KOTA KINABALU: “Focus on skills, not on disabilities.”
This is the motto of 29 year old Stefanus Lucas, a music teacher who had just inspired his students with special needs to win the recent USA World Music International Competition.
The trio, Kimberly Lo Jing Wei (12), John Paul Paulus (12) and Putra Ahmad Naim Mohd Masri (13) outclassed 49 other teams from 21 countries and won the coveted prize.
Originally, they wanted to record four songs, but could only record one due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Yet her interpretation of the traditional song Lenggang Kangkung was enough to woo the jury.
Kimberly plays the gong while her classmates play, John plays the bamboo drum and Putra plays the kulintangan.
“One of them is blind and the other two are visually impaired. They learned to play by ear. I showed them how to play and then they practiced it at home, ”Stefanus told the Borneo Post.
“When our school was still open, students not only practiced during school hours, but also came to school on weekends,” he added.
He said his students’ passion for music made their success possible.
“I’ve always told them that like other people with disabilities, they can perform at their best. I challenged them to be better than others.
“In the end, they proved they could,” he said.
Stefanus uses the concept of “fun learning” and some other very unique teaching methods in his classes.
He uses eggshells and toys to teach his students the notes and elements.
He also uses cerita rakyat (folklore) like Huminodun and Puteri Gunung Ledang to help his students understand his teaching. This idea even earned him a grant of 10,000 RM from an international music organization.
In addition, Stefanus is currently working on a project called Suara Kami (Our Voice), in which he trains his students to present the history of Malaysian musical instruments to other people.
“Just recently, my students introduced the Malaysian instruments to this group of Indonesian teachers,” he added.
The USA World Music International Competition is a monthly competition organized by the International Youth Music Competitions (IYMC), a music organization based in Atlanta, USA.
The trio won the Folk, Ethnic, Traditional, World Music category in July.
They also recently won the Silver Prize at the youngest XI. Folklore World Cup 2021, a competition based in Bulgaria.