“Why I Quit My Job of 10 Years for MTNF’s Music Scholarship” – Akwarandu, Second Most Outstanding MUSON School Graduate

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Akwarandu Onyinyechi is a recipient of MTN Foundation’s two-year scholarship to study Music at MUSON School of Music.



The scholarship, a benevolent and peerless errand, is MTN Foundation’s bid to recognise talent, reward academic excellence, and strengthen the creative industry by collaborating with MUSON School of Music, whose passion for meeting international standards in music education is remarkable. 

Akwarandu Onyinyechi graduated as the second most outstanding, out of 30 students from MUSON, receiving a special honour award for leadership, integrity, can-do, innovation, and relationship traits. 

Nevertheless, it wasn’t always a smooth journey for her. She had to quit her job of 10 years to polish her musical sojourn with the practical skills that MUSON offers under the aegis of the MTN Foundation. 

 ‘I came to MUSON to top up my practical skills. MUSON is a practical place; there was more practice than theory. They would teach you the theory but they want you to know how to apply those things you have been taught.

Learning in a university is more theory than practical. So, I needed a place to help me engage what I had learnt, performance-wise. So I had to come to MUSON.’

Akwarandu had a Master’s Degree in Music from the University of Lagos (Unilag).  Before then, she had a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). Still, she saw MTN Foundation’s offering as a means to consolidate her artistry and truly actualise her dreams. 

She tells Netng about her musical journey, the inspiration behind her push, her plans for the future and MTN Foundation’s extraordinary opportunity.

It appears you’re still basking in the euphoria of your multiple awards at MUSON. 

Um, yeah, the success is intoxicating (laughs). When you’re successful, you get excited.

How would you describe your experience at MUSON School of Music?

One word: intriguing.

You know, it’s been a whole lot of good things, and ups and downs. I had a hitch because I had to quit my job of 10 years to come back, do music and start all over again. It’s a full-time thing. 

But I’m grateful to God anyway: the whole experience was great and wonderful. 

My teachers, amazing and topnotch, don’t just teach you the music thing. They encourage you about life generally and teach you character formation, which is very vital when it comes to being a musician. So, overall, I’ll say it has been wonderful and amazing. I have no regrets at all.

What were the challenges that came with that decision?

Well, not at the moment because I could save a little. It’s a full-time job and coming from a job into student life are two different things, but I was able to save up little for myself.

In year one, I had a challenge with the distance because I was coming from as far as Lakwe. So, I wasn’t capturing anything in class because it took four hours to come and four hours to go back home. 

There are a lot of things I could do with that time. So, I just had to find a place around to stay that is close to school. But it was just a first-year thing.

That was a challenge. But overall, I’m someone who is always quick to resolve any challenges and find an easy way out. So, I don’t think I had that many difficult challenges.

How did your music journey start and at what point did you decide it was going to be music?

I got into music in 1999. There was this Cowbell competition. Cowbell had come to our school for publicity and they hosted a competition. 

Very early in the morning, they started setting up and I asked what the competition was about. They told me it involved singing and dancing – among others. I said I was going to sing and then I sang Celine Dion’s ‘Everynight In My Dreams’. 

I took the first position and they gave me a sachet of Cowbell and a T-shirt. I said to myself “if I can sing like this, that means I can sing well.”

So, I joined my church choir. Then in 2003, we had the first serious work: The Messiah. The choirmaster then gave me two difficult solos that others couldn’t handle.

After the performance, a man, wowed, came to meet me and said he’d take me into his choir where I’ll get paid. That’s how I joined the Zenith Voices. 

Eventually, it came to me that I had to study Music because I was talented. So, I did JAMB and that’s how I got into school to do Music.  

What was your parents’ reaction when you told them about your decision to do music? 

My mom, especially, refused. She wanted me to be a nurse. “You cannot do it”, she said. I told her that this was what I could do easily and she should allow me to study it, instead of having to struggle between sciences. 

You know, God has a way of directing people’s paths. For some reason, I ended up in Art class and she accepted. Meanwhile, she just wanted something good for me, seeing that I’m more of the caring type. So, she noticed that and let me be. 

Now, she says if she had not made me study music, she wonders what I would’ve been. Now, she’s actually full of joy and no regrets for not stopping me.

What was the drive behind your success as one of the most outstanding students in your class? 

