Bands by people with disabilities hit right note with launch of debut singles

Retired customer service officer Aisah Ibrahim, 75, performing with her band at the Enabling Village on Wednesday (July 27). PHOTO: FAITH MUSIC CENTRE
Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua (left) at the launch of the bands' singles. PHOTO: FAITH MUSIC CENTRE

SINGAPORE - Mr Adrian Ng, 22, has severe developmental coordination disorder, which makes it hard for him to exert strength or coordinate movements, but he managed to pick up drumming. 

The trainee with APSN Centre for Adults, a vocational training centre, has a mild intellectual disability, but that has not stopped him from becoming a drummer in a band, which is releasing its debut single, supported by music school Faith Music Centre.

The school runs courses in keyboard, guitar, drums and ukulele for people with various disabilities aged 18 and above.

This initiative to form bands with its students and help them release original music is part of the school's goal of helping people with disabilities develop their musical and performance potential.

The new music from the bands will be on major digital streaming platforms such as Spotify and YouTube Music by Aug 7, with the bands taking a full cut of the sales of their music.

The students have also been engaged to perform at senior care centres and nursing homes, with some becoming instructors at the music school.

Faith Music Centre received the Enabling Lives Initiative Grant, funded by Tote Board and administered by SG Enable, for the project.

It aims to support six bands in releasing 10 original singles by this year, and eventually to help them produce albums and hold a concert.

The bands showcased their new music at the launch of their singles on Wednesday (July 27) at the Enabling Village, where they were joined by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Ng said: "Drum is my favourite instrument. I did not drum before joining this school."

His mother, teaching assistant Sharon Khoo, said she was worried when her son first started learning the drums. "I was asking them, 'really can or not?' "

Mr Ng started slow, progressing from one hand and one leg to both hands and legs, and got better with practice, which has been every week since November last year.

"I saw a transformation in him, going from zero background to now playing in a band," said Madam Khoo.

She hopes her son can be engaged in more public performances, as well record more music.

Faith Music Centre aims to support six bands in releasing 10 original singles by this year. PHOTO: FAITH MUSIC CENTRE

Mr Alvin Yeo, who founded Faith Music Centre in 2008, said he hopes to make music ability a form of employment for people with disabilities.

"The focus shouldn't be on the disability but their skills. We hope people, even parents of people with disabilities, won't think their child can't do this or that, but will encourage them to learn new skills," he said.

Retired customer service officer Aisah Ibrahim, 75, initially wanted to learn drumming, but was unable to, as her legs are weak from polio and she has to use a wheelchair.

Instead, she picked up keyboard and singing in the school, and is the vocalist for the VIB, or Very Inclusive Band.

As it was her first time recording a song, she had to do 30 takes. "It's tiring to repeat, but I enjoy it," she said.

She said she performs to add cheer to other seniors' days.

"I like to use music to make people happy. To show them that if I can do it, they can do it too."

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