[Community Interview] Michelle Lai’s Reflection on WLJ SG Celebrates International Jazz Day 2019

Our blog posts are written by many community members. These posts are aimed to get to know the very people who form the heart of our jazz community in Singapore.

In this volume, we feature Michelle Lai, a recent graduate from Nanyang Junior College (2018) who has recently been immersing herself in the jazz community by studying and practising it regularly during the transitionary period between JC and university.

Let’s read what Michelle has to say about her recent participation at our event, We Love Jazz SG Celebrates International Jazz Day 2019, where we met her for the first time 🙂

Michelle playing the painted trumpet (with the trumpeter/trumpet donor Yi Hao Cui enjoying the hang)

First Time Joining Jazz Community Event

I went to WLJ IJD as a community member who was relatively new to jazz, wanting to explore more about it. Going to IJD was one of the most eye-opening and rewarding things I have done in my life. It was very exciting to see so many fans of jazz and improvisation at this event gathering around Kult Kafe, sharing their own stories and experiences with friends and strangers alike.

I made many new friends there, all from entirely different backgrounds, and it was really refreshing to talk to people who appreciate jazz and even practise it regularly, especially since my classical musician background entails a social circle of orchestral and wind ensemble players with not much experience in jazz.


The things we could do at the event included painting a donated plastic trumpet with the rest of the community, browsing through a plethora of WLJ merchandise (including items decorated personally by WLJ’s founding director, Aya Sekine!), and chatting with some well-known jazz musicians and other people from all walks of life, each person with a different tale to tell about their stories with jazz and how much it has changed their life for the better.



The highlight of the evening for me was definitely the open call performances and jam sessions, where I watched in amazement as incredibly talented players graced the stage with beautiful tunes and unique instruments, which were performed pretty much effortlessly. I even got to jam with the band leading one of the sessions with my trumpet, and since it was the first time I’ve ever done something like that, it was really an unforgettable experience. The crowd was so supportive and pleasant despite my lack of experience, reminding me that the jazz community is one of love, togetherness, and lifting each other up.



What I Felt About WLJ’s Work

I feel that WLJ’s mission is simple, yet powerful: to harness our individual love for jazz as a medium and channel it into growing the jazz community in Singapore into something bigger and better. WLJ wants to make jazz an integral part of the Singaporean arts scene, and our society in general. Because jazz is still a very niche part of our arts scene, many of our local musicians shy away from practising it, and not many people tend to appreciate jazz for all the great things it can accomplish. However, our society must never settle for being less than we can be when it comes to our culture and heritage. Embracing the foreign art of jazz means welcoming cultural diversity, global awareness and community spirit into Singapore, and if we are able to do just that, our society will become so much richer, more vibrant and more colourful.


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Thank you Michelle for sharing. She plans to further her music studies in Berklee College of Music as a film scoring major! Hope we can be a support to keep her passion running. 

Photos by Dusk Low

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