Author Archives: James

Music Exams for Students Learning Violin in Singapore

It is a common practice for students of a skill-based activity such as learning musical instruments right across the world to get assessed of their skills by some common platform.  There are some such examination boards on offer in Singapore, and the common ones in use in the city do stand their ground in any chosen situation and settings. Learn Violin

That is a student would get to acquire a specific minimum ability while gaining to be assessed in the settings of these examinations. Kids learning the violin in Singapore are highly encouraged to take these exams as well.

The ABRSM set of examinations

abrsm-logo These set of exams are offered at certain times in the academic year and strives to place the examinees in order of merit according to their ability in music.  The examinations can be broadly divided into the grades and the full diploma.  It must be of particular note that the ABRSM exams get to access a student in more detail than what other comparable systems offer. It can thus be considered to be a more comprehensive nature of evaluation of skills in music.

Usually, the focus of the different methods of testing that different testing programs follow is to bring about variety in testing systems so that a student could get to choose a system that would do justice to his set of skills at any point of time.

The Trinity College Tests

The Trinity College of Musiclogo_trinity_college_london, London does get to offer a very comprehensive set of exams that vary in grades to demonstrate an increased ability in music and its rendering.  It is being said that the testing program by Trinity could be one of the oldest standings in history and there is a brand value that is hard to beat.  On hand are a set of methods that not just evaluate the ability of the student but create milestones to follow to improve the skill sets.

The Trinity testing program is known with their various testing centers spread across the world and which would enable a student to get tested no matter where he would be located at a given time.

ANZCA Examinations in Music

With the not for profit organization that is the Australian and New Zealand Cultural Arts Limited, offering testing programs that result in diplomas being awarded to the successful candidates, the ANZCA examinations in music are among the most competitive of its kind in the world.  On hand is a set of exercises that not just probe the ability but also how hard working a person is towards his goal of being a better music player or performer.

This set of testing programs is localized to the regions of the South East Asia and has a good standing around the area.  There would not be many places that give the due to a person who has undergone the ANZCA set of examinations.

London College Of Music Certifications

The LCM does offer a variety of programs that are in the music and related spheres right through the year.  When it comes to a standing in the music industry, there is no denying that the LCM certifications are among the most recognized and does command a specific premium towards the skill.  It is usually the more professional players of music that take to the LCM testing as it places a particular stress on the theoretical aspect of playing music that most other programs omit.

With a set of certifications that have the right standing in the community, it is just possible to have the lead in getting started that is bound to make a big difference in the progress a student goes in the first few years on the professional circuit.

The differentiating factor between the different programs and certifications

Violin Lessons

If every set of examinations evaluated a student in the same manner as the remainder of the offerings, there would be little difference in the skill set displayed on each occasion, and it would make the different set of exams somewhat unnecessary at best.  Thus there are high points in each set of testing that gets to stress on a particular aspect over the rest.

It thus gives the student wanting to get assessed to subject himself to the proper evaluation that would bring out his particular talent.  In this manner, each program stays relevant and in demand by the music community.  When something as informal as music instruction is considered the role that standardization bodies play becomes crucial to the better working of the system.

Special: Quick Interview with Jayden from Music Mood

We have a chance to speak with the director of Music Mood, a violin lessons agency in Singapore. We have asked him what is his view on the violin exam and here are his thoughts:

Music exams motivate achievement and support progression. They lay good foundations for music making while encouraging students to reach their full potential. We always advise teachers from Music Mood to use our exams as a means to this end, rather than as an end in themselves. They can form only part of a musical curriculum, for which they provide goals and recognition along the way.

Finally, we should remember the reason so many of us learn to play an instrument or to sing. It’s about a love of music and the enjoyment and fulfilment that brings, all of which Music Mood supports wholeheartedly.

A quick shout out to them, they are offering kids violin lessons in Singapore. So do check them out.

Note: This is not a featured post.

Quick Guide to Buy Condo in Singapore

In our previous post, despite their ever-shrinking sizes and ever-rising prices, condos in Singapore are still highly sought after.

If you are one of them, here’s a quick guide on getting yourself ready to buy the condo in Singapore. One of my friends Peter Just bought a condo unit of Le Quest last week. Many young couples buy HDB flats as “starter homes”, upgrading to condos once they’ve completed their Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) and have saved enough money.

