Saturday, 10 September 2011

Pianist making the grade – aged just eight

Yuangfan Yang at 8

Pianist making the grade – aged just eight

Yorkshire Post
Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 08:54

Boy astonishes his teachers with exam success and turns composer Andrew Robinson AT just eight years old Yuanfan Yang is astounding teachers and his parents with his astonishing skill on the piano.

After just two years, the Leeds schoolboy has achieved a Distinction in his Grade 8 exam, dropping just 20 marks to get 130 out of 150.

He was playing tunes by ear at six and is now composing his own classical pieces at home.

During a solo performance in school assembly when he was seven, one teacher was moved to tears.

Earlier this year an audience at Leeds Civic Hall gave a standing ovation after he played a 7-minute piece from memory during a charity concert in aid of the Asian tsunami.

Yuanfan's ability prompted the headteacher at Cookridge Primary to get him an audition with Yorkshire Young Musicians, a centre providing advanced training for exceptionally talented young musicians.

He now receives YYM tuition every Sunday for piano and violin at Leeds College of Music.

His violin teacher and director of YYM, Penny Stirling, said passing Grade 8 with Distinction aged eight was a remarkable achievement.

She said: "This is an extraordinary result for someone as young as Yuanfan. I imagine it has rarely, if ever, been achieved before by anyone at such an early age.

"His family, his Yorkshire Young Musicians piano teacher Svetlana Pinegina and his fellow students are all very proud of him."

Yuanfan likes composition and improvisation. Commenting on one of Yuanfan's own pieces, his theory tutor at YYM noted: "Yuanfan has a great musical brain. He has good capability to link what he can hear with what he knows from his theory."

Yuanfan has attended some regional piano competitions and he already has eight cups and two medals from them.

When not playing music, Yuanfan is a polite, energetic, chatty youngsters who likes riding his bike, swimming, ice skating, watching TV and writing stories on his computer.

He wants to be a professional pianist and composer. His current favourites are Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Listz.

His father, Dr Lan Yang, who teaches Chinese linguistics and literature at Leeds University, and mother Jieling Yu, 48, who works as a checkout operator at Asda, are very proud of Yuanfan.

Mr Yang, 49, said: "We both like music but we can't play piano. I used to play Chinese violin and flute which I learned in my childhood in China."

His wife said: "My brother in China teaches the piano. When Yuanfan was a baby he would calm down when he heard music. He could sit for an hour listening to classical music – he would be so quiet and still. But he is just a normal boy who likes watching TV and playing."

The couple, of Tinshill in Leeds, thanked his piano teachers, his primary school and Yorkshire Young Musicians staff for encouraging their son.

Yorkshire Post. 'Pianist making the grade – aged just eight'. [Online]. 28 December 2005. URL:

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