Soo Weng Hong
Nilai U student wins top award at World Harmonica festival
It’s not every day that you get to call yourself a ‘world champion’ but for Nilai University (Nilai U) student, Soo Weng Hong, that is precisely what he is. Having joined fellow like-minded students from various universities, the group of aspiring harmonica players decided to form a group which they christened Fresco Harmonica. They entered the World Harmonica Festival at Trossingen, Germany in October 2013 where they vowed the audience and judges alike. Facing stiff competition from over a thousand contestants from 30 different countries, Weng Hong says they had to rely on all their expertise and showmanship to stand out. It must have worked as Fresco Harmonica bagged five awards including the top prizes in the Harmonica Group and Open categories.
“I started playing harmonica at an early age simply because I like the sound of the instrument and I love music. But competing at an international competition has given me renewed confidence in my abilities and also boosted my self-esteem. Being world champion does that to you!” he says grinning broadly. The experience certainly left its mark on the 21-year-old as he got to meet harmonica players from all over the world and hear how their different cultural backgrounds surfaced in their playing styles. “This has certainly allowed me to grow musically as I now have a better feel of my instrument,” he says. “It was also great being able to visit and experience a foreign country.”
Weng Hong is currently pursuing a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at Nilai U. Though practice sessions Fresco Harmonica for the world meet were long and strenuous, the Ipoh native never let it interfere with his studies. If anything, it has taught him the importance of good time-management and discipline. “We may practice as a group for many hours but it was never at the expense of our studies. I always made sure that my coursework is up-to-date,” he says. With a minimum of three hour practice sessions daily, Weng Hong says he maximized his time by paying attention in class. “I sit in the front row and pay close attention during class. This way, I absorb much more and don’t need to revise as much after class,” he counsels.
He says he is enjoying his lessons at Nilai U and this is down to the friendly lecturers. “They are very experienced and are always on hand to guide us. In fact, many of them have been very supportive of my harmonica playing as well and actively encourage me to use it as a platform for greater things,” he says. For now, those ‘greater things’ are limited to teaching some primary and secondary school students. Although he enjoys teaching, he has no plans on becoming a music instructor; rather he plans to further his studies onto the Degree in Mechanical Engineering. “Paper qualification is very important. I have made my parents proud with my harmonica playing. I now want to do the same again with my studies,” he smiles.
Nilai U was established in 1997 and is located in the picturesque suburb of Putra Nilai. All of its programmes are approved by the Ministry of Education and accreditated by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. For more information please visit www.nilai.edu.my or search ‘Nilai University’ on Facebook. Or to speak to a counselor please call us at 06-8502308 / 03-79603089 / 07-2262336.