Nexus News

Interview with Jonathan and Andrew

May 17, 2017
Four months ago, Nexus International School Malaysia entered 2 learners for the AIMS (Association of International Malaysian Schools) Young Musician Of The Year 2017; Andrew (Jie En) Kuik in Y8 and Jonathan Chin in Y9, both playing piano.

Andrew and Jonathan spoke to us about how setting priorities is important to help them manage their time better.

1. How did you develop interest to learn the piano?

A: I became interested when I heard my older sister playing the piano as a kid. She made me curious- why, when a key is pressed, will such good music be produced? I also had a tendency to follow whatever my sister did at that age, so I told my mum that I wanted to learn the piano.

J: I started learning the piano at 6 years of age. ​My passion and interest for the instrument has developed over the time that I have been learning the piano.

2. How did Nexus International School support your interest?

A: Mr Tim, my music teacher, gave me many opportunities. For instance, because he organised the Spring Concert, I had the chance to play a piano concerto. He also gave me the opportunity to take part in the AIMS competition. Furthermore, his classes are very engaging and interesting.

J: Nexus International School constantly gives me many opportunities like concerts and music clubs (e.g: String orchestra; which I also attend) to further enhance and advance my musicianship. The music lessons that I attend give me vast opportunities to try out different aspects of music which improves me generally as a musician. Nexus has also given me the opportunity to go for the AIMS competition.

4. How did you come to know about the AIMS competition?

 Mr Tim sent an email to all of us learners.

J: I came to know about the AIMS competition through Nexus International School. I have joined this music competition for two years (2016 & 2017). Last year, I did not make it to the grand finals out of the 18 contestants. However, after more practice and determination, I have made it into the grand finals, the top 6, this year.

5. How much time did you put into practicing the piece you played for the competition?

During the two-week term break, I practiced this piece for approximately 2 hours every day. (On a side note, I spent 2 more hours practicing other pieces.)

J: I used the piece 'Golliwogs Cake-walk' in my Grade 8 piano exam last year. So, I have been practicing this piece for around a year or less. This piece is composed by Claude Debussy, in the 20th century. Although the piece is hard to appreciate because of its uniqueness in tune and rhythm (being a fairly modern piece), I find it a good competition piece because of how the piece can be suited to different musicians to bring out their personality.

6. Please describe the feeling of being part of this competition?

I feel very happy and proud of myself for achieving this, not just for me but also for Nexus.

J: I felt extremely proud of myself having improved significantly from last year; to make it into this year's finals. Hence the saying– "Practice makes perfect". And I find this saying very true. The experience of the competition and additionally getting into the finals has motivated and inspired me to practice harder and to continue to improve and join concerts & competitions. Generally, the event has developed a greater passion for piano in me.

7. Are you both planning on joining any other competitions?

Definitely! However, I’m only planning on joining a couple of competitions next year because I will be preparing my charity piano concert on the 2nd of September this year and my Licentiate Diploma in Music Performance (LTCL) exam this December.

J: I do have a few piano competitions ​in mind. One that I definitely plan to go to is the Steinway and Sons Piano Competition Malaysia in 2018. I have previously joined one more piano competition which is the Hong Kong Asia Pacific Piano Competition Malaysia. I won 3rd prize in the Preliminary Contest.

8. Your advice to learners who are struggling with time management between practice and studies.

In my opinion, self-discipline is extremely important. Every day, I’ll do my homework (after a quick shower and dinner). After finishing my homework, I usually get approximately 30 minutes to practice before going to sleep. To me, 30 minutes is not enough. So, I decided to wake up at 6am in the morning every day so that I can practice for an hour before I go to school, from 6:30 to 7:30. I’ll spend up to 3 hours to practice (4 hours if there's a competition coming soon) during weekends and school holidays.Be determined of what you want to do. If you do not have determination, then it will be hard to achieve your goal.

J: To those who are struggling with time managements with practice and studies, I say one thing. To set your priorities. I believe that we all have ample time in our lives, but only if we spend it wisely and rightfully. It all comes down to how we prioritise your activities. I choose to prioritise my academics and music. Hence, I spend the most time on it.