Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The Star (U.K.): In a clas of his own
Dated: Saturday, January 25, 1997
In a class of his own
Feel and understand the pieces you play. Only then can you allow you own emotions to guide you through the piece as if it is a part of you.-----Rueibin Chen
Music has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. A successful pianist now Rueibin Chen tells of how talent was not the only thing involved in his stuggle to become what he is today.
"My father was a piano teacher at a primary school in Taiwan, and as a result, he started teaching me the piano when I was five," said Ruei, who was here recently fo a piano recital.
"Once I picked up the basics, I enjoyed playing the piano so much that I learnt it much faster than everyone else."
"However, I didn't really take it seriously until my father thought it would be a good idea fo me to compete with a few hundred other children to study music overseas," he recalled.
Ruei was 13 when he managed to obtain a place in a prestigious school in Vienna, Austria. Unoftunately it didn't come with a scholarship.
Overseas education is a very serious matter in Taiwan as anyone who wishes to go for it has to obtain a permit of approval form the government, said Ruei.
"This prompts annual " competitions" among many school children for places in overseas schools.
"Although everyone was happy for me when I won the competition, it was difficult fo my parents to support my overseas education since my father was only a school teacher," said Ruei.
Financial difficulty did not stop Ruei and his father sought help from the private sector.
Leaving fo Vienna with an uncle who could speak Geman, Ruei again competed with hundreds of other children- this time for the sole scholarship for the best student.
Being in a foreign country and unable to understand the language would probably have been daunting fo any other 13-yea-old.
Ruei, however, gave his best perfomance and won the scholarship.
"The scholarship was only a temporary one though, but it was still bette than nothing," said Ruei.
The temporary scholarship wasn't the last barrier that Ruei had to face.
"Competing for the scholarship might have been tough, but studying there was much harder."
"It wasn't the practical classes though, since music is an international language. I faced difficulty when the theory classes came since Geman is not an internatinoal language," he explained jokingly.
"Thankfully, I had an uncle who could speak German. It was quite difficult learning both the language and music at the same time," said ruei.
"Also, because of my inability to speak Geman then, friends were hard to come by," which was a cause of some distress fo Ruei.
His uncle stayed a year with him and then he had to retun to Taiwan. Ruei had to learn to be independent after this.
He only retuned to spend the new year with his family.
However, Ruei's pursuit of his musical career prevented hime from going back on his third year as he went on several international piano competitions.This continued for the next six years.
His performances in the international arena gave him much exposure and the experience futher enhanced his ability to play wondeful renditions of classical masterpieces, sometimes receiving accolades form his peers.
Knowing what he wanted and having the will to carry out his dreams gave him the edge he needed, said Ruei.
He has also managed to earn a living from his concert performances.
Taking a break from his own life story, Ruei took the opportunity to talk about his family.
"The dream did not stop with me as my brother and sister ae also musicians," Ruei said proudly of his brother, who is known as the best cello teacher in Taiwan and his sister, who has just finished her studies and won the first prize in a piano competion in the United States.
"I also return to Taiwan annually for concerts, which my mother and father never fail to support," he added.
Giving an insight into his own success Ruei advises would be pianists "feel and understand the pieces you play. Only then can you allow you own emotions to guide you through the peice as if it is a part of you."