Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Introducing Nabillah Jalal

Because sometimes its good to offer a helping hand, especially when I finally have some time to take a breather and update my own blog. Nabillah Jalal is the only one of the few Singaporeans to be accepted in the Royal College of Music's recent intake of piano students. Unfortunately she's rather strapped for cash at the moment. Below is the letter she sent in, go give it a read and see if you are able to help. Thanks!

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Hello The Mad Scene,

My name is Nabillah Jalal and I am 19 years old.

Recently, I have been granted instant acceptance to the world's number 1 conservertoire, Royal College Music (RCM) in London which accepts only 14 students worldwide annually to its RCM's Bachelor of Music (Piano) course and I am very thrilled to be part of this select group of pianists. However, an education abroad in one of the world's finest music conservatories is beyond my family's financial reach and we need all the help we can get to enable me to go forth and grasp this huge opportunity.

We are currently trying our best to pool our resources for this and I am also currently seeking financial help through various scholarships and the assistance of my MP. I am writing to you in hope that the local media will be interested to pick up my story and through it, reach out to a community who might be able to offer us some help.

Some clips of my past performances can be found here (http://youtu.be/cbUzf91P2Z8) I can also be contacted at nabillahjalal@gmail.com or +65 9620 3874 and I look forward to a positive reply from you.

15 comments:

  1. Interesting post, and I deeply sympathise. Just wondered if she had considered applying for a place in NAFA (which has a tie-in with Royal College of Music in London) or Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, which offers full scholarships for talented students. For the cash strapped, that would be a more realistic option.

    I mean, I would have loved to have studied Medicine in UK, but was grateful to have gotten a place in NUS (with sizeable government subsidies), and that was where I stayed. Anyone good enough for RCM would be good enough for YST, right?

    The Chopin Etude shows raw talent, so by all means pursue your dream, in London or Singapore!

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  2. Replying to Chang Tou Liang - with regards to your last sentence of the 2nd paragraph, it is not necessarily so. There are two main differences here - RCM is always actively searching for students from the East as evidenced by their annual recruitment here. Many budding pianists have gotten initial acceptance, with a 'scholarship' being dangled along with it. However, further down the line, one finds out that the amount of scholarship is in actual fact, very little. One ends up paying close to full tuition, which is exactly what RCM wants and needs from international students.

    Yong Siew Toh, on the other hand, gives out full scholarships, and precisely because of this, their selection of incoming students is very small and extremely selective, compared to the numbers accepted by RCM yearly. I have known of quite a few pianists being accepted into RCM but not YST in the past few years. It is a similar case with Curtis compared with other pretigious colleges in the States - the former being a full scholarship institution, therfore, highly more competitive and selective in their audition process.

    In the past 10 years or so, the lure of overseas paying students have helped keep British music colleges (faced with their unending and often unsuccessful quest for more government funding) afloat, so that the standard of music students accepted can vary greatly.

    I know, because I myself is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music.

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    1. Dear anonymous,

      i am saddened that you feel that you've been used as, for lack of better word, a cash cow but i am highly doubtful that your statement regarding prestigious colleges to be true.

      why would colleges like RCM put in time and effort to fly their staff to asia (and the rest of the world) when they can easily hold the audition in london and accept those with mediocre talent but with money to travel. wont this be much easier for them to guarantee their funding as you suggest?

      thus, as your statement does not have any evidence nor do they have much logic, i would appreciate if you would keep your implied suggestions (that people like nabillah lack talent when they are accepted into such schools) to yourself.

      thanks in advance.

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    2. Read my post again -
      1. I was merely replying specifically to the "last sentence of the 2nd paragraph" by Chang Tou Liang.
      2. I highlighted the differences in the acceptance procedures of both schools
      3. I did not question nor make any judgements on her abilities and talent
      4. I am not questioning the prestige and reputation of RCM as it is too subjective - everyone, informed or otherwise, has their own preferences
      5. I reiterate that my statements on "the lure of overseas paying students have helped keep British music colleges afloat" but I did not say nor suggest that they accept any Tom, Dick and Harry.
      4. Incidentally, Nabillah did not get into YST.

