The EYAS Alumni

With a $40,000 scholarship, what did he do to impress Berklee College of Music, a world-class conservatory?

01Passionate love makes his Berklee dream come true!

What comes to your mind when you think of Berklee College of Music? A world-class music hall?

Leehom Wang or Ouyang Nana?

 In Leo's opinion, Berklee College of Music in Boston, the United States, is the cradle of Jazz and also his heart's desire.

When applying for Berklee, Leo made every effort to attend the summer school held by Berklee for two consecutive years. He was determined to be admitted.

“What impressed the interviewers?”

Maybe it's my playing and learning experience!”

Berklee's interview is divided into two parts: performance and face-to-face chat.

Leo chose a piece of classic jazz music, Someday My Prince Will Come, as his representative repertoire.

 When I was 5 or 6, my mother often played this song to train my listening (to learn English). I didnt remember a single word of the lyrics, but I liked the melody.” Leo smiled and said.

If the performance is a bonus point, so is the face-to-face chat. Questions like “What do you want to major in?”, “What can you bring to Berklee?” and “Talk about your experience of learning music.” have been rehearsed by Leo for hundreds of times.

Because I want to learn jazz, I'm eager to visit its birthplace!

“Searched all over Wuhan, I found the only teacher who once studied in the United States and learned from him (her).”

“In order to spare time to practice the piano, I transferred from the coveted Wuhan Foreign Language School to an international high school with more extracurricular time.”

“I go to Wuhan Conservatory of Music to audit classes almost every week.”

Can you imagine a teenager who loves Jazz, in a place where there is no Jazz atmosphere, trying to grasp everything about it?

It has been said that having obsessive interests during adolescence is like the initial establishment of a self world. The most important elements of this world include: the purest desire, the purest yearning, as well as the initial plan of life.

02“Musical Genius” who almost got delayed

In fact, Leo's musical path was not planned out from the very beginning.

He started playing the piano at the age of five. By the age of ten, Leo's mother had been receiving signals that our child was not very musical and was slower than his peers.

When Leo was 10, there was a new piano instructor who had just graduated from the conservatory of music. To the surprise of Leo's mother, although he is only a training partner, he is really good at teaching. Every time Leo went to his class, he could efficiently absorb and digest the knowledge in class, In just one summer vacation, Leo made great progress. After careful observation, Leo's mother found that this teacher's teaching philosophy was completely different from that of the previous senior teacher.

He paid more attention to the cultivation of students' interest in learning than basic skills. He introduced Leo to Hisaishi, as well as many other composers, and he let Leo choose what he wanted to play.

 In the process of learning, the teacher also gradually discovered that Leo's talent was not in playing, but in arranging music.

At that time, one of Leo's favorite things to do was to “write down the music score by listening to it”. It seems to his mother that his son has a “special ability”— he can write down the melody of every instrument in a piece of music quickly. That's probably why Leo loves jazz.

However, Leo's growing “crush” on music has not changed his plan for higher education.

“Playing the piano is just a hobby. In the future, I hope he can go to a comprehensive university.” It was what the mother expected of her son at that time.

03 If music is a fire, English is the oil on the fire

“If his English were not good, he would not be here today.” Leo's mother exclaimed.

Looking back on Leo's growth, focusing on the cultivation of English skills was one of the best decisions his mother made.

“Speaking of English enlightenment, I have to mention RISE, the English education brand of EYAS Group.”

In order to pick him up, his mother chose to enroll Leo in an ordinary public primary school near their home. “The English classes in the public primary school were very few and simple. His initial English foundation was almost all laid in the five years of his study in RISE.” Leo's mother told us.

When he was in Grade 4, Leo wanted to go to Wuhan Foreign Language School, so his mother considered transferring to Wuhan America-Canada Foreign School. “At that time, the transfer students needed to take an exam, which was a comprehensive one in English, and Leo was admitted in first place.” Leo's mother was very pleased when recalling this experience.

