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The pianist with a complex blend of love and talent

Pianist Ying-Shan Tseng, 18, keeps things outside the city. She matriculated in Worcester, is currently studying at the University of Stellenbosch and her current piano teacher, José Dias, is from Paarl.

Her younger siblings, two sisters and a little brother, all play the piano, “My sisters got inspired because of the possibility of being able to wear beautiful dresses when on stage,” says the rising musician.

Starting her music path at age one, Ying-Shan’s first music teacher of any sort was the television (TV) and the radio. She can't remember who her first official teacher was.

“I learnt every song I heard on TV or radio and sang them with words and on pitch to my family even when they were very busy and needed quiet time. I also played children's songs on the little keyboard in my grandparents' house," she smiles.

Her parents are musical but not professional musicians. Her mother used to play a Chinese stringed instrument in a Chinese instruments orchestra and also conducted a bit. She did take piano lessons for a while too.

Ying-Shan may appear small in stature but she is filled with a complex music blend. Apart from the piano, she also studies the flute and singing. Furthermore, she plays the soprano, treble and tenor recorders.

“I love most instruments. There are so many instruments I would still really want to learn especially the tuba, French horn, and the harp," she beams.

She doesn’t have a set number of practising hours. She tries to practise whenever she has free time. For her, it is more about productivity than the hours spent with the instrument and she is almost always singing or humming her music when she is walking somewhere or so.

About her practising at home, she experiences mixed reactions. When her mom has some free time, which is seldom, and when she's in a good mood, she'll just sit down and listen to Ying-Shan’s practising. Sometimes she'll laugh and sometimes she'll cry out of frustration or sometimes she'll be very happy. Her dad enjoys the final product the most and her siblings sometimes wished she would just stop practising for a while.

Her complexity is further highlighted when coming to a favourite composer. “I love most Western art composers. I recently discovered a composer that I love. It is British musician, Martin Ellerby. His music sounds so much like film music. I just can't stop listening to his compositions. Regarding playing, I discovered recently that I love the impressionistic composers too because some of it sounds a bit like Chinese music,” she laughs.

Ying-Shan entered the competition for the opportunity to meet other musician peers from other places, to listen to other people play and as a challenge for herself to see where the NYMC would take her. Lastly to learn new things and also simply because she loves performing and being on stage.

Apart from her love for music, Ying-Shan loves being with her friends, reading, and learning foreign languages.

There are many things she would like to do upon finishing her undergraduate studies. Only time will tell what she will be able to do. She aspires to do some teaching, have a performing career, and study towards various postgraduate qualifications.