Nadine Samarasinghe’s ebony and ivory journey
Inspired by her mother, Nadine Samarasinghe began to learn the piano at the tender age of 3. This flame never died as she went on to study classical music and currently is a Licentiate (LTCL) from the Trinity College of Music in London.
Simultaneously, she also exhibited a strong desire to perform, but was only allowed to after she got her formal qualifications – something her mother was quite adamant about. Eventually Nadine represented Sri Lanka in Kazakhstan at the Voice of Asia competition and thereafter performed in many countries including Singapore, Australia and China, bringing home a series of awards. Nadine has also represented Sri Lanka at UN and SAARC Summits and has even won the title of 1st runner up for Mrs. Sri Lanka, clinching five mini titles as well.
Recalling her days as a schoolgirl, Nadine would play hooky from school – something we are all probably guilty of. Yet, she would still make it a point to attend choir practices! Its quite clear that music has been her whole life, with a passion instilled from a young and curious age. Her parents were also advocates for creative disciplines, as a result, Nadine never faced any issues with regard to the development of her musical skills.
In that sense, she was blessed. Professionals in any creative field in Sri Lanka are often looked down upon as most Sri Lankan parents only credit achievements in other academic disciplines. Nadine argues that in spite of this stigma, not only does music require technical expertise, the artform also requires tedious amounts of self-study and practice. Much like any other field, becoming a respected musician requires brains. According to what she’s seen, this stigma is slowly changing as musicians and others in creative disciplines are slowly but surely, getting the respect they deserve.
Nadine says that in spite of the academic knowledge required to pursue this field, you’ve got to have raw, natural born talent. If one is incapable of singing in pitch, no amount of practice or studying can fix it! In addition to that, one must actually want to do it. Passion is of paramount importance. Sure, sometimes children are made to attend musical classes when they are developing their cognitive abilities but more often than not, they drop out of the art after a few years. It is only a handful who keep pursuing it – these individuals are the modern-day music icons that society has come to know and love. Bottom line, you’ve got to be fueled by passion.
As a professional, Nadine setup her own music academy nearly four years ago which trains students for Trinity and Royal College examinations. This was a result of her experience as a music teacher both locally and internationally. During her career as a teacher, she learned that every student is different and requires varying teaching approaches. In addition to being her own boss, having her own academy gives Nadine the freedom to utilize an array of methods to teach students which directly translates to a quicker progression of knowledge. As Nadine is also a performer, students are at the unique advantage of learning soft skills such as self-confidence and stage presence which are reflected in the annual shows held by the academy. While being a teacher requires tons of patience, Nadine enjoys every moment of her job!
In terms of the challenges she has faced with this venture, Nadine says that women are usually underestimated. This paired with the negative connotation present with regard to the performing arts in Sri Lanka, Nadine’s beginnings were not exactly a smooth journey. But of course, hardworking Nadine realized that there is nothing which cannot be done if you really give it your 100 percent. Staying relevant is all about intrinsically motivating yourself and pushing personal boundaries.
On an ending note, Nadine is hopeful that this industry will one day be taken into the limelight, much like it is across the world. A prime example of this is the fact that her choir will soon represent Sri Lanka at the World Choir Games in 2020. Ironically, she recalls her struggles to gain sponsorships for even the most minimal shows and productions in her home country! Regardless, she will continue to remain a force that challenges conventional mindsets, while opening up the ears of Sri Lankans to new genres of music.