As an examiner for ABRSM, I spend a large part of each year examining abroad, often in the Far East. This November/December trip was my second time to mainland China, having spent six weeks in Guangzhou in the spring. I returned to the region of Guangdong (south China) but this time spent just over three weeks in Shenzhen, which is just across the border from Hong Kong.
There are many challenges that come with working abroad, including language barriers (very little English is spoken and we work through an interpreter), cultural differences (including hygiene and personal space!) and food (I’m not a huge fan of anything spicy). Combine that with long working days and initially dealing with jet lag and it can be quite exhausting! However it’s a real privilege to be able to see so much of the world, working alongside local people and understanding more about their culture and also the education systems.
A highlight of this trip was attending the ABRSM High Scorers’ Concert for the South China region as a guest representative of ABRSM. It was a very grand event in a beautiful modern building with a lovely theatre and a Steinway grand piano! We were treated as guests of honour and at the end of the concert invited to present certificates to those taking part – twenty candidates who had achieved the highest marks in their exams during 2018. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm for music making, and I will always remember the 10 year old girl who came onto the stage with a beaming smile and gave a stunning performance of Copland’s ‘The Cat and The Mouse’ from the diploma syllabus. It’s wonderful be able to support the work that ABRSM is doing in Asia and I’m looking forward to my next trip!