Who needs a certificate in singing?


New member
hello musicians,

The latest talk about certification in singing & music makes me want to tell the

“Parable of the two handphone sellers”.

Here’s how it goes:

There are two handphone sellers: Amerik and Chinee.

Amerik’s shop is a listed authorized seller that displays all the reputable brands of phones, with all the specifications listed from A-Z. In order to buy any model, you must sign a contract of at least 2 years and be bonded accordingly. The reward is a very reputable and so-called reliable brand that comes with a 2-year warranty. Jail-breaking is illegal and must be avoided at all cost!

Chinee’s shop carries all kinds of handphones, mostly not famous brands. They are cheap parallel imports and easy to go. Most people who come to Chinee’s shop tell Chinee of their needs and Chinee can quickly pull out a drawer and pass him/her the one phone that matches his/her need. They even do jail-breaking for you at a small price.

Which shop will you buy from?

Basically singing and music are no different from buying a handphone. If you wish is to become a good singer or instrumentalist, you might want to learn from a so-called reputed and certified ‘master’ or ‘mistress’ that could give you proper guidance in rudiments of music. Step-by-step, lesson-by-lesson, you learn the ropes. When you finish the entire course, you get to graduate with a certificate (maybe) that says your teacher or mentor is this so-and-so famous coach from some Ivy-leagued music institutions in UK, USA or Australia. Your accent is Neo-American-Hollywood. Good for you. You have bought a good Jphone8 or SAMSENG Apolcalyse model !

Another kind of musicians are the bathroom singers. They are those who never had a chance to learn from the certified masters/mistresses, maybe because they were born poor. They just pick up an instrument and start to sing, or even sing without accompaniment. Their studio is the bathroom or balcony. Over the years, with no proper guidance or twitching by a more supreme musician, they figured out the 1001 wrong ways of singing; those ways that gotten the ‘thumbs-down’ from critics. Their accents are local or perhaps with a bit of an attempt to ‘mimick the hollywood’ but failed miserably. They have lost face over and over again in public busking. They have bought a brandless or a new up–and-coming APPA or Smallrice phone from a country that people laugh at.

One day, two such singers went to apply for a music instructor job in the government schools. The Certified Singer flashed all his/her certs and easily gotten the job. No doubt about it. The Bathroom Singer told the HR that his/her only cert is his/her NRIC, and some youtube videos of his/her candid singing…. He/she was rejected with a HR note “Thank you for trying…after much deliberations, we feel you do not have the necessary qualifications needed to teach the subject. We thank you for the application and we will keep in view for future openings.” How nice of the government HR to end politely.

The same two singers then went for a pub recruitment in Clarke Quay. Certified Singer said he/she did not bring the score of the songs, but flashed his/her certs. The pub owner asked him/her to fly kite at Marina Barrage. Next, the Bathroom singer went up the stage and started singing. No gimmicks, no accompaniment, just plain singing. Because he/she had been used to impromptu singing without a score in the bathroom, the stage audition was nothing different or difficult to him/her. The pub manager listened and nodded. He/she was asked to come for trial sessons during off-peak nites. The Bathroom Singer thanked heaven.

The above is the Parable of two handphone sellers, two Singers. One Lawful, One Rogue. They are both True Blue Citizens of Singapore. Their destinies, however, are much different. Of course it is possible for Certified Singer to be recruited in another pub, and similarly it is also possible that the Bathroom Singer can be accepted by government schools one day if our leaders change their rigid mindset. The point I want to drive across today is…

If you are unable to get certified in singing, it is not the end of the world. Welcome to the club of the RogueOne.

May the force be with you!

^ ^
Bathroom Singer
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