Kwan Sew Yuen

Founder/Music Entrepreneur at Don Piano Wizard Academy, Malaysia

BA Professional Practice (Music Education), 2011

What made you choose Middlesex University?:

I chose Middlesex University because of the quality of its academic programmes and its international reputation.

Middlesex University was the first and only foreign western university that had established a partnership agreement (twinning programme) with a private college in Malaysia in early 1990s, offering a reputable degree programme in music. Subsequently, it also partnered a similar programme with Yamaha Music Academy in Malaysia.

What course did you study and what attracted you to that course?:

I studied a top-up Bachelor of Arts in Professional Practice (Music Education) Degree Programme. It enabled me to study for 3 modules only and graduate in 15 months; other universities would require 4 to 8 modules and a longer graduating time. So, Middlesex University’s programme was much more time and cost-effective for me.

Middlesex University is the pioneer and leader in work-based studies in the UK. I centred my studies in the workplace.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy the most?:

I always loved searching for and reading Middlesex University’s online electronic journals and articles when I was doing my assignments, and sometimes for the sake of pure reading pleasure.

I also loved the oral presentation (viva-voce) over the telephone with my supervisors, as it consolidated my project works as a whole and translated them into speeches and live communication! It was also a nerve-breaking live session over more than two hours!

What is your fondest memory of Middlesex?:

My happiest moments while studying at Middlesex University were getting compliments from my lecturers after revising my drafts/assignments well, and being able to translate these into final works and getting good grades. I will always remember and treasure the critical yet constructive feedback that I received from my lecturers as well as my entire academic research experience.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?:

You must have a great passion for music if you want to study and make it your future career. Of course, you will need to have a minimum level of talent, too. Emotional support from your family is important as well, as people generally think that music cannot give you a great career, which is not true.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are professionally today?:

My studies with Middlesex University have enabled me to top-up my Diploma of Higher Education (Professional Music) to a BA degree. This has opened doors for me during my career and further studies. Also, my BA degree from Middlesex University has allowed me to gain entry into a music master's degree programme in the UK.

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university?:

I was working full-time as the head of music department in an international school at Malaysia while studying part-time with Middlesex University. I left the international school in 2013 and continued to work at my own music academy until present - Don Piano Wizard Academy. A lot of skills are still transferable from working at the international school to working on my own.

What has been your defining career break of highlight to date?:

I had been working as the head of music department for 7 years in an international school in Malaysia. My studies with Middlesex University further promoted significant contributions and values to the school. My academic research proved that the music curricula of the school at that time was better than in the past.

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?:

For those who intend to become music educators, you will need to have solids skills in three areas: (1) High music performance skills (2) Music pedagogy (3) Human/psychological skills with students.

What skills have been most valuable in your career so far and how have you developed these?:

I have developed my English writing and oral presentation skills intensively and substantially after completed my academic research project. The critical thinking skills, problem-solving, research skills as well as time management skills were acquired from completing the research project and enabled me to be meticulous, thorough and resourceful in my work. These skills also prepared me well for my upcoming master's degree programme in the UK.

Are there any tips you can give international students looking to move abroad to study?:

Paper qualification and subject knowledge are, of course, essentially important. But you can also gain life-long friendships and a professional network in the UK, too. Enjoy the UK's diversified cultures as well!

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