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  3. Dear Anonymous 1,

    In my opinion, I am sure she is aware of the scholarships available and has been sending out scholarship applications as well as writing in to various organizations to seek for help. Why should someone settle for second best when clearly, RCM, a school with such a rich history and prestige, decides to accept her? Yes, RCM might have given instant acceptances before and she might not be the only one but does that not speak volumes of her gift by being accepted by RCM? And also, I'm sure none of us have heard of a Malay professional classical pianist.

    I'm sure RCM will not take in any random person on this planet just for the sake of the hefty school fees. I think she has the potential to put SG's classical music scene on the world map, given a chance to do so.

    It is unfair to simply generalize that a prestigious school like RCM will stoop to such a low level and take in international students for the sake of the hefty school fees to cope with the volatile economy in UK.

    I am sorry to say that you, ex-student of RAM, are making unfair judgments based on your own scenario and it is not right to imply they will repeat the same thing again.

    Terrence Koh

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    1. Dear Terrence,

      Read my post again -
      1. I was merely replying specifically to the "last sentence of the 2nd paragraph" by Chang Tou Liang.
      2. I highlighted the differences in the acceptance procedures of both schools
      3. I did not question nor make any judgements on her abilities and talent
      4. I am not questioning the prestige and reputation of RCM as it is too subjective - everyone, informed or otherwise, has their own preferences
      5. I reiterate that my statements on "the lure of overseas paying students have helped keep British music colleges afloat" but I did not say nor suggest that they accept any Tom, Dick and Harry.
      4. Incidentally, Nabillah did not get into YST

      Delete
  4. Write:
    Dear Anonymous 1,

    I feel offended by your implications. I happen to know Nabillah Jalal personally and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that she is incredibly talented.

    She believes in what RCM can provide for her and help her with. She believes that RCM, an internationally recognised school, knows that she deserves this opportunity. She believes in herself, that she can do what she wants and that what other people say or do won't deter her from her dreams.

    It takes a lot of guts to put yourself in a position of vulnerability and to ask for assistance but for a gift as formidable, for RCM to give an instant acceptance, I'm sure that it was worth it.

    Who are you to suggest that she is not enough for RCM just because RCM was not enough for you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Read my post again -
      1. I was merely replying specifically to the "last sentence of the 2nd paragraph" by Chang Tou Liang.
      2. I highlighted the differences in the acceptance procedures of both schools
      3. I did not question nor make any judgements on her abilities and talent
      4. I am not questioning the 'prestige' and 'reputation' of RCM as it is too subjective - everyone, informed or otherwise, has their own preferences
      5. I reiterate that my statements on "the lure of overseas paying students have helped keep British music colleges afloat" but I did not say nor suggest that they accept any Tom, Dick and Harry.
      4. Incidentally, Nabillah did not get into YST

      Delete
  5. Hang on.

    If RCM is the world's number 1 conservatoire, then where do schools like the Moscow Conservatory stand?

    The Moscow Conservatory counts the following pianists as their graduates- Mikhail Pletnev, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Dimitri Bashkirov, Boris Berezovsky, Boris Berman, Dang Thai Son, Ivo Pogerelich, Sviatoslav Richter, Sergei Rachmaninoff

    I'll like to see the RCM match that list of pianists they churned out. And if they can, i have even more graduates from Moscow to list.

    If she is really good, the colleges in Europe. Germany has the likes of colleges such as HMT Hannover, which has graduates such as Yeol Eum Son (3rd prize van cliburn competition 2010), and Li Yundi (chopin competition 2000 gold medal) to boast about.

    Evgeni Bozhanov, 4th prize van cliburn, 5th prize Chopin, graduated from HMT Dusseldorf.

    From the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, current and ex students include Alice Sara Ott (DG Artist), Lars Vogt (Leeds prizewinner).

