Judging ‘Talent Time’ at Datuk Simon Fung primary school!

I had the good luck to experience ‘Talent Time’ (a talent competition) at a primary school in Kota Kinabalu recently.

SRS Datuk Simon Fung is a private school teaching in English, in Kingfisher. It is part of a group of three schools, the others being Taska & Tadika Datuk Simon Fung pre-school, and Maktab Nasional secondary school.

SabahSongs previously wrote about Roger Wang’s concerts in 2011 and 2012, which raised funds for a learning centre for children with special needs, incorporated within Taska & Tadika DSF.

Simon Fung Music Teacher Rachel Lau called me a few weeks ago to ask whether I would be interested to be a judge for their school talent contest, and whether I could help her find a second judge. I called Sophie Van Aerde, who was keen to join in. A third judge was Tham Kok Yin, who is a violin teacher at a music school in Papar.

On the day, Rachel conscientiously ran through the many qualities we had to evaluate for each performance. Among them were:

  • technical ability
  • tempo
  • performance expression
  • intonation
  • harmony
  • vocal
  • diction

We were each given a thick wad of evaluation sheets for performances including Instrumental Solo, Vocal solo, group performances, all for different age groups. Each score sheet had to be signed off by the evaluating judge! This was very serious!

After the first few performances, I got the hang of identifying the different criteria. I kept my eye out for children who seemed like they might take music further, in terms of studying or as a career; or who showed the passion which marked them as people who would keep music in their lives long-term. I guess I was looking for the magic which is beyond scoring well in exams; I was looking for enjoyment. Talking with the other judges, it seems we all looked for similar signs.

The kids did a sterling job and every one was a winner, really. But sadly, it’s impractical to load pictures of every performance, so here is a small compilation of some of them. I would like to add that the two young emcees of the competition — Kristan Cheyenne Bakmiwewa and Luke Alfred Guansing — were wonderful, speaking clearly and in a very entertaining manner!

The event reminded me of talks I have had with a local music educator, whose pseudonym in SabahSongs is MR. LOUD. In one of his collection of observations, he said that people who come to music for enjoyment [for example playing in church or in a band] will play for life. Conversely, children who are forced to take music lessons regardless of whether there is genuine interest, will stop playing the moment the lessons stop. The very first post in SabahSongs in 2009 asked about the value of teaching children music.

There were some guest appearances, including a performance by the school’s violin teachers, and a spectacular show by a group of young Korean Taekwondo martial artists. Here is Sang Moon Hur in mid-kick!

We were also treated to a performance of Butterfly Baby, the hit song by the lovely Angelina Perete and her daughter Estee.

The Talent Time lasted from roughly 8.30am to 1.30pm! Afterwards, the staff of Simon Fung were very kind and led us to the staff canteen room for lunch.

Sadly I wasn’t able to catch everyone’s names in these photos, but maybe someone will help me fill in the gaps.

L to R: Simon Fung Headmistress Puan Mary Lojinon-Naun, Taska & Tadika Supervisor Caroline Stephens, violin teacher and Talent Time judge Tham Kok Yin, me, Simon Fung Music Teacher Rachel Lau, violinist and Director of UMS Polyklinik Dr. Sophie Van Aerde.

In the photo below we’re joined by the formidable educationalist Datin Amy-Jean Yee [third from the left], who has been connected with Simon Fung for some 20 years in capacities which include Headmistress. Datin Yee is credited with forming and heading up Taska & Tadika, and she oversees the training of staff in her capacity as Education Consultant/Advisor for the group of schools.

After lunch, Sophie and I played a few songs for the teachers.

Thank you to Rachel Lau for contacting SabahSongs, and treating us to a most enjoyable day at Datuk Simon Fung primary school.

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