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Tue, Dec 31, 2013
The Sunday Times
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Singer's vocal family support
by Eve Yap

Aspiring singer Boon Hui Lu says her harshest critics are from her family.

Her mother, housewife Goh Soon Lee, 47, says it is better to be honest: "We have to tell her the truth and do a reality check from time to time."

Her elder sister, Hui Ying, 21, adds: "I probably give the fiercest comments. For example, if she's too stiff, I tell her to have some hand movements."

No wonder Hui Lu, who trained at Timbre Music Academy, cringes when rehearsing in front of them in the family's four-room Housing Board flat in Simei.

The 20-year-old knows that the "critical remarks" will push her to become a better singer. Still, she says: "It's disheartening when I feel I have already stretched myself."

Good thing for her, then, that her father, Mr Boon Hai Tang, takes a more relaxed approach to her performances.

Mr Boon, 54, a self-employed courier service provider, says: "I will just ask her to go for it and try her best."

Hui Lu, an accountancy undergraduate at the Nanyang Technological University, joined Timbre's training under nEbO, the National Trades Union Congress' community tie-up with the music academy to nurture young talent. She has two younger sisters, Hui Zhen, 18, and Hui Chiann, 15.

Two weeks ago, she breathed a big sigh of relief when she won her family's rare applause at a charity gig.

Hui Ying was impressed that she hit the high notes in Christina Perri's Jar Of Hearts "with power" and that her rendition was "refreshing".

You have four daughters. Did you ever want a son?

Hui Lu: After the third child, they were trying for a boy.

Ms Goh: We had always wanted four kids, no matter what.

Mr Boon: Girls are better than boys because they are filial. Boys treat the home like a hotel, they come and go.

Ms Goh: Because they are girls, we take more precautions about their safety. When they are coming home late, we meet them at the lift lobby, even now.

What was Hui Lu like as a child?

Mr Boon: Her teachers said she was very talkative in class. You could see her strong interest in performing because she was always singing along to the theme songs of television shows or play acting with her sisters.

Hui Ying: We pretended that we were princesses and that our home was a palace. It was irritating after a while - my other sisters and I weren't into performing but we went along with Hui Lu.

Hui Lu: The role-playing stopped when I was about 14 in Anglican High School and schoolwork piled up. And I got real acting parts in local TV shows such as Rhapsody In Blue and won a MediaCorp Young Talent Star Award in 2006 at 13.

Were you worried that Hui Lu could not juggle well her studies and interest in performing?

Mr Boon: I left most of the academics issues to her mum. But I was confident she could do well.

Hui Lu: I reminded myself that because I had less time for studies, I had to work doubly hard compared to my friends. I worked so hard that I topped the class one year.

Were your sisters envious of you being in show business?

Hui Lu: Not at all.

Hui Ying: We don't like the limelight.

Hui Lu: In fact, we are close. We sleep in the same bedroom and chat at night.

Hui Ying: We don't talk so much about the guys we like but those who irritate us.

Hui Zhen: Yes, those who play lame pranks such as paste scotchtape on your blouse or hair.

Why did you choose to study accountancy when you have an interest in the entertainment business?

Hui Lu: I wanted to do mass communications, which would lead to a job in the media business. My mum asked me to diversify my skills.

Ms Goh: I told her to widen her choices. But she's my daughter and I'll be proud of her whether she pursues a performing or an accounting career.

Mr Boon: I'm open-minded about her career choice.

Who is stricter - mum or dad?

Hui Ying: Dad. He looks fierce even without scolding us. It's scary when he shouts at us.

Mr Boon: I expect my children to greet my wife and me during meals, before they go out and when we come home. If not, they will be scolded.

Hui Zhen: He also came up with a daily roster for us to do chores in the home because we quarrelled about doing housework. Mr Boon: They shouldn't expect mum or dad to do everything.

Hui Lu: The roster started when I was 13. My two younger sisters joined the roster only when they were in secondary school. Ms Goh: They grumbled about the roster at first, of course.

Hui Lu, what was the naughtiest thing you did when you were growing up?

Hui Lu: When I was around 10 and playing hide and seek with my sisters, I convinced Chiann, who was then five, to hide inside a little cupboard whose door was hard to open. So I knowingly got her trapped in it. I went to help only after I heard her wailing loudly and I knew I was in for a bad time.

Mr Boon: The tradition of punishment in our family is to kneel down and reflect on your misdeed in front of the Buddhist altar. Hui Lu: I probably got caned too.

Ms Goh: I caned them when they were disrespectful to their elders.

Hui Lu: I remember how the four of us would try to find Mama's cane and hide it.

Ms Goh: Showering them with too much love makes them pampered, but being an all-out tiger mum creates resentment. An intelligent parent knows the right time to use the different methods.

If the parent-child roles were reversed, what would you do differently?

Ms Goh: I would be less playful and more obedient so that I don't get on my mother's nerves because she has to cope with four of us at home.

Mr Boon: I would be less unwilling to do housework.

Hui Lu: I would give less negative feedback to my child and be more positive instead.

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