Their music turns strangers into friends
Justin Bieber and The Chainsmokers doing good in a nursing home? Yes, by way of Volunteer Guitar Connection (VGC), which stages musical performances for charitable organisations.
The goal? To tap the power of music to lift the spirits of those living on the margins of society.
Walking into a nursing home she volunteered at for the first time, Ng Yiqi still remembers the hush in the rooms, broken only by the sound of a whirring fan.
But when volunteers began filling the place with live music and singing, the atmosphere changed. “We find that regardless of where we perform... there’s a way that we can connect simply by playing and by being in the same experience,” she says.
Beginning with just 10 volunteers in 2004, the group now has 290 members. To date, they have completed over 160 performances for charitable organisations, both as a group and in the volunteers’ personal capacities.
Music is “universal” and cuts across race, religion and languages, says fellow volunteer Amanda Mok. A person can find comfort in music even if they do not understand the language, she says.
Amanda, a wheelchair-user, connected to VGC through the Handicap Welfare Association, as she wanted to brush up her guitar-playing skills.
The experience was so positive that she now volunteers with VGC, taking part in peer sessions.
Music has helped her to de-stress, as well as become more comfortable in front of a crowd, says Amanda, a self-described introvert.
Norsatria Asyraf, also a volunteer, urged those with the musical skills to contribute in whatever way they can: “Be it musicians, singers, percussionists, VGC is all about giving back to the community, and bring music to beneficiaries all around Singapore, and we hope to grow in the years to come.”