Cole Burger with some of his Malaysian students
BURGER INSPIRED BY MALAYSIAN MUSIC STUDENTS
Teaching piano to college students in Malaysia this summer gave Dr. Cole Burger a deep appreciation for their dedication to music in the face of difficult circumstances.
Burger, an instructor in the College of Musical Arts, spent four weeks at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur as a Fulbright Specialist. In addition to teaching and giving master classes, he presented recitals at the University of Malaya and another nearby university where a current BGSU doctoral student received his undergraduate degree.
This was his third trip to Malaysia, but “my first chance to unpack,” he said. The longer stay allowed for greater engagement with students as well as travel.
“The best part of my time there was to work with the students and see the odds they have to overcome,” Burger said. “I saw keenly how difficult it is for them. The Malaysian students I taught did not have the pre-college musical training that many BGSU students do, and since they’re under the British educational system, they don’t enter college until they’re 19, so they have a lot to catch up on in only three years of undergraduate study.
“Practicing is difficult. Many work very hard and spend long hours in the practice room, in the 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity, using less-than-ideal pianos.”