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Interview - Symphonia Academy of Music

by on 02/04/2015 3139

Established since 2003, Symphonia Academy of Music (formerly known as Sinfonia Academy of Music) provides comprehensive music courses while focusing on promoting quality and innovative music courses to different age groups and levels of music enthusiasts. Kiddy123 managed to meet with the owner, Ms. Felicia Chen to learn more about Symphonia Academy of Music.


Please give us some basic intro of SYM.

Symphonia Child Development Sdn Bdh. was established in 2003 with the purpose of developing and promoting our self-developed young children course, YoungChild Music Course (YMC). The YMC programme consists of two parts:

  • Music For Young Kids (MYK) for ages 3-4 years old
  • YMC Keyboard Course for ages 4-6 years old.

Apart from teaching the YMC programme at Symphonia Academy of Music, we also provide trainings to teachers on how to teach the programme. About 6 schools are currently using our YMC programme.

The founders of Symphonia Child Development Sdn. Bhd. are myself and Ms. Lee Li Fern. Ms. Lee Li Fern was the Managing Director of Symphonia since 2003 till 2012. However, when Ms. Lee left the company in 2012, I took over the post of Managing Director. The Symphonia Child Development Sdn. Bhd. merged with Sinfonia Academy of Music in 2007 to better managed the YMC programme. I have been the Principal of Sinfonia Academy of Music since 2002 and later the Principal of Symphonia Academy of Music in 2007.



So what inspired you to set up the academy?

I studied in the US and obtained a Bachelor of Music in Performance and have a Master in Music Education. My major instrument is the piano. I worked for other music schools for 2 years after coming back from US. I started the Sinfonia Academy of Music in 2002 in order to fulfil my dream and to do what I want to do, such as organizing events for children for more exposure. 

Symphonia focuses on organising events such as music workshops , concerts, seminars and camps to provide opportunities for the students to enrich their musical experience. For example, we have 3 upcoming concerts which will be held on 16, 20 and 27 J at the Gardens Theatre, The Gardens Mall. The 16 June 2015 is a public event in which we collaborate with Kien Strings to organise masterclasses and concert conducted by the Romer String Quartet from Hong Kong. The “Legend of Dusun” concert on 20 June 2015 is our own school concert, organised by a group of teenagers who are passionate about music. They form their own bands to perform their compositions in the concert. On the other hand, the “We Believe” concert which will be held on 27 June 2015 figures a collaborative concert between the normal and the special needs children. An art exhibition by a few special needs children will also be held at the foyer of the concert hall.


Why is it important to learn Music for children?

Actually a lot of students who learn music will not end up studying music or build a music career. However, music does help students to develop their focus,
attention and discipline because only hard work can produce successful performance. Such performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. Music also helps them to learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions as well as improving their communicative skills. For example, through singing, it improves students’ language skills.

We also have programs for special needs, especially for the autistic children. These children have problems in interacting, communicating and working with other people. Teaching them to sing helps them to improve their language. It helps a lot because these students are usually sensitive to music. Not all special needs centres will use this method, because music therapy is still very new in Malaysia, usually parents will send their children to speech or occupational therapy, they seldom thought of music as a therapeutic way to improve their social and interaction skills.


What are the courses you provide? What age groups of students do you teach?

We provide courses for piano, violin, guitar (acoustic, electronic and classical), vocal, ear training class, band ensemble, composition, YMC programme as well as music classes, play therapy and enrichment programme for special needs children.

Our students' age ranges from 3 ½ to 50 years old. The appropriate age to start learning music is about 3 years old. Students of 3 years will start their musical journey with the Music for Young Kids (MYK) programme in which they learn music and movement. This programme  helps the young children to develop their listening skills and imagination, and sense of rhythm and beats. We also have students who are more than 50 years old, but they usually learn music for fun and leisure.


Have your centre produced any outstanding young musicians?

I can't say that we had produced any outstanding young musicians but we do have a handful of students who had gone through their music education at Symphonia and later pursue their study in different fields and completed their Bachelors or Master’s degree. Most of them did not go into music, because most parents felt that the music career would not bring any prospective income. But we do encourage them to allow their children to continue their passion in music because a lot of them, even when they entered colleges, they still continue to play instruments or involve in some musical activities.



How parents know their child has talents in music?

Normally parents don’t know unless the parents have some music background. They send their children for music classes not because they realise that their children have a talent in music, but because they want the children to learn a skill that their children may find useful in their later life. Besides, music learning is a healthy extra curriculum.

Actually, to judge whether the child is talented or not can only be evaluated by the teacher. Children who are really talented respond to music very well. Some of them have perfect pitch, are able to sing back a tune and follow the beats easily.



How many grades/levels are there per course?

We have Grade 1 to Grade 8, and we also have a diploma levels. It depends the period of time a student can complete the whole course. For example, even though they’ve started at an early age, some students only manage to complete Grade 8 theory and practical when they’re in college, but some of them were able to complete their Grade 8 by the age of 15 years old.



Why is it better to learn music from SYM? What are your philosophies?

We emphasise on providing quality music education. We provide various opportunities such as workshops, concerts, music camps, and talks for students to showcase or upgrade themselves. We believe that music education is equally beneficial to both normal children and children with special needs. We also provide opportunities to students who have passed their higher grades to practice their teaching skills at the music school.



During your 13 years in this business, what are the main challenges you faced in this business? How did you overcome those challenges?

I think is more of convincing the parents to allow their children to continue learning music. Some parents gave up halfway and said their child has lose interest, or they don’t have time to practice, etc. For me, I would advise them to push their child to continue learning music at least until they are 12 years old. By then, they have their own mind-set and they can decide whether or not to continue learning music.

Another challenge is to ask the children to spend more time on their practice. Children nowadays are so busy with school works and activities that they often have difficulties finding the time to practice on their instruments. Most parents don't see much of the significance in learning music, academic results always come first. This is not true. Recently, Georgia Tech in US, one of the most prominent tech universities in US has revived the arts programme because they believe that a person cannot be a whole without the cultivation of arts.

Therefore, we tell parents that music won’t necessary be their children’s career in the future, but at least let them learn, build their discipline and thinking skills because it helps them in their daily life as well as academically. There’s some research that prove that learning music can help the children to improve their cognitive skills as well as their concentration.


Any advice for those who are thinking of opening their own music school?

If you want to start a school, don’t only think of profits, think more about your passion in music and the passion to teach the students. Because you won’t see the money immediately, it takes a lot of patience and perseverance.

Recent Reviews (2)

Eelin rates this article with

Excellent music school. Ms Felicia Chen is an outstanding and awesome principal who has inspired and guided many students all these years. She is so committed, dedicated and passionate in music education! :)

15/04/2015 - 06:42 pm

+ 2

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Anonymous rates this article with

Passionate Principal.
Perfect Music Teachers.
Great Teaching Environment.
An excellent Music School in KL.

05/12/2015 - 12:45 am


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