ES Students Sing With the RBSO

By Elisia Brodeur

The Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra (RSBO) held their first-ever talent competition for young singers in 2016. Out of 154 applicants, there were just 12 winners. Two of them were our very own ES students: Maijene, a 10-year-old in Ms. Katie’s 4th grade class, and Mac, an 11-year-old in Ms. Suzie’s 5th grade class.

Earlier this year, Maijene and Mac performed Broadway songs onstage with the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra (RSBO) at the Thailand Cultural Center. Mac sang “Where Is Love?” and Maijene sang “I'd Do Anything,” both from the musical Oliver, along with other group songs. Several RIS teachers and students attended and raved about it being an incredible night of top-notch performances. I interviewed Maijene and Mac to see what it’s like to perform with the RBSO. Here’s what each of them had to say

Maijene

You recently participated in an amazing concert with the RBSO. Tell me how that came about.

Through my friend, Mac (Siri Chaikul), who’s in 5th grade. He sings with the RBSO too. This year, I auditioned with the RBSO and got one of their special spots for children who they sometimes invite to sing solos and or group songs. This was one of the times they invited us to come sing with them.  

Where is your favorite place to sing?

The most recent place we sang at, the Thailand Cultural Center. We sang on the small stage because there was another show happening on the big stage.

Do you get nervous when you audition, if so, what helps?

Yes, very much! It may sound a bit silly, but in my head, I sing my favorite song from the Sound of Music: “A Few of My Favorite Things.” It also helps me to be brave when I’m getting shots.

Why do you think that song helps you to be brave?

I think about the lyrics: “When the dog bites / When the bee stings / When I'm feeling sad / I simply remember my favorite things / And then I don't feel so bad.” They help me remember to think about my favorite things, which helps me feel better.

How old were you when you realized that you really enjoyed singing?

I started taking singing lessons when I was 4 or 5.

Do you take classes or have a singing teacher?

I had the same singing teacher until I was about 8. For the past year, I’ve had a different teacher who also works with the RBSO. She has a studio in her house. I also go to the Opus One School of Music and Dance.

What’s your favorite thing about singing?

What I like about singing is that I can express feelings in other ways, rather than just through talking. I can hum a melody and add lyrics and make it into a simple tune. It also makes the audience happy, which makes me happy, too.

How often do you practice?

When I have a show, I practice every day for about 30 minutes before bed. But I also practice more when I’m studying for a music exam. If I don’t have a show coming up, I don’t practice quite as much.

What are some of your favorite kinds of songs to sing?

I like to sing songs from musicals, jazz numbers, and classical pieces. I tried to learn a pop song once, but my teacher explained that some of the words aren’t alway appropriate. But I still enjoy listening to pop songs.

What do you enjoy about music classes at RIS?

I enjoy music classes with Ms. Kim. She teaches me new techniques that I can use with my other music teachers. And sometimes Ms. Kim chooses songs for us to learn that I already know. She also changes the lyrics to go with a topic we are learning about. Ms. Kim is very creative.

What is your favorite thing about being a student at RIS?

RIS is a good school. We do a lot of fun activities and projects. RIS also has a nice way of treating kids. And the lessons are awesome. I’m going to stay until high school!

Do you have any ideas about what you want to do in college or in the future in general?

When I grow up—and during college—I would like to learn performing arts. Then I would like to be a superstar!

What do you think it will be like to be a superstar?

I will be able to buy a big house and get a dog.

Mac

How long have you been a student at RIS?

For three years, since 3rd grade.

You recently performed with the RBSO. How did that happen?

I auditioned for a talent search and was chosen as one of 12 children to sing with the RBSO.

How many times have you sung with the RBSO?

I’ve sung with the RSBO twice. The other time was earlier this year when I sang “Tomorrow” from Annie.

What other musical events have you performed in?

I’ve also been in two Thai musicals, but I sang in English. One was about Thai folklore, and the other was called “The Happy Prince.” I was in two performances for each show.

Do you get nervous when you audition? If so, what do you do?

Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. It depends on how big the audition is. I was a little bit nervous for the RBSO audition. Deep breathing and moving my body to shake off the nerves. When I’m onstage, I forget about my nerves and don’t feel anything. I just get to be that character.

What other talents do you have—other than singing and playing piano?

I play the piano and also read the news on TV. Every two weeks, I go to the TV studio and record 8 news pieces each time. And I earn money to do it! It’s for the NBT station, which is in Thai and English. But the news is in English.

I also won first prize in a news-reading contest on Children’s Day last year. I won 3,000 baht and also the prize of recording the news every two weeks. It takes about 1–1.5 hours to record each time. The news airs on Saturdays and Sundays.  

How old were you when you realized that you really enjoyed performing?

I was about 6. My friend had a birthday party and there was a karaoke machine. I tried it and realized I enjoyed singing and performing.

Do you have a singing teacher?

I have 3 singing teachers and go to 3 different music schools. One is for pop music and Thai music, one is for classical music and songs from musicals, and the last one is to learn how to sing pop songs.

What is your favorite thing about singing/performing?

I like singing in front of people because it makes them happy and I get to show my talent to other people. It also makes me feel proud.

What are some of your favorite kinds of songs to sing?

I like singing pop songs and songs from musicals. I really like to sing “Once Upon a Dream” from the musical Jekyll and Hyde.

Will you be singing at any other events soon?

I recently sang in Singapore to record a music video for Cartoon Network. It was a lot of fun. I got to meet kids from 6 different countries. It was for a show on Cartoon Network called Cha-Ching. It has lots of episodes that tell kids how to save money. The problem with many countries is that schools don’t teach children financial skills, so this show helps kids understand how to save money. I had to dance and record cartoon character voices. I got to go with my whole family: my mom, my dad, and my sister, who is six.

I will also do more live singing for Cha-Ching at Siam Paragon. I get to sing the song I recorded in Singapore as well as another song that I get to choose.

What else do you enjoy besides music?

I like to play video games, especially when I can connect with my friends and we play together. And I like to run and have races with my friends. I enjoy cooking and preparing food. I really like drawing on my tablet, too.

What do you enjoy about music classes at RIS?

I like that we get to play recorders. I’m very good at the recorder. And we get to make music patterns. Ms. Kim is very nice and her classes are fun.

What is your favorite thing about being a student at RIS?

I like being a student at RIS because in 5th grade you get to bring your computers to school and the canteen has lots of different kinds of food.

Do you have any ideas about what you want to do in the future?

I have always loved airplanes, ever since I was little. My mom was a flight attendant for Thai Airways. I want to be a pilot, and also a singer.