Jobs 101: Concert pianist
Playing music is more than just an art – it is a language rich in history and personalities that is meant to be shared.
In a country that is still developing its performing arts scene, we find a rare gem in our midst. Youth.SG caught up with Abigail Sin, a young and talented classical pianist, before her guest performance at Casio’s release of its latest CELVIANO Grand Hybrid Piano.
Abigail, who started tinkering on the piano at the tender age of 9, has bloomed into a full-fledged queen of the piano in recent years. Not a stranger to awards, a few of her notable achievements includes winning first prize at UK’s Oxford Music Festival in 2011, and clinching the Lee Kuan Yew scholarship in 2014.
Who: Abigail Sin, 23
Studied: Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore
Tell us more about yourself.
I started playing the piano when I was 4 at Yamaha, like everyone else. I played with my friends at an old lady’s house in our old neighbourhood, and it was really relaxing.
Currently, I am studying in London and return to Singapore three times a year. Apart from classical music, I listen to pop artists like Taylor Swift too!
When did you discover that you wanted to be a musician?
I did not think about it until my late teens when I started learning under Professor Thomas Hecht, the head of piano studies at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in NUS in 2004. Under his tutelage, I saw the piano from a different perspective and became more organised in my playing.
What are some of the main highlights of your career?
I do not really like to consider my achievements as highlights, because I have so much more to learn as a pianist.
But, it was a real honour to receive the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew award last year. For a performing artist to receive an award shows how far the Singapore local arts scene has grown.
What is your favourite classical piece?
It changes all the time. I think being a musician is like being an actor, where you take in different kinds of roles.
Playing Bach is like speaking a different language to French or Russian music, and you adjust to that new language with every piece. Every piece has its own history and classical music has a wide variety for us tap into.
What are some of the challenges you face as a pianist?
The little things are the hardest, such as pushing myself every time in the way I practice and making every performance matter.
It is also difficult when I do not prepare enough for a performance, and that makes me really nervous and scared – it shows physically in my playing when I am not at my best.
What motivates you in your work?
Learning new things and exploring a wide variety of classical pieces keep me motivated. I am also inspired by my peers and established musicians whom I look up to and wish to emulate in my career.
What advice do you have for young pianists or musicians who aspire to be like you?
They need to find things that inspire them, and they have to be very curious and passionate about it as well. YouTube is an amazing platform, and they can use it to explore different genres and composers.
Education requirements: A full-time music education, coupled with a good portfolio.
Qualities: Passion, perseverance, and resilience.
Salary range: It varies with each performance. Some people charge as low as $50 per hour, while others charge $150 per hour.
Working hours: Depends on your projects, and if you are teaching aside from performing. You can also plan your own schedule.