Sing50 reaches out to schools

Last month, 12-year-old Praakhar Agrawal played on a Steinwaydesigned Lang Lang baby grand piano for the first time.

The Primary 6 pupil at Canberra Primary School performed American singer Taylor Swift's Blank Space at a musical staged by the school to celebrate the nation's Golden Jubilee.

"It was a phenomenal experience. Playing on the grand piano felt more sophisticated and professional, compared to a standard upright piano. The keys sounded louder," says Praakhar, who has been taking piano lessons since he was eight and will take his Grade 5 piano examination later this year.

Canberra Primary School is one of 50 schools that have been picked as recipients of the baby grand pianos as part of the Sing50 Fund's Adopt-a-Piano initiative.

The Sing50 Fund seeks to promote and preserve Singapore's pop music heritage. It is supported by The Straits Times (ST) and The Business Times (BT), and is managed by non-profit organisation The Rice Company. The fund stems from the Sing50 concert organised by ST and BT, which takes place tomorrow at the National Stadium.

A highlight of the show is a performance featuring 50 pianists, led by renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang (see facing page), performing on 50 pianos. Not all the schools have received the pianos. All of them will be sent to the 50 schools after the concert.

Canberra Primary School has placed the baby grand in the school's new recital studio, which can be accessed by all pupils. The piano will allow pupils to showcase their musical abilities during recess, lunchtime performances and music appreciation sessions.

Principal Sam Wong says: "The Steinway-designed baby grand piano will enhance our pupils' experience by giving them the opportunity to present their music in splendour."

Westwood Primary School, another recipient of the baby grand, will use the piano to support its music programmes. The piano will be used for school performances, which elderly folk living in the neighbourhood will be invited to attend.

The school also intends to invite local pianists to perform for pupils and share their musical careers.

For Yu Neng Primary School, the baby grand will be a springboard to programmes that will enhance the school's creative arts curriculum, says its principal Clara Lim-Tan.

This includes setting up a choir for Primary Two pupils as well as staging mini-concerts for the elderly and sing-along sessions withpre-schoolers. Other plans include keyboard, percussion and basic music arrangement and composition lessons for the pupils.

Given that a significant proportion of the school's pupils come from less privileged backgrounds, Mrs Lim-Tan emphasises the importance of engaging pupils "in a rich and meaningful arts education curriculum".

She adds: "We certainly want to encourage our pupils to step forward to perform. With this piano, we want to instil in them responsibility, ownership and pride."

The list of 50 schools and details of their plans will be made known after the Sing50 concert.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2015, with the headline 'Sing50 reaches out to schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe