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Marching to the Nation’s Heartbeat: NDP 2023 with SPF Band

Three members of the oldest band in Singapore, the Singapore Police Force Band, share about performing at the National Day Parade (NDP).
SPF Band 01
PHOTO: Joash Tan

A Dream Come True
SPF Band 02
PHOTO: Arvind Chan

SGT Ng Ee Leng 
Clarinettist & Sound Engineer

Performing with the SPF Band allowed SGT Ee Leng to fulfill her childhood dream of performing at the NDP.

Tell us more about your roles in the Band!
My primary role is to play the clarinet at various functions and parades like graduation parades, appreciation dinners and the National Day parade. I am also part of the sound team as a sound engineer, to ensure a smooth and seamless performance with the best acoustics for the audience to enjoy.

What is your daily work like?
We usually start our day doing warm-ups together as a band in the concert hall. Occasionally, we start our morning with recording any audio needed, then proceed to another room for sectionals with the winds section to rehearse the pieces that we will be performing. If there are no performances to rehearse for, we will rehearse as an ensemble together to make sure that we are synchronised.

SPF Band 03
(Clockwise from top left): Gearing up for the NDP; Having a light-hearted moment before the Parade, Performing at the Parade. PHOTOS: Arvind Chan, Nur Nadia

How do you feel about performing at this year’s parade?
I feel honoured to perform as a clarinettist at this year’s parade as part of the SPF Band. When I was younger, whenever my family watched the NDP on television, I would tell my parents that they will see me perform on the NDP stage one day. Fast forward to today, I have been performing at the NDP for the past four years. 

What’s the most memorable NDP performance you have participated in?
The most memorable would be my first-ever performance in 2021. It was pretty nerve-wracking because it was my first band display, and I did not know what to expect as we worked alongside the other band members from different contingents. I made a lot of mistakes during the rehearsals as I was unfamiliar with the complex movements. However, I practised hard to ensure that I made clean and precise movements and performed to the best of my abilities.  
The Trumpet of Pride
SPF Band 04
PHOTO: Arvind Chan

SSSGT Nurhasyim Bin Rostom
Trumpeter, Singer, Music Arranger
Assistant Concertmaster

With more than a decade of experience under his belt, SSSGT Nurhasyim reminiscences about his past performances in the band. 

Share with us your Home Team journey.
I have been with the Home Team for the past 15 years. I enlisted into the Force during my National Service and was part of the band ever since. I have also been through deployments as a Ground Response Force officer for six months, and as an Investigation Officer at the Investigation Branch of Ang Mo Kio Division for a month. 

What is your most memorable performance throughout your years in the band?
I was given the honour to sing for the President during the Annual Police Dinner in 2014. I had to change my costume mid-performance, but my button got stuck. Singing for the president is one thing, but the added pressure of not getting my costume right made me nervous. Fortunately, I composed myself and the show proceeded smoothly. 

SPF Band 05
(Clockwise from top left): SSSGT Nurhasyim rehearsing the NDP choreography at Home Team Academy; On standby to perform at the Parade; Marching into the performance area; Doing formations with other bands at this year’s NDP. 
PHOTOS: Arvind Chan, Tham Yee Lin

How many times have you performed at the NDP? Which was the most memorable?
This year is my 14th NDP performance. The most memorable moment would be hearing the collective voices of the crowd and everyone singing the national anthem in unison every year. It feels amazing seeing every Singaporean come together as we proudly sing our national anthem. The power of music that brings the nation together is a reminder that my work too, can be used to unite the nation. 

How does performing at the NDP compare to performing at other performances? 
A strong sense of patriotism would set in as we march, saluting to the President, with the whole nation watching us. While the training can be tiring and hectic, I always look forward to the 9th of August because it is an occasion where we can witness people at the parade standing side by side, singing the various national day songs.  

Leading the Beat
SPF Band 06
PHOTO: Joash Tan

SSSGT Nurazam Ishak
Drum Major, Tuba player, Bass Guitar, and Double Bass,
Assistant Concertmaster

It is not his first performance at the NDP. However, it is his inaugural debut as a drum major. SSSGT Nurazam brings us through his time as an SPF Band member and his thoughts on leading the contingent during parades as a drum major. 

Share with us what a day in the life of your work is like.
I have music rehearsals with the Concert Master, Deputy Director, or Director of Music, as well as drill and parade rehearsals with the Band’s other drum majors on most days. 

As a Drum Major, I lead drill sessions and ensure that the band keeps up with the rhythm – a mini conductor of sorts to guide the band when they are performing the display tattoos. 

On top of that, I create the choreography for the marching during parades, as well as propose different formations to the musical directors for endorsement. 

At the end of the day, we attend physical training sessions conducted by our own Field Instructors, to prepare for our Individual Physical Proficiency Test.

SPF Band 07
SSSGT Nurazam doing a drill rehearsal with his mace. Video: Joash Tan

Have you performed overseas with the SPF Band? Share with us your most memorable performance.
I have performed at several overseas tattoos and I feel proud to represent Singapore through my work as an SPF Band officer. These performances have also provided us with the opportunity to achieve the SPF Band’s vision and mission, which is to be a world-renowned band that promotes the SPF through music. 

I remember performing for the first time as a full-time National Serviceman at the Internationale Musikbrade 2012 in Germany. It was a truly amazing experience.

SPF Band 08
SSSGT Nurazam’s first NDP as Drum Major. PHOTOS: Joash Tan

How does it feel to perform at this year’s NDP?
I have been involved in the NDP throughout my 10 years of service in the SPF. However, this year's NDP was the most memorable as I led the SPF Band in the parade as a Drum Major for the first time! It is something I never imagined doing. Being the Drum Major is no easy feat as there is so much to handle concurrently. Not only must I help to maintain the rhythm, but I also must handle the heavy mace effortlessly to ensure that it does not impede the performance. I trained over the weekends and during whatever small pockets of time I had to ensure a smooth performance. It is truly an honour to serve my nation through the power of music. Uniting Singaporeans together as we celebrate her birthday in all its glory. 

Written by

Joash Tan


25 August 2023

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