    On top of that, there's the Queen Sofia College of Music in Madrid, where the keyboard department is helmed by the pedagogue Dimitri Bashkirov, who was the teacher of the legendary Arcadi Volodos.

    The Queen Sofia, if you are interested to know, doesn't charge its students a single cent, and students there are sponsored by external parties.

    Now, my point in listing out all that, was to show that there are much better schools in Europe, which much more impressive graduates than Vanessa Mae, which will charge a fraction of the amount which the RCM is charging. Not forgetting, living expenses will be considerably cheaper in Europe.

    Now, surely, if, judging by the way Nabillah has been seen as a "prodigy", shouldn't she have no problem getting into any of the schools in Europe?

    And i'm not the initial "Anonymous" who posted, but in reply to the most recent poster, yes, it DOES take a rocket scientist to know that she is incredibly talented.

    I'm now wondering if you've actually heard other recordings of her Brahms? Or have you just heard hers?

    try this.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT5GwMKzOOI

    I was initially tempted to link a video of Martha Argerich playing the same piece, but decided that'll be too unfair a comparison.

    This recording is of a non-professional pianist, who, according to the video, was only 14 at the time of the recording.

    Listen to that, and give Nabillah's video another listen.

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  6. Oh yes.

    I should also add that the application window for colleges in Germany for entry in September 2012, is somewhere around now, and their auditions are in May/June.

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  7. Hi curious,

    I just can’t resist but to reply to your post. Your post first talked about the various schools more ‘famous’ than the RCM (in your opinion). Accordingly, these schools produced several famous (not necessarily excellent, in my opinion) pianists, such as pletnev, pogorelich, etc. etc.

    Then you proceeded to argue that if Miss Nabillah is really that talented, then she should have no problems getting into other schools.

    Then you were ‘tempted’ to include a link to an Argerich video to state that perhaps Miss N is not as talented as Miss A. or the 14 year old.


    So I would presume you would describe Argerich as talented? But if you know her background, you would have realized that she (Gasp!!) did not go to any music schools/conservatories!! Does that mean that she has less talent? Does not winning the Chopin competition or not entering the finals of that competition means you have less talent? As an example, Pogorelich did not even get to the finals of the chopin competition and Miss A. (part of the jury) resigned because she thought he was a ‘genius ‘. Perhaps she was less talented than the other jury members in recognizing a talent? !

    Certainly, not winning prizes at competitions or not being schooled in music conservatories are an indication of talent. It’s all very subjective. I trust that music professor who decided to offer Miss N. thought that she was talented and perhaps have potential. That’s enough for him and her.

    If you don’t think she’s talented, that's just your opinion. You don’t have to donate money for her cause, . You don’t owe the monopoly on what is talent and what is not. You sound just like a bitter person who probably wish to go to a music school but was rejected (oh- that’s my personal opinion, of course)

    david
    p.s. did I mention that I’m Miss A.’s fan? I attended few of her concerts in London and also attended her festival at Lugano twice. But I’m probably not as talented as you are. Just richer. And more bitchy.

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  8. Fair enough. I see your point. Now thats the debate on her talent.

    we could go on and on about how talented she is, and the debate will never end.

    But instead of harping on the fact she has no money to go to RCM, why not try elsewhere? :)

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  9. Tramping on the aspirations of a teenager is not cool Curious, especially while doing so anonymously by hiding behind an alias. I have to say you really do come across as being bitter in your previous post; I'm sure there are ways to put your point across without assorting to personal insults.

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  10. I really dont understand why there is a debate on whether she is talented or not. Does it really matter? At the very least she has managed to gain a place in RCM and you have not. In comparison she is definitely much more talented than the lot of you. She is just a teenager, she has room to grow. It does not benefit her in any way if you unwittingly trample on her dreams. What she is asking for is donations and if you are unwilling, go elsewhere. It is her life and she has obviously considered her options. If she thinks the RCM is what's best for her, then why continue to bitch about her choice in life?

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