Low Shao Ying is a professional classical pianist, piano accompanist, composer, songwriter and piano teacher. She is currently a full-time piano accompanist at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at NUS and also performs occasionally with friends and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. She also composes in her free time and her music can be heard and downloaded on:
“Baby Kiss me Goodbye” by Low Shao Ying
What made you choose your profession? Were there any particular events or people who inspired you to take this path?
I have always loved music since young (especially after an aunt bought my sis and I a toy piano) and I knew then that I wanted to make music my career. Initially, it was my passion that made me choose this path but along the way, encouragements from my piano teachers and friends, and attending concerts by renowned pianists proved further that I made the right choice. 🙂
What do you do to get inspiration to create your musical pieces?
I get most of my inspirations from looking at beautiful sceneries (be it in real life, on magazines, on tv etc) and listening to beautiful music. At times, a melody will just pop up in my head without warning and I will quickly jot it down or record it on a recorder and it sometimes happens when I’m in the shower. Hahaha. When I run out of inspirations, I will sit at the piano and randomly play something until a tune pops up. Sometimes, when one of my students accidentally played wrong notes, that could create very interesting harmonies which would give me inspirations to start writing something. As I’m also an ardent fan of film music, I’ll sometimes think of a story or a scenario before writing the music. I know that I have written something good when I can complete a piece of music very quickly and very easily. The ideas just flow very fluently and effortlessly.
What was your memorable performance and why?
My most memorable performance was my very first performance (together with my sister Shao Suan) with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) under Maestro Choo Hoey in 1995. It was also Singapore’s 1st Presidential Concert and the guest-of-honour then was the late President Ong Teng Cheong. My sis and I performed French composer, Francis POULENC’s Concerto for Two Pianos — a very fun, beautiful and enjoyable piece. We learnt the concerto during our studies in Paris so we thought it most appropriate to present it to the Singapore audience for our first concerto performance. As we are twins and both play the piano, we created quite a novelty back then. The orchestra, the audience and both my sis and I had a really great time and the concert was a big success.
The entire concerto can be heard below:
The first video features the full concerto with the composer’s photo throughout the video.
The second video is a live performance of the 1st movement by the legendary and beautiful French sisters, Katia and Marielle LABEQUE (they came to Singapore recently to perform the same concerto with the SSO). Hope you will enjoy it! 🙂
What are the biggest challenges of your job?
1. Getting over stage fright
Even though I’ve performed on stage many times, the thought of going on stage to play for people still scares me at times. This is because I have been and still am hard on myself, telling myself that I have to deliver a perfect performance to the audience each time I go on stage. However, after knowing that even the biggest names in the classical music scene also make mistakes at times, made me feel less uptight and I’ve learnt to take things more easily. Now whenever I perform, I focus on pulling the heartstrings of the audience with my music rather than worrying about making mistakes.
2. Handling different personalities of the people I work with
In my work, I have to deal with people, be it students, colleagues or foreign musicians. Everyone is different. When I work with them, I have to learn to adjust to each of them and at the same time, figure how to work around their personalities to make things easier for everyone. Sometimes it can be very challenging and I have to try my best to keep my cool. Other times, I have to “open one eye, close one eye” and keep going.
What are the biggest rewards?
Compliments from audience after each concert especially when they tell me they were moved to tears by my playing, and appreciation shown to me by people whom I’ve worked with. As I also compose, I always feel happy and grateful when people tell me they enjoy and like my music very much, and it touches them in a certain way. Also, having many opportunities to perform with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under renowned conductors, as well as winning awards at competitions for piano and composing. All these really give me lots of confidence and satisfaction. They are evidences that I’ve made the right choice and I want to do even better and bring more joy to people through my music. “Follow your heart and dreams. They always lead you to your goals.”
Can you share some of your favorite musicians who have inspired you?
What is something that you wished someone would have told you when you were younger?
“Don’t be afraid to fight for your dreams” and “Stand up for yourself. Learn to say ‘no’ when forced to do something you dislike.”.