  1. Pick the Right Agent and Lawyer

The first step to take in your home-buying process is to hire not just a real estate agent but a lawyer, so you have the assurance of professional guidance. If you take a bank loan, the bank will assign a lawyer to you.



You can look for an agent via the Council of Estate Agents (CEA), the governing body for property agents in Singapore; the council does not charge any fees for this.

  1. Pick a Condominium

Now that you’ve assembled your house-hunting team, you are ready to shop for a new home.

Bear in mind that newer condos tend to be smaller than most four- to five-room HDB flats. If you have no problem with that and would prefer a brand new condo, you can check out any of the recent or new launches in the areas you would like to live or read some of our reviews of new condos. One of the latest condo launches in Singapore will be Le Quest New Condo.

However, if you prefer to have more living space and do not mind an older resale condo, it’s easy to find one via our online listings. In general, older condos have larger living spaces and could potentially cost more than a newer condo.

  1. Mortgage stage

When you have picked a condo, you can “hold” it for two weeks so other potential buyers are not allowed to view it. This entails an option fee of one percent of the agreed upon price.

Within a month, you must secure your financing and pay a second option fee of four percent; failure to do so will see the first option fee you paid forfeited. Once you pay the second fee, a down payment of 15 percent (on your first property) or 45 percent (on your second property) is required. The rest will be loaned to you by the bank. Do note that both option fees must be paid in cash, while the down payment can be paid using a combination of cash and CPF funds.

You are allowed a maximum loan of 80 percent of the condo price if it is your first property, and 50 percent if it is your second.

There is also the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR). This means you can spend a maximum of 60 percent of your monthly income on repaying debts. However, if you are buying an Executive Condominium (EC), this figure is capped at 30 percent of your monthly income (inclusive of CPF contributions).

Depending on the length of your mortgage, you will repay your loan at a fixed amount every month, subject to your bank’s interest rate. This could take a maximum of 30 years, though your loan tenure depends on your age.

  1. Beyond the mortgage

Apart from your mortgage and TDSR, there are additional fees. There is the Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD), a compulsory fee for Singapore citizens buying their first, second and third homes, PRs buying their first, second and subsequent homes, and foreigners buying any home in Singapore.

This entails one percent stamp duty on the first $180,000 of the house price, two percent on the next $180,000 and three percent on the remainder of the price.

If you are a Singaporean buying your second residential property, you will be subject to seven percent Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD); this rises to 10 percent if you are buying your third residential property.

PRs are subject to five percent ABSD on their first homes and 10 percent ABSD on their second and subsequent homes. For foreigners, this figure stands at 15 percent.

  1. Final fees

To top it all off, you must settle your legal and agent fees. As per industry practice, if you have bought a resale unit, the seller will pay his agent, who will split the payment between himself and your agent. If you have bought a unit at a new condo launch, the developer will pay your agent.

Below is a good video showing some of the concerns when you want to hire a lawyer when getting a new condominium in SG.

As for legal fees, they do not comprise only payment to your lawyer, but also to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), and mortgage duty to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). Your legal fees should not set you back more than $2,500, barring requests and requirements outside the norm.

  1. Awaiting the keys 

Once you’ve settled the relevant payments and paperwork, you can take a breath and look forward to collecting your keys and moving into your new home. If you have bought a unit at a new development, you may have to wait two years or more before it is ready for occupation.

However, if you have bought a unit in a development that will soon achieve its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP), you can move in as soon as a month after its TOP. Find out how you can do so on PropertyGuru.

If you have bought a resale unit, chances are you can move in as soon as its previous owner has signed it over to you and given you the keys. Of course, if you choose to renovate it, you will have to wait a few months to a year before you can move in, depending on the extent of the renovations.

  1. Makeover time

If you choose to renovate your new home, you will have to either stay in your current home while waiting for renovations to be complete. If you have already sold your previous home and handed the keys over to its new owner, you will have to choose whether to live with family temporarily or rent a place.

Of course, you also need to get in touch with contractors and interior designers and shop for furniture. While consulting an interior design firm is not a must, it can help if you are lacking inspiration, or are unsure how to execute your ideas.


