Human Diaries: 


Behind the persona of every artist lies a human being, just like you and I. The Human Diaries series thus explores the multifaceted lives of our musicians, which gained popularity during Season 1 last year. Expect the unexpected in Season 2 as we step into the homes and favourite places of our musicians, conductors, and Composer-in-Residence, discovering stories untold.



For the last episode of Human Diaries Season 2, Percussionist Ngoh Kheng Seng takes the center stage and shares his enthusiasm and passion for percussion.

Text: Sean Goh & Lim Ka Min

Photo: Singapore Chinese Orchestra

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An ardent learner

Ngoh Kheng Seng was a member of his Secondary School’s Military Band, where he played the snare drum. This experience made him realised that he enjoyed performing.

One day, as he was passing by Keat Hong Chinese Orchestra's rehearsal, he caught a glimpse of them playing and was immediately intrigued. The conductor of the Keat Hong Chinese Orchestra at the time was Mr Sim Boon Yew.

“Come next week and give it a try,” Mr Sim's warm welcome helped shape a great musician.

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(Keat Hong Chinese Orchestra / Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

Why percussion?

We have heard our musicians mention their love for their instrument on other episodes of Human Diaries because their instrument is elegant and graceful. Percussion instruments, however, are the contrary.

Learning new things is something he enjoys doing. Kheng Seng believes that we should always try something new, and he does not enjoy learning the same thing for long periods of time.

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

Percussion itself incorporates a variety of instruments, which also gave him the chance to learn and experiment with new instruments.

The xylophone alone comes with 2, 4, or 6 mallets, so if he gets tired of playing the snare drum, he can switch to the xylophone. Additionally, he can play the timpani, which needs to be tuned, and he can also play the paigu, dagu, and xiaocha. In essence, percussionists have a wide array of options at their disposal. Those factors led to the stimulation of his interest in music and his desire to learn. 

His struggle as an educator

He realised that getting children to sit down and spend hours learning an instrument - even half an hour - is challenging at times.

He unveiled that during his growing up days, his practice sessions as a young aspiring musician would easily last 2 hours each time and somehow time passes by in a flash.

Mastering a craft is a long-term effort, and you basically ripe what you sow. He believes that the more he practices, the more he improves.

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

His message to young percussionists

“Percussion requires one to learn many different instruments, this multifaceted training is useful and helpful in many different areas.”

He shared that the goal of studying percussion is not necessarily to become a percussionist. As you venture into the next part of your life, you will find this skill useful in many aspects. Playing the percussion helps in shaping your charismas and confidence. You should never limit yourself.

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)


If you haven't caught Ngoh Kheng Seng’s Human Diaries episode, click here.


We have come to the last episode, thank you for following through the Human Diaries Season 2 articles. :)


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