Meet the student: Myra Pranajaya

Master level piano student Myra Pranajaya is participating in a pedagogical PianoMusaa! project, organised in collaboration with the City of Helsinki and the international Maj Lind Piano Competition.

Where do you come from and what brought you to Finland and to the Sibelius Academy? 

I come from the city of Medan in North Sumatra, Indonesia. I begun playing piano at the age of four and later did my Bachelor’s degree in Germany. After that I decided that I wanted to go somewhere else to continue my master studies, and my teacher recommended the Sibelius Academy. In the future I would like to teach and become a concert pianist.

How would you describe the piano department as study environment?

I would say it is very open and supporting. I get lots of opportunities to try different things here and students get the chance to try out anything. Teachers are also very nice and motivating, letting us discover new things every day.

Now you are taking part in the PianoMusaa! project. It is a cooperation project with the Itäkeskus elementary school and the Maj Lind Piano Competition, where Sibelius Academy piano students teach students with no previous background on playing the piano for a semester. Tell me about the project from a student’s point of view!

The PianoMusaa project seemed to me a good jumpstart to be in contact with students outside of the University. It’s lovely to see these young people who are willing to learn more about the piano – they are very motivated! This is also a good way for me to discover different kinds of teaching methods. I’ve played the piano since I was four, so many basic things have already kind of grown with me. The things I already take for granted or things that I know and understand are new and not that understandable to these students. So I have to find ways to make them understand the basics in an easier way. One challenge in teaching is to keep the student’s motivation going and to understand that these things takes a lot of patience and practice – you cannot learn to play in two days. I can keep the students motivated by giving them easy enough pieces to practice. – for example, pieces that are fun to learn, like Chopsticks.

What kind of a teacher would you like to be yourself?

Every student is different. I would like to be someone who understands the student’s personality and also listens to what they need. I don’t want to become fixed in one method of teaching, but rather to adapt to different approaches. Almost every teacher that I have met have played a big role in my piano playing and my education – they all taught me different things. With my current teacher I have learned courage, she has helped me find new sides of myself that I didn’t know exist and potential that I didn’t know I had!

You are finishing this project by going to the Maj Lind Piano Competition together with these students. How do you feel about competing in music?

I have competed myself, too, and I find that competitions keep me motivated. As soon as I have decided to enter a competition my practicing becomes more structured, and it becomes more goal oriented instead of just spending hours and hours in a practice room. It is also a good way to also to expose myself to the outside world as a musician – that’s how people kind of know you that you exist as an artist. I always try not to compare myself too much with other pianists, instead I try to learn from those who place well in competitions. Criticism exists everywhere, not only in competition. As a pianist I don’t think it’s wise to avoid competitions just because you’re afraid of criticism because it is there anyway.