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Updated: May 1

Clarissa Tan joins Methodist School of Music as Executive Director

by Goh Eck Kheng

Photo by Sandy Chian

You may know Clarissa Tan as the former superintendent of Covenant Kids, or as a pianist at CCMC’s 9 am service. On 1 March 2023, she was appointed Executive Director of the Methodist School of Music (MSM).

Situated in Upper Bukit Timah Road near Rail Mall, MSM, founded in 1997, is the music school of the Methodist Church in Singapore. Although it equips Christians for music ministry, it contributes towards the development of music in the region by nurturing individuals regardless of race or religion.

MSM has two arms. Of the General Music arm, which also includes ballet classes, Clarissa says, “All are welcome! Come learn to sing, play the piano, organ, violin, viola! The facilities are of music-school standard! Even ABRSM conducts their exams at MSM!”

The Worship and Church Music arm caters to churches. Individuals may join the Methodist Festival Choir or sign up for the Certificate in Christian Worship (CCW) programme.

As Executive Director, Clarissa, among other responsibilities, will set the strategic direction for MSM for 5 years and beyond. She will strengthen partnerships with all churches in Singapore and harness digital and social media to make MSM more widely known. And there is also raising funds to run the school and all its programmes.

Clarissa started her career as a English Language and Mathematics teacher in her alma mater, Methodist Girls’ School. After that, she was a lecturer and practicum supervisor at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University before moving to Singapore Management University where she served as a Programme Lead in Co-Curriculum Development and then Assistant Director responsible for developing gift opportunities. She taught at Anglo-Chinese Junior College prior to joining MSM.

In all humility, Clarissa thinks that her musical background is very simple and not impressive. “The most impressive musical background I think is the fact that I graduated from Yamaha Kindergarten!” she says. She learnt to play the piano and completed Grade 8. “Credit to my mother – my music teacher. I was in the Music Elective Programme in MGS and credit goes to my teacher Mrs Wong Lai Foon (Bishop Rev Dr Gordon Wong’s wife) for a distinction at O-levels.” She is proud to say that she sang in the ACJC Choir which won Choir of the Year for the first time in 1990. As a teacher in MGS, she was in-charge of the choir and handbells choir.

Clarissa stands out in green at her graduation from Yamaha Kindergarten, 1978.

Clarissa on the screen at Ngee Ann City when she led the youth of Pentecost

Methodist Church in the annual carolling to malls and members’ homes.

Clarissa believes that God gently and lovingly led her to MSM. “It was after accepting the role that everything about MSM was attractive to me: the potential it had, the talented people within, the perfect job fit and demands of the role for me. God has given me beyond what I could imagine: to be able to live and breathe music and worship all waking moments of my day.”

To her, MSM will be God’s missional agent to people across all generations, from children to senior citizens, the well or unwell. “God will bring them through our doors and MSM will play a big role in God’s redemptive story. All will be blessed and will come to know the Lord through music.”

Montage of Clarissa and the MSM building

How will this be achieved? “We await the Lord because He says in Isa 55:8 that ‘my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my way.’ They are much higher. I am so excited and looking forward to the future.”

Reflecting on how music is relevant to Christians outside of corporate worship services, Clarissa said that as music is accessible to all, it is so easy to worship God through singing or playing an instrument. “In joy or sorrow, in praise or lament, in times of change or stability, we worship God. Music heals. Music sets the prisoners free. Music connects.”

And there are many ways CCMC can connect with MSM. Clarissa gives some suggestions:

  • Be our champion! Be our ambassador! From publicity to participation!

  • Pray for us. At the pulpit or at prayer meetings. Or at home.

  • Raise up young adults to go into full-time ministry and serve alongside us at MSM. Soon, the opportunities will be aplenty!

  • Sponsor a church member to work at MSM as a couple of churches do!

  • Sponsor staff or members to attend our programme (e.g. CCW)

  • Sponsor a venue for MSM events.

  • Give. We operate on a negative budget. Take up a second offering for us. Make a donation this period as we celebrate our anniversary.

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