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Insight December 2018 | Youth Hong Kong

First nature S

elf-taught star pianist Steve Siu, who left Hong Kong in his teens to study and then work as a pianist, explains how he started out and how he built up a world-wide fanbase with social media tools.

Do you play piano as a job or in your time off? I love playing the piano so much that I never need to take a day off. Every day is a day off as far as I’m concerned. Playing the piano is like “first nature” to me. Breathing and walking came second. I tell people I’ve never worked a day in my life. Every single dollar I have ever made has come from playing the piano. In my own mind, there is no doubt that I play the piano in a professional setting for the maximum possible time. Seven days a week, 365 days of the year. I’ve accumulated over 9,000 performances in my career and it’s the only career I’ve ever had.

Did you ever do any formal training? Nope. 100% self-taught. I never had a lesson in my life, never had a teacher and I don’t read music fluently at all. I play everything by ear. Have you become more self-confident as a result of playing? Absolutely. All my self-esteem and self-confidence comes from playing the piano. Without it I am nothing. What do you think are a performer’s most important skills? To be able to consistently convey the emotions of a song in an authentic, uncontrived, mature, less-is-more manner. Do you think competitions help or motivate young people to play an instrument or sing? I don’t think so. In fact, they may even have a negative effect. They can take away the “fun.” 18

What would you say that a young performer needs most in order to succeed? Is it passion for an art form, training or ambition to become famous? Innate, natural born talent. That’s the base line. After that I’d say they need perseverance. Do you know of any useful digital aids to good performance such as “virtual theatres” where performers can practice their skills? Absolutely. Live streaming your creative process on any live streaming platforms like Twitch.tv or YouTube Live is exhilarating and encouraging. I highly recommend it. The interaction and feedback you get from your viewers is invaluable. What was your most exciting performance? Believe it or not, it is whenever I’m live streaming to the world from my studio, taking audience requests and interacting with them all over the world in real time. It is so exciting. Technology allows me to broadcast to anyone with a phone anywhere. What main challenges would you say face talented young performers starting out in Hong Kong? The lack of an outlet to make a full-time living as a performer. That is also the basis for the lack of parental support. How do you think young people here can best cope with such challenges? With the social media tools I mentioned: Twitch, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snap-chat etc. It’s essential for inspired performers to learn to use these platforms and create content on each of them. These tools didn’t exist 15 years

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