Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday and Wednesday 2/6/2007 and 2/7/2007

Hi all!

Thanks for your messages -- it's nice to stay in touch a bit with my US life!

Just concluded two busy work days here in Kuala Lumpur. Yesterday (Tuesday) I was at two music schools -- pre-university, that is. In the morning my audience was primarily piano teachers, and I gave sessions on Piano Music of the Americas and on Improvisation. These were followed by a masterclass working with 6 pretty good young pianists. Then after a quick lunch, off to another music school where I gave the American piano music session again, this time the audience about half and half teachers and students. Followed up with a 5-student master class -- a couple of quite good players. There was a light dinner for everyone afterwards, for which I was ready! We even tossed a Chinese New Year salad -- everyone gathers around the table and, using chopsticks, tosses the 'salad' which is mostly thin noodles and some matchstick vegetables, with ginger and a few other things. It was fun to take part in the ritual.

After dinner I stayed at the music school to practice -- haven't really been at a piano since Friday! One of the teachers took me back to the city afterwards, pretty late, around 10 PM.

The school owners both trained in the UK - a common overseas destination for Malaysians. They tend to go to UK, US or Australia. I'm hoping to get a few of these talented ones to think US!

Today, Wednesday, I was at two universities in the Kuala Lumpur area. Spent the morning at University Malaysia, first with what they called a master class but was actually private lessons, an hour each with two university students. The students paid for this themselves, so it was not open to any audience. One of them was extremely talented and well trained, and thinking about coming to the States; I hope he will contact me! Then I gave a presentation to a large student audience; this time on Memorization. These poor kids tend to go through piano training never required to memorize pieces, until suddenly they have to play a senior recital which is all memorized. I encouraged them to memorize their pieces whether they are required to or not! I think they got some good ideas from me -- hope so! The campus is what I'd call a city campus -- not a lot of green space, big buildings, but clean and seems well-run and well-organized. Pretty good-sized music program, at least for Malaysia. Classical music is a luxury item here, university students tend to want to major in engineering or computer science or some other financially-lucrative field. Some go into a music major as a back-up when they are not accepted into their first choice field; the ones who make music their first choice are almost sure to have plans to go abroad for graduate work.

No time for lunch, had to go straight to University Putra Malaysia, a little south of KL. Got there expecting to have an hour to warm up on the piano, but there were miscommunications and they were expecting me to play right then! I got about 10 minutes to try out the piano, a lovely 9-foot Steinway only about 10 years old and beautifully maintained. I played an abbreviated, 1-hour version of my recital program -- Haydn, Van de Vate, Copland, Castillo, Pinto, Ginastera. Then a hurried and not terribly inspiring bite to eat before more private master class students -- two very talented and hard working seniors. Again, I'd love to see them come stateside! The main piano professor is a young Malaysian who, once again, went to the UK for masters and doctorate. This campus is in the suburbs south of KL, so the campus is spacious and has lots of green areas; a lot of the buildings are smaller and more scattered. Very pleasant.

Then an hour's ride back to the city, and at last I have some leisure time! The owner of one of the schools from yesterday, Ms. Fan, is going to meet me later for dinner and to show me around a little -- she's a very outgoing, fun, and hardworking young woman, started a successful business on her own and has a lot of teachers working for her now. Very interested in trying to raise piano teaching standards here.

Tomorrow, I get to explore Kuala Lumpur a bit. Not sure exactly where I'm going to go, except for sure shopping for handcrafts. I know where to go for that, anyway!

People keep offering to take me for Western food -- but I am very happy to enjoy all the great Asian cuisine here! Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese are prevalent and delicious. Chicken and seafood are by far the most popular meats here -- acceptable to Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims. The Chicken and Rice brand restaurants are about as common here as McDonalds in the US! I've seen a ton of KFCs too.

Some day I'll finish Sunday's entry -- I haven't forgotten about it!

Love to all,


Last updated 12/07. Copyright 2007 by Richard C. Morenus. Questions? Send email to richard.c@morenus.org