Other Bands in the Public Service

If you enjoyed Band of Strangers, you'll be pleased to know that there are many other talented bands in the Public Service. Here's introducing Cell Out, The BandITs and the VJC Staff Band.

Singapore Prison Service band: A Real Cell Out

The warden threw a party in the county jail
The prison band was there and they began to wail
- Elvis Presley, Jail House Rock (1957)

From left to right: Adrin B M Sani (electric guitar), Mohd Mustaffa (bass guitar), Muhd Suhaidi (lead vocals), Nor Wahyu Ajmaain (drums and percussions), and Toh Ching Raing (acoustic guitar)

They may not make the inmates wail, but they sure play a decent Jail House Rock. Meet our local prison band that is made up of six prison officers from the Singapore Prison Service.

“Once, when we performed at Prison's Staff Appreciation Nite, a lot of people came up to us and said we should join Singapore Idol,” chuckles Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Adrin Sani, who plays the guitar.

Formed in 2002, the prison officers’ band has been rocking together for almost a decade. The band members have changed many times over the years, but the spirit of the band remains the same. For them, the band is not just for performing during official events like Rehab Day, but also acts as a regular stress reliever.

Apart from playing Top 40 hits at the official events of the Prison Department, they have also tried composing their own songs. To celebrate the prison officers in the service, who are known as Captains of Lives, they recorded a song and even made a music video for it.

“Sometimes I jokingly say that part of us are "inside" prison because we spend most of our time (working) in prison, so it’s good that once a week we get to jam together and forget about work,” says SSgt Adrin. Fittingly, the band is named Cell Out.

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

From left to right: Mohammad Nor Iskandar (guitar), Lum Sau Wei (percussion), Victor Goh (vocals), Hanifah Alias (vocals), Dilparinder Singh (vocals), Augustus Jola Fernandez (percussion), Felicia Fong (vocals), Aaron Tan (vocals), Siti Noorjihan Sapingi (vocals), Chew Teck Kuan (guitar), Pangilinan Reggie Ariola (guitar) and Laudi Heryasin (guitar)

As the saying goes, nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. But what is life without a little music? Meet The BandITs from the Infocomm division in the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

“People are quite surprised when they find out we have a band,” says Mr Hanifah Bin Alias, a vocalist who also plays percussion in the band. “They think we are serious guys, all work and no play, but we always need a balance.”

The idea to form a band was suggested by their Staff Well-Being Committee Chairman Wee-Poh Lai Khim, and recruitment for band members began in February 2010.

They were supported by IRAS’s Infocomm Division Assistant Commissioner Tang Wai Yee, who noted the importance of balance between work and play. Mr Hanifah says, “Ms Tang saw [the band] as an avenue for building relationships and has been very encouraging.”

They have performed at various events and were invited to perform for the Singapore Customs Year End celebrations.

They also perform at the Infocomm division’s birthday bashes, which are held to celebrate staff birthdays quarterly. “It’s just a time where everyone can let loose after the hard work,” says Mr Hanifah.

The band started with 11 members from various branches and companies within the Infocomm division, which comprises IRAS staff and vendor companies. The number of players is not fixed as it depends on the availability of staff.

“When you play individually you only need to be concerned about yourself, but in a band you have to keep an open mind,” says Mr Hanifah.

Like all new bands, they had difficulties and creative differences. Even so, they are having fun. “Every performance we’ve had so far has been very memorable,” says Mr Hanifah.

Victoria Junior College Staff Band

From left to right: (first row) Elfie Octovian, Jeffrey Lim, (second row) Christopher John Brassington, Najib Madina, Jacinth Latha Thyagarajan, Daphne Ng, Ting Siang Leng, Lin Kuantai, Ong Kim Poh

Teachers play many roles as school administrators and in moulding bright young minds. The Victoria Junior College (VJC) teachers take on another role in their multi-faceted lives: rock stars.

“Music is really big in VJC. Every year we have a talent concert called Musicfest. We formed when some teachers began performing and we realised we had a line-up for a full band,” says Mr Najib Madina, a geography teacher and a member of the VJC staff band.

While the line-up changes as teachers juggle their responsibilities, the diversity of the musical talents in the VJC band has led to many unique performances. They have had a harmonica soloist and once even played as a ukulele ensemble.

The student population has embraced the VJC staff band but there are still times when their performances are received with surprise. For example, at VJC’s 25th Anniversary celebrations, guests such as the older Alumni were taken aback when they found out that the band had performed were made up of teachers. ”They told us that during their time, the teachers will not show that side of their lives.”

However, the influence of the band does not only extend to school organised concerts. The annual talent time show gives the teachers an opportunity to mentor the students in an art that they love. “It’s a good marriage of musicality and teaching,” says Mr Najib.

The highlight of all their performances comes in the form of the bittersweet farewell assembly to the graduating class. Playing popular songs that they know their students will enjoy, the teachers give an electrifying goodbye.

“Students get to let loose in the hall when normally it’s quite disciplined. It looks like a real pop concert; people stand up to cheer and dance. We’re always amazed at it.

Read our Band of Strangers article and find out more about the band members in Band of Strangers - Musician Profiles.
    Mar 16, 2011
    Siti Maziah Masramli
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