Some students figure out what they want to do professionally during their time in college, while others come to college with a clear vision of their future. Some aspire to one day become doctors, teachers, reporters or business owners. For Weber State University junior Ling-Yu Lee, she knew what she wanted to be a professional pianist since high school.
Lee was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, where her family is currently living. After graduating high school, Lee moved to the United States to attend WSU as a piano performance major.
From a young age, Lee connected with the piano and began taking lessons when she was 6 years old. She began piano lessons from her aunt and progressed to advanced lessons while in third grade. While attending middle school in Taiwan, Lee became uncertain of her future with piano performance.
“I think one of the reasons I didn’t like it was because I was a little afraid of performing for people,” Lee said. “I thought maybe performing on stage just wasn’t for me.”
However, after a competition two years ago, Lee was approached by a professor who heard her perform.
“He came over and said that I touched his heart, and that gave me assurance that I should be doing piano,” Lee said.
Lee said that gradually through high school she found more confidence in her piano performance through supportive teachers.
“I think the training I’ve received here helped me focus on what I need to pay attention to as I’m playing,” Lee said. “I eventually got to where I didn’t care about the people around me.”
The piano major will also invite her friends to listen to her pieces before performances and give her feedback.
“They’re so supportive and super nice,” Lee said.
Cicely Fabiano, Sara Song and Katie Swainston are friends of Lee’s who have witnessed her musical performances. Swainston described Lee’s music as captivating.
“I love how Ling captures the audience with all her different colors, tones and characters in her music,” Swainston said. “She feels the music and because she feels the music, the audience can as well.”
Fabiano said that Lee’s position and body movement draws emotion from the audience as she plays.
“It’s so intense,” Fabiano said. “As she plays the notes, you can see from the expression on her face and the way her head and upper body move that she means what she plays.”
Song described Lee’s performances with one word: fabulous.
Lee has entered and won several musical competitions with her piano playing throughout her life. She recently won first place in the Utah Music Teacher Association competition entering her into the Southwest Division competition where she again won first place.
“I looked at my teacher and thought it couldn’t be real,” Lee said.
WSU Performing Arts Professor Yu-Jane Yang is Lee’s piano professor. Before Lee’s competitions, Yang reminds her that the key is to leave no questions in the judges’ minds.
“I tell Ling to let the music flow through her body, then come out of her fingers,” Yang said.
Aside from her piano competitions, Lee also focuses on her studies at WSU and spending time with her friends. She enjoys movies and being in the outdoors.
“Being from Taiwan in the big city, we don’t have a lot of outdoors,” Lee said. “So my friends and I went on a hike during spring break and it was fun.”
Once Lee graduates from Weber State University, she plans to attend graduate school in America to further her passion for playing the piano.