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The past year has flown to the quickest of drum beats. Caleb has learnt drums at Aureus Academy for almost a year now. On a few occasions when I dropped him off to drums class, I noticed posters on the wall about concert productions staged by the Aureus name. I was curious why and how this relates to its music-teaching. So, I found out more.

Mummum: Aureus Academy has an arm that stages concerts. Can you share why you expanded into concert production? How does this relate back to your mission of music education? 

Aureus: We started Aureus Productions with the mission to bring world class acts to Singapore to perform. This not only provides our students the opportunities to witness music making at the highest level, but it also helps to create an unforgettable experience for the public, and raise awareness for the performing arts scene here in Singapore.

Mummum: Ahh… a holistic perspective to learning.

 

Mummum: What are some recent acts that Aureus brought in to perform?

Aureus: Our 2018 season saw us host some of the world’s greatest artists, including Boris Berezovsky, Gold Medallist of the Tchaikovsky Competition, Valentina Lisitsa, and Grammy award-winning band, Clean Bandit.

Clean Bandit

Grammy-winning band Clean Bandit (Photo source: Time Out Magazine, Israel)

Mummum: Do your students have a chance to interact with some of these big name artists?

Aureus: Yes, we have had the privilege to welcome many great names in the classical music world to conduct masterclass sessions with our students. These include Melvyn Tan, Singapore’s representative pianist, Richard Ormrod, Paul Boucher and many more.

Mummmum: Wow, that’s great synergy. I’m sure the kids must be inspired.

 

Mummum: Do Aureus students get an opportunity to perform publicly?

Absolutely! Our teachers organise at least two recitals a year for their students. These are hosted at any of our beautiful recital halls (Forum, Rochester, United Square, Northpoint and Suntec), and students have the chance to perform on a grand piano. All students will have a chance to perform at these recitals.

We also host regular open performances at our Open Houses and Roadshow events at the atrium spaces of malls, where our students and teachers get the opportunity to perform in public as well.

 

Mummum: What recent public performances have Aureus students been involved in?

Aureus: In 2016, Aureus students had the opportunity to perform for President Tony Tan as part of the Christmas Light Up Ceremony at Orchard Road, in collaboration with students from the Asian Women’s Welfare Association School (AWWA).

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Two of our students have had the chance to perform at Melvyn Tan’s concert at the Esplanade in December 2017.

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This year, our student choir will be performing at the Victoria Concert Hall as part of the Young Talents Project organised by Symphony 924.

We believe that performing opportunities are vital to a student’s learning journey, and a big part of that is providing the platforms for them to showcase their talents and skills. One way we achieve that is by producing Student Feature videos of our students performing at our Recital Halls. We post the videos on Aureus Academy’s YouTube channel and Facebook.

Mummum: I like this multi-pronged strategy in your students’ learning journey. There’s nothing like hand-on experience and performing alongside the professionals.

Here’s an Aureus Academy’s student Asher performing Mozart:

 

Find out more about Aureus Academy’s music classes here.

Thank you Aureus Academy for providing Caleb complimentary drum classes and helping him hone his beat through music!

Related Link:

Hi hat, Kick drum and Fill-in with Galway Girls and Sunflower beats

I’m elated to share that I’ve licensed rights for Just Teddy to Our Daily Bread Ministries (“ODB”) through their publishing house Discovery House. Under our sown-up collaboration, Discovery House has just published a new edition of Just Teddy with fresh ‘daily bread’ ingredients. This special edition goes out this week to Our Daily Bread subscribers in Singapore who have signed up to receive it.

ODB Just Teddy cover

I wrote and published Just Teddy under Mustard Seed Books in end 2008. It’s been my hope that my little picture books would grow in reach and purpose, like in the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:32 of the bible. I had my own vision on achieving this – through a a big commercially-driven rights deal. And I came close to that in 2016.

But God’s ways are higher than my ways.

In mid-2016, when I was in hospital for breast cancer surgery, a friend visited and pointed me to Isaiah 55:8-13. I didn’t understand the verses and read through them several times over the next two years.

Gradually, I received important takeaways from these verses for re-ordering priorities and addressing personal issues in my life.

The latest takeaway came when I was in discussions with ODB. As I re-read Isaiah 55 during this time, I saw this in Isaiah 55:10-11:

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

 

I had looked at Isaiah 55:8-13 many times, but only noticed then that ‘seed’ and ‘bread’ are in the same line. Only when I was in discussions with Our Daily Bread Ministries on a collaboration with my Mustard Seed book.

Once I saw God clearly in the picture behind my little picture book, I had fresh perspective on why this was meant to be.

