I believe that music is a global language, and I love that music is able to bring across emotions to the audience. Understanding a piece, the story behind the piece, the background of the composer, and the feelings of the piece is a process that I really enjoy – it helps me perform the piece in a way where I feel like, perhaps, I am a tiny part of the composer’s brain (since there is no way I think I could ever perfectly encapsulate 100% of the composer’s thoughts in my performances; it would always be an interpretation of some sort).
My name is Alice, I’m 23, and I’m from Sydney, Australia. I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Computer Science and Music at the University of Sydney.
I chose my career because computer science was interesting to me – I’ve always enjoyed researching and understanding new technologies. I also love watching movies and other forms of digital media, as well as gaming. This led to an interest in how technology software works, so I chose coding units. I eventually transferred from my Music Performance degree to a Science degree so that I could major in both Music and Computer Science.
Like the typical Chinese child, my mum made me learn piano when I was a kid. However, I actually really enjoyed playing and took the initiative to practise, so I’ve always had a natural interest in music. I also have enjoyed listening to music pretty much my whole life. It feels only natural that I continue this involvement in music by working as a music teacher.
Chopin is by far my favourite pianist and a big musical influence – I really enjoy his romantic style, and I think his pieces are the most gorgeous things I’ve ever heard. My favourite is his Nocturne Opus 9 No 1; I learned this piece when I was only 8 and have loved it ever since. Also, pieces like his Fantasie Impromptu have really captured my heart.
I became a music teacher with the help of the piano accompanist for my Cello Cmus exam – she opened a piano school and she hired me without ever having heard me play piano. I think she heard from others about my level of playing and just trusted that I was capable. I was so nervous – I feel confident in performing, but to this day, I am never fully confident in my teaching because every child is different and there is always so much to learn while teaching.
I try my best to teach my students independent thinking and understanding. Since there is no way I will be there for them whenever they are learning, practising, or performing, the student must be able to make interpretive decisions by themselves, based on their understanding of music. So, I always try not to spoon-feed my students, but instead try to have them form their own opinions and thoughts (and especially to be confident in their responses when I ask them questions about the pieces in class).
I think every lesson with students is a favourite experience, even though I’m quite anxious about teaching because I have high expectations for myself and the students. The process is so fascinating and I always enjoy learning different things about my students and figuring out the best ways to teach students with different learning methods.
Currently, my only goal is to become more confident and relaxed in my teaching. In the future, I also hope to learn a lot more classic pieces for all my instruments (piano, violin, and cello).
I definitely think music has benefited the way I approach the computer science part of my degree. Although learning an instrument is nothing like writing a program from scratch, it is somewhat similar to composing a piece – structures must be present, and there are different sections, different textures, and different harmonies. To me, this translates across as different sections, different classes, and different ideas of programming.
My advice to anyone who wants to learn how to play an instrument is that interest goes a long way. It is so easy to tell when a student is genuinely interested in music and fond of the instrument they are learning. Make sure you find the fun in learning, and don’t think of it as a tedious, repetitious routine. Also, you must know that feeling frustrated when trying to fix mistakes is inevitable, and it absolutely does not mean that you are not suitable for learning.
There is always more than tech. Technology is pretty much the basis of modern-day society – everyone uses it, some rely on it, and some find it hard to learn. Music is similar in many ways: everyone has interacted with it at some point; some love it, some don’t. The social construct is very similar, and so is the structure of creating both. I think it’s very important to share passions for both forms of creation.