"As a music student, if you want to step out of your comfort zone, to improve and open up yourself to new experiences, I highly recommend going on an exchange for sure!"
Photo by: Hannes Wikström
Monica Tang is a pianist and classical music student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. During spring 2021 she was an exchange student at The School of Music, Theatre and Art (Musikhögskolan) Örebro university. From January to June, she studied in the chamber music program majoring in piano, and took part in all kinds of music projects. We met Monica on Zoom to ask a few questions about her experiences as an exchange student.
Did you improve as a pianist and musician during your exchange period here at The School of Music, Theatre and Art?
- Most importantly, I improved a lot in technical aspects. During the lessons with my piano teacher Lena Johnson, she helped me to solve technical problems that I had before. She also helped me to open up different ways of playing the piano, by using different methods, and exploring new tone colors. I think, when I compare the beginning to the end of the exchange period, I improved a lot as a pianist, I have more ease playing the piano now!
Musically, as a pianist I had the chance to perform with different singers and instrumentalists in chamber music ensembles. I think that the best part of the program is the chamber music seminars, where you have lessons with different teachers, playing different instruments.
- I´m not used to be able to take lessons with other instrumental teachers like this, but I think it made me absorb lots of new knowledge, in terms of being a musician and how to study more deeply into the music. When you play with different people and learn from different teachers, everyone will bring new inspiration and different perspectives, in this sense you get a more complete sense of the piece that you are playing.
How was your general feeling about being a student at Örebro University, as a part of The School of Music, Theatre and Art?
- The first thing must be the Swedish culture, you are very amiable and lighthearted all the time. People are relaxed over what they want to do, and they can have the freedom to decide on what kind of music they want to play. At the same time people are very serious, focused and dedicated about music making. I like this balance very much. It differs a lot from where I am from, Hong Kong can be more competitive in comparison. The environment at The School of Music, Theatre and Art is very flexible and encourages you to grow at your own pace, basically.
And what did you feel about the place, studying, practicing, and being in the building at The School of Theatre, Music and Art?
- The Concert Hall, with its acoustics and the Steinway grand piano, which is one of the best I have ever played. This is an outstanding feature of The School of Music, Theatre and Art in Örebro! I also enjoyed the 24-hour access to the practice facilities. Moreover, people are just welcoming, friendly and willing to help. As an exchange student you may encounter many difficulties at first, so its very good to know that people are there to help.
Do you have any particularly good memory from your time in Örebro?
- Yes of course! I think that my best memory is the piano student´s recital. First of all, you get a lot of performing opportunities at this institution, that is also a good thing about the program. At this Piano recital I performed a very challenging piece by Chopin. I remember receiving lessons from three different teachers to prepare for it. And then the performance felt like a great achievement, one of my best moments on stage!
Why would you recommend anyone to make an exchange?
- As an exchange student, one of the things you learn is working with people from different cultural backgrounds. It can be a valuable asset for your future career, especially in such a globalized society. There are great teachers and the program design is very flexible and inspiring. People are very helpful, and you can always speak in English very relaxingly. As a music student, if you want to step out of your comfort zone, to improve and open up yourself to new experiences, I highly recommend going on an exchange for sure!
Interview by: Hannes Wikström