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Empowered To Succeed

The OCBC Local Undergraduate Scholarship provides talented and outstanding individuals with the opportunity and resources to develop their potential in their chosen fields. OCBC Scholar Indra Chen tells us more about her passion for Chinese classical music.

The OCBC Local Undergraduate Scholarship was founded on the belief that every student deserves the opportunity to have a university education. The scholarship has seen over 400 talented recipients, many of whom are now doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers and musicians.

OCBC’s scholarship, which is bond-free, is a hallmark of OCBC’s approach to helping remarkable individuals achieve their aspirations, regardless of whether these individuals choose to join the Bank after graduation.

One such individual is OCBC Scholar Indra Chen, who is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Music at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and well on her way to becoming an established musician. Indra was shortlisted by NAFA to apply for the OCBC scholarship based on her academic performance and active community involvement.

Indra shares, “The scholarship not only helped me alleviate my financial burden, it also gave me the opportunity to make my own career choices and pursue my dreams after graduation.”

Pursuing her dreams early

While others might remember their childhood piano practices as forgotten habits of yesteryear, Indra’s piano-playing (from the age of five) eventually blossomed into an immense love for music. She joined the Guzheng ensemble with her friends in primary school and received many opportunities to perform and considerable exposure to different genres of music.

Indra Chen Shanhui
OCBC Local Undergraduate Scholar

Designation: Bachelor of Music (with Honours),
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts

Studied: Diploma in Music,
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts

“The Guzheng instructor’s dedicated coaching and strong encouragement made my learning experiences meaningful and enjoyable. These experiences led me to realise that I wanted to pursue a career in the performing arts or as a music teacher,” Indra recalls.

In fact, Indra is already a part-time Co-Curricular Activity music instructor at a primary school, where she teaches music to children aged nine to 12 how to play the Guzheng as well as basic music skills such as rhythm-counting and pitching.

According to Indra, the primary school children she teaches are working towards winning a Distinction at next year’s Singapore Youth Festival competition. “My experiences and my mistakes serve as learning opportunities for my students, and sharing them makes my lessons more interesting and motivates them to attend my sessions. It also helps me bond with them,” she muses.

Indra certainly echoes the belief of OCBC’s Scholarship Programme of empowering individuals and giving back to society. She wants to ensure that children are given ample music-related opportunities to increase their levels of creativity, cultural knowledge and music appreciation.

She adds, “I want to nurture the young and contribute to growing Singapore’s talent pool. Giving them more exposure to music helps them develop new ideas and shape their own performance style. This will hopefully see local productions and performances increase in number as well as grow and diversify in the future.”

An eventful educational journey

And when she’s not conducting lessons, Indra is making strides towards completing her own education. Her NAFA degree incorporates more than just learning the theoretical aspects of music, practicing her instruments and performing. It also gives her exposure to new learning experiences through her involvement in community and group projects.

For instance, Indra took up a chamber music module to fulfil an aspect of her last academic year’s curriculum. This module required her and a group of performers to jointly perform a set of chamber music repertoire for their final assessment.

She tells us, “Everyone had a busy schedule and it was tough juggling both work and rehearsals. Even during the final lap, we encountered absences due to members' health and personal issues. I was on the verge of giving up because our time was running out before the assessment and we had not practised enough.

“Thankfully, I witnessed a change in my team members' attitudes at the eleventh hour and saw how they sacrificed their personal time for late-night practices. My teachers were also there to guide us through our final few rehearsals. On the day of the assessment, I saw all the hard work and effort put into our performance and felt sincerely thankful and touched by the spirit of our teamwork.”

"With all the support I have received, I am empowered and motivated to share the beauty of Chinese classical music with the community, especially the younger generation of Singaporeans."

Throughout her degree journey, Indra has learnt much and taken on various new perspectives. She elaborates, “I have learnt that success requires perseverance, focus and the discipline to practice. My friends’ determination to progress motivates me to stay focused, and through the healthy peer pressure from my friends, I’ve also realised the importance of setting personal targets to persevere towards my goal of becoming a successful professional musician.”

Empowered to reach goals

In addition to Indra's short-term goal of becoming a professional Guzheng musician in Singapore, her long-term goal is to increase Singaporeans' level of appreciation for Chinese classical music. She also hopes to obtain a Doctor of Music and apply her extensive knowledge in her plans to promote musical appreciation among children and the community.

She is thankful for the OCBC scholarship in helping her achieve her goals, as it has given her unique opportunities such as performing at the OCBC scholarship ceremony.

Indra believes that good results are only the first step before aspiring OCBC scholars clinch the scholarship. OCBC assesses candidates' discipline and active community involvement. She shares her concluding words, “Life is about falling and learning how to stand up from such a fall. I am ready to accept my challenges and overcome the obstacles in front of me to keep my passion in music burning. With all the support I have received, I am empowered and motivated to share the beauty of Chinese classical music with the community, especially the younger generation of Singaporeans.”