SINGAPORE - Junior college student Jayne Peh started to write songs at 11 when she was in Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School.
Encouraged by a music teacher, she formed a band in 2015 with her Primary 5 peers to pen songs and perform during school events such as talent shows.
Jayne got her first guitar that year too and, inspired by American pop sensation Taylor Swift, wrote her own songs.
Last year, she submitted one, titled Glow, to the Singapore Youth Festival (SYF). It was shortlisted as one of the top 15 from 150 songs.
Glow was rearranged and recorded by local professional vocal group MICappella for this year's SYF. Under a new platform called Let's Jam Together, students can record themselves singing the song virtually with the group.
The annual festival, which showcases creativity and artistic talents, was launched on Saturday (July 3), with a virtual format for the second year running due to Covid-19.
The theme of this year's event - organised by the Ministry of Education - is Celebrate The Arts In Schools, recognising the vibrancy and resilience of young people in the face of adversities.
At the virtual launch, Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing said the impact of the pandemic has been far-reaching and the arts have not been spared.
He added that despite the challenges, the arts will continue to play a critical role in youth development and nurturing a future-ready generation.
SYFgoesOnline activities and projects on seven platforms were made available from May 21 and continue till July 6, involving art, music, dance and drama.
Mr Chan said: "Through these activities, our students found new and creative ways of expressing themselves, and to collaborate digitally with one another. They showed us that Covid-19 will never wear us down and they demonstrated their grit and resilience, and through this process, they discovered their own unique artistic voices as well."
For Jayne, 17, a first-year Hwa Chong Institution student, acceptance and gratitude anchor her song Glow.
She said: "I think the prevalence of social media is very isolating for somebody who is going through something tough because all we see online are other people's best moments, but we all need the reminder that our worth is unchanging."
The song won praises from MICappella lead vocalist Tay Kexin, 33, who said the uplifting melody complements the empowering lyrics.
Jayne, who is a huge fan of the group, said: "I remember receiving news about the collaboration and I freaked out and basically danced in my room. It's very surreal and I'm very honoured to be part of it."
CHIJ (Kellock) pupil Bheema Lokesh Yuktha, nine, tapped her desire to promote environmental sustainability and love of her pet betta fish to take part in the My Imaginary Underwater Creature project.
She said: "I had a lot of fun collecting (recycled) materials, such as a maple syrup plastic bottle, broken cloth clips, pistachio shells and plastic straws to create (artwork) Pistafish."
Besides Let's Jam Together, there are two other new platforms this year - #helloSYF and SYFplaysON, where students can create their own video log and perform the song Kampong Love in a virtual ensemble.
Kampong Love, based on popular Malay folk songs Di-Tanjong Katong and Rasa Sayang, is arranged by local educator and composer Benjamin Yeo.
Shortlisted submissions are showcased on the SYF website and social media platforms from Saturday to Aug 1.
For the first time, the SYF Art Exhibition uses immersive 360-degree virtual technology, which allows the viewer to enjoy more than 260 artworks set against a digitalised backdrop of gallery spaces within National Gallery Singapore.
The exhibition is on the SYF website from Saturday to Dec 31.