Interview with Mrs Loh
Jalen Loh - First Prize Winner of the International Music Competition 'London' Grand Prize Virtuoso 2016. Performed at the Royal Albert Hall Elgar Room at 8 years old and Medley Music School's Pioneering Student.
1. Can you give a brief background history on how Jalen came to learn music, why piano and was there any resistance or interest shown and at what age.
Since young, Jalen has shown some tell-tale signs of his musicality. At a year plus, he was able to sing/hum along (pitch clear) to songs just after listening for a few times; he also enjoyed tapping and dancing along to music DVDs, he even danced to music on a street. He liked figuring out notes on the piano and sing-along on his self-composed tunes. So, we decided to start him on piano when he reached 3.5 years old. I was a little apprehensive at first if that was the right age to start, as I was not sure if he could sit through a half hour session.
After a trial lesson with Teacher Sher Lyn, I asked Jalen if he wanted to continue and he said yes. Something must have ticked. Over the past 5 years, there were pieces that he showed particular interest to, and you could tell because he would play it so relentlessly. It is also sheer enjoyment listening to him playing songs he could sing, and performing sing-alongs with his younger sister. There were times when he also dwelt in transposition and harmonisation of music. Why piano? It is a convenient choice probably. He showed interest in drums as well but maybe in time to come.
2. Were you surprised by the win?
A very pleasant surprise indeed! Dumbfounded actually. We never expected for him to be invited to play at RAH. Such an honour! When Teacher Sher Lyn first suggested that we could consider submitting an entry for Jalen for the Grand Prize Virtuoso Piano Competition, we just thought it would be a good exposure and learning experience for him. In the spirit of trying out something new (which we often encouraged him to), why not?
3. How did Jalen react upon learning about it himself?
Asked him on how happy he was on learning the news, he gave a score of 10/10!
4. What were the efforts put in by him at home?
Practising the piano is a discipline set when he started learning at 3.5 years old. Every day, we will set aside time to practise piano. It is not the duration that matters, but the discipline of setting aside time for it. As the days progress, it becomes a habit. In the initial years, I (or his aunt) will sit with him to guide him along, but as he matures, he is able to do it independently. Very often, his playing becomes our dinner entertainment when everyone returns home from work. He takes pride in his efforts. When he is able to complete learning a piece on his own, we can totally share his joy.
5. How does he balance school work and practicing?
Probably because the habit of practising has been inculcated since young, it still forms part of his daily routine activities even as he progresses through the primary school. It has been set in the mould that homework and piano practising are 2 things he needs to complete before other leisure activities kick in. On days where he has CCA and returns home late, his practising time may be shorter or he would focus on more targeted practise. Thankfully, he has balanced it quite well so far.