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Bentley Music Academy aims to change music education in Malaysia

Bentley Music Academy aims to change music education in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA May 8 — The Bentley Music Academy (BMA), which today marked its official opening here with the motto, ”Performance First”, aims to change the face of music education in Malaysia.

BMA principal Paul Baker said Malaysia was overly obsessed with examinations which did not suit the music environment whereby, it was not about taking examinations and being tought solo in class.

"When we started to plan (setting up) an academy last year, our chairman, Phua Sin Loke, asked us to plan an academy which he had intended to focus, not on what we could achieve as a company, but on how we could make a real difference through a uniquely positive contribution to music education in Malaysia.

"We carried out a lot of research at the planning stage and discovered a number of issues we felt we could contribute to correcting.

"Firstly, as we all know, Malaysia, like many Asian countries, is overly obsessed with examinations. But music isn’t about taking examinations and being taught solo in little cubicles,” said Baker, a Briton, at the opening of the music academy by project director Ken Phua.

Baker said, while examinations were indeed, an important tool to monitor progress, music was much more about sharing the joy of music-making with others and communicating that joy to an audience, however big or small.

"This obsession with examinations has led to many music students giving up playing or developing a good technique, but with little real musicianship which can only come from the experience of playing regularly with others,” he noted.

He said, one of the approaches used at the academy was to ensure every member of the teaching faculty was performance-oriented.

Some of the tutors include Steve Thornton, an internationally-respected percussionist and Dr Oh Yann Shie, the first Malaysian to graduate from the prestigious Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire with a Doctorate in Piano Performance.

The academy, located at Mutiara Damanasara, has 22 acoustically-designed teaching studios, an impressive and versatile recital hall capable of seating 150 and a 400-seat concert hall. — Bernama