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Abia Ng - Keelite of the Month April 2016
2009 Music and Psychology
What am I doing now?
I am an independent freelance musician working in Hong Kong and Macao. I perform concerts and give piano lessons privately. In 2011, I released a Classical CD album but now I am working on my own albums - I debuted as a composer and released my first piano composition album in July 2014. In late September in 2014, my music was selected by a Taiwan Music Game Company for promotion.
Photo right: Promotional poster for my CD launch and
Photo left below: My piano tutor Carol Woods and myself, with two trophies that I won at music festivals
How did you get to where you are now?
I learned to play the piano when I was 5, and started composing when I was 8. My education in the UK began with GCSEs and then I moved to Royal School Armagh in 2004 for my A-Levels. I entered Keele University with a great passion to study Music and Psychology. At first, I did not think of being a freelance musician. I was actually aiming to be a music therapist. After I met my piano tutor Carol Woods, I settled on my career path. Carol encouraged me to participate in competitions and music festivals and I became the Music Scholar in Keele Chapel from 2007 to 2009.
I learned to play the organ with David West, accompanied the Chapel Singers Choir and played regularly for Chapel services and graduation ceremonies and special events at Keele Hall, too. This trained my confidence to deal with stage fright.
At Keele, the most interesting part was to listen and explore more in the field of music, and to work with different instrumentalists. I also experienced playing compositions by my Keele mates. Through the Psychology module, I began to explore the relationship between the sound of music and emotions. That is why I also love composing, too.
In my final year, I achieved ALCM (Associate Diploma of London College of Music) with distinction and I also received an offer from University of Leeds to study for a Master’s in Music Performance. I received LLCM (Licentiate of London College of Music) with merit in December 2015. I returned to Hong Kong and worked in a private music company. Coincidently, I met a sound engineer who encouraged me to do what I actually dream for - I decided to become an independent freelance musician. I recorded my CD albums in 2011 and 2013. I have appeared on TV and radio, at press conferences, and in newspapers and magazines.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Achieving the LLCM, I guess. This exam took five years to prepare for and it fulfilled a promise between me, Carol Woods and my piano duet partner Laura Wloskowicz, whom I met at Keele. Releasing my second CD album was also a big achievement; simply because I never thought I could release my own compositions.
Photo left: Lauren Taylor, myself and Laura Wloskowicz at the Graduation Ball, 2009.
And your biggest mistake?
Well, who does not make mistakes when they are young and growing up? I still make them, but I learn from them.
What are your ambitions now?
To speak Japanese! I hope to collaborate with Japanese musicians. I am aiming to go on a concert tour to perform my compositions in Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore and Toronto. I want to share the joy of my music with others, I hope everyone can enjoy listening to it and I hope that my music can uplift others. I also plan to become a music examiner under the London College of Music in the future.
Photo right: With Keele friends in 2009 and Photo left below: The same friends gather in 2013 in Newcastle-under-Lyme - same poses! Nur Azimah Said, Laura Wloskowicz, myself, Lucy Jeffery - Emily Gaffney, Shabbir Kapasi, Evangeline Kirupairajah.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
If you want to become an independent freelance musician, make sure you listen more, practise more and perform more. Listening allows you to find your own "music" or “sound”. Practising makes things perfect, which is also a self-learning and achievement process. Performing is a way to learn how to communicate with the audiences. Oh! Better learn some business management, too, so that you can run your own music business! As a freelance musician, I have found it hard to find time to rest properly since I love to do everything, whether for my students or my own career etc. Make sure there is time for yourself to rest.
What made you choose Keele University?
It was a great choice because I could study both Music and Psychology. With the historical feeling of the Clock House and the isolation of the Music School, I just fell in love with it straight away.
What kind of a student were you?
I was just a normal student, who loved staying at the Clock House and practising until midnight. Thank you to the Security team who took care of me and made sure I was safe all the time. I loved hanging out with my friends at the Union too. On days with no deadlines or performances, I was sometimes just lazy, wandering on campus.
Photo right: In the Chapel with Phil Regan (my UK guardian family) in my Keele BA robes
How has Keele influenced your life?
I regarded Keele as “my home” when I was in UK. Now, although I worked in Hong Kong, I visit Keele every year or two. I met a lot of great friends, including staff, and people from the neighbourhood and other countries and we keep in touch. And I still have piano lessons with Carol Woods.
What is your favourite memory at Keele?
I loved star-gazing and wandering around on campus at night. Oh! Having ice-cream (always with Laura) and playing with snow at Keele Hall with my friends. One of the favourite memories happened around midnight. I was having dinner and drinking at the room of my best friend Sun Ho from South Korea. Suddenly, I felt a shake in the room, but Sun Ho teased me that I was drunk. A few seconds later, books and decorations began to fall down from the shelf, and we realised it was indeed a little earthquake.
Photo left above: Abia in concert Macao Cultural Centre, 27th January 2013.
What is your impression of Keele now?
Never changing. The most beautiful and strong-bonding staff and people are very nice and friendly. I am proud to be a Keelite, forever Keele.
Anything else you would like to add?
Music is a universal language; it can uplift your spirit and can comfort your heart too. Thank you very much to everyone I met at Keele. I had a great time and I miss it a lot.