The 11 Year Journey

18-year-old Carlson Tan has been playing the piano for over 10 years, as of now. Currently, he has a grade 8 merit certificate on the ABRSM syllabus. He started his piano journey at the young age of 5, and completed his ‘journey’ when he was in Form 4 in Secondary School. At first, he was interested in the electone; but over time, he started taking piano classes. That was where it all started.

The Journey

The average time that he spends practicing the piano is about an hour and a half. The sheet music he uses are usually sourced online, except those required for exams, which is the ABRSM books. As their syllabus usually comes from overseas, most of his money spent went into buying the books instead. Naturally, as his piano grade got higher, the cost of the books also increased.

Difficulties faced throughout the journey

Carlson commented that he feels that the piano is “limited”, and that there is too little variance between the songs. To him, the bass guitar is better in that sense, as it can be played in a variety of ways, in different genres of music, and is a nice addition to his piano. Carlson stated that he feels really fortunate that everyone around him has been very supportive of his musical journey, especially his parents. One of his wishes is to perform on stage alone, and to use his knowledge of music to write piano music for other genres, rather than focusing on pure classical music.


He participated in National level competition

which representing central area (KL and Selangor).

Photo by Carlson Tan on Instagram

Changes in Life

The way he looks at his surroundings now is so much different in comparison to his life before learning music. With music in his life, he associates every event or incident in his life with a song or melody which helps him look at things more precisely. Most of the time, music is the element that separates him from the distractions of the outside world, as it helps him focus on the things he is currently working on. One day, he hopes to use his current skillset to expand into music production as a future career option.

“Most of my motivation came from other pianists that I saw online. It pushes me to try my best, so that I can one day match their standards. The first video that motivated me was “Winter Games 1988” by David Foster. I was fascinated by the music that could be created with that piano. Now, I look up to Animez and Marasy8, both of whom are avid pianists who make anime-related music. They cover a lot of anime openings, making them sound very rich and full,” he said.

When asked if he agrees with the mindset that “Learning music has no future, as it's just learning how to play”, he immediately disagreed and said that he finds it quite odd. In his opinion, playing an instrument requires skill, and this skill cannot be replaced. To him, technology could never replace a human being when playing an instrument, no matter how good it is.  

There is a valuable lesson he has developed throughout those 11 years of him playing the piano, which he has integrated deeply into his lifestyle.

“There is no shortcut to success, the only path is the long way. If you don’t give up midway, one day you'll reach the end.”


Carlson presenting the song “God knows” during his high school graduation

Photo by Carlson Tan on Instagram

Last but not least, he did not forget to pass a message to those who are starting their musical journey.

“To those who are getting started: Instead of looking at the piano and being frustrated with it, try looking at it differently. It’s a place where a lot of the magic happens. There are endless things you can do with it. It’s like a magical forest; with enough effort, you can conquer it. The possibilities are limitless. The most important part of music is to have fun. If you're not having fun, then you're not truly enjoying music.”


Video of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya OST [piano] by Carlson Tan on Instagram




By: Calista Thu

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