How does learning music provide a fundamental balance amidst our daily work grind? Being one of the nations annually clocking in the longest working hours in the world, can Singapore get out of this work-life disequilibrium?
It seems that the elusive work-life balance everyone pursues is slipping further and further away from Singaporeans. In 2015, Singapore was ranked at the top for longest working hours in the world. The statistics have clearly not changed much since then, according to the latest Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s quarterly Labour Market report (Dec 2016).
A Forbes May 2016 article mentions that “young adults around the world put in mammoth shifts at work.” It goes on to retell of Singapore’s extensive work hours: “A young adult aged between 18 and 34 will work an average of 52 hours every week in India while in China, Mexico and Singapore, an average shift amounts to an intense 48 hours.”
Overcoming that Elusive Work-Life Balance
Here’s where learning music may prove to be a light at the end of the tunnel for unhappy and stressed employees who are still searching that balance in work and life. Head of Music Programs at Believer Music, Daniel Low, has seen a remedy for this through teaching music at the 18-year-old music training centre, one of the largest in Singapore.
“Work-Life Balance is a much-needed fundamental to live a meaningful life,” he says, adding that many of his students enjoy contemporary music courses as the lessons are regarded as a way to relax and destress, as opposed to achieving additional certification, which adds further to strain levels.
According to Daniel, students greatly look forward to attending class as means to break away from the demands of work. Engaging in playing musical instrument allows them to recharge by releasing pent up emotions accumulated through the week.
He believes that context is an added edge in the learning process. At Believer Music, music training is taken to a different level, where every lesson directs students to connect life anecdotes with the songs they learn.
“Our music programs provide students with not only fun and stress-relief. Lessons here are tailored with a purpose that goes beyond mere musical technicality – they empower and recharge those who come through our doors.”
This goes a long way in creating ‘happy thoughts’ which strengthen each individual to look forward to the next lesson. Because of this unique blend, learners continue returning to the music centre, crossing over into different instruments.
With working pressure at an all-time high, more than half of Singaporeans polled by international leadership institute Roffey Park responded that their stress levels have increased in 2016, and there is a need to find alternative ways of coping with this year ahead.
Dennis Goh, a life coach who enrolled into Believer Music’s guitar and keyboard classes, explains how music has helped him to alleviate the stress of the working life.
“I think stress will be part of our life, I guess it is learning how to cope with it that is more important. Learning music has helped me to be ‘lost’ in the moment, allowing me to detach myself from the worries of life. Sometimes, I do get the answers I’m looking for in that moment.”
Poorly managing work-life balance levels could be detrimental not only to employees, but also to companies as well, since unregulated stress can mean shorter attention spans and health issues such as cardiovascular disease and respiratory hypertension.
According to a survey from the Corporate Executive Board, which represents 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies, people who feel they have good work-life balance work 21 percent harder than those who do not.
Rebecca Sim, who attends Believer Music’s keyboard program, explains how making a decision to choose to learn music has helped her manage life decisions better, instead of going with the trend of focusing only on work and nothing else.
“I feel that we should not wait until we retire to do things we want to do. Picking up the keyboard has helped me to realise that we are the decision makers of our lives and we are the ones who will choose the way we want to live.”
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