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Creating Job Opportunities for Musicians (Others Who Spoke 3 : Fuelling the Kreativ Malaysia)

Copyright © 2017 by
Zahid Ahmad
Sessionist Drummer
Music Director
Music Producer

IN THE OLD DAYS, musicians only perform in bars/nightclubs or wedding functions. That is one of the reasons why music is taken as taboo to most Malaysians, particularly the Malays. Today you can work with the Government by playing/working as part of their 'Kebudayaan dan Kesenian' (art & culture) initiatives. You can also make a career as a music teacher. When comparing Malaysian music scene with our neighbours such as Indonesia, we are left behind in music education from many perspectives such as the syllabus, teaching style and lack of performance centres (of the quality if it).

As a performer for nearly 40 years in the music Malaysian industry, I can see that there's a niche opportunity that we can develop and make our music industry healthier and more sustainable. By creating jobs for experience musicians or performers (music and performing arts), we can make a decent and steady livelihood for all artists. This includes teaching in schools (primary and secondary) as well as colleges and universities all over Malaysia. Currently, all of our schools, colleges and universities are only using academically (merely) guided music teachers who are not real music practitioners themselves. Most of them (teachers) do not have the experience and only know music technically in respect of the instrument and notations. Contrary to real music playing practitioners, they are not exposed to the different scenarios a gig or a show or a concert would present. Such experience is what makes the musical knowledge real, rather than theoretical.

To diversify the musical opportunities for musicians will mean that we are promoting stability for the music industry and the creative economy of the country. In the Americas and Europe, most schools, colleges and universities have started to mix the technical experties with practical experties giving a synergy that benefits the students more. This allows the students to embrace music both in class as well as out in public. Creating jobs opportunities by hiring experience musicians (the best in their own fields) via the different levels for every school/colleges/universities in Malaysia is a simple but an effective method. Why not do this?
Another possible method is via affirmative action in policies. Imagine if music, as a subject, is made compulsory in all primary and secondary schools and is being treated as a prerequisite for entrance into the tertiary institutions. Such imagination should radiate into music camps for school holidays all over Malaysia like how the other co-curriculum activities are developed (example, scout or cadet). This imagination, if translated into reality, can provide valuable jobs for a lot of people from the performing arts sector in Malaysia.

Later on, when the formal education system has stabilised the importance of music in their programmes, there should be plans to create dedicated colleges or universities that specialise in music or performing arts like Berkeley. The subject matters for such specialised tertiary institution should include, but not limited to, performance skills, teaching skills, production skills, marketing skills and many more subjects/programmes that can be customised to the needs of for the national music and/or performing arts industry.