Monday Mashup part 1: Alpin Hong
(This weekend has more events than you can shake a stick at, and they all deserve their own spotlight. Alpin Hong was kind enough to spend the late morning on the phone with me, and you can catch him here this Friday at 8pm)
“My mom made me.”
How many of us had that reasoning for doing something, from taking out the garbage every morning to babysitting siblings and practicing for something. From the ages of 5-15, I’m pretty sure the only reason I did anything was because my mom made me.
There are no exceptions for world-class piano players, like Alpin Hong. Although he hated practicing, he didn’t hate playing the piano.
“I hated to practice, but I liked the challenge that came with performing,” he said. But to do well in the latter, you need to stick with the former. Alpin did, and it paid off. He recently played at the White House and at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, both incredibly special performances.
“The Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the great concert halls, and my brother and wife, two of my most honest critics, told me it was my most flawless performance. It gave me a professional confidence, like what I was doing was working and I had done the right thing with my life,” he said.
So how did Alpin get to the White House and Walt Disney Concert Hall? Same way one gets to Carnegie Hall: Practice. But anyone who has been a child practicing music, or who has been around a child practicing music knows that is no easy task. That’s why Alpin spends his time wisely when he will visit, not only will he perform at the Center, but he’ll also spend this week when students from CUSD teaching, helping and playing music with them. And it works.
“At some point, a child needs to be invested. Let them hear music played at a high level, it gives them something to shoot for. Take them to a live performance, like you would like an athlete to a sporting event,” he said.
An important thing to keep in mind, says Alpin, is to not let practicing music become a task and keep it relevant to them.
“Let kids play what they want to play, whether that’s Star Wars or Harry Potter. It makes music relevant to them, because let’s be honest, piano practice isn’t going to compete with video games.”
Piano practice has much more to compete with than video games, and it used to get a little help from school, where kids had a once a week music class (if they were lucky). We all know the story of music and arts getting cut from schools, and what effect it’s having on our kids.
“It’s horrifying, but it’s renewed my impulse to do what I can to reach as many kids as possible,” he said.
He’s doing that all week, with the students at CUSD, and his concert on Friday is open to anyone and everyone, especially those who haven’t seen a piano concert before, or think that one has to be stuffy. Alpin explains what he plays, why it sounds the way it does, and even goes in-depth to help the audience understand his music.
Because if you don’t understand something, how can you enjoy it?
We have more information on Alpin’s concert here, and I hope to see the auditorium packed with as many people as we can hold.