Let me elaborate further.

    I could still remember vividly that I went back a few years ago, looking for Ms Ang C.C. & Ms Ng B.H. Ms Tay and Ms Ang both had already left the school. Because the MOE suggests that schools should be a little uptight about security, I was told to report to the main office (which I did happily).

    The problem came when I stepped into the office. I requested to look for Ms Ng (who is still then HOD English) and the lady (which I am definite is one of the teaching staff) questioned about my purpose of visit. I replied in a very polite manner stating that I am back to visit my teacher. And I know that Ms Ng was around because I called her prior to my visit.

    The young lady replied in a condescending tone suggesting that ‘the HOD might not even want to see you’. I was infuriated. As much as I detest poor attitude and service rendered to ex-students, I never expect it to from an educator.

    I reckoned the lady might comment in that manner very much due to myself sporting longer hair than students in the school. I don’t know about teachers being anal about appearances, but if as educators we are going to go around discriminating visitors and label them with social stereotypes and start giving comments which might construed as personal attacks, then I questioned her capability of being an educator.

    And because it came from a member of the organization and being ambassador of the school, I have doubts about the culture cultivated in the school as well.

    I had had good memories of the school because I have found at least three very remarkable teachers and a handful of students whom I still keep in touch as friends. And sad to say, I couldn’t even visit a teacher freely without being showered with downright criticisms.

    I wonder what’s the school’s teaching?

  6. CY says:

    Just a comment: one responds to a situation in a way that one’s conditioned in. So, if a person’s usual social contact points belong to a certain age group or behavior, then it’s not natural for that person to behave out of the norm when he or she meets a new person that isn’t too dissimilar to that usual group.

    Perhaps it is unwise to judge educators from the experience with one young lady (who could had herself been having a bad day), keeping in mind what I said about conditioning above. The situation in institutions of higher learning are very different. We (or myself at least) don’t really see students as that far apart from their educators.

  7. Raynor Gan says:

    Hi Chek Yang,

    I agree with you. Institutions of higher learning are far different from secondary and primary school systems. There’s isn’t a clear line drawn between a teacher/lecturer and a student, because the interaction between the two is extremely important. I must say that a lot of what I have learnt are actually derived from discussions and personal interactions with lecturers outside the usual one-way lecture based learning.

    Yes.I will say it is totally unfair to categorize all educators’ and deemed them the same as the young lady. And you probably feel more personal because both you and Ms Tay are educators yourself. And yes, it shows that when something matters to you more, you will tend to take it in a much serious light. Best rest assured that these comments aren’t personal attacks. That’s the last thing I would want to impress upon.

    Compared this situation with a sales lady who gave you the same condescending look. She’s convinced that you are of a lower social class to purchase products from her store, just because of the way you dress or the way you look. What will your reaction be? Or perhaps shall we also have to take into the sales lady’s conditioning to her environment which exposed her to more social-economical individuals? Hence, we shouldn’t be too uptight about her poort service?

    I doubt so. But what I am trying to highlight is the teacher’s poor attitude speaking to an ex-student or a visitor. I don’t think it is very professional to illustrate that loathesome behaviour. Having a bad hair day or suffering from PMS are not very good excuses either.

    Nevertheless, these problematic people normally forms a minority. I don’t usually get too emotional over them. It’s just that the little details irks me.