CyberFair Project ID: 4352

Close this Window

NOTE: Due to URL changes, some links may no longer be valid.

International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Xinyao – The Music of Our Own
Category: 8. Local Music and Art Forms

School: Raffles Girls' School (Secondary)
    Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

15 students, ages 15 - 16 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 17, 2006. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

Classes and Teachers: Ms Foo Ling Ling

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Our local community is our country, Singapore. Even though Singapore has a small land area of 697.1 sq km, it has gained a foothold in the world as a vibrant, cosmopolitan city since its 40 years of independence. Singapore is also a multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.

Singapore is setting its eyes on the arts scene, striving to develop into a regional cultural hub. With the building of the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, The ARTrium and the new Drama Centre, as well as the launch of several cultural events island-wide recently, many opportunities have arisen for Singaporeans to showcase their talent in the arts scene. This is a step forwards in Singapore’s quest to become a cultural hub in South East Asia.

Our project, however, focuses on the Singapore in the 1980s, where a form of music called Xinyao flourished and paved a path for Singapore’s music development today.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our CyberFair Web Project looks into the local arts scene, more importantly, “Xinyao”. “Xinyao” is a genre of songs that is unique to Singapore, wherein the songs are composed and sung by Singaporeans and are usually about life in our island country.

With popular music culture being all the rage across the globe, we would like to share with the world an aspect of music that is uniquely Singapore. Although “Xinyao” is mainly Chinese-oriented, the “Xinyao Festival” held in the past had invited artistes from the other races to participate, hence showing that “Xinyao” is for the masses. Thus, we aim to increase the awareness of such a style of music amongst Singaporeans, as it is one of the common things every Singaporean can identify with.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

The key problem that we faced was working with our team members’ busy schedules. Although we had a common Co-Curricular Activities session every Thursday for 2 hours, it was not enough to complete what was essential for our project, and on the occasion, a public holiday would fall on Thursday, causing a reduction in the number of sessions we would usually have if not for said holiday. The work had to be brought home to be continued and this posed problems as each member had their own after-school activities as well as school homework to complete. However, with proper time management, we overcame this problem and completed what was required.

The background history of Xinyao was mainly found in one book that tracked the history of Xinyao from its creation until modern day. However, the major glitch with the information was that the book was written entirely in Mandarin with only the English translation for certain organisations’ names, as Xinyao is mostly sang in Chinese. Hence, we needed to translate the large amount of information into English before we were able to place them into the website. Despite being bilingual, it was no easy task to handle the translations, as we could not make direct translations for it would make the flow of words awkward. However, we persevered and completed the translations in time.

We also had difficulty trying to get songs to be uploaded into our website. Due to copyright laws, we were unable to upload the full song online. However, we managed to get a student and a teacher to sing a song each for us and hence solved the problem.

There were also problems with the flash games at first because we had different versions of flash in different computers. We managed to solve the problems by transferring the flash file to a html first before editing it and linking it to our website in another computer.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

CyberFair 2006 was an enriching experience, which enabled us to understand more about our local music culture and to share them with the world. We also learnt through our project what Xinyao is all about and appreciate the hard work that was put in by the pioneers of Xinyao. It made us feel proud of our music culture as well as who we are today.

That, we feel, made CyberFair a meaningful and enjoyable experience.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

Our CyberFair project serves to create awareness of Singapore’s very own kind of music – Xin Yao. It is important for Singaporeans to be aware of “Xinyao” as it is symbolic and unique to Singapore. Much like how the Merlion is automatically associated with Singapore, we hope that with the creation of this website, “Xinyao” would also be identified as something that is only present in Singapore.

We also realised the importance of effective time management to complete such a large-scale project, which is essential in both schoolwork and other form of project work. Our translation of the information also highlighted the importance of bilingualism in our world so that we would be able to communicate effectively to a wider audience.

We also applied the relevant teamwork and communication skills. As most of us have a different schedule to follow, it is important to keep in touch with each other through emails and phones. We tried to distribute the work evenly so that we can be more efficient. We also encouraged one another along the way.

