In Harmony With All

  • May 24, 2021

As our Skills Development classes come to an end for the first semester of 2021, we posed a few questions to Ivan Wong, who has been our resident guitar teacher for 4 semesters!

Our two guitar instructors, Ivan Wong and Anthony Fabian, giving a final refresher on the students’ final performance piece

Q: Hello Ivan, nice to meet you! Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: Hello! I’m just an average guy, working 9 to 5 at a chemical company.

Q: Well, how did you get to know about ACMI? What made you pick up teaching guitar? 🎸

A: In a fateful coincidence, I met Mr Timothy (who was the previous guitar instructor for ACMI) through playing football with him in the neighbourhood. One day he spotted me carrying a guitar, and asked me if I would like to join him to teach a class! I said yes, and the rest is history.

Class in progress!

Q: So what happens normally in guitar class? Can I be a rockstar even without any training or knowledge? 🤩

A: We start as slow as possible, and progressively improve! We learn how to listen to pop songs/music in a more understandable way, for example, how to listen for rhythm patterns and chord changes. We also learn basic chord shapes on the guitar, which are not particularly easy for anyone at all, but with time and drills, we learn them. And then as classes go on, we put the shapes and rhythms and finally words into the songs!

It is a starting class for guitar to strum chords so to answer the second part of the question, this class would be exactly styled to cater to migrants who might not have any training or understanding at all. We start with learning how to sit and hold the guitar!

“My perception of migrants has always been one of respect and gratitude.”

Q: Do share with us some wonderful moments, and also perhaps some challenging parts about teaching and learning guitar?

A: There will always be one exact moment in every class that upon instruction, the whole class would be able to play a specific chord with a set rhythm together! That moment in every offering of this class will always be memorable and hugely satisfying, not just for myself as the instructor but surely for every participating student as well.

As with most things, a big part of playing some music has to do with practice. While it is not un-fun to practice, going through drills for 2 to 3 hours at a stretch gets a little challenging at times. It is because it is difficult for students to practice at home during the week. But nonetheless, practice makes perfect!

Class picture with all the talented students!

Q: Has this volunteering experience changed your perception or relationship with migrants?

A: My perception or relationship with migrants has always been one of respect and gratitude. I can only do these classes driven by respect and a desire to help out with their circumstances.

Q: We understand that this will be your final class with all of us at ACMI 😔 Is there anything you would like to say to your students, or to the general public with regards to migrants?

A: To my students, it was and is a pleasure to teach you all. To the general public, migrants like all people you and I, who come over to Singapore to work in the hope for a better future for their children, their families and themselves. I feel tremendously for our migrants here who have faced abuse or injustice. Let us all understand that and instead help each other out, and try our utmost best to avoid any negative feeling or sentiment towards our migrant brothers and sisters.

Ivan and Anthony with the best student of the class this semester!

From all of us at ACMI, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff, volunteers, students, employers, and other benefactors for supporting our Skills Development courses. We are grateful for all your help and efforts in making these courses possible for our migrants!