Class of 2020 graduate William Lui enjoyed a celebrated musical career over the 15 years he was a student at Dulwich Pudong, culminating in his acceptance to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he now majors in Cello Performance.
We were fortunate to welcome William back on campus in September at the conclusion of his summer holidays. He spent the day visiting with former teachers as well as holding a small-group instructional session with several of our talented young cello players.
Performing and teaching
Although William is largely focused on performance these days, teaching is never far from his mind. "You can't perform without teaching," he says. "You learn so much just by watching and listening to other people performing.”
During his day back on campus under the auspices of DCSPD Director of Music Mr. Toby Carden and Music Teacher Mr. Patrick Sabberton, William led a mini-master class for four cello students (three from Junior School and one from Year 7). The theme of his session was storytelling through music - how to take music beyond technical mastery into a higher realm of creativity and expression.
You don't play cello to play the cello, you play the cello to play music to express the human aspects of your life.
He explains, "That's all music is: telling what we think as human beings through a medium that cannot be expressed in language. People always say music is language. To me, music is a form of communication, not restricted to just being a language. For these students I really wanted to emphasise the fact that this is why you play the cello. You don't play cello to play the cello, you play the cello to play music to express the human aspects of your life."
It was his first time teaching a group of students that young and they made a deep impression on him.
"I didn't quite know what to expect," he says, "but the students were so well behaved and focused on what they were doing. They all have so much talent and potential to become incredibly good."
Music as a passion
For William, music has been a passion from a very young age. "I always liked physically playing the cello, the mechanics of it," he explains. "I like how the instrument feels when you hold it, how the bow feels on the strings."
But what really hooked him was what music does to the brain and the kind of universe it brings you into when you share good music. He finds it difficult to describe exactly what that universe is, rather, he says, it is something he hopes everyone will be able to experience, that sense of being captured by the notes and carried away.
Looking back on DCSPD
His education at Dulwich Pudong played a critical role in his evolution as a musician.
"I honestly couldn't have asked for anything more," he says of his experiences at DCSPD. "The teachers were so supportive across the board. Many people don't know, but I actually had the opportunity to leave Dulwich before Year 11. I went and talked to teachers at other international schools, but I realised in the end that Dulwich has much more to offer than other schools and that's why I decided to stay."
He particularly points out the kindness of the teachers toward the students and the collaborative nature of the relationship between the teachers and the students here. He points to a specific example, when he was in Year 11 and started a charity called Music for Life. As part of this initiative he staged two concerts to raise money for children's surgeries.
"We raised quite a bit of money and I had a lot of fun doing it," he recalls, "and I could have only done it with the support of the Director of Music, Mr. Richardson, as well as the other teachers and administrators. Everyone genuinely wanted me to succeed."
He also singles out Mr. Sabberton who played a key role helping him create and nurture good habits to perform and practice and understand why people play music.
Advice for parents
Many parents are very keen to raise musical children but find it hard to know how to go about it. William has three important pieces of advice which he has learned over the years.
- If you yourself don't love music and actively listen to music, then your child probably won't either.
- Pick one instrument and stick with it; don't force children to learn too many instruments.
- Certifications and musical grade attainment (such as ABRSM) are good goals, but they are less important than developing discipline and work ethic and learning to play the instrument in a way that allows them to express themselves.
For William returning to campus and sharing his love of music with the next generation is part of Living Worldwise.
Says William: "For me Living Worldwise means treating all people with the same humility and the same honour, no matter what their level of playing, no matter whether they even like classical music. You need to be the ambassador of good music, to tell people how enlightening this process can be through listening and exploring music."
Wise words for a highly accomplished young man.
Worldwise Alumni Network
The Worldwise Alumni Network is a fast-growing group of dynamic Dulwich College International graduates and now counts over 3,000 members. We welcome our graduates back to campus, virtually or otherwise, to share their experiences with our community and inspire the next generation to make a difference as they go forth into the world.