Austin Ma

LPC 2019

I have been taking piano lessons for 12 years, and the joy of being involved in music continues to grow. My grandparents initially instilled this love for music by playing games with me on my electric piano. During my free time, I often hover over to my piano and play my favorite pieces. I realized that my passion for music could not have taken shape without the guidance of my teachers, who emphasized personal enjoyment. I was aware that many of my friends quit their studies in music because their teachers required that they be successful in competitions or obtained high marks in examinations. The situation was common in my neighborhood, and I disliked seeing the purpose of learning an instrument being quantified into a mark or ranking.

This inspired me to start teaching piano myself, and upon obtaining my Elementary Piano Pedagogy degree, I already had four students. Teaching allowed me to gain new insights into education. I discovered the power of intrinsic motivation when I encouraged my youngest student to practice Happy Birthday so that he could play it in time for his father’s birthday. I normally gave him stickers to motivate him, but this time he learned the piece quicker and even tried improvising. Furthermore, I recognized the importance of tailoring my teaching methods to individual learning styles. When I began teaching a pair of identical twins, I thought it was realistic to teach them at the same time. I soon realized that their approach to learning music was vastly different, and although I still could not tell them apart, I could discern differences in their playing styles.

Finally, my experiences reinforced the reason why I decided to teach in the first place: making sure that students could enjoy learning music. At the sight of his exam repertoire books, one of my students would be brimming with anxiety. His spirits flourished, however, when I introduced him to jazz music. He expressed his desire to learn improvisation, a realm I was not too familiar with but was determined to learn with him. To give my students a chance to perform, I hosted a concert at a senior care center. As my youngest student began playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I witnessed an unexpected reaction from the audience, comprised mostly of seniors sitting in wheelchairs with their heads down. Hearing the familiar tune, they lifted their heads, some singing and clapping along. Music acted as an intergenerational bridge, and seeing the seniors’ smiles brought me a sense of fulfillment. I was inspired to spread the joy of music to those who could not play musical instruments themselves. As I enter senior year, I hope to provide my students with opportunities to perform for more audiences.

Music’s transformative power manifests as I see my students become more and more involved in their learning, and its capacity to kindle happiness was evident at the care center. I hope to extend beyond mentoring students and help communities such as the mentally ill lead constructive lives through music education.

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