Mr Dickson Cheng initially took up music lessons so that he could play for his church, then decided to learn to write some worship songs instead.
“I never thought I could write a song. But now I’ve written my first song [and I] believe there are more songs for me to write,” he said.
This was with the help of Faith Music Centre, a Catholic music school that has been offering a Christian song writing course since May. Started in mid-2008 in Blessed Sacrament Church, the centre has grown to have six centres across Singapore.
Other music schools may train songwriters for commercial or leisure purposes, but Faith Music Centre started this songwriting course for Christians to create songs to praise God, the centre’s founder and deputy CEO Alvin Yeo told CatholicNews.
The school has had two intakes for this course at its Queenstown premises, and a third intake is scheduled for mid-August at the school’s Paya Lebar/Kovan branch.
It is not a requirement for students to have a music background. “The school offers various music courses or improvisation classes for the learners,” said Mr Yeo. However, basic IT knowledge and a personal laptop is required.
Another student, Mr Lee Yijin, said he attended the course “to learn something” and that if he had the chance to write Christian songs in future, he would do so.
The centre’s trainers are Christians, and are professional composers, songwriters or music arrangers with published works. Mr Desmond Moey, one of the trainers, who had written songs for previous National Day parades and musicals, told CatholicNews that it is important that the songs are “suitable for the market”.
He said that Christian songs can fall into three types – the traditional hymns comprising just verses, praise and worship songs with a slightly pop feel and easy to understand lyrics, and contemporary Christian music where the lyrics may not explicitly mention God, but is nonetheless spiritual.
Mr Moey added that the range of notes in the song must be taken into consideration to allow “singability”– whether it is for everyone to sing along to during congregational worship or for a professional singer to perform.
Mr Yeo likens Christian songs to home-cooked food. Just as food for the family is “made with love”, “likewise, it’s a Christian song if it’s made with love for our God”.
Meanwhile, the school encourages the songwriting students to showcase their lyrics through the school’s numerous music performances.
For information on the songwriting course, contact the programme manager Melissa Tan at 9183 3191 or 6472 8106.
By Darren Boon