We recently caught up with Ariela Koh, one of our passionate instructors who is teaching at Ritmo Music Studio. She shared with us her love for music and how she ended up as a percussion instructor in our “Getting to know Ritmo Music Studio’s Instructors” series.
How and when did you discover your interest in music? What was the first musical instrument you learnt?
I first started learning music when I was 8 years old. It was the performance given by the school band that led me to it. Drawn in by the possibility of going on overseas school trips, my love for music grew stronger after that. Even during exam periods, I will still make my way to the band room.
My very first instrument was the glockenspiel and the family of mallet percussion. From there I went on to other types of percussion instruments like the Timpani, Cajon, Drumset, and others.
One of the most memorable scenes of my youth was the long hours of practice while I was playing in the school band. That was an important phase in my life. There were also tough and nasty times during the music training in school but those were just phases I went through that helped me to love playing the percussion even more.
Treading a career path in music isn’t a conventional choice in Singapore. How did you get into teaching music and did you get discouraged by your family and friends?
I did not start out my career in the music industry full-time. There was pressure from my family. I started a regular full-time job but in my free time, I still went to teach and play music. Having support really helps to make a difference in my choices.
There were many obstacles such as the constant need to improve, the need to increase my knowledge, and to ensure the music path is viable.
My family saw what I was doing and eventually gave their support in making a career switch.
Do you have any other educational qualifications besides music?
Yes, I have a higher diploma in hotel management.
Who are your favorite musicians? What attracted you to their music?
I don’t have particular favourite musicians whom I follow other than 五月天 as I grew up listening to them. I also listen to many other musicians and look up to musicians such as Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, Lukas Graham, Steve Gadd, Brian Frasier-Moore, Nate Smith, Larnell Lewis, just to name a few.
How did you start your teaching career at Ritmo Music Studio?
A friend of mine rented one of the rooms at Ritmo Music Studio for the youths to practice music. I had volunteered to teach those youths. From there I crossed paths with Jennifer, who runs Ritmo Music Studio, and that was how I began teaching at the school.
Is there any new musical instrument you would like to learn? (Explain why if yes, and also why if no)
Yes, there are quite a number of musical instruments I would like to learn actually. Handpan is one of them due to its melodious and calming nature. I am also looking into some musical gadgets.
What would you say to someone who is keen to start a music career like yourself?
If you like to start a career in music, I would encourage you to persevere, keep playing, and enjoy the process.
Do you have any goals you would like to fulfill as a musician?
I look forward to the day when I am able to go on a music tour and perform in different places.