In a young nation like Singapore where the arts are less prioritised than the sciences, I grew up mostly with friends who wanted to be doctors and engineers. As a child, I had adults express their worry for my future prospects as a budding musician, and I always felt like an oddball at career fairs. Luckily for me, my parents were the rebels of their generation. Having both been musicians and experienced the same concerns, they could not be more supportive of my musical aspirations. I had the opportunity to learn the piano and violin, but I found my true calling when the conductor at my school band decided to randomly assign me the bassoon when I was 13!

We did not have bassoon teachers in school at that time, and I learnt by fumbling along with a fingering chart that was frayed at the edges, beeping on old reeds and a bassoon that was falling apart. It was tough, but also so much fun. Despite complaining of me sounding like a buffalo when I practised, my loving parents bought me my own bassoon and sent me to lessons. They would go on to sponsor my studies in London.

However, that endless support would become a heavy weight on my shoulders throughout my Bachelor’s studies. I was young and alone in a completely new environment. I had never experienced learning music full time, but I was desperate to do well, to not let my parents down. I wasn’t excellent from the beginning, which I have later learnt is absolutely normal, but I had basically spent three years hiding in the practice room thinking I was not good enough to be heard.

My teachers at the Royal College of Music were very patient and saw the potential I did not believe I had. In my final year, I saw myself improve by leaps and bounds, and that spurred me to give myself another chance to learn. This time, without the unnecessary self-doubt, at the Royal Academy of Music.

I remember having a chat with the Head of Woodwind, Fraser Gordon, right before I graduated, where he asked if there was anything I would change in my two years at RAM. It didn’t take very long for me to realise my answer was “no”. I have never practised harder in my life and I have never had a crazier schedule, but I have learnt so much and realised that the bassoon is something that would stay with me for my lifetime.


Royal Academy of Music
London, UK

Royal College of Music
London, UK


Ambra Quintet


Where’s your favourite place to listen to music and why?

Nothing is more therapeutic than listening to music on the upper deck of a bus, looking out of the window, especially when it is raining – as long as it’s not rush hour!

What’s your most memorable moment as a musician?

Performing at the Royal Festival Hall with the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of maestro Semyon Bychkov. We performed Maher’s Third Symphony, and the music was so overwhelming that by the last movement, I was in tears!