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Music students find a Malaysian groove

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A group of Music students has had the chance to move to a different rhythm with a two-week experience in Malaysia.

Students studying classical, jazz, pop, songwriting and musical technology have jammed with traditional instruments, immersed themselves in new cultures and visited colleagues at several universities.

Music students visit a temple in Malaysia.

Highlights included a traditional puppet house performance, a two-day gamelan workshop with the Rhythm in Bronze ensemble, a visit to the Petronas Philharmonic Hall in KL and the music of the Kenyah people in Miri.

The group of 14, most aged 19-26, visited the island of Penang, the rainforest city of Miri and buzzing Kuala Lumpur, gaining credit towards their degrees along the way.

“Hopefully it has inspired them in some ways, meeting people who are very different for them,” Associate Professor of Music Maria Genfell said.

“Some of them have never been overseas before.

“They’ve seen lots of beautiful architecture, eaten some great food and learned about how to get along in a group away from home.”

Songwriter program coordinator Mia Palencia, a long-time Tasmanian who came from Malaysia, said the chance to share her ‘other home’ with students had been a career highlight.

“Our students were gracious visitors and wonderful ambassadors for the University,” she said.

Music students try outs some traditional Malaysia instruments.
Music students enjoy a Malaysian banquet.

“They embraced each day with open minds and were very respectful in their interactions with the musicians, educators and guides that we encountered.

“I hope the music - and food - of Malaysia, as well as the strong sense of community we experienced there, will ripple through their music-making for many years to come.”

Students will need to complete three assignments as part of the unit. These include a photo essay, a written reflection on their experience and a creative work such as a song or audio-visual piece.

“They don’t need to write something in the style of Malaysian music, they may not be inclined towards that,” Associate Professor Grenfell said.

“It’s more about exposing them to some different surroundings and seeing what happens.”

More information about the University of Tasmania’s Music courses is available here.