When Cecilia Chen arrived from Shanghai six years ago her new piano teacher wasn’t impressed.
But the 17-year-old has improved markedly and recently received the top mark in the 2008 Trinity Guild Hall Licentiate Auckland examinations.
"I just started enjoying piano three years ago," Cecilia says.
"Before that it was just my mum forcing me.
"I think my piano teacher taught me how to feel and be involved with the piano, to communicate and express my own feelings through my music."
She says attitudes in China towards music are different.
"People just practise technique every day, whereas here I learnt how to feel the music more than simply gaining the physical skills."
Her teacher Moira Moore was unaware of that cultural difference at first.
"She wasn’t a good pianist when she first came to me and I didn’t think she’d go very far," she says.
"Cecilia didn’t have any feeling in her music.
"It takes a while to get the music coming from within because they’re taught more by rote over there."
An examiner from England assessed the Point View resident’s recital.
Cecilia’s first movement in a Beethoven sonata was "imaginatively vivid and technically outstanding".
Similar praise dominates her examination report alongside her 92/100 mark.
She’ll receive the diploma this month and will also perform – a prospect that in the past would have unnerved her.
"I’m not nervous any more because I’ve done a lot of performances outside for senior citizens and resthomes," Cecilia says.
"So I’m now quite comfortable playing in public.
"My piano teacher really helped me. She taught me everything."
Cecilia will now work on gaining the next qualification standard, which is the "highest professional level".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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