Dr. Sheyi Kehnny is a lecturer at the prestigious University of Lagos (UNILAG), and a visiting music lecturer at University of Texas in United States America.
In an interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, he spoke about how it feels to be the first Ph.D graduate in the Department of Music and where he gets his inspiration.
I don’t know where to start from. I will say I am a music scholar (educationist, instructor, choir trainer) and music performer (band director, music director and conductor).
It’s interesting to know that you are now a Ph.D holder, how do you feel?
I feel fulfilled and elated because I didn’t just become a Ph.D holder, I became the first Ph.D graduate in Music produced by the University of Lagos.
How will you describe the journey so far?
It wasn’t an easy journey but I had to be dedicated, persistent and humble to end the journey well. There were some personal issues I went through during my Ph.D programme but I remained focused.
What would you say is the secret of your success?
In addition to what I said, it was about being sure of what I wanted to do from the beginning and followed it up, and the ability to adapt to changes effected by my supervisors.
I encountered a lot of challenges such as improper time management in securing regular appointment with my supervisors due to varying inevitable factors, availability of instructional materials in the libraries and distractions from intermittent power supply.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get inspiration from my mentors both in the academics and performance because I had always wanted to be like them from my childhood. During the course of my Ph.D programme, I was also awarded N1 million grant by the University of Lagos management to do part of my Ph.D research in one of the universities in United States of America. The use of facilities in the American university inspired me to have a focus and lot of confidence in the Ph.D research.
What are the lessons life has taught you?
There is a reward for dedication, persistence, humility, perseverance and discipline.
Would you say you have got to the peak of your career?
No! This is just the beginning. I need to affect lives through the little knowledge I have acquired and also improve on myself in academics and performance.
You are also a musician, how did the story begin?
Everything happened naturally. I acquired music skills from my parents by intuition, they never sat me down to teach me how to sing or play any musical instrument. My dad was an organist and a choir director, so I was stimulated by some of his demonstrations and personal practices. I became a professional in music after I left Mechanical Engineering to study music. I had a science background but my talent pushed me this far. I just decided to get my talent refined through music scholarship.
At the early stage of my career, I was fascinated by jazz music. I saw the genre of music as an ultimate demonstration of musical skill but I later discovered during my studies that classical music is the foundation of great music scholars and performers.
How do you combine academics with music performance?
It’s very simple. Academic activities come during the days of the week, whereas performances come when the days are over and during weekends. Although it’s hectic for a music scholar who is also good in performance, an extra strength comes when you love and enjoy what you do for a living.
– AJOKE ONITOLO