Though this project, we also applied critical thinking skills that were taught to us in school. While reading and translating the book, we tried to be objective and reflect on what we have learnt and read. We realised whether Xinyao is still present in our society today is a controversial issue and can be viewed from different perspectives. This is why in our website we did not give definite answers to some of the questions but encouraged the audience to explore and think about the answers themselves.

Besides these, our project also meets the standards as it deals with the macro-concepts of change and continuity and system. These concepts are emphasised in our school as it is important for us to see how a system works, how it changes and evolves. From the development of Chinese ballads to Xinyao, and from Xinyao to Mandarin Pop, we understood how the culture of the society is linked to its people and how everything is interdependent on one another. The macro-concepts helped us to see things more clearly as well.

In addition, we have found out about the limitations of Internet sources. Other than credibility problems, detailed information on less popular topics is generally unavailable. Hence we learnt to be flexible, and by not focusing solely on Internet sources, we were able to find comprehensive and credible sources of information from books, which contributed to a large part of our website.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

Being a Web project, we had used a variety of information tools and technologies to complete the website. We used a total of 8 computers, of which one of them was a Macintosh. The main software we used were Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver for designing the web pages. For the songs in our website, we approached students and teachers alike for them to sing the Xinyao songs for us to record. The song files were then converted into MP3 format using iTunes. For certain parts of the site, such as the introduction and games, we used Macromedia Flash.

To gather information on Xinyao, we utilised Internet Explorer both in the school’s Shaw Foundation Lab and at home to search for information online. In addition, we visited the National Library to find more comprehensive information on Xinyao and its history. We also utilised scanners to obtain images from books, which made it convenient for us to make use of the scanned images in our website.

We also used email accounts and MSN to communicate with each other and carry out discussions. This enabled us to exchange information and files more efficiently.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

We let our project be known to some members of the community by asking the students and staff for help in the recording of the songs in our website. We also asked some of the students to view our website and give us feedbacks. This enabled us to share our knowledge on Xinyao with them and made them appreciate our music culture as well.

Also, by setting up this website, we are sharing our knowledge with people across the world. This will enable more people to get to know more about Xinyao and thus appreciate different music culture, as well as gain an insight to the music culture of Singapore. This could also raise public awareness and make the public realize that even a small country can also have its unique music background and development.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

Through research, we had gained valuable insight into our country’s musical history. We are hence able to appreciate our own music culture better than before as we have learnt about the struggles that the music pioneers of Xin Yao have been through. Additionally, through this website, we are able to educate others about Xin Yao, which would create awareness of the form of music in the community. Singapore will then be able to understand her own local music culture and how it is different from popular music culture that is common nowadays.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

The Xinyao song clips in our website were not sung by their original singers. In a bid to involve other members of our community, we had approached students and staff in our school to sing the songs. They had agreed to help, and we extend our greatest thanks to them in helping to make this project successful.

At the same time, our teacher-in-charge Ms Foo Ling Ling was a valuable source of advice throughout this project. She advised us on what would be appropriate for our topic of choice, in this case, the local music scene, after looking through what we had proposed. A good example would be her suggestion to put Xinyao songs sung by our own students and teachers into our website. Throughout the course of the project, her help and guidance was invaluable in helping us complete the project.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Before setting up this website, we had misconceptions about Singapore’s music scene and backgrounds. Our knowledge about Singapore’s music scene is rather limited and we only knew some of the songs and events going on in Singapore today. But after completing this website, we realized that Xinyao is a part of music background as well. We found out that the singers today such as Stefanie Sun and Lin Jun Jie are also influenced by the pioneers of Xinyao.

We also discovered that music development is a gradual process and it varies from country to country. For our country, it first started with composing tunes for Chinese ballads which evolved to the composition of Xinyao, from which Mandarin Pop was formed.

We were also surprised at how a music form can bond a nation together. Not only is Xinyao a part of our music background, it also preserves our heritage and Chinese culture. It tells the story of our society in the 1980s, as well as enables the people to relate with the songs. It also helped more youths today to take on interests in learning Mandarin. We were also surprised to find out that so many people are passionate about Xinyao and still have fond memories about this from of music. Making this website surely is an unforgettable experience.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 4352)

Close this Window