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You had me at “Cello” - An OCBC NAFA Scholar's Journey

In Chee Jun Sian’s world, a life without music would B flat. Ethnic, folk and contemporary music continue to fascinate him. This budding talent had always aspired to perform on grand stages, touch hearts through music and share his love for the indisputable king of instruments: the cello. Play on to hear his music journey as an OCBC NAFA Scholar!

As a graduate from Singapore Polytechnic with an Applied Chemistry with Pharmaceutical Science Diploma, his choice to pursue his passion in music raised the eyebrows of many and invoked the following questions:

1)     Can you survive as a musician?

2)     What about financial stability?

3)     How are you going to pay for your university fees?

Challenges make you grow

Refusing to succumb to societal pressure or be deterred by the cost of studying music, this passionate cellist took a leap of faith and followed his heart. Jun Sian explored unique alternatives to help fund his family’s finances.  At a tender age of 19, this aspiring musician began teaching at Elite Music School and freelancing as a cello instructor, in hopes of reducing the financial burden. Though his earnings from these jobs and personal savings were still insufficient, Jun Sian remained determined to make his music dream a reality.

Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation

After earning a well-deserved spot in NAFA to pursue a Bachelor of Music (Honours) and major in cello, Jun Sian explored ways to fund his studies. From his seniors, he learnt about the OCBC NAFA Scholarship, a one-of-a-kind local undergraduate scholarship, awarded to financially needy students with stellar track record. With relevant experiences as the cello principal for two prestigious orchestras, paired with a sincere hope to create a more vibrant arts scene in this Lion City, it comes as no surprise that he was shortlisted for an interview with the OCBC Scholarship Panel.

Fearless. Focused. Fantastic.

These are the three words that best encapsulate Jun Sian’s music journey. Dotting the i's and crossing the t's, the pressure to nail down the details in preparation for his interview has never felt more real. His rock-solid courage to take the path less travelled and staying resilient in face of adversities earned the respect of the panel. He displayed a depth of maturity and unquestionable dedication, leaving everyone in admiration of him.

Music to his ears

Waiting in anticipation, Jun Sian checked his inbox daily and was elated when the good news arrived. Fast forward to today, this OCBC NAFA Scholarship recipient is now empowered, able to better focus on his studies and participate in projects that increase his artistic capabilities. With the support from OCBC, Jun Sian is indeed a step closer to his dreams. We look forward to his mesmerising cello performances and coming milestones!

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