All parents want their children to be successful students so they will have numerous opportunities later in life. But what does being successful mean in this day and age? What skills does a child need to become a successful adult?
When we think about doing well at school, the vast majority of us only think about academic success, i.e. getting good grades. But there is much more to school then just good grades. A school is supposed to help the children hone their talents (whatever those might be) and to develop their creativity in many different areas. These areas may include art and music.
If you notice that your child is interested in the arts and has the talent for it, then you may want to look into these secondary school programs. They will help your child develop their natural talent which is more beneficial than it appears at first glance.
There are four programs formulated by the Ministry of Education.
These programmes provide professional guidance for children during their secondary education. This is an important part of your child’s life; this is usually when children discover their individual talents and decide what their future career will be.
In this article, we will discuss all of the aforementioned programs. We will see who they are aimed at how your child can enroll in one of these programmes and how exactly are they different from one another.
The MOE Music Elective Programme.
The Ministry of Education’s Music Elective Programme lasts for four years, and it is aimed at students who have natural musical talent which they wish to develop. The program helps children gain musical knowledge through research, by listening, creating, and performing.
The students enrolled in the program are exposed to a wide variety of music such as jazz music, classical music, and Asian music, along with many others. In addition, children can access special learning facilities and equipment such as practice studios, audiovisual materials, and many different kinds of music-related technology.
The effect of Music Elective Programme on the school’s curriculum.
Typically students in lower secondary take subjects like “food and consumer education” and “design and technology”; however, students enrolled in the Music Elective Programme program will take Higher music instead of these subjects. Higher music counts as a subject during the GCE O-level exams. Also, this subject is equivalent to a Humanities subject when it comes to junior college admission.
Junior colleges also offer Music Elective Programmes, which last for two years.
But what About the Integrated Programme curriculum? Things are organized slightly differently here. If your child is enrolled in the Integrated Programme, they will need to attend a course that is equivalent to Higher music. Your child may continue with the Music Elective Programme for two years during the fifth and sixth years of the Integrated Programme.
How do children enroll in the Music Elective Programme?
There are many students who want to enroll in the MEP; however, not all of them manage to do so due to the selection process.
The selection process consists of an audition, an interview, and listening and aural tests. Typically those students who have strong musical skills are at an advantage. It is also a plus if they have performance skills which they may have acquired in the past. During the audition, students perform two solo pieces of music for five minutes. If the child has composed an original piece, they can submit their recordings and scores.
The selection process starts in January. This is when students need to submit a hard copy of their application via their schools. If you don’t select an MEP school during the Secondary 1 posting exercises, your child will not have an opportunity to participate in the program.
Here are the schools that offer Music Elective Programme:
1. Catholic High School
2. CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School
3. Anglo-Chinese School
4. Dunman High School
5. Crescent Girls’ School
6. Methodist Girls’ School
7. Raffles Institution
8. Raffles Girls’ School
9. Temasek Junior College
10. Tanjong Katong Girls’ School.
The Enhanced Music Programme.
The Ministry of Education's Enhanced Music Programme has similar aims to MEP. Then what is the difference, I hear you ask?
The first difference is that the Enhanced Music Programme can be accessed in upper secondary school, and after completing it, students can sit for the Higher music exam and GCE O-level music exam.
How can the child enroll in the Enhanced Music Programme?
The first thing you need to do is enroll your child in the school that offers the Enhanced Music Programme. The applications for this program open during Secondary 2. There is also a selection process at the end of the year, which is quite similar to the selection process of Music Elective Programme.
This selection process also consists of an interview, an audition, aural tests and listening tests. The child will also have to perform two solo pieces in five minutes. As for the concepts the examiners want to test, they are the ones that have been covered in the primary syllabus and lower secondary syllabus.
There are four schools that offer the Enhanced Music Programme, and they are:
1. Yuhua Secondary School
2. Chung Cheng High School
3. Saint Margaret’s Secondary School
4. Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School.
The Art Elective Programme.
The Ministry of Education’s Art Elective Programme lasts for four years. The participants of this program are engaged in hands-on learning, and they develop their creative skills and talents by practicing different art media. Students who are enrolled in the program are exposed to many different art forms, various art media, as well as the history of art, among other art-related subjects.
Students can also access special art facilities and libraries where they can deepen their theoretical and practical knowledge. Instead of taking subjects like “design and technology” in the lower secondary students who participate in the program, take Higher art.
