An accidental beginning sets the stage for musical talents.
Teo Poh Heng has led worship in City Harvest Church for more than 15 years. He graduated in 1996 from the Yamaha Music Academy with a Diploma in Music and from the School of Creative Arts in 2001. He is a contributing songwriter and musician on more than 15 music albums in his 15 years as a professional artist. In the local music scene, Teo is a well-known figure, having worked with luminaries in the film-making industry and TV commercials such as the popular international movie Rule #1 and Wee Li Lin’s Gone Shopping in Singapore.
Teo had always dreamed of starting his own music school but it didn’t materialize until an accident took place in 2008. During a mission trip that year, Teo met with an accident which caused him to rethink his goals in life. The injuries he sustained were so severe that Teo was unable to lift up his hands, let alone strum a guitar.
Due to his condition, Teo stopped serving in the worship ministry so his injuries could heal. For six months, Teo faced the possibility that he might never be able to play the guitar again or lead worship the way he used to do. This thought saddened him deeply but in his darkest moment, Teo remembered God’s faithfulness in his life and put his faith in God’s healing power, determined to get back in health.
It was during this season that Teo remembered his dream of starting a music school and decided to make it a reality. Teo established Riffs Music School in 2008 with the aim of honing music talents of all ages who are keen in the music industry. The school offers guitar, singing and song-writing classes, with a focus on the students’ performance skills.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF RIFFS MUSIC SCHOOL|
The teachers include Zhang Si’er, a songwriter who has composed for established singers like JJ Lin, Harlem Yu and Tarcy Su, and Sherlyn Chia, formerly the main regional vocal coach for talent company, Ocean Butterflies. With their practical knowledge of the industry and their extensive experience, coupled with small class sizes (the biggest has only 10 students), the teachers at Riffs Music School provide their students with an experience like no other. Another feature of the school lies in its focus on contemporary pop music compared to Yamaha Music School which focuses more on the classical music genre.
Riffs Music School is now in its second year of operation and has celebrated some successes. An outstanding example is Michael Lau, 18, whose band, Sour Plum, emerged champion in the recent Battle of the Bands competition organized by Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Following their win, Sour Plum was subsequently invited to perform at an upcoming Youth Olympic Games event. Another milestone for the school was when the London College of Music selected Riffs Music School as their Official Exam Centre in Singapore.
In the next 10 years, Teo aims to increase the number of courses offered at Riffs and to continue nurturing a generation of young musicians who will use their God-given talents in the music scene.
“At Riffs Music School, we really believe that talent is something that can be cultivated. As long as our students have a real passion for music and the hunger to improve, we will definitely be able to help them reach their fullest potential,” says Teo.
For more information on Riffs Music School, please visit www.riffsmusicschool.com.