Sophomore pianist Byron Yang uses his art to relax


Vincent Nguyen

Yang uses the piano as a stress reliever.

Nervosity gripped his chest. He sat down in front of the piano and began to play his piece for the judges of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He took a deep breath and then – blank. Legs shaking, the thirteen-year-old pianist had forgotten the first note of the song.

Sophomore Byron Yang vividly remembers this experience, but it did not stop him from continuing to play. Since then, he has won multiple awards at the United States Open Music competition in the solo and duet categories and has also consistently received high scores from judges at recitals organized by the Palo Alto Music Teachers Association.

“I started playing piano because I liked the sound,” Yang said. “I was eager to create beautiful music.”

Yang started playing piano four years ago but plays at the level of a nine-year piano player.  He said his ability to quickly resolve problems allows him to learn a piece much faster than most. Upon receiving a new music piece, Yang generally spends three weeks to five months, depending on the complexity of the piece, before performing it on stage.

“Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever perfected a piano piece because it’s hard to get all the notes and expressions right,” Yang said. “It’s hard to get the piece exactly the way you want it to sound.”

Yang spends one hour per weekday and four hours on the weekend practicing.

“I would like to reach a level in piano advanced enough so that I can play any song I want to play as well as be proficient in technical skills,” Yang said.

Although Yang sometimes gets frustrated with the complicated rhythms and difficult technicalities, piano is generally a stress reliever and a form of relaxation.

“My favorite thing is simply playing a song and have my fingers fly over the keys, or having a song give me chills because of how amazing it is,” Yang said.

Yang has never seen piano as a career, but if it was an option, he said he would need supplementary jobs to support himself financially. Nonetheless, Yang wishes to continue piano for as long as possible.

“When I’m playing piano, I try to immerse myself in the music and try to let my emotions dictate how I should play the music,” Yang said. “Playing the piano brings me a lot of happiness. If I could not play, I would become miserable.”