Later, Leo moved smoothly from primary school to middle school. With his excellent learning ability, and also his English proficiency cultivated in RISE, Leo was admitted to Wuhan Foreign Language School as he had wished. But after a year, Leo decided to transfer.

The heavy study pressure almost took up all of his spare time. To help keep Leo's passion for music, as well as another interest in sports, Leo's mother decided to transfer to another school again.

“A good command of English is a big help again this time.” Leo's mother said happily.

Leo transferred to an international high school that focuses on the comprehensive development of children. Before entering the school, a foreign principal personally interviewed Leo and left this comment: “This child has a lot of ideas, and he can express his ideas well.”

The following English learning environment also made Leo's mother a little worried (later, it was found that the worry was completely unnecessary).

In Leo's opinion, the all-English learning environment in the International High School is not strange to him. “Since the first grade, I spent six hours a week in a pure English environment at RISE, where we spoke English in and out of class.”

In high school class, Leo is also very familiar with the way of learning various subjects in English. RISE has been giving children an ability of learning to learn.

Anna, Leo's teacher at RISE, recalled a small detail: Once, a student was late for class and asked as soon as he entered the classroom: “My phone is out of power and I need to charge it?” Leo responded quickly, “Oh, It's a rechargeable battery.” “Where did you learn this word?” Anna asked curiously. “I didn't learn this word,I know the word charge,the prefix re- and the suffix -able,Then I made the word rechargeable.” Leo answered.

Leo was less than 10 years old at that time, and over the past three years, RISE has taught him not only the knowledge, but also the methods, an ability or a method that will eventually enable the child to learn on his own.

Not until the high school did Leo consider studying abroad and decided to develop music from a hobby into a future career. Once again, his English skills gave him a “boost”.

Leo started browsing English websites to get first-hand information on jazz He looked up the test requirements for each target college himself online and submitted his applications. Even today, Leo, who has entered his dream college, is still learning new knowledge with the same methods he acquired in RISE.

Debate competitions are often held in RISE's class, in which each contestant is required to be able to make an“Impromptu summary”or“impromptu opening”.“Now when thinking of that period of time, I feel impromptu speech has much in common with impromptu performance in that you have to react immediately, depending on the situation, in front of such a large audience.”

“RISE gave me the most basic ability to explore the world.” Leo concluded.

04 At present and in the future

Entering Berklee, what impressed Leo most was that he could have direct access to most advanced knowledge and excellent teachers. “The feeling is that a theory that had been so far away from you before, and something that you had never understood, suddenly seem to be easy to understand.

Leo didn't return home during the entire outbreak. He had a lot on his plate.

“Now, the school curriculum has shifted from offline to online. I have one or two classes a day, and I spend the rest of my time practicing the piano, working on projects, composing music, and reading books.” Fiction, poetry, history...the books Leo has read cover a wide range of subjects. He said, “Most of the time, jazz is a rehearsal set. Black African music + Native American classical music= jazz. I can also take inspiration from other areas and create new combinations.”

In his spare time, Leo will also participate in some school-level activities.

Before the outbreak, Leo was the Vice President of CTM (Chinese Traditional Music) at Berklee, and he also organized the first performance of the CTM. “At a school as diverse as Berkeley, why not try to mix Chinese music with other kinds of music and do something experimental?”

So, from the planning to the arrangement, from the poster to the invitation, from the director to the host, and the publicity on Official Account... Leo was involved and led the whole “experiment”. He said, “I seemed to have regained the feeling I had when I participated in the RISE English Competition.”

In Leo's eyes, everyone comes to Berklee for a different reason. Some come for a career, some to learn technical knowledge and find a job, some to become a big star, some to get into a band, and some just come for a hobby. He came for a dream.

In the future, Leo hopes to continue his studies and return to China to bring back what he has seen, heard and learned to improve the existing local music “soil” and inspire more people who love music to pursue a wider world.

Have you ever found that people who have dreams have light in their hearts?

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