What does it take to be an artist? As an artist, how can we change the world? How can we make the world beautiful through our music? If you have asked yourself these questions before, you are not alone, these were the top questions on my mind when I started on my musical journey.
To be an artist, I believe the first thing you need is the passion and love for music. From a very young age, I fell in love with the beauty, colours, and character of music. Despite my health issues as a young boy, my passion for music kept growing. Not only classical music, I was drawn to all types of musical genres. This special connection became a language from which I could enunciate my deepest thoughts and emotions. As soon as I was well enough to learn to play the piano, I was immediately hooked! I could be seen practicing and learning the piano on my own every day. My parents never had to force me to practice or to play the piano.
Even though both my sisters also played the piano, I was the only one who persevered with it because the piano became a place where I could truly be myself. I took it very seriously at the age of 10 and successfully finished the LTCL and FTCL from the Trinity College of Music, London when I was 14 years old. The piano became the vehicle, medium, and primary instrument for me to express myself and connect with my audience. It is a connection which I believe will last the entirety of my life.
Another ingredient required is opportunities. Indeed, I was fortunate to have met Mr. Peerapong Surawan, a great piano teacher in Bangkok who had dedicated all his time and energy towards my early piano journey. It was not long before he sent me to Singapore to study with Mrs. Rena Phua at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts for a year. From there, my musical journey led me to the furthest I had ever been away from home – London. There, at the Royal College of Music, I received my Bachelor of Music, Masters of Music, and Artist Diploma under the tutelage of a Russian pedagogue and pianist Prof. Dina Parkahina, and the British pianist Prof. Ian Jones. My musical journey continued to Moscow Conservatory of Music, Russia and I completed my Doctorate degree in Piano Performance from the University of Montreal, Canada under Prof. Dang Thai Son and Prof. Jean Saulnier. Thanks to my work at the piano, I was granted a full scholarship to study abroad by Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana of Thailand. At the end of my studies in London in 2014, I was awarded the Tagore Gold Medal by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.
Next, inspirational teachers. All of my teachers were truly inspirational to me. They shared with me their musical journeys, their artistic vision, and the knowledge they attained from their own professors, thus passing on the many traditions of piano technique, musical styles, and the approach to interpretation which have opened my eyes to the vast history behind all of the music we play.
If you have chosen a path in MUSIC, it is important that you love what you are doing. This path takes true dedication, discipline, unrelenting perseverance, an eagerness to learn, humility to keep trying, and to never give up. In music, you will always find joy, you will meet a lot of wonderful people and discover yourself through music. You will also meet with many inspiring artists and composers while learning all about music history and traditions.
Having shared with you my pianistic journey, I would like to conclude by addressing the current Covid-19 pandemic situation and how it has affected us as artists. I am sure all of you have been impacted heavily, from the lockdowns to the uncertainty of the future. As artists, our live performances have suffered and we have had to find different avenues to share our music. However, I believe that we must stay positive and with the time given to us, work on refining our craft and developing our musical voice. This is the best time to prepare, develop, learn, cultivate, and fill ourselves with knowledge. At this time, it is even more important that we stick together and support one another in our mutual paths of sharing music and the arts with society.
I began this article by asking how artists can change the world. Personally, I believe the answer is simple. As artists, we are beacons of hope, joy, spiritual nourishment, and messengers of the past to the rest of the world. Our biggest contribution to the world is the exploration of our individual artistic inner voices through our performances and sharing of our music, no matter which musical instrument we play. This is the vision that I wish to bring to the University College Fairview, Malaysia, through my teaching and performances. It is my goal to open your minds and hearts through music and piano training. I simply cannot wait to share this with each and every one of you.
A final piece of advice I would like to impart is that you should not use music as a means to be successful or famous. You should play and study music because it makes you feel alive; that practicing and immersing yourself in this world of music gives you such joy and fulfilment that you want to share it with others through performance.
If you have yet to start learning or playing a musical instrument, it is never too late to kick start your musical journey today. All you need is a passion and love for music. I would like to invite you to join me on this musical journey, where I have discovered something incredible: that every day in life is exciting, full of hope, and the immense pleasure of performing in front of an audience. I sincerely hope I will be able to inspire you to appreciate this incredible language of our humanity. Together, we will beautify the world with our voices and our music.
By Poom Prommachart, UCF Distinguished Member of Faculty