It was a “(mustard) seed for the sower and (daily) bread for the eater” collaboration.

In ODB’s special edition of Just Teddy, my little bear with an identity crisis discovers the identity of his Maker- a skilled and wise Maker. All of his creations bear the words ‘Psalms 139:14’ on their label – it is the mark of their Maker. Once Just Teddy learns who his Maker is, the bear discovers his own identity in his Maker’s hands.

Just Teddy realises that he is no longer just teddy. He is his Maker’s awesome one-of-a-kind creation – “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

ODB JT spread1

ODB JT spread2

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And I hope that my teeny mustard seed of a book, baked with fresh daily bread, will accomplish the purpose for which it has been made – namely, that our identity is found in God, our Maker.

Related Links:

God Knows Leh #4 – A Pebble in the Breast and 7 No Matter Whats

2018 – A year of Writing Wilderness, New Frontiers & Fresh Manna

I did a book reading of Little Godwit Finds His Wings at the Singapore Book Fair at Capitol this afternoon in a back-to-back reading with my dear, dear friend Hwee Goh, author of the bestselling Plano Adventure series. (And…we forgot to take a photo together. 😅)

Two mums  surprised me at the book table after I autographed Little Godwit for them. They brought out out over 10 of my earlier titles for me to sign too and encouraged me to keep writing. They totally made my day…💞

SingaporeBookFair.jpg

The Singapore Book Fair at Capitol will be on till 9 June. Do come by to check out the wide array of books across three floors at the Capitol. The local authors’ books are up on Level 2.

Related Links:

Little Godwit’s Solo Flight & Finding Wind beneath His Wings

 

The Kueh Tutus, a dance collective group, will be staging a dance adaptation of Just Teddy! This performance weaves in dance, theatre, music and art into a delicious interactive family show for kids between 2 – 4 years old and their grown-ups accompanying them.

There will be 10 Just Teddy dance-theatre performances across several public libraries in Singapore. The shows are FREE but registration is required as there is a limit on the number of attendees per show.

Just Teddy Kueh Tutus.jpg

The June shows are open for registration at National Library Board’s website here:

The registration for the July and August shows will be up on the same link at a later date.

 

Just Teddy is inspired by my own search for identity and belonging after I lost my voice to a rare voice disorder right after I got married. It is an IPPY Bronze Medal Winner and the 3rd book in my 4-picture book Toy Series. Very encouraged that my Toy books have since sold over 55,000 copies and been published in 5 countries.

Book a date with your little tots and help Just Teddy complete his story in his quest for a place to belong!

 

Related Links:

Kueh Tutus do the teddy bear dance at Singapore Writer’s Festival

Writing is a solo journey. It helps to have writing buddies and a flock to commiserate with. But when you are in the process of writing or even at the early stage of staring at a blank page, you need to take that journey alone.

Little Godwit, a late ‘hatcher’ and left-behind young bird, takes the same journey, imprinting himself on different flocks to belong before he finally takes off on his solo flight to the other end of the world.

Encouragement along the way does help fuel and uplift this journey. So, I was happy to receive feedback from old and new friends about Little Godwit.

Tze Min's girl

My friend’s daughter’s smile was priceless when her mummy bought the book for her

A library mum who is a reader-of-my-books-turned-friend read Little Godwit to her daughter’s preschool class. For the accompanying activity to the book, she put up photos of the different birds that Little Godwit meets in my story and had the children match the birds in the book to the real photos. She shared that the kids were excited and enjoyed her storytelling.

Tze Min

 

A close friend Arlene gave a copy of my book to her daughter’s teacher and she wrote a lovely email in response:

“Today we will use Emily as a mentor and look at the descriptive language in the text and ask ” What careful decisions did Emily make as an author?”  The children will then be invited to inquire into this and consider what their finding mean for them as authors. 

It’s a wonderful thing to find a book that is so rich in interesting vocabulary and beautifully crafted. So THANK YOU – not only have you given me much joy and made me cry (in a good way) but you have opened up a moment of inquiry for the children in your daughter’s class.”

(Email extract from Literacy Coach, International School in Singapore)

UWC

Little Godwit Finds His Wings is now in the public libraries. Look out for the little-hatchling-who-could on the public shelves and in the bookstores including Books Ahoy at Forum Shopping Centre!

Little Godwit will also be available for sale at the upcoming Singapore Book Fair at Capitol Theatre foyer and I will also be doing a reading at 4.30 pm this Sunday 2 June 2019.

