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This was one of my favourite activities while we were rehearsing for the bi-annual Singapore Youth Festival: Arts Presentation. Our conductor, a small man with a large personality and heart, wanted us to feel the music and know it by heart instead of relying on the music score, and this was one of his (unforgettable) methods.

Rehearsals in the Dark

July 9, 2017

His small figure blocks the narrow rectangle of light. All that is left is the glowing green and white EXIT sign. It is darkness all around. Darkness and unmoving bodies and anticipated breaths.

My fingertips find the cold, thin metal strings quickly. The skin between my thumb and my index finger of my left hand settles comfortably with the long wooden body of my instrument; a too familiar pair. My right arm extends the bow, confident of its length. In the dark, it is only me and my Erhu. I wait for the bars. I enter with a deep breath, knowing that another Erhu player is doing the same beside me.

The melody bursts in, an explosion of action, harmonics and textures. It gives the dark, a friendly, familiar presence. The Chinese Orchestra room holds many experiences. This is but one of mine.


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