Well, see, I don’t… I can’t really say because naturally, when I do things I don’t do it for a reward. I don’t expect myself to be paid; I just allow myself to do the things that I can do. 

I always want to help. I always want to look out for people. I always like to put my best in everything I do. So, maybe that, in the long run, paid off (laughs).

Another thing, I’m much older in the class. I’m like the second oldest person in my class. So, indirectly or subconsciously, I feel responsible, you know, to look after these other younger ones. So, I’m always caring, and when it’s time to do a task or perform a task, I don’t say no outrightly – even if I know I can’t do it, I’ll try. 

So I’ll put my best and make sure I see results. 

What’s your plan after the MUSON, should we be looking forward to seeing your works?

Yeah. So, there was an opera we did some time ago and we’ve been asked to do a repeat performance where I’m to play a major role. Acing that is my major goal right now. Going forward, I intend to perform more songs and upload them on my YouTube and Instagram pages. With that, I can create more publicity and awareness for myself. I’m into this hundred per cent. 

And another thing, leaving the university for about 12 years, then coming back to do Music can take a toll on your performance ability, but two years in MUSON helped me come back.

Now, I’m filled with so much enthusiasm to, you know, continue in that line and not relent. 

What interests you most about music as a course and career path? 

Actually, for me, I think it’s performance and getting to meet people, getting to work with people in a team and getting to achieve goals. With music, it’s not just about money. Money is not the ultimate: I want to reach out and I want to help people. I can use my music as therapy for people. In fact, when I was doing my master’s degree program, I worked with a school for the needy. We did music therapy together, using music to heal people. So for me, the key is reaching out to people, performing and passing messages across. 

For the kind of music we do, we have less acceptance in Nigeria for now. So, I want to create much more awareness, reach out to people that enjoy Classical Music or, even if it’s contemporary or Hip-Hop – of which I am not a contemporary Hip-Hop person anyway. I’m a classical person, but I can go across the board. 

Reaching out to people through my music is what I think is the ultimate for me now.

Do you have a favourite genre?

I’m a musician. I can dive into different genres. So I don’t have any favourites as a musician.

What would you say was your most memorable moment at MUSON?

I had a lot of happy days. Being accepted in MUSON, first, is a happy moment for me. Knowing that they had lots of people and the value of what MTNF is giving us through the scholarship and stipends is much more than I can afford just made me happy.

Generally speaking, I don’t think I have any specific happiest moments because I’ve had wonderful experiences at MUSON. They are all happy moments from the day of acceptance till the day of graduation. 

What would you say inspired you the most to succeed? 

It has to be the praises that I’ve heard from friends and colleagues about MUSON. I didn’t want to belittle it. I have friends that have graduated already and they came out top-notch. So, I didn’t want to go below. I was aspiring to do more. That kept pushing me to be better, it kept pushing me to give more to my studies and partake in everything that is being done and grab as much as I can.

Then, one of the teachers is my friend. Although we would have done this MTN thing together from the beginning in 2010, I was still in school. His name is Tosin Ajayi; so, he kept pushing, encouraging, and supporting me. 

It’s not actually an easy thing, I had to make a strong decision to succeed so even though I had other people supporting me and encouraging me, I was also determined. 

I also had to encourage myself. We had early classes; we had classes that ended at 7:30 pm and all through the day, you are tired. I just kept encouraging myself and pushing. 

What words do you have for MTN Foundation for its investment in young talents?

I have so much to say. I have so much to be thankful for and so much to be grateful for. I don’t want to be emotional now, but I have so much to tell MTN. I’m filled with gratitude, I’m filled with appreciation for the opportunity to go through music and learn it well and practically, because that’s one of the opportunities we don’t get in universities. 

I am grateful with all my heart. If I have any little means I can give back to MTN, I will gladly do it. And I will also try to get my friends to do that. Because it’s a lot. 

They have deposited in me something that will last for a lifetime. And I’m very grateful. 

MTN, thank you, thank you, thank you. You have blessed my life and you have helped me to know that I can also give back to society because you have given me a lot. 

If I know any MTN NGO where I can volunteer and work for free, even if I don’t have to work all day or all my life, but you know, to still give in one or two things to help them grow. I’ll do that because I’m grateful.

The post “Why I Quit My Job of 10 Years for MTNF’s Music Scholarship” – Akwarandu, Second Most Outstanding MUSON School Graduate appeared first on Nigerian Entertainment Today.

Source: TheNet

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