A Musician in Context

In a way, one could say that Lin Xiangning (Piano) will have a longer YST journey than others. While pursuing pre-tertiary studies at the School of the Arts, Singapore, she was also a student in the Conservatory’s Young Artist Programme. Having completed the Bachelor of Music (Honours), she will be continuing on to do a Master of Music at YST. 

What have been her key impressions of YST? She shares, “There’s always so much going on – almost every week, we get to hear from artists that the Conservatory has brought in from all over the world. Alongside our performance-focused studies, the academic rigour and depth here also meant that I felt stimulated and challenged every week.” Personal highlights for her have ranged from hearing András Schiff in the Conservatory, to hearing the Boston Brass “bring the house down” in her words, as well as going on exchange at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. “Here, the only limit is your appetite for learning, to keep up with all that’s happening!” 

Another notable experience for her was curating Springing, the 2019 senior class’s concert that was held in the Victoria Concert Hall. Xiangning says, “This was my first time being involved in production work, from curation and programming to marketing and coordinating of people. It really made me aware that as a performer, my performance is part of a larger context with different elements that make every concert possible.”

Xiangning emceeing for  Beethoven im Garten  at the Singapore Botanic Gardens Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage.

Xiangning emceeing for Beethoven im Garten at the Singapore Botanic Gardens Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage.

Aside from the different experiences she has had, she also credits her Major teachers for their influence on her growth as a musician, which has been central in her decision to continue her YST journey. “Both my teachers, Head of Keyboard Studies Prof Thomas Hecht and Assoc Prof Albert Tiu, have really given me different perspectives that I needed at different stages of my learning. I began studying with Mr Tiu first – his style is very intuitive, and he built my sensitivity towards every detail that makes the difference between a mediocre and refined performance. Studying with Prof Hecht now, we focus not only on conceptual understanding, but also on truly translating it into your playing. I’ve gained new perspectives working with them, and there is still so much more to learn.”

While she will continue to focus on performance in the immediate next stage, it is not the only path she has set her eyes on. “Performing will always be a part of me and what I do; at the same time, I would also like to go into research. I am interested in systemic musicology – looking at music as a cultural practice and in a wider context as it is happening today and exploring interdisciplinary possibilities in areas such as cognitive science. Through these, I seek to continually (re)contextualise my experience and understanding of music.”

Context has been a theme running through her reflections thus far, and this applies to her thoughts on education as a larger journey. She shares, “When I first entered the BMus programme, I was eager to see how much I could accelerate completing my degree with the advance credits I had already accumulated. But I realised over time that education is not a race, nor is it about completing a certain programme or achieving things in record time. Whatever you do, it’s about truly accounting for your learning – and showing up 100%.”

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