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Beautiful Mind Music Academy Story 

Ponce David Nuowen

David is a student of Beautiful Mind Music Academy (BMMA) since 2016. He was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) combined with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He is 16 years old and currently a senior student at Rainbow Centre Yishun Park School (RCYPS). Mrs.Bernadette, David’s mother shared the following experience on BMMA’s music programme.

Since he was young, David has been showing interest in both music and creating documentary videos. Though it was a big challenge for him to communicate at that time, he was able to sing songs that he liked and imitated dialogues from videos that he watched. He could also label all musical instruments including their classifications. His creativity led him to use different objects at home and turn them into instruments. He used bowls covered with paper as drums, straws as trumpets, and pot lids as cymbals. He then tied the drums to his body, the cymbals to his legs, and he played the instruments as he marched. He called himself a Marching Band.

It was September of 2014 when we first heard him sing along to his uncle’s piano playing. He could follow the rhythms, was in tune, and had memorized the lyrics of the song. At the perfect timing that I shared the video with Teacher Yaz from RCYPS, who was very supportive and believes in his ability, she encouraged me to let David audition for the Beautiful Mind Music Academy (BMMA) programme. No harm trying so he tried and he sang his favourite song “Dumb Ways to Die”, an advertisement song from Australia Metro Train. An audition was held on Nov 6, 2014, his birthday and he was able to pull it off and he was very cool that day. But there is no BMMA Choir yet that time and they would prefer if David can read musical score so he didn’t make it.

It was February 2016 when BMMA contacted us again and invited David to join the new class for BMMA Choir with Teacher Moe as the vocal teacher, Teacher Yoo on the piano and Teacher Sharon coordinating the class. David was 12 years old at that time. It initially started with 5 students and classes were held every Wednesday. The challenged that time is whether he would be able to sing songs that he doesn’t really like. Surprisingly, David was able to follow and he is always looking forward to attending the class.

The first concert was held on April 30, 2016, with only David and Sylvia making it for the final performance. The other 3 backed out. It was a very emotional first time for me as I was not expecting the concert to be a formal one. The moment I saw the venue, it made me feel very blessed for allowing David to be a student of BMMA and giving him the opportunity to sing on stage and shine. I can still remember my tears pouring as I watch from the small TV backstage. I felt very proud that David and Sylvia who were both practising very hard had the confidence to sing in front of a big crowd. Heard the crowd clapping along and yes, they enjoyed the performance. Of course, there were the first time hiccups because the hall was a bit dark and he was trying to look for his sister Danielle. Maybe he wanted to share the moment with her. And since he has ADHD, he was very active and was pulling Ms. Moe around the stage. Surprisingly, the moment Teacher Yoo started playing the piano, he stood still and started to sing. He then danced and clapped along with the audience. He had fun! I would still watch the first performance video after succeeding ones and would make my tears flow. I can see how far he has matured and how BMMA has helped in his development.

After almost 4 years with BMMA, his behaviour is more regulated. He has the confidence to perform on stage. He has developed the discipline to cooperate on every rehearsal and patiently wait for his turn. I also believe that BMMA has a big contribution to improve his listening skills, concentration, and self-confidence. Having the chance to belong to a group had helped him build friendship and teamwork. The feeling when I see David in the photo together with all the wonderful people from BMMA is awesome and overwhelming!

To date, David had 4 major concerts and 3 progress concerts with BMMA Choir. They also performed at Heartstring Charity Concert on 27 May 2017 organised by PRISM - a student-led initiative of St. Joseph’s Institution. They recently joined the Singapore Performing Arts Festival last August 2019 and sang The Happy Wanderer and they were awarded a Gold certificate for their performance. It is still very emotional at every concert but this time I have no more doubts and firmly believe that the choir will always be singing with confidence and pride will never fail to give a very memorable and entertaining performance.

Credits go to Teacher Kasey, Teacher Sharon, Teacher Yoo and Ms. Kaede who were always there and patiently training them and always believing in their talents. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts! You have been a big help in moulding David into what he is now. It is just amazing to see these playful and innocent BMMA Choir members having so much fun on stage. You will be surprised that despite the different challenges that each member has, the moment they hear the piano, you can witness how they work together to make a beautiful sound. And they have been working very hard to achieve this common goal of giving entertainment and communicate in ways that words can't.

They are maybe different but definitely not less. Being special may mean extra challenges but it comes with extra talent too!





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