HOME IN FOCUS: CELEBRATING THEIR ABILITIES

Music brings him out of his shell

MR KEN WONG, 29, Music teacher at Faith Music Centre

Although he cannot see the strings on a guitar or the keys on the keyboard, Mr Wong has been teaching music since 2015 at Faith Music Centre, located in the Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club.

Set up in mid-2008, the centre's learners include children, adults and senior citizens, as well as persons with disabilities.

Diagnosed with macular dystrophy at the age of nine years old, Mr Wong does not have central vision and has less than 20 per cent of the vision of a normal person.

Macular dystrophy is a rare genetic eye disorder that causes vision loss due to the deterioration of the inner back lining of the eye where the retina and light-sensitive cells (photoreceptors) are found.

He studied pyschology in Australia for about four years after his O-level examinations. Alone in a foreign land, he suffered from social anxiety, failed badly and came back to Singapore.

"I was always quiet and kept to myself to the point where I didn't leave the house," explains Mr Wong.

REDISCOVERING LIFE

Music has given me so much - helped me overcome my anxiety, forced me to go on stage to sing and perform. That kind of confidence and finding purpose in life, they came through music for me.

MR KEN WONG

His life changed when his friends got him a keyboard for his 21st birthday. He searched for schools to learn music and forced himself to go out. Starting with the digital piano in 2010, he has also learnt to play the guitar, bass, drums and various band instruments.

He admits that being visually impaired means that he has to learn music with a lot of patience and memory work while "enduring his own lousy playing".

Now he finds a sense of fulfilment in teaching music to persons with disabilities and giving back to the society.

"Music has given me so much - helped me overcome my anxiety, forced me to go on stage to sing and perform. That kind of confidence and finding purpose in life, they came through music for me," says Mr Wong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2017, with the headline 'Music brings him out of his shell'. Print Edition | Subscribe