He practises until he bleeds
Sole saxophonist in School of The Arts up for special IB programme
Playing the saxophone is not as sexy as most people think.
Sometimes, blood is spilled.
Yet Samuel Phua Peh Ming, 17, stands out at Singapore's School of The Arts (Sota), as the only saxophonist in the school's populationand now he is on the threshold of a major change.
Samuel, a Year 5 student, is one of 25 students who have been selected for Sota's International Baccalaureate Career-related Certificate (IBCC) programme.
It is a new option for Year 5 and 6 students at Sota, on top of the existing International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
Its framework is tailored for students who demonstrate exceptional artistic ability and who are passionate about pursuing a career in the arts.
Sota is the first national school in Singapore to launch the programme.
It has not been easy for Samuel, who used to wear braces.
BLOOD AND SWEAT
"The flesh in my gum was wedged between my braces. A firm clot was formed on the inside of my bottom lip, but I just kept practising until it burst like a pimple.
"Sometimes, there would be blood on my saxophone's reed when I practised," said Samuel, who wears only retainers now.
Samuel started his music education at the age of five with piano lessons.
At Maha Bodhi Primary School, he followed in the footsteps of his two older brothers, Shannon and Spencer, and joined the school's concert band.
That was where he picked up the saxophone.
Samuel's first breakthrough in his saxophone journey came as a result of a chance meeting with Professor Shyen Lee at the Singapore Saxophone Symposium, when he was a Year 2 student.
During his Year 3 June holidays, Samuel honed his skills at Mahidol University in Bangkok under Prof Lee, through the Sota Arts Excellence Programme.
"It was a great experience watching other more accomplished saxophonists there and it made me want to improve myself and work harder," he said.