Beyond The Octave was established in 2012, with the aim of promoting bagpipes and pipe band music regionally. There has always been a gap for budding musicians, who learnt the instrument in schools, to continue after they graduate. Therefore, we have look into providing our earnest students different platforms to continue the art, such as instruments supplies, performing opportunities and workshops conducted by top grade musicians.
Presently, we have a team of full-time and part-time instructors, teaching in 7 local schools and 1 schools based in Hong Kong. In addition, our instructors are also involved in the instruction and management of 2 adult bands; Singapore Pipe Band and Lion City Pipe Band. We have just started a ceilidh band performing Scottish and Irish music, with some local contemporary flavour.
I never knew what a bagpipe was back when I was enrolled into Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) in Secondary 1. My mum then found out that The Boys’ Brigade Company (12th Singapore Company) in my school was offering free bagpipe lessons, so she decided to sign me up for it. My interest for the instrument grew when I was deemed “talented” by my seniors and officers, and gave me plenty of opportunities to perform. Through the trainings in Boys’ Brigade and the encouragement of my officers, I grew to be a more confident person, with many unusual experiences gained during performances.
Bagpipes have carried me through my studying days in Singapore Polytechnic and Nanyang Technological University, and some pretty tough days during National Service and the period after the passing of my mother.
After 1 ½ years of working in engineering related field, I found my job was quite meaningless and started searching for a purposeful life. I was teaching bagpipes part-time in Christ Church Secondary School then and wondered if I could covert my passion into my career. The thoughts of “how can you surviving playing the bagpipes?” came into my mind then, but I decided to take the leap of faith and started Beyond The Octave full-time, providing bagpipe instructions and building up the community.
5 years on, I am glad that not only the pipe band community has grown, but also the standard of playing. Most importantly, I am very happy to share the experiences I had, and the values I have learnt, during my growing up days with every new batch of students, through pipe band music.
I look forward to the day where pipe band music and its performers could also be held with the same regards as other conventional art forms. ~ Ong Weishi, Instructor