Teacher's Day special

Hitting the right notes: Music teacher's experience in bands helps in conveying music concepts

Mr Muhammad Dzuhri Juniwan exposes his pupils at Bukit View Primary School to a variety of musical instruments and incorporates different genres of music into his lessons.
Mr Muhammad Dzuhri Juniwan exposes his pupils at Bukit View Primary School to a variety of musical instruments and incorporates different genres of music into his lessons.PHOTO: BUKIT VIEW PRIMARY SCHOOL

Music teacher's experience playing in bands helps him better convey music concepts to pupils

An unfair comment made about teachers - those who can't, teach - clearly does not apply in the case of Mr Muhammad Dzuhri Juniwan.

The music teacher at Bukit View Primary School in Bukit Batok sings and plays mainly the guitar in a rock band. He also counts the cajon, a box-shaped percussion instrument from Peru, and the djembe, a drum from West Africa, among the musical instruments he can play.

Mr Dzuhri, a father of three, has been playing in bands since his polytechnic days and said this helps in "conveying music concepts".

Said the 35-year-old: "I show my pupils videos of me performing, get them exposed to unconventional instruments and infuse different genres into music lessons, making the sounds funkier and well loved by the students."

The teacher of six years recounted how he had set up a Brazilian street percussion Co-curricular Activity (CCA) at Corporation Primary School in Jurong. Along with the pupils, he learnt to play the instruments from an external trainer and later took on the teaching himself in the trainer's absence.

 
 

The CCA group went on to perform at the National Day Parade for three years from 2011 to 2013. It was one of his proudest moments as a teacher, he said.

A former pupil in the CCA, Siti Suhaila Rhyme, 17, remembered how Mr Dzuhri served as both the instructor and teacher in charge.

Suhaila, a student at Institute of Technical Education College West, said: "He would patiently teach pupils who were new or had problems getting the tempo right.

"Even though we were mischievous, he was always patient. He constantly reminded us that it was okay to make mistakes on or off stage, but the key was to have fun. If we don't have fun, how would the audience get hyped up?"

Mr Dzuhri, himself a former pupil of Bukit View Primary, has performed in concerts and events, including friends' weddings. He was also invited to perform at the Ministry of Education Teacher's Day Concert last year.

The love of music runs in his family - his father is a retired drummer, his mother used to sing in his father's band at weddings and Mr Dzuhri's eldest child, six, has already picked up the violin.

Mr Dzuhri said his biggest challenge is to inspire. "It is important for a music teacher to be a practising musician as well. The pupils can feel our passion and our level of subject mastery. Only then would they take interest in the subject."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2017, with the headline 'Hitting the right notes '. Print Edition | Subscribe