KUALA LUMPUR: Nineteen-year-old Colin Ng Soon Beng will be graduating soon with a Diploma in Music (Contemporary).
But what makes it so special is that Ng was born with multiple sclerosis, is visually impaired and does not hear well with his right ear.
Some symptoms of multiple sclerosis include abnormal fatigue and loss of balance and muscular co-ordination.
He will be graduating on Aug 2 from Sedaya International College in Cheras, where he majored in keyboard and minored in flute.
According to his mother, Janet Ooi Tong Chin, Ng at times has difficulty performing small tasks but when it comes to music, he can figure out complex pieces and play them by ear.
Ooi said that her son, who has a liking for oldies, especially songs by Jim Reeves, showed interest and skill in music when he was only three.
“One day, I heard music coming from my room. I opened the door and was surprised to see Colin using a musical calculator to play a piece of music by Claus Wunderlich.
“That was when I knew he had a liking for music and started looking for someone to teach him,” she said.
It took Ooi many years before she found someone willing to give lessons to her son, because most music teachers had no experience teaching the blind and there was no music material available in Braille.
Colin began with the organ and was later accepted into the Selangor Institute of Music in Petaling Jaya where he took up piano.
In 1998, he sat for the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music’s Grade Four examination and obtained a distinction. He was also the best student.
Two years later, he was accepted into Sedaya.
Ooi is hoping that a local university will accept him so that he can obtain a degree in music.
She said due to his need for constant medical attention, Ng is not able to travel overseas to further his studies.
Ooi, who counsels parents with disabled children, said her son’s success was proof that the visually-impaired were not slower in learning than their sighted peers, as long as they were provided the facilities.
She believed that people’s mentality towards the disabled should change and that the disabled should be treated equally instead of discriminated against.
Ng will be holding a half-hour graduation recital on Aug 8 at 2pm at the auditorium, Level 3, Sedaya International College, Taman Segar, Cheras. The recital is open to the public. Admission is free.