Banding together for love of music

(From far right) 4th Dimension drummer Desmond Tan, 18, with bassist and singer Ahmad Irfan Ahmad Zaidi, pianist Lok Jia Yu and guitarist Joshua Tan, all 19, performing at the block party outside Plaza Singapura yesterday.
(From far right) 4th Dimension drummer Desmond Tan, 18, with bassist and singer Ahmad Irfan Ahmad Zaidi, pianist Lok Jia Yu and guitarist Joshua Tan, all 19, performing at the block party outside Plaza Singapura yesterday.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Young talents join block party organised by group that spurs youth to pursue passion

Republic Polytechnic student Desmond Tan has always had a passion for music, but found himself hard-pressed for time and lacking a platform to meet like-minded friends - until recently.

Yesterday, the 18-year-old took the stage as a performer in one of 18 bands rocking out at a block party outside Plaza Singapura in Orchard Road. The two-day event continues today.

He is one of around 35 young performers, aged 13 to 26, who have joined the event organised by volunteer group Voice of My Generation, which believes in giving back to society through music and envisions young people stepping out of their comfort zones to pursue their passion together.

The event this weekend is a step in a new direction for Voice of My Generation, which started out as a junior college band competition in 2014 that sought to identify talented students to mentor and groom as professional musicians.

It is the first time the group has organised such an event, which it likens to an impromptu celebration. It is free to the public, and today's session will take place between 5.30pm and 9.30pm. The group hopes to have more of such public showcases in the future, with a second block party planned in February next year.

Mr Tan, whose band is called 4th Dimension, said he has been learning to play musical instruments since he was young and picked up the drums eight years ago, but did not have time to join a band then.

VIBRANT MUSIC SCENE

There are many people with talent, who may feel they cannot pursue music as a hobby or career... Our aim is to show everyone that music in Singapore is not dying.

MR AHMAD IRFAN AHMAD ZAIDI, one of the event's organisers and performers.

"My friends didn't do music, and I ended up devoting my time to sports instead," said the first-year sport management student, adding that school kept him busy too.

But a chance meeting with his former guitar teacher at a singing competition in April introduced him to Voice of My Generation, through which he met his current bandmates and gained a space to showcase his skills. He also hopes to mentor or guide other young people who have a similar passion.

Last year, the group - run by four students and a mentor - and its alumni were given the chance to busk. Its participants, who can number up to 100, now hail from not just junior colleges but also secondary schools, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education.

One of the organisers of this weekend's event, Mr Ahmad Irfan Ahmad Zaidi, 19, who is also in Mr Tan's band, said: "Back then, there was no such singing or performing competition for junior college students or their International Baccalaureate counterparts."

 

"It's about time that we also share our goals and passion with the public," said the full-time national serviceman, who joined the group last year after taking part in its competition as an Innova Junior College student.

"We have bands playing pop, acoustic, jazz and other genres of music," he added, of the block party.

"There are many people with talent, who may feel they cannot pursue music as a hobby or career," said Mr Irfan. "Our aim is to show everyone that music in Singapore is not dying."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 16, 2018, with the headline 'Banding together for love of music'. Print Edition | Subscribe