Higher art count as a subject at the O-level exams, and it is equal to the Humanities subject when it comes to junior college admission. Those who want to study further can do so by participating in a two-year Art Elective Programme. Those children who are enrolled in the Integrated Program will be taking a course which is equivalent to Higher art. The child may continue with the Art Elective Programme for two years during the fifth and sixth years of the Integrated Program.
How to enroll in the Art Elective Programme?
Just like with the previous programs, there is a selection process to go through here as well. So, unfortunately, not every child who wants to participate in the program can do so. There are several phases to go through.
During phase 1, which is called the observational drawing phase, the candidates are asked to draw a certain object based on their observations. This phase also includes the so-called creativity challenge. This means that students should create an object or an image with the materials and ideas they have been given.
The next phase (phase 2) consists of a portfolio presentation that lasts for three minutes. Students need to show a minimum of three and a maximum of five original artworks and explain their meaning as well.
If a student passes this two-phase selection process, or if they qualify for the Express Course they can enroll in the Art Elective Programme.
Students submit hard copies of their applications at the beginning of January, which is when the selection process starts. The application must be submitted through secondary school.
There are seven schools that offer the Art Elective Programme. These seven schools are:
1. Victoria School
2. National Junior College
3. CHIJ Secondary
4. Bukit Panjang Govt. High School
5. Hwa Chong Institution
6. Zhonghua Secondary School.
The Enhanced Art Programme.
The Ministry of Education’s Enhanced Art Programme is no different from the Art Elective Programme, which we discussed earlier. The main difference is that the Enhanced Art Programme can be accessed in upper secondary art school. In these types of schools, students are taught about artistic traditions, various art forms, art theories, and different artistic practices.
They are taught both by teachers and by the industry experts. Students can also access special art equipment and art studios to develop their skills.
How to enroll in the Enhanced Art Programme?
If your child qualifies for O-level Art in Secondary 3, they can enroll in the Enhanced Art Programme. Other than qualifying for the O-levels, they also have to satisfy the specific criteria which have been set by the school.
When selecting the secondary schools, the child has to include schools that offer the Enhanced Art Programme. The applications open during Secondary 2.
There are eight schools that offer the Enhanced Art Programme. These are
1. Orchard Park Secondary School
2. CHIJ Katong Convent
3. Nan Chiau High School
4. Newtown Secondary School
5. St. Andrew’s Secondary School
6. Ngee Ann Secondary School
7. Meridian Secondary School
8. Naval Base Secondary School.
In the recent years there have been some changes in the music and arts elective programmes. Ministry of Education has been giving more and more students the opportunity to enroll in these programs, which is a testament to the benefit of music and arts in education.
The enhanced art program and the enhanced music program have been extended and now include seven more schools. The change took effect four years ago, in 2016. The Ministry of Education helped these seven new schools by providing the teaching staff with adequate support (so that they could teach their students to the best of their ability), and the MOE has also helped the schools by providing them with the necessary equipment and facilities.
In addition, just a few years prior to 2016, three schools were turned into special centers for Music Elective Programme and Art Elective Programme. These three schools are National Junior College, Anglo-Chinese School (independent), and Dunman High School. These centers allow an ever-increasing number of students to enroll in these programmes; even if the programmes are not offered in the school where they study.
As for the number of students who are enrolled in the programmes, it is estimated that in 2015 the number of students enrolled in these four programs was around 1500. In just one year, the number grew by 500, and in 2016 it was estimated to be 2000. This trend shows that the four programs developed by the Ministry of Education are rather popular.
How important is music and art in Singapore?
Unfortunately, the entire world has been focused only on subjects like science and mathematics for the last few decades; so subject such as art and music have taken a backseat.
However, those parents who still enroll their children into the aforementioned programmes are doing them a lot of good. Even though the advancement of technology is the tangible positive phenomenon in our modern era, what lies behind that advancement is innovation and creativity.
So it is important to encourage children to be more creative and develop important soft skills such as self-confidence, self-discipline, problem-solving skills, as well as language skills, and reasoning skills. Being involved in music and arts does just that.
Children who have been encouraged to develop the creative side of their mind may cope better with uncertainties in the future . We can’t know for sure what the world will look like 50 years from now, so equipping our children with a creative mind is the best thing we can do for them to make sure that they are ready for whatever the future holds.
Do you have more questions? Discuss with one of our art or music teachers to get more advice.