Arranging Folk Songs for Choirs

January-February 2022

In this course, you will learn to draw inspiration from your culture and turn simple melodies into choral arrangements. Through research and understanding your personal history and background, you will unveil the many possibilities in folk songs. The origins of this class can be found almost a decade ago when Dr Zechariah Goh wanted young composers to reconnect with their history through song. Possessing a great passion for folk songs from a young age, the first few commissions were inspired by folk tunes that he loved dearly. Having honed this craft of fusing folk songs with the choral medium, Dr Goh hopes to inspire others to do the same, and in doing so, keep alive the songs from our cultural heritage.




Dr Zechariah Goh

Key Features of the Course

  • 3 lectures, 3 small group tutorials and 1 final presentation. Participants have the option to enrol in the full suite of the course or in lecture sessions only.
  • Systematic lessons and creative exploration
  • Small group sharing and discussions with graduate mentors
  • Exploration of your unique musical heritage
  • Cross-cultural exchange of stories and musical ideas
  • A chance for select works to be published by Muziksea and made available for sale internationally
  • Have your composition premiered by one of Muziksea Partner Choirs

Muziksea Partner Choirs

  • Voices of Singapore Children’s Choir (Singapore)
  • SYC Ensemble Singers (Singapore)
  • University of Santo Tomas Singers (Philippines)
  • University of the Philippines Singing Ambassadors (Philippines)
  • Swara Vocal Ensemble (Belgium)


3 Lecture Sessions

All lectures are scheduled from 7.30pm to 9pm SGT (GMT+8) and will be conducted online via Zoom.

  • 6 Jan 2022 — Lecture 1: Introduction to Folk Song Arrangement (9 Compositional Tools)
  • 20 Jan 2022 — Lecture 2: Folk Song Research and Critical Analysis of Short Arrangements
  • 10 Feb 2022 — Lecture 3: A Case Study of Existing Choral Arrangements

3 Tutorial Sessions

All tutorials are scheduled from 7.30pm to 9.30pm SGT (GMT+8) and will be conducted online via Zoom.

  • 13 Jan 2022 — Tutorial 1
  • 27 Jan 2022 — Tutorial 2
  • 17 Feb 2022 — Tutorial 3

Choral Arrangement Presentation

February/March 2022 (to be determined with the participants)


The lecture sessions are open for all interested in folk song arrangement for choirs regardless of music proficiency level.

Participants who opt for the full course must meet the following requirements:

  • Minimum age of 16 years old
  • Possess fair knowledge of music theory including harmony and musical notation. A good gauge of the music literacy level required is ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory or equivalent.
  • Able to communicate in English as the medium of instruction of the course is English
  • Able to write music — participants must submit a short composition/arrangement of any musical work, i.e. not limited to choral works.

Course Fees



Reviews and Published Pieces

"Dr. Goh’s class will help you to explore the unique sound of folksongs from various regions. Your fellow students in turn also bring their own perspective based on their own experiences growing up surrounded by the folksongs of their culture. This environment will inspire you to find your own sound and expand your compositional techniques."
Bungong Jeumpa (SATB)
— Aditya Santoso

"This course unveils the many possibilities in folk songs, and encourages students to explore their own musical heritage, or of places far from home. It is a space to explore musical ideas, and express our creative selves, whilst positioning identities through familiar tunes. Equally rewarding is the opportunity to interact with your classmates – friends in music you get to meet, and keep for a lifetime!"
Flowers of the Forest (SSAATBB)
— Kenneth Tay

"The folk song arrangement classes with Dr Goh were interactive and insightful. The examples of choral folk songs presented to us in class were varied and very thought-provoking, especially as we worked on our own arrangements."
天公落水 [The Rain] (SATB)
— Hiew Tze Ning

"Dr Goh encouraged us to investigate our roots and uncover the songs sung by our respective cultures. Using simple arrangement techniques, we were soon able to develop a simple melody into a choral arrangement."
采茶扑蝶 [Picking Tea, Chasing Butterflies] (SATB)
— Justin Goh

"I had never thought that I would be able to arrange and compose songs, until I joined Dr Goh's folk song arrangement class.  His lessons are systematic and effective and he is always very encouraging. The class had widened my horizons and perspectives."
捕鱼歌 [Fishing Song] (SAB) 
— Lim Geok Choo

"Through this class, I was able to connect with my Fuzhou roots and learn about the traditions through the text that I have set to music. We would never have traditionally been able to learn in our standard music curriculum. Dr Goh teaches in a way that is easy to understand, and provides thought-provoking questions every lesson to make us engage with the content more."
冬至歌 [The Winter Solstice Song] (SSA)
— Lim Han Quan

"Students in Dr Zechariah Goh's folk song composition classes benefit not only from his guidance and expertise, but also from the insights and creative works of their classmates. Principles of music theory are presented in an accessible and practical manner using detailed examples and helpful techniques. Through robust group discussions and Dr Goh's honest feedback, everyone's ideas and drafts will be analysed, challenged, and transformed into a 'final piece' that not only respectfully draws from their chosen culture, but also authentically mirrors their artistic vision."
— Aldo Joson

"Dr Goh is a very engaging and encouraging teacher. Apart from the many composition tools, I have discovered more about my heritage and language. Dr Goh places emphasis on research and  understanding your personal history and background. As a choral conductor, it has helped me to better understand score reading and analysis. This has allowed me to make more informed decisions when interpreting scores."
— Adyll Hardy



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