In any case, be sure to do your research beforehand, and stick to contractors and interior design firms that have a good reputation and track record. They may cost more but will save you money on repairs in the long run.

  1. Moving in

Ensure you are prepared to move in before the day itself. Make a list of all the items you want to move into your new house, categorise them and pack them accordingly so you will have an easier time unpacking. Packing materials like newspaper, bubble wrap, boxes and tape are essential, as are trustworthy movers.

Many people prefer to save money and seek help from their friends to move, but otherwise, you can hire professional movers. If you are doing the latter, contact a few reputable moving companies and have its movers assess the items you are going to move so they can give you a quote.

Good movers will not only transport your belongings to your new home in a timely fashion, they will also treat them with care and help you pack and unpack the heavy, bulky items.

Le Quest New Condo

If you already have done the steps above then you probably ready to get your new home! You should really consider this condo new launch – Le Quest Condo. You can also contact Theatre Newington if you have other concerns.

A visit to Singapore Esplanade

The 3 of us from Theatre Newington visited Singapore last week for a performance at Singapore Esplanade.  During the visit, thanks to our friends, Chong Meng who offer a great hospitality at his home at Seaside Residences.

About the Show: 5trings

We have enjoyed the show very much. To give a short introduction, is about 5 outstanding Singapore Chinese Orchestra musicians present acclaimed works by Hu Deng Tiao, the late composer who established the silk string quintet performance format.

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Boldly incorporating Western string ensemble playing techniques while retaining the form of the traditional Chinese ensemble, this quintet features five traditional Chinese string instruments—erhu, pipa, yangqin, liuqin and guzheng.

We have enjoyed elegant and lively quintet pieces such as A Joyful Night, Martial Arts in the Farmland, Three Variations on the Yangguan Pass and more. The SCO Silk String Quintet comprises Lin Hock Siang (erhu), Zhang Li (liuqin/zhongruan), Qu Jian Qing (yangqin), Zhang Yin (pipa) and Xu Hui (guzheng).

About Singapore Chinese Orchestra

Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO), inaugurated in 1997, is Singapore’s only professional national Chinese orchestra. SCO, made up of more than 80 musicians, occupies the Singapore Conference Hall, which is a national monument. With Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as its patron, SCO takes on the twin role of preserving traditional arts and culture and establishing its unique identity through the incorporation of South-east Asian cultural elements in its music.

Below is the first video of the video series introducing the Chinese Orchestra and music tradition:

SCO has impressed a broadening audience with its blockbuster presentations and is fast establishing itself around the world. Well-known for its high-performance standards and versatility, SCO has performed at numerous prestigious events such as the World Economic Forum and International Summit of Arts Council in 2003, and the 2006 International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Meeting.

With its vision to be a world-renowned people’s orchestra, SCO widens its outreach by performing regularly at various national parks, communities and schools. SCO also commissions its own compositions and organised the Singapore International Competition for Chinese Orchestral Composition (SICCOC) in 2006, 2011 and 2015 respectively. The competition aims to promote compositions that incorporate music elements from Southeast Asia, also known as “Nanyang music”.

In 2012, SCO organised Singapore’s first 23-day National Chinese Orchestra Marathon, a spectacular feat that drew the participation of 31 local Chinese orchestras which participated with over 44 performances and an audience of 20,000. On 28 June 2014, SCO created history through the second instalment of Our People Our Music by creating two Guinness World Records and three Singapore Book of Records with 4,557 performers at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub. It is with this vision that SCO continues to inspire, influence, educate and communicate through its music.

Music School in Singapore

During the visit, we are so lucky to be able to meet Jayden, the co-founder of Music Mood, one of the music schools in Singapore. We shared our opinion on music and arts and he also shared his vision in making the arts accessible for everyone there.

He is so driven by his mission to entertain, engage, educate and inspire through the arts. You should also like the Music Mood facebook page. I would like to end this post by one of his quotes:

As a team of dedicated arts professionals who are also arts advocates, we recognise that everyone matters and that every single role is important. We aim to continue inspiring new musicians and cultivating the arts scene.

PS: we really enjoyed the ride at Singapore East Coast park as well! The tourist who are heading there be sure to check it out.