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Fine and Performing Arts Academy:

Honing child skills

Furthering one's skills and making use of it to provide a service to children to uncover their talents is remarkable. The Studio of Fine and Performing Arts Academy Director Shyama Perera conducts a school for children in piano, electronic organ, guitar and art.

Shyama Perera

Her interest in the academy and the manner it offers lessons has made its popularity grow and increase the number of students enrolling. The academy gives the child the opportunity to explore their talents under the theme "a child's imagination knows no boundaries".

She was interviewed by Daily News Business.

Q. What is the type of your business and how did you set about it?

A. I studied the piano from a very early age under the expert guidance of Mrs Mary Billimoria and completed my Licentiate in piano. It was much later that I started learning the electronic organ when I was in Brunei (island of Borneo).

I went ahead with some training and then I was asked to teach in schools by my employer.

In the early 80's when I returned to Sri Lanka I worked in a private company that had just received their first shipment of electronic organs. I also started sitting for London examinations on the Electronic Organ and completed my Licentiate in Guildhall school of music and drama having passed with honours.

I also completed the fellowship in Trinity College of Music. I also performed in many charity concerts in Sri Lanka and also performed at the national theatre in Singapore. Having qualified in both Piano and Organ I was able to open the Studio.

At the moment we teach piano, electronic organ, drums, painting and speech and drama. My daughter Swasha is also a director of the studio and its operation is seen to by both of us.

Q. How did you balance family life and business?

A. It is time management. I really don't regret working from the time I left school as I feel I have devoted a lot of my time to my two children.

My family has been very supportive at all times and I share quality time with them. I work only in the afternoons as that is the time the students come after school and I attend to all household chores in the mornings.

Q. What were your achievements in business and family?

A. I think I am correct to say in my chosen field my academy is the largest single institution. We also in addition every year have prize winners in both London College of Music, London and Trinity Guild, London.

We have over the last 20 years held many charity concerts giving an opportunity to our students to gain confidence and giving them the ability to perform.

Where my family is concerned I have done my best and supported my husband in every way. My two children have done well and are employed.

They both have been guided by us to be good human beings.

Q. What are the challenges you faced?

A. When it comes to teaching the challenges I would think would be the responsibilities you take to teach.

It's teaching and also making sure the students are all ready to sit for their respective examinations. Teaching is a commitment. Preparing for examinations is very challenging. I have produced many Diploma holders and I take that as a challenge.

Q. What is your advice to women in business?

A. We have to know the subject we are doing. Be precise, stay in control and take pride in what you do. Teachers must always think from the point of view of the student, have patience, and be kind. One must be passionate in what you do and achieve your goals to the fullest.

The children at the academy. Pictures by Saliya Rupasinghe

Q. What are your goals?

A. Although I am confident of my teaching abilities I think it's more teaching and guiding my staff for them to be good teachers too as the school has now grown. I now realize the importance of training others so that while the Academy is going on the standard of teaching is not anyway compromised. It is my goal to make my teachers the best when it comes to delivering the service.

Q. As a woman was it an advantage to be in business?

A. Well, where teaching is concerned I think females are at an advantage. This is something one can do even with a family rather than an office job. A teacher's time is more flexible when you especially teach extra curricular activities.

Q. What is your contribution to society?

A. I have been a charter member of Zonta Club 2 of Colombo. I have been involved in many charity projects to empower women.

Since teaching is my forte I teach music and movement to differently-abled children. I find it very rewarding teaching them.

I am also the immediate past president of the Past Pupils Association of Bishop's College.

I am also in the Board of Governors for Women in Need. It's an NGO providing for the cause elimination of all forms of violence against women and providing services such as counselling, legal services, shelter and other services required by victims of violence.

These services will enable a better future for many suffering women and also a smile on their faces.



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