Dr Narong Prancharoen, Dean of the College of Music, Mahidol University, used his experience as a classical orchestra composer in the United States to drive the College ranked as the 47th best-performing arts university in the world” according to the “QS World University Rankings 2022”.
Mahidol University has swept countless world-class classical music composing awards. Still, it is the first time a Thai university has entered the top 50, reflecting the potential and quality of the music institution that is ready to increase its capacity and compete internationally.
“Dr Narong” revealed that the 47th rank this time is due to the continuous work at the international level over the past 3-4 years to build global recognition. It is also the first school in Southeast Asia to be accredited for all courses.
From bachelor to doctorate level, the Institute MusiQuE (Music Quality Enhancement), which was part of the Association of European Conservatories (AEC) structure and became an independent development organization that represents the quality of music education in the European and other regions.
In the past, we were invited to be one of the members of the International Benchmarking Group. The association comprises the Haute Ecole de Musique de Geneve, the College of Music, the New England Conservatory, and the University of Music and Performing Arts (Graz); the group has made music become an international benchmark. For our participation, it was the start point for aiming for the world’s top 25
“Dr Narong” continued that the next goal must be to make the rankings better than before. We aim to be in the top 25, but it may take 2-3 years because getting to the top is difficult or “higher is harder” because we have to compete with many institutions worldwide.
Because the College of Music is a particular institute while other institutions are diverse, such as performing arts, including theater, dance, and other performing arts disciplines, systematic management planning is required.
“We have to try harder in international terms, to give teachers the opportunity for more students to perform at Thai and international music festivals. In academic terms, it must create a connection to bring knowledge and experience from abroad to integrate into Thailand.
Because we have another big goal, which is to push Nakhon Pathom Province to be a City of Music, one of UNESCO’s creative city branches.”
Why does Nakhon Pathom have to be a music city?
“Dr Narong” answered this question, “Because Nakhon Pathom has a valuable cultural value, especially in music. The College of Music is located in Nakhon Pathom Province; there is an auditorium that is the best music hall in Thailand, with the most modern and perfect sound system. In short, we’ve been promoting this for a few years, trying to offer and connect community service through activities with children, youth, etc.
If it is certified as a music city by UNESCO in the future, Thai music will become recognized internationally. This will create opportunities in the tourism economy for the country, from being the center of music in Southeast Asia and causing economic impact in many aspects.
For example, there may be a piano factory that creates jobs and generate income for Thai people. It is important to benefit the community and society as much as possible.
“Dr Narong” also said that promoting a music festival that foreigners flock to join, it’s a way to create money flows into a country. Such as Belgium, there has Tomorrowland Belgium, the world’s largest electronic dance music festival; it has only been held for a few years but is very popular as there is a good management system. In Thailand, we also have a lot of music festivals, we have the potential, but the connections are so few that we haven’t reached the global level.
“I believe that the entertainment business in our market is the largest in ASEAN. Bigger than Singapore and Malaysia, but not to the Asian level. Because we still lose support and popularity compared to China. There was a significant investment, and every content he produces has a soft-powered culture.
As in Korea, it was aimed from the beginning to be global so that we couldn’t keep up with it. The artist’s career in the Thai market is still tiny; in the United States, the income is a million baht when one writes a song. That’s why artists have to think deeply and are very stressed at work in Thailand”
Now we try to strive for government support; actually, the state has the policy to drive soft power, but all must be caused by participation in many sectors to go far and fast. I believe that in terms of the entertainment business, Thailand can still go a long way.
Because everyone in this business knows that our content is good, but we don’t have enough capital to promote it, it is difficult to work on it without support.
“I think the College of Music is on the right track and ready to be a part of driving the country. I think it is not necessary to have only one university in the top 50 because if so, it means that Thailand is not prosperous. When there is a Dean of College of Music meeting all over the country, I will share this story. education is not progressing Because don’t forget that we are still following Singapore in education.”
A graduate of Music is not unemployed
Importantly, the College of Music offers several courses. In particular, the Bachelor’s degree program has more than 10 majors in jazz, classical music, musical theater, music business, etc. There are approximately 1,300 students, of which 100 are international students, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, America, India, Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam etc.
International students who come to study with us maybe since we try to create a reputation for being known. Or some people may find something different from their origin country, while some of their origins may not be very open, so they choose to study in Thailand.
Because each year we produce 200-300 graduates to the market and the unemployment rate is very low. We don’t put pressure on students that everyone has to create jobs after graduation, but we have a career path for them. When the time ends, they can do what they want right away.
We also have connections with several different graduates, including seniors and juniors. Some graduated and studied abroad, became a singer, and were producers abroad. Some of them are music teachers, therefore rarely face the problem of unemployment.
And most importantly, each year there is an increasing number of students, reflecting children are more interested in music, it is not just happening in our institution, but other universities. In terms of entertainment, confirm that no matter the situation, the entertainment business can still go far.
“I think children who are gifted or want to work in this field should get more support, whether the parents themselves or the government. Because we will see many examples of Thai children who have achieved world-class success.”