 

Related Links:

Simply Mommie reviews Little Godwit

Little Godwit Finds His Way to 5 Shiny Stars

 

Today, I’m participating in author Susannah Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

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Title: Sweet Dreams Sarah

Author: Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrator: Chris Ewald

Publisher: Creston Books

Ages: 4-8 years old

Themes: Dreams, Aspirations, Perseverance

Opening: 

“Before the Civil War, Sarah obeyed her owner.

Hurry Up

              Eyes down.

                          Don’t speak.

Slaves were property – like a cow or a plow or cotton growing in the master’s fields.”

 

Why I like this book:

This is such a weighty topic and so difficult to write. Yet the author has been able to tell slave-turned inventor Sarah E. Goode’s story so simply and beautifully. Sarah’s story of how she turned her dreams into reality is written with a very strong storytelling voice and lyrical tone befitting the ‘dreams’ theme.

 

The author has also included interesting back matter explaining what a patent is, some facts on Sarah’s line and a list of black women inventors and their inventions.

My 8-year-old was most fascinated by this page and read through the entire list. True to form, he of course liked the 1991 invention that measures the temperature of urine sample without touching it!

 

SweetDreams9

 

 Activities/Resources:

  1. Think of 1 thing that you would like to invent to make a difference in the world.
  2. Draw your invention!

Read the author interview on how Vivian wrote Sweet Dreams Sarah.

Today, I am delighted to feature author Vivian Kirkfield, my very first blogger friend.

In 2010, Vivian linked her blog to an article I had written about picture books for an e-zine.

In 2013, I invited Vivian to the Asian Festival of Children’s Content as a speaker on the preschool education track. At that time, she was a blogger-educator who had self-published Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking. She was also an aspiring picture book author, working hard on her dream.

Now in 2019, she is a multi-published picture book author with three picture books out this year and two more next year. That is the sweetest dream come true for an author!

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Written by Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by Chris Ewald

Creston Books

 

Picture this:

Sweet Dreams Sarah is about one of the first black woman patent holders Sarah E. Goode, who was born into slavery and lived through the end of the American Civil War with a dream to fufill. Her successful patent of a cabinet bed in 1883 made her one of the forerunners to a whole lineup of black woman inventors.

 

 

I love how Vivian took a weighty subject and broke it down into such accessible and lyrical picture book language that a young child would be able to understand.

1. Mum-mum: What sparked your interest on Sarah and made you decide to write her story? 

Vivian: Right after I took an online class in writing nonfiction, I was scrolling through lists of ‘the first woman to do this or that’…and I came upon Sarah E. Goode as being one of the first African American women to secure a U.S. patent…in 1885. And I thought…wow…that was only 20 years after slavery was abolished…what a fabulous accomplishment for someone who had been owned…and now she was the owner of a patent.  And I knew it was a story I wanted to tell.

 

2. Mum-mum: What was the biggest challenge writing this story? You make such a weighty non- fiction story so readable. 

Vivian: Thank you for your kind words, Emily! I think that is the challenge when it comes to writing nonfiction picture book biographies. We need to make them enjoyable to read. Teachers are looking for nonfiction ‘stories’…with an emphasis on the storytelling aspect of the book. They don’t want a list of facts or a textbook…that won’t encourage kids to pick up the book and turn the pages.

I had to find something in Sarah’s story that kids could relate to…I think most kids have dreams. They might want to be a fireman or an astronaut or own a horse and drive a car. So, right in the beginning, I establish that Sarah had dreams…and throughout the story, with every page turn, she works at building her dream into a reality.

 

3. Mum-mum: What was your personal takeaway from working on this story? 

Vivian: My personal takeaway from working on this story was that ‘nothing is impossible if you can imagine it’…that was Sarah’s philosophy and it lined up perfectly with my own. I could understand how she refused to give up…refused to accept failure…she just kept right on going and rebuilding until she got it right. And it couldn’t have been easy, being an African American woman in Chicago in the 1880’s…so many restrictions and prejudices against her…just as a woman. As I learned more about Sarah Goode, I learned more about myself and what I am capable of …and that was very empowering!

 

4. Mum-mum: Can you sum up this book in 1 sentence? 

Vivian: Nothing is impossible if you can imagine it and the only failure is the failure to keep trying.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be on your blog and share my thoughts with your readers, dear Emily!

Mum-mum: Thank you, Vivian! The pleasure is mine. And here we are at Raffles Hotel Singapore in 2013!

Vivian AFCC 2013

Related Links:

Vivian Kirkfield – Writer for Children

Conversations on the High Chair #14- Author-Educator Vivian Kirkfield Shows Me How