Piano • Student Feature

December 2021

Nicholas Yee: Fun on the Keys

In this student feature, we have Nicholas Yee, a passionate jazz and classical pianist who is currently taking piano lessons with Dr. Nattapol at our Forum branch. He recently brought us a refreshing jazz piano performance of Gershwin’s The Man I Love, from the 1924 musical comedy Lady Be Good.
We also got to have a chat with him about his musical journey on the piano, his outlook on practising, and his future goals for music.

When did you start playing the piano?
I started playing the piano when I was 7 years old.

Was there a particular reason you chose to take up piano lessons?
I played the violin at a very young age, around 3 years old, and wanted to play another instrument, so I chose the piano! It was a bonus that we already had a piano to play in our home!

What is your favourite genre of music?
I really like jazz, particularly New Orleans, trios and bossa nova, as well as electronic music like pop synthwave, electro swing and tropical house.

Do you have a favourite composer or artist?
My favourite composer and artist has to be Jacob Collier. He’s a mastermind at introducing sophisticated theoretical concepts in a mesmerisingly fun and effective way that screams originality.

How often and how long do you practise each time?
I “practise” the piano everyday for at least 2 to 3 hours, sometimes longer just for fun.

Does practising ever become a chore and how do you overcome that?
Ever since I discovered the joy of improvisation in Secondary 2, my “practice” became game-like to me. Taking piano lessons with Dr. Nattapol has helped me realise that the underlying concepts in classical music could be placed into my improvisation. After that, I started practising these kinds of arpeggiated runs, turns, tremolo and many other techniques while improvising, going back and forth from classical pieces and jazz. If I lose focus while working on the classical repertoire, some practice sessions will be dedicated to my Diploma pieces.

What pieces are you working on now?
I’m working on Giant Steps by John Coltrane and the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve in your musical journey?
I’m working towards completing my ABRSM Diploma and hope to achieve it before my enlistment.

Will you be interested in picking up another instrument some day?
I’m hoping that I can pick up the guitar after my exams.

Besides playing the piano, what are some other hobbies you enjoy doing during your free time?
I enjoy performing and practising card magic effects, as well as speedcubing.

You can watch Nicholas’ full performance of Gershwin’s The Man I Love, as well as other performances put up by our amazing teachers and students on Aureus Academy’s Youtube channel!

Is jazz music the thing for you? At Aureus Academy, Singapore’s leading music school, we encourage students to explore a variety of genres. Our teachers are equipped to cater to the learning goals of every individual, regardless of their musical interest. Find out more about our music lessons by reaching out to our programme specialists at 3158 5811 or book a free trial lesson with us now!

Alex Sarabi