Najib Wong, had formal trumpet studies under Chan Peck Suan and Gary Peterson. He has performed with the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO) and freelanced with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Najib is currently doing his DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) in Trumpet at Temple University, and studying with David Bilger (Principal Trumpet of Philadelphia Orchestra. He has completed his studies at the Longy School of Music (Cambridge, MA) under Ben Wright of the Boston Symphony, as well as at the New England Conservatory of Music (Boston, MA) – Bachelor in Music.
(This interview was conducted in August 2010)
What made you consider pursuing your degree overseas?
There were several factors when I considered studying abroad. There were many things I wanted to experience; independence, a different culture, the seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) and interaction with great musicians and colleagues.
What were the challenges or difficulties you faced when moving on to the new different environment?
Figuring out how to communicate with a new culture is challenging. I don’t mean spoken language. It’s more to do with learning how things are done so that you can get your point across. Of course, it’s tough financially but it is possible to work on campus and live frugally.
Can you describe what’s a day curriculum like at the school?
Longy School of Music ( Spent 2 years ) – Majority of time was spent on Solfege and chamber music. It was a music diploma course so it was music intensive. There were no other classes unrelated to music.
New England Conservatory of Music ( Bachelor of Music ) – There was a big emphasis on playing the instrument. Mon-Wed-Fri mornings were orchestra rehearsals from 9 to 12 noon. Tues – Thurs mornings were wind ensemble rehearsals. On top of that, I was in the Honors Brass Quintet, had a weekly brass repertoire class with members of the Boston Symphony and we had trumpet studio class every 2 weeks. Classes, including liberal arts courses and music theory, history etc were held in the afternoons.
Temple University ( Master of Music ) – The graduate program is very performance intensive but includes research classes. Typically, you’re in 1 orchestra, 1 wind ensemble, brass repertoire class and 1 chamber music group. Plus you have to submit research papers on theory and history.
What’s the most enjoyable learning experience you have had in your study period there?
There are many institutions (school of thought) of playing music. No one is right and no one is wrong. But not everything works for everyone. Each person has to find what works for him.
For any prospective young musician who wants to take their profound love in music to higher grounds, would you recommend them to study music overseas?
If you want an adventure, go for it. However, no one can guarantee anything. It’s more to do with what is a right match for that person. For me, it was definitely the right move, no pun intended.
If you could describe music in general in a few words, a sentence or a phrase. What would it be?
Music is the manifestation of the Creator’s Beauty in sound.