Samintharaj Kumar became a singer by accident. In secondary school, his friend attended an audition, and he tagged along. As Samintharaj hummed along to the Tamil song his friend was rehearsing, the judges spotted his talent and picked him instead.
Since then, his singing talent has propelled him into the spotlight. In his 20s, he performed Tamil songs regularly on television and charity events and even performed at the National Day Parade in 2000. Not bad for someone who practised mostly with a Walkman.
Today, the soft-spoken, charming 40-year-old chief executive of Nuffield Dental – who counts Hindi tunes and English rock in his repertoire – no longer has time for public performances, but has instead found other ways to make singing a part of his life. He says: “I’m the singing dentist.
“In my clinic, I sing just to occupy myself or if the patient likes to hear it. It’s very relaxing for me and helps me concentrate.”
While working at Singapore General Hospital between 2013 and 2016, he recalls singing in the hospital’s corridors because the “open stairwell created the loveliest echoes”.
Samintharaj says singing helped him develop a sense of artistry that he has learnt to apply in his dentistry practice. He recalls his artistic process in approaching a song.
“You train yourself so your voice sounds very emotional. Singers who know what they are doing know how to lead the listener, and turn a song which is boring into a No. 1 song.”
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His years of learning to foster an emotional connection with an audience has also helped him win over patients. “We have a rule in medicine: the rule of two minutes, when we get patients to loosen up before we start to structure the consultation.”
He’s now able to ascertain how patients expect to be treated. “(Singing) has given me the ability to understand the psyche of the patient.”
Though he has his hands full with two clinics, he says he will gladly offer his singing talents for charity, and for old folks and children. “When I sing for these people, their (faces) just change. This is the stuff I love doing.”