Students' Take: The Peanut Butter and Jam: a performer's perspective

By Deborah Lee MeiXuan, Year of 2023

The Peanut Butter and Jam (PBnJ), on March 1, is an important part of the LKCMedicine student calendar,
a platform for students to perform in front of their peers, and the greater School community, including faculty and staff while fostering the School spirit of togetherness. 

My first PBnJ experience as a member of MedLee, LKCMedicine’s resident a cappella group, was an eyeopener as I had to grow in many aspects to prepare for the performance. We performed a number of songs that my fellow batchmates arranged, including one that I arranged, called A Disney Medley. I have always been a Disney fan growing up and when our MedLee seniors taught us the basics of arranging a song, I just knew that I had to arrange this piece.

Students hamming it up for their peers during the Peanut Butter and Jam

Initially, the thought of arranging multiple songs and joining them together seemed very daunting but I decided to challenge myself. There were quite a number of moments that I thought I bit off more than I could chew, such as when I started stringing the songs I wanted to add and realised it was way too many. The chord progressions also sounded awkward and the piece was far from perfect. I couldn’t imagine it being completed, let alone performed.

Nonetheless, I was really fortunate to have seniors like Andrew Yap and Chim Jiaxin who sacrificed their time to help me along the way. Having arranged pieces before, they offered not only advice, but also their time to listen and edit my piece along with me. I’ll never forget the nights filled with synthesizer sounds from Musescore (the app we use to compose and arrange scores) flooding my room till the wee hours, and the long messages, both audio and text, critiquing my arrangement to make it better.

The arrangement was chosen to be performed after numerous revisions (so many that the seniors had trouble finding the latest version in the folder). Then came another first for me – leading practices; and I couldn’t rely on past experiences to lead. I followed my seniors’ examples and tried leading practices and expressing musical ideas that I had crafted into the song I envisioned. Although practices were sometimes at inconvenient times, the effort everyone put in was inspiring. I always left practices excited for the next 
one, and hoarse more from laughing than singing because of the jokes we shared.

Having a winning pose is the name of the game

During soundcheck and even on the night of PBnJ, I felt nervous about the end result. However, it was when the crowd responded and said “Hi, Deborah!” back at me after I had introduced the piece on stage, that made me shake off all my anxiety. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to showcase how much
fun we had during practices through our performance and make it enjoyable for the audience as well.

Our performance went well but there were so many more takeaways from this experience. I learnt lots about music and performing, saw myself struggle and grow, and strengthened precious friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. This was something that I would definitely look back on with a smile, and
the memories will be in my heart always.